Old Boys’ General News

London City Drinks 2017

On a temperate autumn evening, over 80 people called in at this year’s London City Drinks event held at The Merchant Taylors’ Company Hall.

For some, it has become a regular, informal meeting point with school friends, for others it was a first visit and a chance to catch up on careers and reconnect with the Merchants family and fellow alumni. It also represents a chance for the attendees to explore the beautiful Merchant Taylors Company Hall, which gives the School its name and crest.

Early arrivals were treated to a short historical tour of the hall before (fittingly) being joined by the current Master of the Company, Old Boy Peter Magill. Reconvening in the Drawing Room, the guests were joined by current members of staff, as well representatives of both the Old Boys and Old Girls Associations. For many, it was the first chance to meet the new Acting Headmaster of the Boys School, Mr Deiniol Williams, following his appointment to the role over the summer. Joining him were Louise Robinson, MTGS Headmistress, as well as, Steve Kay and Steve Fletcher, both from MTBS. Former Head of Economics John Farrell also attended, as well as Margaret Mann, former Head of Stanfield.

Special mention must also be made to 1978 Leaver Judith Redhead, who joined her friend and Chair of Governors Beverley Bell, having made the journey from her home in the USA. Mrs Redhead was a guest of Beverley’s investiture lunch at the Hall the following evening, having received her CBE at Buckingham Palace earlier in the day.

If you live in the London area or visit the capital through your work, look out for the date of next year’s event and please consider joining us. Our next City Drinks will be in Liverpool on 21/03/2018 at the Racquet Club. If you have any queries you would like to share, please contact the Development Office at devoffice@merchanttaylors.com.

Old Boy elected Master of the Merchant Taylors’ Company

Old Boy Peter Magill has recently been elected as the Master of the Merchant Taylors’ Company in Threadneedle Street, London.

It was Crosby sheep farmer John Harrison who first went to London and joined the Company as an apprentice to learn the tailoring trade. His son, also called John, continued in the trade and subsequently bequeathed a sum of money in his will to found a school in Crosby. Although John Junior had never visited the area, he had heard his father talk of the need for a school. So, in 1620, Merchant Taylors’ School Crosby was founded.

Peter joined the school in 1956, entering the ‘Prep School’ in what would now be Year Five. By his own admission Peter had a singularly unspectacular school career by Merchants’ standards, and left in 1966 to attend the City University in London. Here a chance meeting with the then Master of the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers led to an introduction and subsequent Apprenticeship with the Merchant Taylors’ Company. Some seven years later Peter was made a Freeman of the Company and of the City of London and, in 1989, was admitted as a Liveryman of the Company.

Now living in Birmingham, Peter was asked to represent the Company as its nominated School Governor in 2005, and served on the Board of Governors up until July 2017. In 2009 Peter was elected to the Court of the Company and after serving on various committees – including two terms acting as one of the four Wardens of the Company – he was elected as its six hundred and ninety first Master in July of this year. While the earliest records are unclear it is thought that Peter is the first ‘boy’ from the Crosby school to hold this position.

Today the Company maintains close links with all its schools and also has a very active charity function, administering various trust funds created over the centuries.

“It is a great privilege and honour to be elected Master of this ancient Company” says Peter. “It will be a busy but very enjoyable year. There are already over two hundred meetings, appointments and functions to attend, not least of which will be two visits to Liverpool for the Girls’ School Prize Giving and the Boys’ Speech Day.”

“We are also busy with the preparations for the Company’s next joint schools concert, after the success of the first at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in March 2016. I am hoping to see a strong contingent of musicians, parents and visitors from Crosby for the afternoon of 11th November 2018 at Symphony Hall in Birmingham.”


Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School shows support for Sri Lankan Charity

It is thanks to a Merchant Taylors’ Old Boy, Mark Edwards, that rural school cricket in Sri Lanka is getting a boost of much needed equipment.

Tragically Mark recently lost his life following a short illness and, in his honour, Merchant Taylors’ School and its pupils is putting its full support and energy behind collecting as much cricket kit as possible to send to Sri Lanka and its rural schools. Mark’s old firm, Allport Cargo Services, is also supporting Mark’s initiative and will be transporting the cargo at no cost.

Mark, who attended Merchant Taylors’ Boys’ School between from 1984 to 1991, was passionate about school cricket and, after a successful career in the 1st XI team and Junior County squad, carried on playing as an adult for the Northern Cricket Club.

