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Blunderbuss News - 2012

News Content for 2012

The Farnhamian 100

Comedy Night at Borelli’s, December 2012

OFA Committee Update, November 2012

John Wilson’s Silver Wedding Anniversary

Matthew Owen

Susie’s Visit to the UK: July 2012

Stan Owen

Mike’s TigerTime Run, June 2012

Garden Party, June 2012

400 Fete Photographs

Martin’s Flying Finish

More news from John Wilson

Alison Schofield

News Update - February 2012

Changing Room Incident

Comedy Night at Borelli’s, December 2012

Mike has filed the following report on the last Comedy Night.

“Everyone was on great form last night. As per usual Julian and I called in at The Hop Blossom for a few pints where we met up with John Saunders, before moving on to Borellis. We narrowly avoided the danger of becoming too comfortable and risking a visit from Geoff! You will remember there was one pevious occasion when he cut in and more or less told us to get ourselves down to the comedy venue.


We reckon there were around thirty people in Borellis. Knowing that Hal Cruttenden was headlining, we had anticipated perhaps a few more. No matter, the comedy was good and Geoff was his usual consumate self, filling in between acts in fine style.


There were some rather amusing comedic swipes at Farnham: “Ah, it's good to be in Farnham, is the museum still here?” pause.


“Elphicks, been here since about 1854 with the same stock. Yesterday's fashion at tomorrow's prices”, and


“Farnham, it's a great place for shopping isn't it ... if you want to buy a porcelain squirrel. Are there any real shops in Farnham?”.


There was also a great line of thought regarding “malicious hecklers”: “When I explained I was a full-time stand-up comedian, one bloke in the audience told me that he thought some comedians were really good, like Michael McIntyre. That would be like me asking what he did and him replying he worked in a shop and then I would say, yeah, some shops are really good like Tesco, shame you don't work there.”


In fact Michael McIntyre got several mentions during the course of the evening. I think he is presently selling thousands of tickets for his shows at the O2 and as Geoff pointedly said “and we are playing to thirty people at Borellis but here you get to see Hal Cruttenden making his comeback.”


In fact, Hal Cruttenden the headline act was polished and very funny. His routine about football fans went down well. “When Jose Mourinho announced he was leaving Chelsea as manager, one fan interviewed at the time said it was like having a death in the family. Well, no it's not is it, these football fans need to get some perspective.”


Having torn into football fans and had a pop at private schools, Hal told us that his stand-up routine was more of a personal breakdown than a show. It was a funny, funny night.”

The Farnhamian: 100 Years On!

Cover of the first issue of The Farnhamian magazine, December 1912The very first edition of the Farnhamian magazine was published exactly 100 years ago in December 1912. It was made available to pupils and Old Boys alike. Since the Farnhamian continues to be published by the OFA, this is quite an achieve-ment. One wonders if any other school in the country has such a record.

The magazine makes history, since if you look through the many issues of the magazines (all of which are available through the OFA website), it is easy to see why Farnham Grammar School attracts such loyalty and enthusiasm over the years. The Farnhamian has been produced by pupils, teachers and Old Boys throughout.

The first magazine was printed in December 1912 when the rev Samuel Priestley was head-master. It is understood that the idea cam from Mr W Welch, then vice-chairman of the Higher Education committee for Surrey County Council. It is assumed the first issue was edited by Mr Priestely. The annual subscription was 1/9d, payable in advance. Monies were to be sent to Mrs Priestley, ‘The School House’. The original printers, who remained so for many years, were Langhams of Farnham.

From the second number, a committee was formed of Mr J W Withinshaw (French Master) and six boys, thus giving them editorial control. In their first editorial, they expressed thanks to D Warner of Form VI for the cover design, which he had drawn under the direction of the Art Master, Mr Allen.

Copies of the Farnhamian are available digitally via the OFA website (issues 70 years and older are publicly available; newer issues require a login to view). Copies are also held in the Museum of Farnham and the Surrey History Centre at Woking.

