Descendants of headmasters who shaped Shebbear were among guests of honour at the Old Shebbearians’ Association Centenary reunion dinner in London on Saturday, January 26, 2008.

They included Professor Jennifer Tann, great granddaughter of Thomas Ruddle (1864-1909) Mrs Julia Howell, great niece of John Rounsefell (1909-1933) and Ms Patricia Johnson, daughter of Leslie Johnson (1933-42).

Also there were Mrs Alice Kingsnorth, widow of George Kingsnorth (1964-83) Russell Buley (1983-1997) and his wife, and Leslie Clark (1997-2002) and his wife. All were given a rousing reception.

Best wishes were received from Mrs Gwenda Wyllie in Western Australia, great, great, great granddaughter of the Rev. William Kelly (1847-1855).

The association was saddened to hear that Brian Thorne, another invited guest and a descendant of the school’s founders, had died at the age of 72 shortly before Christmas.

A record number of almost 150 former pupils, spanning the years from 1936 to the present, and guests attended the event at the RAF Club in Piccadilly. Among four most recent Old Shebbearians present was last year’s head boy, Josef Schmalfuss, who is a student at Cambridge University.

The most disappointed Old Boy was Graham Moore, who left in 1997. He caught a plane from Washington on the day in question – only for it to be diverted to Shannon in Ireland with a technical fault.

Air Commodore Chris Blencowe, President of the OSA and now Bursar of Pembroke College, Cambridge, was in the chair. He was a pupil at Shebbear in the 1960s.

Responding to the President’s toast to Shebbear College, current headmaster Mr Robert Barnes, who attended with his wife Jo, said the school came through two rigorous inspections last year with flying colours and had retained its position as the most successful of all the Methodist residential schools in the United Kingdom.

He congratulated the OSA on reaching its centenary and said the association and the achievements of former pupils were an inspiration to the college’s 338 pupils, the highest number ever.

The toast to the OSA  was proposed jointly by Candy Lai, Head Girl, and seconded by Tristan Brown, Head Boy.

Norman Venner was elected President for 2008 and Paul Sanders, vice-President.

A second reunion for Old Shebbearians and partners will be held at Shebbear on Saturday, August 30. Full details will appear on the website.

Footnote: A full report of the Centenary Dinner with pictures and a list of those who attended will appear in the 2009 edition of the Shebbearian.