When Mark and his family moved to Hong Kong, he became an active member of the Hong Kong Cricket Club. “At the centre of his life at the Club was his cricket and the venues he visited and played in would have made any international cricketer proud. He represented the Hong Kong Cricket Club at the MCG in Melbourne and, during one of his proudest moments, played the MCC at Lords” remembered a friend.

It was on a work trip to Sri Lanka that Mark saw for himself how school children had to exchange kit in the middle of the ground to enable the next player to go in to bat. That particular school, about 3 hours from Colombo, had 2 bats, 2 sets of pads and 1 helmet to share between all of its players.

It was at that point that Mark decided to do something about it and, with the help of his colleague and good friend, Sujan Malawana, linked up with the charity “Foundation of Goodness”. Their purpose – to transport unwanted kit from the UK to school children in this cricket loving nation.

Mark Edwards

Mark’s wife, Anna, is delighted that both the school and Allport are supporting Mark’s work. “Mark was passionate about cricket, and that passion started at school. He wants as many school children as possible to have the chance to play the game.”

2017 has been the most successful cricket season in the history of the Merchant Taylors’, where the game has been played competitively since 1890. The 1st XI won 14 matches and finished the season unbeaten in the North West Merit League, and also defeated the MCC, whilst the Under 15 XI had an even better season, becoming the joint National T20 champions, runners-up in the National ESCA 40 over cup, and County and North of England champions in both formats of the game.

Simon Sutcliffe, Head of Cricket at the school, commented that “these achievements have raised the standard of cricket here to unprecedented levels, and next on the horizon for these boys is the opportunity to test themselves in a different country and climate as they embark on a 12 day tour to Sri Lanka at half term. This will also give them the opportunity to see the important work this charity and Mark’s project is doing”.

If you have any cricket items – clothes or equipment – that you would like to donate, please contact s.maitland@merchanttaylors.com between now and Friday 27th October to organise the handover. Please support this extremely worthwhile cause – and have a clear out at the same time!

‘Whatever Happened to…’ – Peter Emmerson 1975 leaver

I’m currently facing a quandary which I doubt most of my contemporaries at MTS are contemplating: having just celebrated the age of getting my free 60+ London travel card, do I finally hang up my flak jacket and helmet and perhaps have a more ‘settled’ lifestyle, more befitting to my recent birthday?

MTS (1971 – 1975) will always be remembered as a love-hate relationship during my time of study. Many of my former boyhood friends and colleagues may well recollect that I was not necessarily the most academically gifted or most conformist boy in the class. However, I will always be grateful to those masters who persevered with me and gave me the background knowledge (both academic and worldly) to pursue the career path I still currently tread.

Having left MTS, I subsequently read Electronics and Music at Keele University (having changed my A level subjects after a year to the correct subjects!) and then joined Polydor Records as their junior engineer – continuing my streak of non-conformity by working with punk/new wave/new romantics musical masters such as The Jam, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Visage (who the heck remembers them!!) for a couple of years before joining the BBC in Cardiff as an Audio Assistant.

Gradually rising up through the audio ranks, whilst also moving to BBC News in London, I quickly began to move to field work – away from the bosses – and established my credentials as someone who rather enjoyed forcing equipment to breaking point and then putting it back together again (usually in the right order and with not too many components left over).

Airport runs started to become more frequent. The troubles in Northern Ireland were to prove an excellent training ground for both the career path and for the leaps in technology that have accompanied this path.

Audio at this stage was on the cusp of moving from tape to the computer – and so my studio-based razor blade (for cutting tape) was swapped for a field laptop. The first ‘easily portable, easily set-up’ satellite dishes made their debut – and I could now produce and transmit ‘quality’ audio from anywhere in the world – and get every correspondent I was working with to sound as if they were sitting next to the presenter in the studio (creating ‘location studios’ for programmes such as Radio 4 Today often meant that the foreign correspondent actually was sitting next to the presenter!).

I’m not sure exactly how or why, but I became known as the engineer (and subsequent senior producer) who rather enjoyed those hostile environments – whilst also becoming versed in all aspects of both editorial and technical field work – and the scene was set for my BBC career, with amazing highs but tempered with occasional very difficult lows.

I have three passports and tend to renew at least one a year. I have covered virtually every conflict since Bosnia – on every continent. Drinking tea with the Taleban (they offered me a factory to run after I mended a radio station for them) was followed a few years later by walking into Kabul with John Simpson (via 9-11 in New York). I’ve been ambushed, shot at, bombed and faced the threat of execution.

