2011 Dinner

16th Annual St Ambrose Old Boys’ Dinner
Chairman’s Report 2011
Sat 12th November 2011

Over the past 16 years I have never ceased to be amazed at the quality and popularity of this event. This year, being our last ever dinner, despite 5 previous “last-ever” attempts was exceptional. The gathering consisted of 51 OB’s under the age of 27, 100 more regular attendees, 18 ladies from Loreto and 21 VIP’s which made for a fascinating and successful blend of guests at this final gathering in the old College.

The ensemble began arriving around 7pm and soon the canteen and lobby areas were packed to the rafters. Already one sensed this night had a special ambience about it. Many old friends were renewing acquaintances sharing smiles, conversation, laughter over a pre dinner drink. Little did they know the surprise in waiting that lay behind the folding doors?

The old assembly hall bore no resemblance to its former self, with the exception being the back-lit stained glass window streaming multi coloured light into the room. “Already Sorted”, a specialist marquee company from Newcastle, working in co-ordination with Kieran and Tina Charleson had converted the formerly stern, harshly lit, surroundings into a magical, atmospheric theatre far more conducive to a celebratory party and completely befitting the importance of this historical occasion.

If people weren’t already in an elevated mood, the atmosphere was suddenly raised several notches by the amazing transformation.

The VIP’s were thanked for attending as were those responsible for assisting in the preparation and planning work associated with this event including, Louise Banks, as always, for her excellent food and service, Peter Foster for running the bar, Tina Charleson for her interior design work and our caretaker Tommy for his friendly and helpful manner in setting up and clearing away.

It being Remembrance weekend, fitting reference was made to all our deceased Old Boys, relatives and former teachers. May they Rest in Peace.

It is important to mention the contribution made by your Committee throughout the year for the generous and unselfish hours spent ensuring that this remains an extraordinary Association. Our annual golf day in June at Hale was fully attended and well organised by Peter Fitzpatrick and Saturday’s dinner, thanks to everyone, will be fondly recalled as a huge success and a great send-off to the old place. Successful occasions such as these, do not happen without attention to detail, careful planning and very considerable effort and certainly not without highly motivated and committed people creating them. Whatever the future, this committee deserves much praise.

As he has for the last 10 years, Peter Riley, our MC, ensured the evening proceeded with vigour. With so much happening during the night, including games of Heads and Tails for both ladies and gentlemen, the raffle and a game of stand-up bingo Peter, orchestrated the event with his time-honoured style. His customary acerbic humour and repartee, sparing no-one, kept us fully engaged throughout the night. Peter, you have our sincere gratitude.

The legendary Mr Barney Quinn, 95 and his good-lady Louise received a most appropriate standing ovation on retiring. We are all grateful and delighted for their attendance.

On this occasion, it was the turn of our esteemed Headmaster, Mr Michael Thompson to return some of the polite criticism or perhaps, more accurately, downright mockery he has manfully withstood over the past 6 years for the absence of a new school. Well all good things come to an end and revenge being a dish best served cold, to use a cliche or two and Michael wasted no time in indulging us with some of the less flattering comments from Peter Riley’s old school reports. Mr Thompson was gracious in his thanks to the Old Boys’ Association and contrasted our college history using the analogy of Oxford University’s 19th century oak cask of Solera Madeira. This 19th century vat of wine is replenished annually with the latest vintage whilst seemingly still retaining a finite element of its original flavour.

In closing, may I thank all of you in appreciation of your support for our Association during the last year and look forward with enthusiasm to 2012.

John Kennedy