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June 24, 2022

President’s Message to the 2022 OPC AGM

The Old Pauline Club’s 150th year and my first year as your President has been busy and productive. It has seen the end of Covid restrictions and a return to face-to-face events. I have been delighted by the number of OPs attending Pauline events in recent months.

In December at an SGM, OPs approved a change in our governance. The votes in favour were 49 and against 11. The effect of the change is that the Club no longer has a two-committee system with the Executive Committee now setting policy, making decisions and seeking approval at General Meetings. An Advisory Council has been established whose members will advise the Executive Committee on areas where they have expertise. Three sub-committees have also been established, covering Nominations, Strategy Implementation and Sport. The Club’s new Executive Committee has been appointed with involvement across the membership and the Pauline community in mind. It is diverse and inclusive, with different genders represented and with four members under 40, five in their 40s, three in their 50s, three in their 60s and one in his early 70s.

The Club’s Annual Dinner in October, held at School, launched the 150th anniversary celebrations. I announced the start of the 150th Bursary Appeal. The speakers were the High Master and John Simpson (1957-62).

The Future of … series has seen great support for the discussions with George Osborne (1984-89), Simon Fraser (1971-75), Matthew Gould (1984-89), Patrick Spence (1981-85), Simon Fox (1974-78), Kenneth Baker (1948-53) and the High Master.

The Feast Service returned to St Paul’s Cathedral in February. The School Choir performed at Evensong and a Reception was held afterwards at the Mercers’ Hall for Old Paulines, their guests and Upper Eighth parents and pupils. After the speeches, the School’s Librarian, Hilary Cummings was presented with a first edition of Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie (1894-1900). The OPC is also helping to conserve the library’s most heavily used rare books and this will be the area funded by donations at future Feast receptions.

On 31st March, the Earliest Vintage Lunch returned, with all OPs who left School before July 1972 invited to lunch at the School. Ginny Dawe-Woodings, the Club’s Archivist, displayed archive material and signed up volunteers for the Pauline Memory Project, which will cover the two decades from the return to West Kensington after evacuation at Crowthorne through to the move to the Barnes site in 1968. It is planned to make this lunch an annual rather than a bi-annual event, and the 150th Dinner is being held at The Tabernacle in Notting Hill this evening.

The 150th Appeal will run until the end of my two years as President with the aim of raising £1.5m for the School’s Bursary Fund. If we achieve this, we will help take the number of bursary places above the magic 153 for the first time and help make our School fairer, more inclusive and diverse. I have been blown away by the level of support, particularly for this evening’s Appeal Dinner, where we have raised our donation target already and best of all spared those attending an auction.

On the sports field, there has been a resurgence in OP participation at Thames Ditton with promotions achieved and most notably the OPAFC (round ball) are cup winners for the first time in its 29-year history, beating Old Vaughnians in the AFA Intermediate Cup. It is great to see that these sports are now making use of school facilities for close and pre-season training.

My second year is set to be as busy. Over the coming months, we will consult with members about the proposed name change before holding an SGM and vote in October. We will push on with discussions about gifting the freehold of Thames Ditton to the School. Executive Committee members, Simon Strauss (1968-73), Neil Wates (1999-2004) and Rishi Patel-Warr (2009-14) will lead initiatives in the overseas branches and with younger members to encourage greater engagement. Tom Adeyoola (1990-95), a new Vice President, has set up the Capital Angel Network, an angel investor network of alumni from St Paul’s Girls’ School, St Paul’s and local partner state schools. Start-up costs are being funded by the Mercers’ Company. Members will pledge to donate up to 20% of proceeds to support bursaries and partnership schemes with state schools. Early indications are that after a decade, CAN may be able to fund up to the equivalent of 40 bursaries a year.

The support I have received this year from the Club’s other officers, Brian Jones (1961-66), Nick Brooks (1965-70) and Sam Turner (2011-16), has been huge, and we are working ever more closely with Ellie Sleeman’s team at School. I am also grateful for the immense contribution that Jeremy Withers Green has made this year, not only in assisting me but also for his roles both as Editor of Atrium, which continues to be produced to the highest standard, and Communications & Engagement Director. I look forward to working with him as Deputy President over the next year. I would also like to thank Alex Wilson, who as our first St Paul’s School representative on the Executive Committee was incredibly helpful and supportive. I wish him well in retirement.

Finally, I would like to congratulate all the new OPs – including the High Master – on becoming members, and our five new Vice Presidents – Tom Adeyoola, Neil Fitch (1955-60), Sir Simon Fraser, Geoffrey Matthews (1972-77) and Nog Norgren (1981-86) – for their contributions to school and alumni life.

Ed Vaizey

23rd June 2022

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