Vanbrugh Castle School

100th Anniversary Reunion

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An account of the final reunion at Vanbrugh Castle

September 2021

The very final reunion at Vanbrugh Castle took place on the 5th September 2021 to mark the 100th anniversary of the opening of the school by the Royal Air Force Memorial Fund.

It was a lovely warm and sunny day.The Cedars garden was resplendent with summer blooms. All was set for a day to remember (click to see the agenda).

At noon quests were greeted at the gates by Lisa, Danny Downes and Frank Valentine, and to each guest was affixed a beautifully crafted label, produced by Danny, complete with a school-days photograph and their time of stay at the school. Neil,the official photographer, took a portrait of each person as they came into the courtyard.(Click to view)

Proceedings started with a short speech (Click to view) from Frank Valentine followed by welcome from Lisa and Danny Downes.(Click to listen)

Guests then enjoyed a buffet lunch in the garden (provided by the attentive young ladies from the local catering firm Handmade Foods), having followed a circuitous one-way route through The Cedars to the dining room to maintain social distancing.

Liquid refreshments of all sorts were available in the garden dispensed by the Handmade ladies.

Much mingling ensued and a good deal of interesting facts and stories emerged from the happy chatter.

At the allotted time order was re-established for the formal photographs of the old boys, as a group picture (top) and split up into the Houses they belonged to at school, Cordingly (left) and Harries (right).

Guests were free to re-explore the grounds that were their recreation areas in times gone by. Tours of the Wakefield Wing and Apartments 2 and 3 in the castle were very kindly given by the Taylor family, Emilie & Josh the new owners of apartment 2, and Jocelyn and David from apartment 3.

On display in the garden was Lisa's extensive collection of documents and photographs about the school.

And indoors more documents and artifacts brought along for this event.

After lunch the gathering was entertained by a professional brass quintet - Chapel Brass - introduced to us by Mark Wringe. They played many stirring pieces including 'The Dam Busters March', Glenn Miller dance tunes, Elgar, Star Wars and several others.

The Tuck Shop. This detailed re-creation of the school tuck shop was lovingly crafted by Danny Downes

Prize giving administered by Lisa and Danny Downes. These prizes (copies of 'The Debt We Owe' by Edward Bishop about the RAF Benevolent Fund and the very rare 'The Blue & Khaki Hunters' by old boy Dennis Sampson), given to several old boys for various dubious reasons, were kindly donated by Lisa (Click to listen)

Charity/Cycling Prize awarded to Mark Wringe

Woodwork Prize awarded to Rob Elliot

Computing Prize awarded to Frank Valentine

Literary Prize awarded to John Valentine (collected by Frank)

Community Development Prize to Danny Downes

Unfortunately the 'ledge walking', which many of us had looked forward to for weeks, was cancelled. Too much ivy was the official reason but could there have been cold feet? The game of 'tippit and run' did go ahead but the rules were a bit odd.

For tea, a special cake, complete with Spitfire decoration. This was a very good replica of the cakes the RAF station cooks sometimes baked for the boys' special occasions in the 1960's & 1970's.

Vote of thanks

Colin Cummings thanked our hosts and old boys who had worked hard to make this day so successful.(Click to listen)

Lisa, David and Jocelyn, and Emilie and Josh were presented with carved wooden presents to thank them for inviting us to their homes and making this final reunion so memorable. The Latin motto is an interesting variation of the RAF's 'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

Sadly Ian Harvey, an old boy, succumbed to the deadly corona virus. Martin and Lisa have planted a tree in their garden in his memory and Ian's brother Stephen was at the reunion to place a plaque at the spot.

The afternoon was enjoyed by all. Many many thanks to all those who made it so successful.