The President's Welcome

I am delighted to be the Honorary President of the OT Society for 2018-19 (however daunting it may be to follow in the distinguished footsteps of Christopher Everett!).

I greatly enjoyed my time at Tonbridge; I relished the splendid “have-a-bash” approach (you don’t know whether you can do something until you’ve tried it, so go on and try it); I had inspirational teachers who fostered intellectual curiosity and not just the acquisition of knowledge; and I had a wonderful time on the sports field. There was only a limited range of other activities in those days, but I much enjoyed the CCF, commanding the Annual Inspection (conformist) and blowing things up (not conformist).

At the time I was at Tonbridge (1963-68) the School was undoubtedly an all-round success – both academic and sporting, and in the self-sufficient and self-confident boys it produced. But I have never been a believer in Golden Ages, however tempting it is to look back through the patina of time. Over the fifty years since I left, the School has gone from strength to strength, sustained and improved in every way by wise, imaginative and liberal leadership. And there are now many more who have the possibility of a Tonbridge education – not only with widening access, but through the increased size of the School. When I was Head of the School in 1968, there were 525 boys; now there are 789, and three more Houses. And the School is a caring, mutually supportive and socially responsible community in a way that would have seemed a bit odd in the 1960s. So as President of the OTS it is a particular pleasure to share, in however small a way, in the School’s success.

And the last year has been studded with success, in academic achievement; in sport (especially cricket, I am glad to say); Tim Haynes being named “best Head of a Public School” in Tatler; the buildings and facilities development (the most ambitious since Victorian times); and the Cadogan Hall concert in January this year, where the outstanding quality of Tonbridge music was on show to a hugely appreciative audience. 

2018 is a year of change for the School. After an outstanding tenure as Headmaster, Tim Haynes has been succeeded by James Priory. It is a delight to welcome James and his wife Helen on behalf of the Society and to wish them every success and happiness in their time at Tonbridge.

The OT Society continues to be active and energetic. During Christopher Everett’s Presidency there were 14 well-attended reunions of various sorts, 12 fascinating talks in the Tennant Lecture series, and our thriving OT networks overseas organised six events in Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada and the USA. Becca Watson (rga@tonbridge-school.org) and Katerina Ward (kw@tonbridge-school.org) do a splendid job in administering and supporting the Society, and they are always delighted to hear from OTs (as am I). If you have any comments about the Society, and especially if you have any ideas or suggestions for OTS activities or other improvements, do please let us know. 

During my year as Honorary President of the OT Society, I also have the honour of being Master of the Skinners’ Company. Ever since the death of Sir Andrew Judde in 1558, five years after he founded the School, the Skinners’ Company has had the closest relationship with the School, and that relationship has been, and continues to be, one in which the Company takes very great pride. So I look forward with special anticipation to events at Skinners’ Hall involving the School, and of course (wearing both my hats) to events at Tonbridge, and to meeting as many OTs as possible during my year as President.

Robert Lisvane