The 2004 AGM at the Queens Hotel St. Bees 25th May 2004
We are sad to report that Michael Berry, chairman of the St. Bees Old Millhillians, passed away on 13th June 2004. (He is wearing a bow tie.)
In 1939, Mill Hill School, from North London,
was evacuated to St. Bees for the duration of the Second World War.
The 2005 AGM of The St Bees Old Millhillians took place at the Queens Hotel St Bees on Sunday 24th April.
As usual we met in the "Masters Common Room" (the Saloon Bar) at 12 noon and the meeting followed at 12.30.
A total of 27 attended including 17 Old Millhillians as follows:
Terry Allan 45-49 (President OM`s Club)
Maurice Avison 43-48
Simon Berry 73-77
Neil Bettinson St Bees PC
Alan Bird 35-41
Alan Briggs 37-41
Sam Duckworth 49-53
Jeff Evans, Master St Bees School
John Fitzgerald 44-50
Diana Fitzgerald, John Gould 44-46
Jean Gould, Peter Huston 53-58
Michael Lewis 43-48
Nick Payne 41-44
Pam Payne Len Phillips 41-42
Ann Smith & Judy Michael Smith 68-72
Peter Storey, Ann Storey
James Walker 61-67
David Wilson 40-44
Gordon Wren 40-44
Some apologies were received, amongst which were:-
Jean Berry: “Please accept my apologies for being unable to attend the AGM of the St Bees OM`s Association. I will be thinking of you all and remembering with appreciation the happy times spent at St Bees. Looking back at last year`s photographs and Michael surrounded by his friends - he was a very happy man on that occasion. Thank you for being so supportive”
Freddie Thorne: “Just to wish you all the best for first AGM and to reiterate my extreme disappointment at my not being with you and supporting you on this occasion. Please once again accept and record my humble apologies for absence.
At the same time please extend my regards and very best wishes to all those attending the meeting. I look forward to hearing how it all went”
Roger Thorne: “Apologies. I am affected by a form of old man`s cardiac asthma which I have had on and off for several years. I particularly wanted to be there for your first year in the chair. All the best for a good meeting and my votes for your excellent inscription for Michael Berry and David Smith”
Peter Borrett: “My wife and I have just returned from living in Spain for 32 years. Madness, but we have done it and now live at the above address. This letter is just to present my apology for not attending the St Bees AGM next week. I hope to attend some of the events during the year. With best wishes and regards to you and the others at St Bees”
Paul Zimmerman: “I regret that Mary and I will not be at the AGM on Sunday.
We are expecting the birth of our 4th grandchild at any moment now and are on call for `granny duties`. Best wishes to you all”
George McNeil: “Much regret I can`t make the AGM. Domestic problems have cropped up so I shall have to look forward to seeing you at the next one. Please give my regards and best wishes to everyone”
Doug Sim: “This is to give advance apologies for the AGM. I
regret a family event has cropped up”
A number of others phoned including David Clifford, Gordon Stannard and Ronnie Aye Maung.
I was delighted to report a strong financial situation. The General Account now stands at £507.56, with £760 having been paid in and £252.44 paid out, the latter being the cost of the two mailings over the period of Michael`s passing and his Memorial Service.
Whilst OM`s are known for their generosity, the support for the Memorial fund has been amazing. Even since returning home after the St Bees Weekend I have received two further donations, which means that the fund now stands at a total of £2590. This from a total of 85 OM`s. Consequently funds are available for several future OJ`s together with the Memorial Seat and the Plaque in the Priory Paddock. (See later)
THE MEMORIAL SEAT
First of all I was able to report that the Headmaster, William Winfield, has given his undivided support for the project. For this we are most grateful.
In a letter to me dated November 2004 he stated “ Peter Huston spoke about the Berry Memorial at the Manchester Dinner. I also shared with OM`s my vision of the seat placed proudly over the Quad as part of the 2007 celebration. I will now mention this to our architects responsible for landscaping the Bicentennial Building. That work is unlikely to happen before late 2006, so we have plenty of time to make the arrangements. We could talk the matter through further in late 2005”
Along with support from the school we have almost unanimous support from St Bees Old Millhillians with only one dissenting voice! This, out of a total membership of some 170 is very encouraging.
The whole project was discussed by the meeting when priority was placed on four main objectives.
It should be a memorial to Michael Berry.
It should include the name of David Smith who played such an important part in the setting up of the St Bees OM`s Association
It should be a permanent memorial to the evacuation of the school to St Bees from 1939 to 1945
It should be situated at the school where it will be seen by future generations of pupils.
All the above points were accepted unanimously.
We are grateful to Tim Berry who has offered to act as `Project Manager` for the seat and will supervise the obtaining of materials and the construction.
Those that attended the Memorial Service to Michael will remember the delightful rendering given by the St Bees School Choir. On the evening before the meeting I met the music teacher Hugh Turpin (was it in the bar?) and we discussed the possibility of the Choir coming to the school on the occasion of the seat dedication. I promised to discuss this with the Headmaster when we next meet. They certainly would be very keen to do so and it could be most appropriate.
Finally the following wording was approved by the meeting.
IN MEMORY OF
MICHAEL BERRY OBE
ST BEES OLD MILLHILLIANS ASSOCIATION
IN COMMEMORATION OF THE WARTIME EVACUATION
OF MILL HILL SCHOOL TO ST BEES 1939-1945
ERECTED BY MEMBERS OF THE ASSOCIATION
It is recommended that the wording for the seat as above is inscribed on a stainless steel plate. This would weather better than brass.
A number of people had suggested that the seat should be at St Bees. However the overwhelming majority thought that the school was the right place at it would be seen by current and future pupils of Mill Hill.