Alongside conflict has been the coverage of natural disasters – famine, earthquakes and tsunamis. Many of these have been at next to no notice, with my phone on and with me 24 hours a day – a lot of breaking news is just that – it breaks and I head to the airport, hopefully having a few minutes to pick up the essential kit needed for that specific job (I have cases of equipment and stores at home for all eventualities).

Occasionally there is no time to even get home (even though it’s en-route to Heathrow) or the airlines forget to load my favourite case. Covering the breakout of civil war in Ivory Coast, not one case left Heathrow the entire time my correspondent colleague and I were deployed – I also carry at all times a small backpack which contains the essentials, ensuring that we didn’t miss any transmission slot – live and packaged, for both radio and TV. This was also the first occasion that an iPhone was used to broadcast live for BBC TV news.

Finding that I could use all technical equipment, I became the first BBC News ‘multimedia producer’ – handling all aspects of audio, video, satellite communications and IT – often travelling with just a correspondent and therefore very manoeuvrable.

Not all deployments have been hostile though – with memories of trips to the Galapagos Islands, Mandela meets the Spice Girls meet Prince Charles in South Africa, the mountain kingdom of Bhutan, both Everest base camps (Nepal side to cover the earthquake and Tibetan side to cover Olympic torch) and the release of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar being among dozens of other highlights.

I have worked alongside virtually every BBC foreign correspondent during past few decades – making sure that they get on air saying the right thing at the right time in the right place. The right time is essential for news – missing your ‘slot’ is not an option and can occasionally be rather stressful (Jeremy Bowen’s 4 minute package from west Mosul a few weeks ago took me 6 hours to transmit to our London studios – and got there with 2 minutes before it was due to be on the air). However, behind every correspondent is ‘the team’ – and I’ve been lucky enough to be in that team, alongside a fantastic group of colleagues, for the past 25 years.

Will I give it all up now that I’ve blown out the candles on my 60th birthday cake?  My wonderful (and long-suffering) wife has a list of jobs needed to be done around the house! I’m sitting here writing this in north Iraq, with equipment (now including a drone) spread out before me waiting to head into Syria.

For now, the slippers and pipe have been put on hold!

(Note: Peter’s deployment to Syria has since been completed and the resulting film can be viewed here).

Birchall Brothers visit Old School

The Schools were pleased to welcome back Old Boys Bill and Basil Birchall for the afternoon as they paid a visit to departing Headmaster David Cook.

The visit was a result of Bill attending our North American reunion dinner, where he was first introduced to David. The brothers returned at the School’s invitation to meet with the Headmaster before he departed for his new post at Repton School, Dubai over the summer. On their arrival they were given a tour of the site before sitting down for a small lunch with David in his office. They later stayed for the afternoon’s cricket match and were shown several archival materials from their time at the School.

A 1958 leaver, the visit was Bill’s first time returning to the site since leaving as a young man, having made his career as an accountant, first in London, and then in Canada. His younger brother Basil, a 1959 leaver, lives in Harrogate and worked at ICI for many years helping to produce speciality chemicals for use in industry. He was also Head Boy and first XI Cricket Captain during his time at MTS – his cricket portrait hangs in the IRSC Cricket ‘Hall of Fame’.

The brothers have longstanding links with the School and have supported the Bursary Fund generously for many years. Following the unexpected death of Basil’s twin brother Richard in 1992, the brothers set up and have funded the Birchall Bursary in his memory. During the visit, they also met with Louise Robinson, MTGS headmistress, as well as Mrs Beverley Bell CBE, Chair of Governors. They spoke warmly of their time at the School, not least their time spent as boarders in the now demolished Harrison House. They were pleased to see the School in such good health and impressed with how the site has developed since they left.

Our thanks go to Bill and Basil for their continued support.

A Leap of Faith

I left Crosby in 1991 to study Civil Engineering at Newcastle University. After graduating with my first Masters degree I joined a design consultancy in Newcastle and enjoyed a very fulfilling career with them for nearly 15 years. When the company experienced a delayed reaction to the 2007 economic crash, I was laid off in early 2010. I was fortunate to attend a 3-week executive placement scheme that helped me to examine my options for future employment, and resulted in me having a defining moment of clarity to pursue a new direction towards vocational Christian ministry.