(Adapted from two articles by Cyril Trust which appeared in The Farnhamian, vol. 19, 2012)

OFA Committee: Right of Way & Bell Tower Updates

We don't usually report on these meetings, but at the last one (15 November 2012) reported on the successful outcome of the Right of Way dispute, and on the successful restoration of the Bell Tower and clock. Further details of the decision regarding the alleged Right of Way can be read here (pdf document).

John Wilson’s Silver Wedding Anniversary

John and Irene Wislon celebrating their Silver Wedding AnniversaryJohn has sent us the following on his Silver Wedding Anniversary, for which we send John & Irene our belated best wishes.

"We started planning our 25th (silver) wedding anniversary party more than a year ago. After the intervention of good friends (who became the masters of ceremonies) we came to a mutual agreement as to the details.

The location was a super hotel in the pretty village of Scherpenzeel about 25 minutes to the east of our home. Music was provided by the acoustic duo, Prettig Geregeld, playing bass and guitar. Dance demos were provided by yours truly and Irene, but perhaps we were over shadowed a little by Irene’s surprise for me, a show dance by the Netherlands number one ballroom couple!

Many of my family, including my mother, came over for the weekend to party with Irene’s family and our Dutch friends.

Throughout the evening we were topped up with little culinary delights and plenty to drink.  Judging by the reactions and thank you notes our guest enjoyed themselves as much as we did.

We start taking bookings for our 50th soon."

Matthew Owen (FGS, 1969-1976)

Matthew OwenWe also regret to announce the sudden death on 16 August 2012 of Matthew Owen, aged 54. Matthew was the son of "Stan" Owen, whose recent death is also reported here. Matthew was a couple of years above us at Farnham, leaving in 1976. However many of us will remember him at the school - and since - as he was a loyal member of the OFA attending events regularly. We extend our sympathies to his family. The funeral took place at 12 noon on 7 September 2012 at Aldershot Crematorium.

Amongst the OFA contingent at the funeral were Roger Edgell (1965), Steve Pritchard (1976), Chris Fitch (1976), Robin Welland-Jones (1974), Mike Seignot (1975), Kathryn Sturt (1979) Mike Mehta (1978) and John Clarke (1978).


The service was led by Rev. John Innes, who mentioned that Matthew received three years of compulsory RE and that on one occasion while Rev. Innes was scribbling on the blackboard with his back turned, Matthew climbed out of the classroom window and went around the block and climbed back in and Reverend Innes was 'oblivious' to what had taken place. Singing Jerusalem and reciting The Lord's Prayer, in the presence of Reverend 'Slasher' Innes gave more than one of us present the strange feeling of being back in a School assembly, circa 1971-73!

Chris Fitch paid a warm tribute to his long friendship with Matthew, which was coloured with many amusing anecdotes from FGS and beyond. His eulogy is posted here.

A copy of the Order of Service can be viewed here (pdf format). We send our deepest condolences to his family.

From the Blunderbuss archives we have located this photo from the 2008 OFA Dinner, which was held at Farnham College.

It shows "Stan" Owen shaking hands with John Clarke. Directly above our hands sits Matthew, looking straight at the camera.  

Susie’s Visit to the UK: July 2012

During Susie McBride’s summer vacation to the UK, she met up with two familiar faces at the “Duke of Cambridge” at Tilford: Caroline and Mike.

"Stan" Owen

We regret to report the death of Stanley James Owen on 30 July 2012. He taught Physics at FGS between 1960 and 1973. The short obituary notice in the Farnham Herald reads:

“OWEN, on 30th July 2012. Stanley James in his 89th year, after a long illness. Beloved husband, father, grandfather and brother. Family only funeral. Donations if desired to Save the Children. With thanks to Frimley Park Hospital for their kindness and care.”

“Stan” Owen’s obituary is posted here.

Our photo shows "Stan" Owen sharing a joke with Mike Mehta after the 2008 OFA Annual Dinner, held at Farnham College.

