OPC Welcomes New President

Rob Smith joined St Paul’s in 1976 as a Colet Court pupil, moving to the Senior School in 1981. Rob was a keen sportsman playing in the 1st XI, the 1st XV and holding the role of the Captain of Badminton. However, when asked what advice he would give his 18-year-old self, he responded “Work harder, play less sport!”

Rob and his wife Johanna have three sons, their two eldest attend St Paul’s. Both boys were part of Peter King’s tutor group until Peter retired in 2016. However, St Paul’s was not an automatic choice for the family, "I did not especially want my boys to attend SPS but I had maintained some links with the School and could see it was a very different environment to the one when I was there 30 years ago.  It really was when we met the High Master, Mark Bailey, that my wife felt a lot easier about potentially sending our boys to an establishment that she had regarded as a ‘hot house’ environment, despite being married to me for so many years!  In her words, he was the most down-to-earth/normal Head of any school we had met.  He conveyed to her that of the top elite public schools in this country, the boys at SPS were the ones with the least sense of entitlement. 

During his first term, Harry, our eldest, would come back enthralled with Italian, Geography, Biology or whatever subject it was that had sparked his inspiration that day, so it then became a very easy decision to send our middle son to SPS as well.  On meeting the High Master at an OP function a term into Ben’s first year, I remarked that it was a far better school than the one I attended, to which he modestly replied that ‘every school was a better school than it was 30 years ago’. But undoubtedly St Paul’s does have a certain magic to it. People never fail to be impressed when you say you have two boys at the School. It is clearly, still, a very special educational establishment."

Rob became the Golf Club Representative for the Old Pauline Club in 2003 and was involved in the setup of the Old Pauline Business Network. In 2016, Rob was approached by Sir Nigel Thompson KCMG CBE (OPC President 2015-17) to discuss becoming the next President of the OPC. Sir Nigel deliberately set out to find a candidate who was a parent and still had boys at the School as he considered it important to continue to strengthen the ties between the School and the Old Pauline Club. 

Lowering the age of the President by ‘a decade or two’ was also on Sir Nigel’s wish list when he set out to find a successor. Rob certainly ticked that box!

Rob says that following on from the phenomenal work of Sir Nigel he will continue to tackle the task of making the OPC relevant and engaging to more of its 10,000 strong community. “St Paul’s is unarguably one of the best schools in the country because of the diversity of pupils who attend. As a current parent I can vouch that it is a broader spectrum than it was, or appears to be from the outside. But I believe that, so far, the Club has focused its efforts on too narrow a segment of Old Paulines. We need to expand the Club’s activities into many different interest areas. Ideally, we need to evolve from being a ‘club’ into more of a ‘community’, working alongside the School to help make this happen. I am looking forward to that challenge.”

Rob will take up post as OP President on 10 July 2017 for two years.

Address: Lonsdale Road, Barnes, London SW13 9JT • Tel: 020 8746 5390 • Email: