Saturday 8 June saw the 4th annual Old Verlucian Black Tie Dinner. What was really refreshing this year was not only the mixture of new faces and old ones, but the mix of ages too! OVs came from far and wide but the farthest travelled was Emma Langford, all the way from Australia!

Of course, this was also the final OV Dinner that the Headmaster will attend before leaving the School. It was his decision to establish the Development and Alumni Office in September 2015 and what started with a scrap of paper with a handful of names, has evolved into a thriving alumni community with six yearly events and more on the way. OVs coming back to their school to mentor, give presentations and talk at Sixth Form Higher Education evenings and be on tap to give career and university advice. Not only that, the OVs were generous in their financial support of the recent publication of the revised history of the School – Through the Wren Door.

The OVs generously presented the Headmaster with a magnificent farewell gift: Andy Wing, an accomplished artist, kindly painted one of his celebrated vignette-style paintings depicting the Headmaster’s career and life thus far. Andy said:

“I was honoured to be asked to produce something for the Headmaster on behalf of the Old Verlucians. By the nature of such career commissions, it entails finding out as much data as possible, and indeed the success of a picture often depends upon these facts. I was struck by the amount of things that Mark had fitted into such a relatively short span of time, academic, soldier, adventurer, and teacher. What also became apparent was his enthusiasm and leadership, he leads by example, and encourages self-development.”

After some eloquent and heart-felt words of thanks on behalf of the OV community from Ian James, Mark was presented with his painting by Andy.

In reply, the Headmaster expressed his gratitude to Andy and Ian, to the wider OV community and challenged it to take responsibility for continuing to develop and grow the OVs’ connections with their school. He also paid tribute to the sterling work of Graeme McQueen and Stella Aldridge in the Alumni Office. He reminded us that momentum is everything. In closing, he thanked the OVs for their support and quoted from his introduction to the new book:

‘The project has provided an opportunity to further engage with the OV community and I am very grateful to all those who have contributed. I can say, quite honestly, that the times I have spent in the company of former pupils have generally been some of the most enjoyable of my time as Headmaster. Their collective loyalty to and support of their school is both humbling and inspiring.’

We have already set the date for next year: 23 May 2020 – a larger affair in the marquee, the evening of Speech Day, with a barbecue and disco – so gather your friends, let’s build the momentum and make this the best one yet! Look out for details on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin.

13 September 2019     OV Golf Day, Orchardleigh GC

22 November 2019     London Drinks

6 March 2020              Bath Drinks: The Escape @ The Abbey Hotel

21 March 2020            Netball, hockey and football followed by dinner

23 May 2020               OV Barbecue & Disco

Stella Aldridge, Deputy Head of Development & Alumni