"Stan" was a regular attendee of these dinners.

Mike's "TigerTime": 30 June 2012

Mike at the finishing post of the TigerTme run, June 2012Many thanks for your financial support for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation's TigerTime Campaign. I did say that I would drop a note to everyone who had sponsored, expressed an interest and is asking how I got on,so here it is.

I did fly out to Chamonix (via Geneva) on the 25th and after some preliminary training runs leading up to THE LONG RUN on the 30th, I did complete the event. It was as tough as I imagined it would be and I'm not sure that the gentle Surrey Hills provided completely adequate training! I was pretty sure I was good for the first 10, or even 12k but it was around the 18k mark I had a momentary doubt that I might not be able to finish. The good news is I did, just. I couldn't speak for the next 40 minutes and I sat on the grass at a height of 2016m, doing a goldfish impression.


For a very accurate flavour of what it was like, there is a film on YouTube, Cross Mont-Blanc2012.wmv This shows great excitement at the start and completely exhausted runners at the end. Not everyone made it. A little like the Grand National, there were some fallers! Completely coincidentally (or not!), I wore my favourite Stones' T-shirt.


The cheques are still coming in, anyone who would like to donate, please send cheques to my address, payable to 'TigerTime'.

 Garden Party: 23 June 2012

Gardne Party at Farnham Colleg, June 2102 with Helen Collett, Julian Walden, Mike Mehta, John Clarke, Gillian Mansfield, Martin Collier, John Saunders, and Anne Pullinger.The second "afternoon of nostalgia" (or Garden Party) was held in the grounds of the College.

Although windy, the weather stayed fine. There was an excellent turnout for our year, with more attending this function than any other Association event to date.

During the afternoon we posed for a group photo, with (left to right): Helen Kennedy (Collett), Julian Walden, Mike Mehta, John Clarke, Gillian Mansfield, Martin Collier, John Saunders, and Anne Pullinger.

More photos have been posted on the OFA website.

The Farnham Herald reported (6 July) on the event as follows:

“For 115 former pupils of both the Farnham Boys and Girls Grammar Schools, ‘Another Afternoon of Nostalgia’ proved a great success. Even though the schools were closed in 1973, old classmates came from across the country to meet at Farnham College and spend a few hours reminiscing. Rosemary Godfrey (nee Walker) came from Australia, Maureen Bleeker (Turner) came from Holland and others had travelled from the Midlands, the West Country and across the Home Counties to be there.

“The chairman, Patricia Atkinson, welcomed the guests and explained with sadness that originally the party was to have been held at the home of the Old Girls’ president, Alison Schofield. Unfortunately Alison died in May and a change of venue was necessary with Farnham College offering to help at short notice. Patricia praised the former president and was delighted that her husband, John Schofield, had decided to attend for a short time. She finished by thanking Fred Carter, Director of Farnham College, for his help in re-arranging the venue for the event.

“The weather was kind and the food, provided by the Old Girls, was a colourful and tempting display of cakes and savouries. The guests, including many in their 80s and 90s, were all brought together by the magnet of their old schools. The Marquees, provided by the Hedgehogs, buzzed with conversation and the afternoon was clearly enjoyed by all those present. Guests are already asking for a third Afternoon of Nostalgia.”

400 Fete Photographs

We have been loaned a large number of colour slides of the 1978 400 Fete which was held in the grounds of Farnham College. The slides were taken by Keith Harvey (Geology) and have been kindly loaned by him. As there are at least 80 photographs these will take some time to scan and upload, but we will try to do so over the next few months. The first photos to be scanned are likely to be those showing several members of staff who kindly consented to have wet sponges thrown at them whilst "locked" into stocks. Names include John Commerford, "Gus" Grogut and Chris Chapple. Watch this space!

Martin's Flying Finish

As Martin's Mayorial year drew to a close, he was obliged to take part in the "Race for Office" (or should that be "Race for Officers"?) which coincides with Pancake Day. Here is a photo Martin crossing the finishing line complete with frying pan to fend off any opposition.

