|26 Jan 2022|
(L-R) Dai Lloyd-Hughes, Ian Pickup, David Pickup
It felt very appropriate to start the evening in this quaint old building, with its attendant memories and history, before moving over the road to The Wynnstay for Founder's Dinner, and it was lovely to meet old friends and acquaintances for a catch-up. The drinks party took place on the first floor and access was gained by climbing the narrowest and steepest old wooden staircase you are ever likely to see.
(L-R around table: Roger Morgan, Ian Pickup, Chris Wylie, Judith Wylie, David Tomley (standing), Ken Mottershead, David Pickup
My friend Ken Mottershead, whose journey down to Oswestry had been blocked and delayed by a fallen tree, is here in the photo, wearing glasses, sitting next to David Tomley. David, looking much more youthful than his 87 years (cheques and postal orders are equally acceptable David, but please, no IOUs!), was the 'Last Man Standing' at the Dinner, and was a pupil at school alongside JF Tilley whom he saw make a return to Oswestry as a history and geography Master.
David Tomley (in grey), the oldest OO present at Founder's Dinner.
In the foreground of the picture, Ivan Majic (2018-20), is talking to Dai Lloyd-Hughes who, fearful that his camper van might be overturned, had spent a tense Friday night parked up on the Maes-y-Llan being battered by extremely high winds courtesy of Storm Arwen. Ivan is a very tall, personable young man and he and I had a bit of fun with our height difference. No, I am NOT kneeling and nor is Ivan standing on a box! He is so tall I developed a stiff neck and asked him to sit down so that we could chat.
The long and the short of it!
After several drinks and a convivial hour soaking up the charming atmosphere of the Old School House in the company of old friends, we made our way over to The Wynnstay for Founder's Dinner.
Our group of old fogies who date back to the 1940s/1950s were congregated together on Table 3, no doubt with the intention of keeping some of the trouble-makers from the infamous Frankland era all in one place. Now, mellowed with age, my companions and I behaved impeccably during the proceedings apart from the occasional heckle.
(L-R) David Pickup, Bruce Morgan, Roger Morgan, Ian Pickup, Chris Wylie, Judith Wylie, David Tomley, Ken Mottershead
Reminiscing about old times is part of the charm of OO Dinners and an innovation this year was the distribution of a memories leaflet in which several OOs shared anecdotes from their time at Oswestry, and you can see some of the pages from the leaflet at the end of my article. I enjoyed reading all these individual memories and, hopefully, more Old Oswestrians can be persuaded to take part next year as we all have a story to tell.
At one point during the evening I found myself in conversation with an Old Boy who told me that he had never enjoyed cross-country at school and his particular bete noire was the dreaded molehill which we had to assault towards the end of the steeplechase. His enterprising solution was to persuade Matron to give him a sick note exempting him from the hemorrhoid-inducing struggle up the side of this notoriously steep-sided beast, stating that the effort involved was detrimental to the treatment of his piles! An unsympathetic 'Stoker' Lewis was apoplectic upon receipt of the note and marched him round to confront Matron who remained adamant that he should be excused from this torture.
The food was fine, the wine flowed freely, and The Wynnstay was full of bonhomie as the piano played discreetly in the background to sounds of happy chatter and laughter. More than £3200 was raised, mainly from the auction of items such as a meal for two at The Wynnstay and a holiday on a narrowboat; someone even paid £150 for the signed copy of Niall Lambkin's speech and sales of raffle tickets added to the final total of the evening which proved to be an enjoyable success.
The pianist in the background (Aled Phillips) along with (L-R) Deb Ellett, Josephine Lambkin, Niall Lambkin, Sue Leonard, Stuart Eve, John Eve, Catherine Eve, Howard Ellett
When the time came, in the traditional way, to salute the oldest person to have attended school it was a smiling David Tomley (1942-50), from our table who remained The Last Man standing and a long and loud round of applause echoed around the room in support of this likable young old-timer. We all hope to see you return in this capacity for many years to come, David!
I am happy to report that there were no fights, no overt drunkenness, and not one waitress was goosed during the evening, at least, not to my knowledge, but I did notice that the well-travelled 'Kilroy', always eager to leave his mark, had recently announced his arrival at The Wynnstay in the traditional way on the wall of the gentlemen's facilities.
As the clock passed the witching hour and we were nearing the end of the proceedings Ken and I recalled that exactly 61 years ago a group of us were about to return to The Wynnstay for a late-night room party after having earlier made a noisy exit from the OO Dinner in protest as Headmaster Major Frankland stood up to speak. He was not to know it at the time, but this turned out to be his final speech to the Old Oswestrian Society as eight months later he was effectively given his marching orders by the Governors. Some of the mutinous OOs from that night in 1960 are pictured below having pre-dinner drinks in The Wynnstay; my brother, Bernard was behind the camera.
(L-R) Horace Becket, Michael Higgins, George Roberts-Jones, Ken Mottershead, David Pickup, Douglas Jones
Four of the 1960 mutineers preparing to return to The Wynnstay for the OO Dinner of November 2019
(L-R) Ken Mottershead, David Pickup, George Roberts-Jones, Bernard Pickup
Later that same evening in1960 we partygoers were also given our own marching orders by an angry manager who ejected us from The Wynnstay for unruly behaviour and banned us from ever returning. Fortunately the ban did not last long and we were soon able to return to one of our favourite watering holes in Oswestry.
So it was that as the 2021 OOs Dinner drew to a close in the early hours of Sunday morning, Ian and I made our fond farewells and finally retired for the night still buzzing with memories of a delightful reunion. Perhaps I have been able to give you just a flavour of a lovely evening, and I must pay tribute to the tireless efforts of Vicky Evans who made it all possible; you can read pages from the memories leaflet, which was produced by Victoria, in the gallery at the end of this article.
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