I proposed that, as sufficient funds were available, we should place a plaque, made from Cumbrian Slate, with the same wording as that on the seat in the Priory Paddock Garden. This was approved unanimously.
I had previously visited Honister Slate, situated at the top of Honister Pass, and obtained a quotation. The total, including fitting and VAT came to £437.10. I now have to go back to Honister, check the quote, confirm size and situation and when satisfied instruct them to go ahead. Neil Bettinson of St Bees Parish Council has kindly offered to coordinate matters at Priory Paddock when the time comes.
The only difference between the seat and the plaque wording will be that Michael and David`s dates will be that of their life span and not of their years at Mill Hill. This was thought more appropriate and more understandable to visitors. The dates are confirmed for David as 1925-1991, and Michael as 1930-2004.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE OLD MILLHILLIANS CLUB
Terry Allan, President of The Old Millhillians Club spoke to us :
“Mr Chairman, friends – as one of those little boys who helped to reopen the school in September 1945, I was very much on the receiving end of the big boys who came down from St Bees! Nevertheless it is a great pleasure to be with you today.
“Gordon Has asked me to talk a little about the Club; I shall try to do so without keeping you too long from precious socialising time. The reorganisation under the leadership of John Watkiss is underway but it is too early to be able to report on anything concrete. However, one important step is to improve the access to and ease of updating the website. Roger Streeten is currently updating the procedures, so be patient for a little longer. Around the country be it at area, professional or sports gatherings, the level of enthusiasm and the sense of togetherness as members of the OM`s Club are astonishingly high. In hindsight, I imagine we all realise how much we benefited from the GC and what invaluable contacts and networks we established. The RFC, even with just one team, keeps the spirit of Headstone Lane alive. Two weeks ago they honoured us with a 21-nil defeat of UCS Old Boys to retain their place in the league. Golf Society, Property and Surveyors, as well as YOMs maintain contact and keep interest alive.
“Now, I do have a special relationship with St Bees in the person of the late Michael Berry. I had been with Sulzer in Switzerland for about 8 years when I was called to a meeting to discuss some financial details with our UK company. The Swiss staff in the company were astonished to see us pointing at each other and exclaiming, “I know you!”; Michael managed to leave off the derogatory “BOY”. Thereafter we became firm friends, remained in contact and even managed one particular annual dinner together with Ralph Stevenson-Jones (sadly no longer with us), who also worked for Sulzer in London. You will appreciate I cherish his memory.
“Just a quick return to schooldays, one incident sticks in my mind, the middle common room in School House (ex-St Bees) decided that they would also assert their authority over us “fags” with a colours test. Sadly for them we in the junior common room outnumbered them and beat them to a hasty retreat.
“Now two reminders before I shut up, Roddy Braithwaite asked me to make publicity for his forthcoming history of the school. Those who commit themselves early can purchase the book at a discount. I have had a glimpse of the proofs and can warmly recommend the book; it is both entertaining and scholarly. Get in touch with Viv Wood at the OM office.
“Lastly Alford House, I was there a couple of weeks ago: this excellent social project of the Club to give less privileged youngsters a chance in life needs ongoing support. We have maintained this youth club since 1932 (and the youngsters are well aware of our support), so get your cheque books out please, write a remittance to Alford House and send it to Viv Wood.
“Gentlemen I raise my glass to you in homage. Thank you for your attention”.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Neil Bettinson spoke about the paddock and said that it was in good shape and well used. However a new entrance gate is now necessary and that will be provided by the council and erected forthwith. A lot of natural and wild planting has gone on and a wall was blown down in the Great Storm.
Douglas Sim has formulated a Web Site for Mill Hill at St Bees. This is ongoing and contains historical information and photographs. As Doug says “ The Mill Hill page I would not expect to be in a glass case and should evolve and grow as time goes on”.
All OM`s are urged to HAVE A LOOK!! And to get through just turn up
Doug Sim will arrange for the minutes of this meeting to be published on the site.
CUMBRIA LIFE MAGAZINE
The February 2005 issue of Cumbria Life carried an excellent article on St Bees with illustrations of a number of local folk including our old friend Richard Stout who still runs the Garage. Two of the paragraphs ran:
“The Station Garage also performs a more unusual role, that of register office for all those pupils of Mill Hill School who were despatched here from London during the war and can never quite get the old place out of their system
“Old boys and their relatives are more or less obliged to sign the book when they visit St Bees, the first entry dating from January 1991 (signed by founder members of the Old Millhillians Association) the latest entry from September 28 2004. An AGM is held every year in April in the nearby Queen`s Hotel”
Om`s may not be aware that each year a golf match takes place between the OM`s Club and the Old St Beghians. This will be held at Prestbury Golf Club, near Manchester, and those wishing to play should contact Tony Bell on 01480 469293.
The meeting concluded at 1.30 and lunch was then served. Next year we may well try a buffet style meal which will eliminate the need to cook and serve 30 lunches at the same time! It was as usual a relaxed and friendly occasion. Most people departed at around 3pm after having been charged by the Chairman to attend next years meeting which will be held at the Queen`s Hotel, meeting in the Masters Common Room at
12 NOON ON SUNDAY 23rd APRIL 2006
Finally I am most grateful for all the support and encouragement given to me by members. It certainly proves that the decision we took in 2004 to carry on was justified. Please keep your stories and reminiscences coming in for the next OJ which I will be preparing in the autumn.
My best regards,
Gordon Wren (40-44)
The 2006 AGM
The present secretary of the St. Bees Old Millhillians is Gordon Wren, who can be contacted by email.
Click here to email Gordon Wren
Next AGM - 29th APRIL 2007 - Mill Hill School.
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