2012 Dinner

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!”

Was he joking? Who was this man, dressed in safety helmet and yellow hi-vis jacket with the words NEW HEAD scrawled on the back?
“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.

These included, Nick  and Louise Banks from Franc’s Restaurant, Already Sorted lighting suppliers, Peter Foster and his bar staff, the Committee for all their efforts, the ten 6th Form Volunteers and finally Steve and Tom, the caretakers, who put some long hours into the preparation of the event.
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.
We had an all time record attendance in the magnificent setting of the central atrium area of the new St Ambrose, beautifully decorated with red and blue table lights and feathers. We had a full size bar in the entrance area, and magnificent food (Leek and Potato soup, Lamb Shank and Apple and Redcurrant Crumble) from Franc’s of Altrincham. How good is that?

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.

Kieran Charleson, our Vice Chairman, responded on behalf of the Association, giving a light hearted view of the new school, pointing out the difficulty, thanks to the architecture, for any boy to be told to “go and stand in the corner” and observing that boys who struggle to line up in a straight line now have to line up in a radius. He moved on to identify the building as “radical, different and progressive – an advanced structure to support education, growth and fraternity” and marked the evening’s attendance as a celebration of this achievement.At raffle time Mark Gallimore electrified the audience with his new raffle buckets (with red and blue flashing lights) that strangely only seemed to contain blue tickets.
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.