OLD PALUDIANS ANNUAL REUNION 2019

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The meeting was held at Upton Court Grammar School, Slough.  Apart from OPA Committee members, the meeting was attended by: the Mayor of Slough (Councillor Harmohinderpal Singh Sohal); the Head of UCGS (Mark Pritchard); the Deputy Head (Oliver King); the Head Boy (Pratik Doshi) and Head Girl (Nidi Hariharan); and Mrs Margaret Lenton (ex-President of the OPA). Apologies were received from President Emerita Mrs Mercedes Hernandez Estrada.

Welcome: Ron Fidler, OPA chairman, opened proceedings by welcoming those present.  He explained that the purpose of the AGM  was to communicate to members what goes on between reunions.  Our aim was to ensure the success and longevity of the Association. Ron highlighted the need to attract new members and the enhanced website, which it is hoped will be instrumental in this respect.  The OPA was endeavouring to build relations with current students by attending school functions and providing funding for school projects. Ron also mentioned that two current OPA committee members members were on the current school governing body, including the Chair of Governors ensuring a strong voice for the OPA on that body. Finally, Ron thanked members who had made donations to the Association.

Roll of Honour: the names of 12 alumni were read by Bob Moss.

School Report: the School Head, Mark Pritchard, welcomed OPA members. He spoke briefly about the history and traditions of the School.  He detailed changes in curriculum, personnel and buildings, and  explained the School’s mission statement and values. He emphasised that progress scores achieved by students were impressive.  He noted the opening of the “legacy building”, adding that the final phase of the building programme was currently underway and scheduled for completion in the summer of 2019.  Total cost would be £25 million.

The Deputy Head, Oliver King, spoke about the School’s curriculum and changes thereto.  The new ethos of the School was “Aim High, Be Kind, Be Proud”.  Points covered by Oliver relating to the curriculum included: the baccalaureate entitlement; cross-curricular lessons; challenges in modern society; timetable enrichment, often based on teachers’ personal interests; educational visits and visiting speakers; activities such as debating and the orchestra; and the OPA-funded  essay-writing competition.  Oliver concluded his presentation by describing several Pioneer Educational Trust projects, such as the “More Able Girls” project and Trust Development Day.

The Head Girl, Nidi Hariharan, and Head Boy, Pratik Doshi, spoke about a number of initiatives at the School: the Valentine’s Party; an Outward Bound trip, with canoeing and  rafting; career visits; bhangra dance; an art project; the School’s Pioneer Parliament and a visit to the real Parliament; and the Performing Arts Spring Showcase.   

Website Demonstration: Rajesh Sharma demonstrated the new website. He explained the history of moving the old website from Wikispaces and the differences between the old site and its successor.  The previous site had principally been a historical depository and this knowledge would remain available to users.  The new site must be capable of arousing the interest of prospective new OPA members, who would be able to join the Association online.  Users would be able to add their stories to the site for others to read on a more timely basis than at present.   There would be user forums for discussion.  Invitations to join the website (involving the use of coupons) would be sent out.  The archives would also be digitised.  Suggestions on use of the new website were encouraged. Celia Johns raised a point about Facebook and Twitter accounts. Gloria Dean inquired about the security of coupons and the website, adding that she had recently seen adverse comments about the OPA (or the OPA Limited).

Membership: the Membership Secretary, Kav Benepal addressed the problem of reaching out to new members.  Mobility (in the sense of not being local) was a problem for some people and so the website and social media were important aids to building a community. Groups of non-OPA members had formed in some areas and it was  important to attempt to bring these people back to the school.  The community should cover all ages.  OPA members should be encouraged to come to the school to give students the benefit of the knowledge they had acquired in their careers.  A new work experience programme should be built.

Election of Officers: Ron Fidler stressed the urgent  need for more volunteers.  He himself offered to serve another year as OPA Chairman.  The nomination was proposed by Gloria Dean and seconded by Celia Johns.  Approved unanimously.  Kav Benepal, Jane Brown, Ian Cairns, Alan Forbes, David Rogers and Rajesh Sharma agreed to remain on the committee for another year.  Their en bloc nominations were proposed by Jean Tyler and seconded by Shelagh Rothero.  Approved unanimously.  Ron appealed for volunteers to fill the Treasurer and Newsletter Editor roles. Celia Johns and Glenys Laws respectively expressed interest in these roles (since confirmed).  Jean Tyler pointed out that the Head Girl used to be a committee member.

Open Forum: Debbie Wright suggested that committee vacancies should be notified to members in advance of the meeting, to provide more time for consideration.  Shelagh Rothero stressed the importance of attracting younger members. 

