Old Boys’ General News

London Dinner 2017

Our first social event of the 2017-18 Year was the reunion at the Travellers’ Club in Pall Mall.

The Travellers’ has become the established location of our London Dinner, and naturally is an elegant setting as one of the premier London social institutions in the heart of Westminster’s clubland.

We enjoyed on arrival a Champagne reception before proceeding upstairs to the old-world ambience of the Library. A group of more than forty individuals comprising Old Crosbeians and guests sat down to a sumptuous Dinner which were served with discreet efficiency by the Club’s staff.

It may be invidious to name one attender, but I must record that our Past President, Lt Col Harrison Cail, who left in 1939, travelled up to London to support the Dinner.

It was then for us to set to work. I had the honour of proposing the Toast to MTS, and I took the opportunity to update members on the Old Crosbeians’ support for MTS projects, our mentoring of those still at School and recent leavers, plus our ability to help Staff liaison with our MT kindred Schools. The response from Deputy Headmaster Bob Simpson was extremely witty and erudite, as well as informing members about the School’s current projects.

Darius Ferrigno, always supported by his wife Elizabeth in this work, organised an evening which ran like clockwork. Darius rounded off the formal part of the evening by in his customary way listing a host of “apology reasons” for the absent friends whom he then toasted.

We then adjourned downstairs to catch up with one another over drinks.

Jeremy Myers, OBA President

Liverpool City Drinks 2017

This year’s annual Liverpool City Drinks took place at the historic Racquet Club Hotel in Chapel Street.  Over 60 former pupils (of all ages), former staff, parents as well as current school staff attended throughout the evening.  The event was organised by the Schools’ Alumni Relations department and sponsored by the Old Girls’ Association.  It was great opportunity for those working in the Liverpool area to network with people from the Merchants’ community and to catch up with old friends.

London City Drinks 2016

10th November 2016

On a crisp autumn evening, over 120 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 not only appreciate the beautiful venue but also reconnect with the Merchants’ family.  Alumni, staff, parents and the recently appointed Chair of Governors, Beverley Bell, mingled to catch up on careers, school news and views.

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 consider joining us.

OBA Scottish Dinner Report 2016

The Scottish old boys dinner took place on Saturday 8th October at The  Royal Overseas League Princes Street, Edinburgh. The dinner was organised by Mr Ian Nevison and was well attended including two former Head Boys Tom Cope and Joe Jermy.  Mr Farrell gave the assembled guests an update on the school and Marcus Millen on School rugby.

What Can a Fighter Pilot Teach a CEO?

Old Boy Justin Hughes attended Merchant Taylors’ between 1978-82 following his time at the prep school. He has now drawn upon his wealth of experiences to write a book illustrating how to transfer military approaches to working environments…

WHAT CAN A FIGHTER PILOT TEACH A CEO?

My first career was as an RAF fighter pilot.  I flew the Tornado F3 for 6 years and was then lucky enough to spend my last 3 years in the RAF on the Red Arrows.  I became the Executive Officer and flew around 250 displays worldwide.  I had no real longer-term career plan, so it was a case of working out where else I might be able to leverage my skills and experience.  I decided to set up a team building business applying my experience in the corporate world.

My break came before the business even started.  During my last summer on the Red Arrows, I flew in a flypast over Buckingham Palace in formation with Concorde for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.  As a result, I had the opportunity to take a flight to New York on Concorde.  The co-pilot asked me what my next job would be.  I told him about my plans for the business and he said I should meet his sister who was Head of Internal Comms at a large insurer.  They became our first client.

Since then, the business has grown in breadth and depth and is now a consultancy which partners with organisations committed to high performance.  There is a surprising commonality between the challenges faced by a fighter pilot and those which exist in large organisations.  A fighter pilot’s world is characterised by ambiguity, imperfect information and time pressure.  Sound familiar to anyone?  Over time, we have deconstructed the key factors which drive high-performance in that world:

  • People: the primacy of attitude over skills
  • Capability: building alignment before setting people free
  • Delivery: a process to close the gap between desired and actual outcomes
  • Learning: how to accelerate performance in real time

Bring these factors to life in an engaging way was the aim in writing my recent book:  The Business of Excellence:  Building High-Performance Teams and Organizations.  The book draws on lessons from the military, commercial and sporting worlds to illustrate and explain tools and methods which the reader can apply in their own teams.  Experience seems to show that the fighter pilot approach actually translates pretty well to other environments.

thumbnail_med-res-cover

The Business of Excellence, published by Bloomsbury.  ISBN 978-1-4729-3022-4

Masterclass Rehearsals for Cast of Forthcoming Production of Grease

Former pupil and professional Actor Arthur Mc Bain took an Acting Masterclass for the cast of the Schools’ forthcoming joint production Grease.  Sharing his expertise with the boys and girls of the cast Arthur was able to teach from some experience having played the lead part of Danny when the production was last staged at Merchant Taylors’ Schools in 2008. Arthur is about to begin rehearsals at the Lyric, Hammersmith for the pantomime ‘Aladdin’.

The following day the soloists in the cast worked with Paul Wynne Griffiths, a Voice Coach and Conductor at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Paul, who is an school friend of Dr Gill, has had forty years of experience coaching opera singers and the cast benefited enormously from his expert guidance.

