Brighton College shivers in the winter of 1910
Written by Sir John Chilcot (H/S 1952-57)
Tuesday, 25 December 2012

The College is currently enjoying unparalleled success under Head Master Richard Cairns and his team, something which we can all be proud of whenever we were at the College. It has somewhat put the College on the map as it were. It has also been a memorable year for the Old Brightonians, for completely different reasons. The year started with a memorial for Sgt Major Chris O'Connell when a few hundred OBs turned up on a freezing January morning to pay their respects to a man who had inspired and been a father figure to many. It had already been a year since Chris O'Connell died, but the effect that he had upon the pupils under his guidance was as palpable as ever.

Later in the year we also lost two great, and very different men from our Old Brightonian community - Geoff Lees, House Master, extraordinary teacher, cricketer and of course squash master (Common Room 1948-1964), and Rev. Canon Bill Peters, College Chaplain from 1950 to 1959, known to many as Holy Joe. For the younger of our OB community these names of course don't mean very much, but to a vast swathe of us they meant everything to us when we were at the College, and for a great deal of the time after it. Geoffrey Lees taught me English, and got me a Cambridge open scholarship, at first try. I owe his memory a lot, and in much later life, when he was Head Master of St Bees, I met him on holiday in Cumbria, to our mutual enjoyment and fun. I know that Lord Robert Skidelsky has been working on a tribute to Geoff, and also that a Memorial is planned for our Holy Joe on Saturday 2nd March, I do hope that many of you will take the time to attend.

I wonder who you personally look back upon with admiration from your days at Brighton College, whether or not they were the happiest of your life is really neither here nor there, but the individuals who helped shape your education coupled with the ethos of each individual Head Master are really what makes the school what it is. Each of us has a debt of some kind to those that teach us, as Richard Cairns reminds pupils at graduation please do take the time to keep in touch, to let the College know how you are getting on. The OB office does a great job to keep us all connected, and I urge you to play your part in the network whether it is through supporting the sporting societies, attending events, leaving a legacy, benefaction to current building projects and scholarships or through offering careers advice and work experience to our younger OBs. It is all of great benefit to the College, and to our wider OB community, enriching us all.

Education is a great gift, let us not forget how lucky we are!

As the year draws to a close may I wish all the best to Old Brightonians, a very merry Christmas and a happy new year to all of us, and of course to all the current pupils and masters and staff at the College.

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