Before and after the AGM there was time for members and guests to enjoy a cup of tea, meet with old friends and view items from the archives as well a traditional meal. There were the usual generous donations of raffle prizes and tours of the newly refurbished school facilities were especially well received.

Full minutes will be available elsewhere on this site.

The next AGM and Reunion is scheduled for be Saturday 21st 2020.

1. OPA Chair Ron Fidler, Mayor of Slough (Paul Sohal), Head Boy (Pratik Doshi) and Head Girl (Nidi Hariharan). I’d like your help editing the captions to the photos. Don’t worry about the size or font or formatting – those are pre-set elsewhere.
2. Ian Cairns (OPA Committee) deep in discussion with Margaret Payne (former OPA Committee member)
3. Mark Pritchard Head of UCGS discusses the importance of the OPA to the school with the Mayor Paul Sohal while Robin Hannigan (ex OPA Committee) tries to convince Oliver King (Deputy Head of UCGS) that he really needs a second copy of Ad Astra (in return for a donation to the funds).
4. Robin Hannigan (ex OPA Committee) successfully convinces Oliver King (Deputy-Head UCGS) that a second copy of Ad Astra would be a good investment. Also Mayor of Slough Cllr Paul Sohal, Mark Pritchard (Head of UCGS)
5. Shirley Lane (former OPA Committee) in discussion.
6. Bob Moss (Newsletter Editor) and Cllr Paul Sohal (Mayor of Slough)
7. Robin Hannigan (ex OPA Committee) usually runs a small memorabilia stall at the reunion to help raise funds for the OPA. Here he is seen with Mark Pritchard (Headmaster, UCGS) and Oliver King (Deputy Head, UCGS)
8. Old Paludian Mike Butcher examines the archive display.
9. Old Paludians examine items from the archive
10. Adrian Greene (SGS and UGS) in discussion with current UCGS Head Boy Pratik Doshi
11. Alan Mabbutt (former OPA Committee) in discussion.
12. Alan Mabbutt and Margaret Payne.
13. Ron Fidler with a photo of Ron Fidler from the newsletter. In 2018 Ron became an artists model for the first time as part of a Year 13 art project.
14. UCGS Head Boy Pratik Doshi with members of the OPA
15. Former Principal and Former President of the OPA Margaret Lenton was a welcome arrival at this year’s reunion.
16. Slough High School Reunion
17. This year’s menu comprised a traditional meal which was generally well received.
18. David Upton, Richard Knight and Neil Hines amongst contemporaries
19. Old Paludians from Slough Grammar School for Boys
20. Tours of the refurbished school led by current sixth formers were very well received by members, including Richard Knight and David Frankl. The screen on the wall is actually a large state-of-the-art electronic touchscreen which replaces the usual whiteboard – although one is retained on the left for use in an emergency.
21. Tours of the refurbished school led by current sixth formers were very well received – David Frankl in discussion.
22. Mrs Sheena Cater and Mr David Rogers (OPA Committee) – both ex-staff viewing the newly refurbished school.
23. Mrs Sheena Cater and Mr David Rogers (OPA Committee) – both ex-staff – viewing the newly refurbished school.
24. Two Deputy Heads clearly better than one. Mr Michael Brown former Deputy Head and Oliver King current Deputy Head UCGS.
25. From the right Kav Benepal (OPA Committee, Membership Secretary), Mark Pritchard (Headmaster, UCGS) and Pratik Doshi (Head Boy, UCGS), Members of the OPA
26. The Slough Secondary School OPA Memorial Trophy. Presented by the OPA in memory of the first President Mr Francis-Smith.
27. The UCGS Sixth Form Volunteers. Their work in assisting with the reunion and AGM and conducting tours was very well received and much appreciated. They were a credit to our school.
28. Mark Pritchard (Headmaster, UCGS), Ron Fidler (Chairman OPA) and Oliver King (Deputy Headmaster UCGS) with the sixth form team.
29. Mr Pritchard (Head, UCGS) and several current sixth formers including Head Girl Nidi Hariharan view items from the OPA archives.
30. Mark Pritchard (Headmaster, UCGS) with Old Paludians
31. An Old Paludian
32. David Rogers and Rajesh Sharma both OPA Committee
33. Whilst there were a number of school ties worn to the reunion the Old Paludians tie was somewhat rarer. The colours derive from the fact that the Old Paludians colours came directly from the Slough Secondary School colours which continued to become the colours of Slough High School.
34. Generous donations of raffle prizes helped raise funds for the Association.
35. There were a number of generous donations to the raffle this year. This pair of hand-knitted hats in the colours of Slough Grammar School and Slough High School were very well received.
36. Lucky raffle winners with their SGS and SHS style hats. Jane Brown (OPA Committee) is on the left

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