The cast continue to work extremely hard in rehearsals, this fantastic musical is very likely to be a sell-out so you are advised to purchase your tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. Tickets are available from both schools, Pritchards or to book please visit https://trybooking.co.uk/679

grease-1

 

Memories of Harrison House – 2, David Green 1946-52

Being isolated from their family was a downside to boarding school life but this was compensated by various privileges bestowed by Bugs, Nej and some masters. The Army Training Corps (A.T.C.), forerunner of the C.C.F., was joined by most boys on reaching the minimum age. Boys had their own boots but proper uniforms were issued, together with belt, gaiters and front pouches, which were “bulled”and blancoed to perfection. We were drilled like Army recruits, equipped with a.303 rifle. An important A.T.C. parade was held in 1948, when several Harrison House boys were issued with bugles. We were shown how to respond to various commands but ordered not on any account to try and play them! However, across the road from H.H. was a triangular piece of ground known as Parker’s Piece, which had a small pavilion in the corner. One of the day-boys had a part-time job playing trumpet in a dance band and taught us the bugle. All went well and when the dress rehearsal was held, the bandmaster was stunned to hear three extra buglers – playing! and then recruited into the band. A few boys were allowed at weekends to clean rifles in the armoury, happily pulling “four by two” through and oiling them. The yearly “Field Day” was held at the Altcar Range, when we were marched to Crosby Station and from Hightown to the ranges, where we fired live .303 rounds at targets 50, 100 and 200 yards away.

Sport figured large, with most boys playing rugby and cricket.

Wednesday and Saturday afternoons saw a procession of boys heading for the Endbutt Lane playing field whilst some, unable to take part, had to attend as spectators. During the summer months we were allowed to go, after prep, to Bootle Baths or the plunge pool at Southport for a half-hour swim.

H.H. boys were allowed to leave the house during daylight hours and were officially ‘bounded’ by St. John’s Road and Coronation Road, but this was sometimes exceeded, notably when a rubber warehouse caught fire at Seaforth Docks, seen from the Overhead Railway station, and when the Aircraft Carrier “Ark Royal” was launched in 1950, watched from the New Brighton Ferry.

For several months a few of us published “Harrison House Times”, a single quarto page produced after prep and sold for 1d a time. The master page was written with purple hectographic ink, which was then laid on a bed of gelatine in a biscuit tin lid and it was possible to take fifteen copies before they became illegible. It would be interesting to know if any boy took up journalism!

 

Jerry Edey 1965-75 – My Life after Merchant Taylors’

My visit to Crosby in September 2016 was to join my friend of over 50 years, Andy Oakes, for the celebration of his 60th birthday but a conversation with Doreen Iddon in the Development Office at the School led to me having a look round the school for the first time since I left in 1974 and sharing some details of my subsequent career for Merchants’ Tales.

I spent 12 years in all at Crosby Prep, Merchant Taylors’ Prep and Main School and left very much imbued with the MTS culture. I was rather more successful at the sports and “leisure” side of things than academic excellence so no University for me but straight into the big wide business world. After a brief time in a quantity surveyors’ office I began my 32 year banking career with Midland Bank International Division Liverpool. I rose through the ranks in Liverpool and, after 5 years, I was offered a significant promotion to Bromley International Division which brought my wife and me to the South East where we settled and started a family. After 3 years in Bromley I soon learned that the streets of London were indeed paved with gold especially for bankers working in the City. For the next 24 years I worked for German, Austrian and French banks in the City specialising in finance of international trade and offering trade facilities to mainly medium and large FTSE 100 companies. I ran the UK trade finance offices of these foreign banks.  During that time I also set up and ran a trade finance company offering trade finance to small companies secured by the goods being financed.

MTS had given me the resilience, confidence, self-sufficiency and ethic of successful team work as well as the ability to get on with people of all types and cultures. I travelled extensively overseas gaining business. Competition within and outside the City was intense but believe I not only coped but flourished in that competitive environment.

After 32 years in banking I needed a complete change from the now 4 hour round commute and all the overseas travel so, at the age of 52, I shifted down from my career to a job as Mayor’s Attendant to the Mayor of the Borough and town of Royal Tunbridge Wells. I have enjoyed this great role for 8 years now. I accompany the Mayors to all their functions and appointments in and outside the Town Hall acting as PA on the road, responsible for security of the solid gold mayoral chains and of course I drive the limo!

Apart from my working career my life has been very full with many highlights. I have a wonderful wife these last 34 years and 3 happy and successful grown up children. I have played a tennis tournament at Wimbledon with Andy Oakes, played football at Wembley in front of 35,000 people and my love of nature / wildlife has led me to snorkelling with killer whales in the Norwegian Arctic, cage diving with Great White sharks off the Southern tip of Africa and trekking tigers on an elephant in India, to name a few adventures.

I meet up with my Old Crosbeian buddies from time to time (see photo) and my children live in Reading, Sheffield and Liverpool. My Liverpool roots, friends and family may well lure me back to Merseyside to live within the next few years.

Photo – Jerry & Friends:

L to R   Mark Litherland (works for local government specialising in property/estate management),      Jerry Edey, Andy Oakes (is now working as a qualified accountant but has previously run a trading company & a chain of retail outlets), Mike Dickinson (who attended Liverpool College) and Steve Breen (Senior Partner at a Southport & Waterloo law practice)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nigel Rees Visits Saddleworth

Comedy and Fine Dining provided the opportunity for a mini reunion when Nigel Rees (OC) visited Saddleworth to entertain members of the Saddleworth 91 Club with his reminiscences of his professional association with the uniquely talented Kenneth  Williams.  Amongst  the  diners  at  the  award  winning  White  Hart  Hotel Lydgate was Old Crosbeian Graham McGuffie (1960-1967).

Nigel’s brilliant mimicry and his unique encounters with Williams held everyone’s attention and there was time to enjoy some reminiscences and a photo opportunity.

Graham McGuffie (1967 Leaver) and Nigel Rees (1963 Leaver) at The White Hart, Lydgate, Saddleworth
following Nigel’s entertaining tour de force, “Camping with Kenneth”