2005, Forde Abbey Lunch.

Forde Abbey Group

Champagne Reception

Our centenary Celebrations began in memorable style on Saturday, May 14th 2005, when over 120 OHs, husbands, wives and partners met at Forde Abbey near Chard for a Champagne Reception and Luncheon.

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Luncheon in the Undercroft

Despite the overcast Roudson weather, which made it difficult to explore the gardens, we were able to admire the magnificent house, home of the Roper family, and meet old friends again in the Great Hall with a blazing log fire so reminiscent of Allhallows. Among those present were Peter and Jenny Larkman, Donald and Janet Mathewson, Colin and Rosemary Harrison, Bill and Honor Preston, Geoffrey and Rachel Blackburne-Kane, Peter and Ann Anker, Tony Neill, Roger and Felicity Whealer, Alec Crawford, Don and Maggie Palmer, Giles and Gru Blomfield and Stuart and Aldis Hunt from Canada.

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Peter & Jenny Larkman, Tim Birmingham

A delicious lunch was served in the Undercroft, used by Cistercian monks in the days of the Abbey. Our President, Richard Le Fleming (M1959-64) introduced our Guest Speaker, Nigel French (C 1955-60), remembered by so many of us as an outstanding OH sportsman. Richard said Nigel had played hockey for Richmond and Young England; he had a most accomplished career in fashion and marketing, and been a Governor of Allhallows for 18 years.

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 Nigel French

Nigel spoke with characteristic verve and humour of his schooldays and career. He said he had recently had lunch with two young OHs, each with their own business, at an OH Golf match v the Royal Hampshire Regiment, and he had asked them to jot down what they had gained from Allhallows. Like him they agreed they had learnt how to get on with other people, that determination paid and more light-heartedly how to dodge trouble.

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Sharon Chatting, Anne Giles, Richard Bean

Nigel said his father had created the biggest Ladies Hairdressing Chain in the UK and, on buying the Public School Year Book, decided to send him and his brother to Allhallows. At his Junior Prep School, when they were far too young for practicale, girls and boys had slept in the same dormitories. At Allhallows there were only boys, but he had loved the sport – particularly hockey and cricket – and he recalled James Turner’s outstanding success as a coach of full-bore shooting, winning the Ashburton Shield 7 times and doing the hat-trick in 1965.

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The Undercroft

It was remarkable that a great little school like Allhallows had produced so many distinguished people. Ozias Humphry, portrait painter to George III before Philip Graves-Morris had drawn a line or a circle, Sir Alfred Stephen, Chief Justice of New South Wales, who wrote that whatever he exhibited in his career “ of precision in thought or writing” he owed to Dr. Richard Lewis, Headmaster of Allhallows from 1801-43 for 42 years; Thomas Wakely, Founder of ‘The Lancet’, Arthur Chudleigh, Manager of the Court and Comedy Theatres, who staged the famous play ‘Raffles’, the controversial Air Marshal Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris, Richard van de Riet Wooley, the Astronomer Royal, Brian Kingcombe, Battle of Britain Pilot, Dr. John Yallop, Forensic Scientist, Peter Birch, who turned Abbey National into a Bank, Peter Anker, Chairman of N.E.P.C. and Roger Wheeler, Chief of the General Staff and Constable of the Tower.

 

On leaving Allhallows, Nigel said he had entered the fashion business, studied at the Royal College of Art and then worked for a spell in New York where he evolved a scheme for predicting fashion trends, which had kept him more than busy world-wide. As a Governor of Allhallows he knew the difficulties that faced Donald and Janet Mathewson, Peter and Jenny Larkman, when trying to attract boys and girls to a vibrant school on a beautiful campus, but with 180° sea-front. Parent requirements had changed; they wanted schools nearby with flexible boarding and the latest reports indicated boarding had declined.

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Peter Larkman, Peter Spencer

However he said it was to the credit of the OHs, their recent Presidents, Phil Tuck and Richard Le Fleming, the Committee and our Secretary Derek Blooman that the Club was probably flourishing more now than ever before. He was sure it would continue as long as its members wished. Nigel Concluded by saying he had to fly to Singapore – and would have flown himself to Dunkeswell, but cloud-cover was too low, and he had to drive home.

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Bill Preston, Elizabeth Laurie-Chiswell

Richard Le Fleming thanked Nigel for his sparkling performance, the Roper family and all the staff at Forde Abbey who had given us such a warm welcome and enjoyable day. He thanked Richard Bean, the West Country Secretary, for all his hard work and pointed out that tickets for the lunch at Lord’s were nearly all sold. He said he was delighted to report that Rosemary Sidwell, our Vice-President. Had agreed to unveil the commemorative plaque at Rousdon at 11.00 am on Saturday, 8 th October 2005.

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Honor Preston, Roger Wheeler

General Sir Roger Wheeler then rose to thank the Committee on behalf of the guests for organising the day. He said it was greatly appreciated by all those whose schooldays at Allhallows meant so much to them.

D.J.B.

 

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