I had come to a personal faith during my 6th form years at MTS and have been involved in volunteer/lay leadership in the churches I have attended ever since, so this was not so much a ‘new’ thing as it was a re-orientation of my passion and priorities. With the full support and encouragement of my wife and sons, we relocated as a family in 2010 to Pasadena, California for me to study for a second Masters degree in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. I graduated at the end of 2012 and was subsequently called to serve at a local non-denominational church in Pasadena where I was ordained as a Pastor. I am now serving with an incredibly diverse team that reflects the diversity of our thousand-strong Los Angeles congregation.

My wife is now a Medical School Faculty member at the University of Southern California, where my oldest son has been awarded an undergraduate place to study World Business this fall. My youngest son is still at High School but has his sights set on applying for the Royal Marines after school. The decision to embrace a new direction (and location) at this stage of our lives has not been without challenges, but has enriched us all and led to unprecedented personal growth that could never have happened if we had not stepped out of our ‘sheltered nook’. It has shown me the tremendous value of embracing life-long learning and not being confined to our comfort zones.

Matt Dunn, 1991 Leaver

LOBAGS Golf Day Report 2017

The West Lancashire Golf Club   28th June 2017

The previous year’s winners, Old Lerpoolians, had the responsibility to organise this year’s event and chose to host it on the links of The West Lancashire Golf Club in Blundellsands.

Old Crosbeians were able to enter two teams of five players of handicaps ranging from plus 1 to 26 which continues to enable all golfing Old Boys to represent the school, whatever their playing standard.

Old Lerpoolians have a fine record in this event, and there is fierce rivalry with us over bragging rights, but this year their performance by both of their two teams overwhelmed us along with the rest of the field. Nevertheless, our “A” team were runners up in the best team Gross score, with Nick Jones (+1) and George Apel (3) achieving very good individual scores, with Nick finishing with the runner up’s prize for the individual gross score. The other members of the “A” team were Dave Croft, Ollie Hadden & Ian Kearney.

Our “B” team had some good nett scores from Graham Jones, Martin Glenn & John Sharman, with excellent back up from James & Michael Chambers.

The 2018 renewal is again likely to be held at the West Lancashire Links, and a provisional date has been fixed for Friday 13th July 2018. Having organised this event since we re-joined this competition in 2005, I feel that after 13 years, it is time for someone else to take over the mantle, and I am delighted to hand the reins over to fellow OC Martin Glenn, who shall contact you about the 2018 event.

David Anderson, 1960 Leaver

Triangular Golf Match Report 2017

Team from left to right – Ian Duckett, George Apel, Josh Chan, Martin Glenn, David Anderson, Peter Magill, Nick O’Brien, Geoff Freeman.

Climatic conditions play a large part in achieving decent scores on the championship links of the West Lancashire Golf Club. It was with some trepidation that the players from the three schools arrived for lunch at the Golf Club, but reassurances that a “window” was forecast for reasonable weather encouraged everyone to enjoy their repast.

And so it proved and, other than a fierce downpour over a couple of holes, and with a decreasing breeze throughout, the match was played in relatively pleasant conditions. Handicaps ranged from 3 to 26, and it was good to see that Old Crosbeians had a couple of players under 25 years of age (thereby enjoying a subsidy of 50% of the costs). The entire team, apart from the two discarded cards, scored consistently, with four achieving 29 points. Josh Chan (off a handicap of 10) was our second best scorer with 34 points, but our star player was the magnificent Martin Glenn (22 handicap) who carded 42 points, being five clear of any other player in the whole field. The previous holders, Old Merchant Taylors’, had five reasonable scores but three who had disappointing results which led to them accumulating a team score of 175 points. Old Wulfrunians had four players scoring 30 points or more to leave them with a total of 184 points, but Martin’s performance & the consistency of the others resulted in Old Crosbeians achieving 192 points, thereby reclaiming “The Auld Drutter”. Apart from those mentioned earlier, our team comprised David Anderson, George Apel, Ian Duckett, Geoff Freeman, Peter Magill and Nick O’Brien. Very well done to all.