Well, that's how BLUNDERBUSS might have explained this photo!

On a more serious note (G Major), Martin was taking part in the Pancake Day celebrations in Huntingdon. Here, Shrove Tuesday is celebrated with a series of races. Traditionally they start with the so-called "Chain Gang" race consisting of shackled prisoners and former pupils the Mayors of Huntingdonshire wearing their chains of office. If you don't believe this version of events either, then read the explicit facts on this link to the full story.

More News from John Wilson

John Wilson has sent us this splendid photo taken at the WDSF World Championship Senior 2 which took place in Mallorca recently. Is this a rehearsal for the Olympic Flag Ceremony?

Alison Schofield: 1929-2012

We are sorry to announce that Alison Schofield, President of the Old Girls' Association died on 5 May 2012 from acute leukaemia. Alison and her husband were going to host the Garden Party in June and had to cancel owing to her poor health. She was a former teacher at the Girls' Grammar School and Farnham College. For many years she served on the committee of the Old Girls' Association, latterly as President. Her funeral will take place on 22 May at St Thomas's Church.

We have added Alison's obituary notice from the Farnham Herald.

News Update: February 2012

John McLaughlin posing with a baguetteFollowing a recent stay in Frimley Park Hospital, we are pleased to report that John McLaughlin is now recuperating at home and preparing for his next baguette-posing assignments for 2012.

The photo shown was taken at the Reunion organised by the 1979 Leavers and shows Mrs Commerford (Patrickson) pondering her pose and Jeremy Hardy wondering what's happened to his baguette.

We have also added more photographic memorabilia in the form of Susie McBride's (Pringle's) photos from 1977-78 and some of Mike Mehta's photos of immediate post-Farnham College activities of 1979-80.

Changing Room Incident

We are grateful to Chris Nelms for contributing the following anecdote:

"At morning break time we used to play in the boys' changing rooms on the ground floor even though Mr Grogut had told us not to. The rows of pegs had angled metal poles running from the top down to the floor and these allowed us to play some kind of tag or chase game, running across the room and then grabbing the pole with one hand to swing rapidly through 180 degrees before running the other way down the next rank of pegs. One side of the room had frosted windows and as I ran towards it I failed to catch the metal pole and hurtled on towards the glass. I put my elbow against the window frame but that failed to stop me. The next moment I was gazing out at the school field where frosted glass should have obscured my view. I thought my forehead had hit the glass so I instinctively put my hand up to see if my head was bleeding, and only then did I see the blood and the glistening white of my tendons that showed I had actually punched my wrist through the window.  

"Holding my blazer sleeve away from the wound because my Mum would have been cross had I got blood on it, I ran to the Biology Prep Room down the corridor. I hesitated, knowing I should knock first, but then burst in on the biology staff having their morning coffee. As soon as I entered I heard someone say: "999".  Mrs Morris took charge and sat me down on a chair beside the window.  She applied a compress to my wrist and said: "You're not going to faint on me are you?  I'm doing a first-aid evening course each week and we did cuts last week but we're not doing fainting until next week."  I assured her I wouldn't faint.  Mrs Morris was reassuring and the right person to handle such a situation.

"In due course the ambulance arrived and to my astonishment we drove to hospital with the sirens blaring which was very exciting.  From memory I had eighteen stitches, and 38 years later my wrist still looks like a failed suicide attempt when I hold out my hand for change in shops, and I still have no feeling in that region.  However at the hospital they said my wristwatch had saved me from more serious injury and I'm grateful to all those involved who treated me so kindly when the accident was my own stupid fault.  In the following days the deputy head, Mr McLaughlin, phoned my parents several times to enquire about my well-being.  My parents thought he wasn't being kind, merely concerned that they might sue the school for negligence if I had any permanent injury.  Fortunately for all concerned that didn't arise."