17th Old Boys Dinner
10th November 2012
“A new age has begun.”
Those were the very pertinent final words of the song “World in Union” magnificently performed by Martin Toal (“England’s Winning Tenor”). This performance featured a voiceover from Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” speech and opened the proceedings at the 17th St Ambrose Old Boys Dinner, the very first to be held in the new school.
And then one of the builders took the mic and the bad news was announced.
“I’ve been to a Site Meeting with Balfour Beatty. It’s all been a big mistake”
“I’ve commissioned a complete rebuild of the old school we know and love”
“Enjoy this new place while you can. It’s coming down again on Monday!”
“Welcome to the start of the 2012 17th Old Boys Dinner” said Peter Riley, MC. For it was he, having removed the helmet and yellow jacket, “For tonight is not only the Last First-ever dinner but also the First Last-ever dinner in the New St Ambrose!” Huge cheers. Peter introduced our Chairman John Kennedy who welcomed everyone, especially our Honoured Guests, the Ladies from Loreto and all those who made the evening possible.
Before Grace, the 224 old boys and guests were treated to a special blessing from the balcony by a Very Special Guest: His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in full regalia. Definitely. Yes. Well it looked a bit like him.
Peter Riley welcomed the honoured guests, complemented the Loreto Past Pupils (“most of you are looking very smart…”) and Chris Bee, back from CERN, presented a special Higgs Boson tie to Headmaster Mr Michael Thompson. SAOBA Chairman John Kennedy led the singing of “Happy Birthday” to the headmaster’s wife Patsy, before giving the floor to Bernard “the tie-man” Stafford, to publicise his latest offer. “Not just one for £15, or two for £30, but this year’s special offer is – three ties for £45!!”. Bernard was celebrating the sale of 500 ties.
John presented a £500 cheque from the old boys to Mr Mark Holland, Chairman of the Edmund Rice Bicentennial Fund with a similar donation of £500 towards the Christian Brothers’ Beyond 250 Appeal accepted by Dep Head Mr John Toal.
Heads and Tails was won by John Eardley, with runner up Tom King. Stand Up Bingo was initially won by Sean Bourke, until there proved to be an irregularity or two on his ticket, causing a first-ever, tension packed, re-run. Despite Sean making a valiant effort 2nd time around he was eventually beaten (so preventing a 3rdre-run!) by Mr Mike Massey who won the Amazon Kindle. At least 220 people were baffled by our first ever music quiz, but table 14 won through and were presented with a crate of beer.
At coffee, Michael Thompson addressed an attentive room and described some of the great challenges in the planning and execution of the new building and gave us an insight into the innovation required to deliver on that challenge in just 16 months. He was thanked warmly by Peter Riley, John Kennedy and the assembled old boys.
Yet finally, it was all over bar the laughter and the shouting. The programme had seriously run over time, it was nearly midnight, but Peter Foster’s bar was still open (and many hoped would be a permanent feature of the new school). The raffle winners were: Patrick Mahon (Henri Lloyd Coat), Adam Mitcheson (Meal voucher San Carlo’s), Martin Moylan (Hilary Mantel book), Patsy Thompson (Champagne), Marie Mitcheson (4-ball round of Golf at Ringway).Carriages awaited some outside, while for others the bright lights of Hale and Altrincham beckoned them onto more wayward paths which would lead eventually to hearth and home.
Thank you to everyone who attended this years dinner, the whole evening was a huge success!
Photography by Chris Tofalos Photography.