It has been particularly difficult this year to raise a team for various reasons, so I urge all golfing OC’s to annotate their forward planners, and note that next year’s renewal will take place on Wednesday 25th July 2018 at the South Staffordshire Golf Club, Tettenhall, Wolverhampton. Please let me know if you are interested by emailing me when you read this at rdavidanderson@talktalk.net

David Anderson, 1960 Leaver


Old Boy becomes President of Michigan Intellectual Property Inn of Court

William Abbatt left Merchant Taylors’ in 1962 to study Material Sciences at Imperial College London. He stayed a further year to take a Masters course in Production Engineering and Management. Having worked for many years in this field, he decided to study Law, the profession in which he has made his name in the following forty years. Working as a patent attorney, Mr Abbatt has dedicated himself to ensuring that clarity is maintained in all patent disputes, and to protecting the interests of businesses small and large. He has worked for Michigan-based law firm Brooks Kushman since 1986 and has received several commendations for his work, including being named as a ‘Top Lawyer’ in DBusiness Magazine’s 2016 edition and being listed in Intellectual Asset Management’s 1000 Recommended Individuals list for 2014/15.

The Michigan Intellectual Property Inn of Court is a philanthropic organization of judges, lawyers and legal educators that seeks to promote fair and ethical practice amongst junior lawyers and law students. Mr Abbatt helped to found the Inn five years ago and was enthusiastic about moving into a leadership role stating, “As President of this Inn, I have an opportunity to give back to the profession which has treated me so well”. Patterned after the English Inns of Court mentoring system, the Inn looks to provide best practice advice to those new or less skilled in the profession, in part through the educational programmes written by its one hundred plus members. The Inn is currently in the process of organising several outreach programmes which will aim to assist fledgling entrepreneurs in their practices. Mr Abbatt will look to take the organisation forward, while staying true to its initial goal of promoting excellence in advocacy amongst those it mentors.

School Council gives support to Sefton Sea Cadets

The Boys’ School was pleased to welcome back Old Boy Philip Cave on behalf of Seaforth Sea Cadets Corps to accept a donation from the School Council of £1,100.

A 2010 leaver, Philip is currently a senior 2nd officer and navigator for Princess Cruises, having gained sponsorship from the company for his officer training upon completing his A-Levels. He gives generously of his time to the Sea Cadets, often using up to a third of his leave to take disadvantaged boys on week-long tours along the coast, which this donation will help to fund. Many of the boys involved come from deprived areas, and have often never left Liverpool before, nor do they have access to the types of facility which would provide them with the skills and opportunities these tours do. In several cases, the skills and experiences provided by these tours has later formed the basis of the boys’ curriculum vitae, and led to them finding their first paid employment, either with the Merchant Navy or in other fields.

Following the donation, Philip sent this message, explaining the importance of the work of the Sea Cadets Corps in the local community:

During my time with Merchant Taylors’, one of the many opportunities I capitalised on was working with the Voluntary Service Unit (VSU). It gave students the chance to get out of their comfort zone, gain some life experience and make a difference in the community. The various placements I carried out were incredibly rewarding and one in particular was and still is life changing.

As I wanted to work at sea as a Navigator, taking up a voluntary position as an instructor with the Sea Cadet Corps in Litherland seemed like an ideal placement. Seven years later I am serving at sea and still volunteering with the Sea Cadets during my leave, and I have no plans to stop. The Corps supports young people around the country, often in deprived areas. The Sea Cadet Corps in Litherland is a prime example of this, many of the young cadets come from the poorest areas of Liverpool and struggle even to pay their weekly subs, let alone take advantage of the various courses the Corps offers on a National Level. Two years ago, Mrs Claire Byrne offered to sponsor the Sea Cadets in the school’s local charity initiative and the money raised, far in excess of what I expected, made an unimaginable difference to the Cadets at the unit. We were able to send many boys on a week’s trip to sea, and considering more than half of them had never actually left the North West this was a life changing experience for them.

Yet again this year, MTS has come together and raised a huge amount for the unit, again providing experiences that many of them can only dream of; from the bottom of my heart I cannot thank the boys and staff enough for their generosity.

I would encourage anyone at MTS to take advantage of the VSU. In addition to volunteering at the local unit, I spend time on the Corps training ships sailing with my Merchant Navy qualifications, and am just stepping up to be a relief Captain. This is an opportunity I would never have had without the VSU. It is, in my opinion, one of the most worthwhile extra-curricular activities the school offers.

Merchant Taylors’ offers pupils “the best education for life”. Through the school’s generosity, this has been extended to the teenagers of Litherland as “the best chance in life”. Thank you again.

For further details on the School Council’s fundraising, please contact Claire Byrne. For more information on the Sea Cadets Sefton, please visit: http://www.sea-cadets.org/sefton/home.aspx