Fifty Years On

2009 was 50 years on since I started at Aske’s, along with a large bunch of other “weeds”. I thought of organising a reunion on Founder’s Day 2009. Reunions can be tricky things, there is always the question of will they get on when people haven’t met for years. I thought that Founders Day, where there is the church service followed by drinks and food at the school (at the “exorbitant” cost of £5) would be a suitable “melting pot”. Folk would then have the option of leaving straight after the wine and finger buffet or carrying on at a suitable local pub.
Despite an initial enthusiastic response to posting on Friends Reunited and the Old Askean Yahoo Group there were just three of us who made it from the intake of ’59. Myself, Peter Sidgwick and Bob Miller. Pete and Bob saw one another regularly; in fact they had been on the stage at a school prize giving as they had been sponsored by pupils on long distance charity bike rides that they had taken part in.

I had met Pete a few times since school but not seen Bob for some forty years although at school and home we were good friends. As always, the Founders Day service was well run and the standards to do not seem to have changed since I was at school. It is remarkable that in today’s society the prefects still wear gowns and seem to carry the same authority as they did when I was at school. Dermot Poston who was one of our best remembered teachers was there at we had a good reminisce with him. At the time we did not realise (at least I didn’t) that 1959 marked his first year as member of the staff.

After the wine and buffet what to do? Somehow, we found ourselves at the Market Porter at Borough Market. Arriving there at about 3:30 ish meant that the lunchtime crowd had gone and it was too early for the evening mob. We had a great few beers together. As seemed inevitable, since we had all been members, we ended up talking about the Explorers’ Club and the expedition to Norway. As we chatted on, we were asked by a group of Norwegians of all people if we would take a group photo. We asked them to join us and we explained what we talking about. The beer continued to flow. After a couple more rounds each we decided that we should call it a day as none of us were up to the third round, certainly not after the lunch-time wine! All in all a good day, a shame that more of us were not present and that the only photos of the three of us are on a Norwegian’s camera! Maybe more of us will be there in 2019!

Barry Mellish (1959 – 1966)

Coronavirus Update

Along with many other organisations, we have had to cancel some up and coming events, of which I am sure you will, not only be unsurprised by but will also be fully understanding.

Old Askean Association Annual Lunch at RAF Club – if you have sent your cheque to Roger Pawley, he will no doubt be in contact with you

OAA Committee Meetings, these are now taking place meeting via Zoom

OA Rambling Club five night break at Stourport on Severn – cancelled

OA Rambling Club Rambling Programme,  – including the Capital Ring sorties

– cancelled until further notice

Askean Rugby Club – All League matches have currently been postponed and will in all probability not be played

Askean Rugby Club – Annual Supper 1st May -Cancelled for this season


See their website:

Only 9 members travelled to support this event, the 10th year that we have carried it out.  The Friday arrival was distinguished by torrential rain and busy roads, and by 3 members, Bob Nason, Ann and myself, being stuck in the hotel lift for about 2 and half hours, 15 mins after we arrived. We were well supported by Manager Brendan, and by his staff, and it became quite a social event, three of us stuck about 3 feet below floor 2, the doors open and conversation etc taking place. We were even asked whilst stuck to choose our evening meal from the menu handed down – not just room service but lift service then!

Saturday brought dreadful weather, and a bit of concern for our walk on the Sunday.  But lo! We were treated to a lovely warm day with no rain and no wind.  The numbers were boosted for the walk by three of Ann’s family.   Two of our group were not walking, so the number setting off from The Grove was 10.  Our destination was Hengistbury Head, walking along the seafront.   Three dropped out at Boscombe Pier, and the magnificent seven made it to the target in good time.   Ann was in charge of logistics, picking up from Boscombe Pier and twice from Hengistbury Head.  Walkers were rewarded upon return with a complimentary cream tea.

The following morning Brendan came to our breakfast table to thank us individually, and we were presented with two framed certificates in appreciation of our efforts over the ten years, one for the OARC and a personal one for myself.

Ann’s family joined us for the evening meal on the last evening, the group photo in the lounge includes all us.  The total raised was £770, contributed by those staying at the hotel, some contributions by both Ann and my family, and by one OARC member who did not attend at the hotel.   I express my personal appreciation for the support of  all those who took part in any way.

Grove Hotel Bournemouth – Sponsored Walk 25th Oct 2019 for four nights

Get it in your diary!!

This opportunity is open to all OAA members, not just the Rambling Club

Since my wife Margaret died of ovarian cancer in May 2009, I have organised some fundraising for the above hotel. We benefitted from the charity during her illness and found it an inspiring facility.   A number of members have supported this event previously and I am flagging up the date well in advance.

This year it is Friday 25th October for four nights (although you can adjust the number of nights if you wish) The walk will be on the Sunday 27th, and will probably be our flat stroll from the hotel in central Bournemouth to Hengistbury Head, with the option of crossing the head to Muddeford Spit, either on foot or by the land train.  Probably an 8 mile walk.

The hotel is sponsored by the charity Macmillan Caring Locally.  It is unique, the only of its kind and is exclusively for those suffering from cancer (and now other life-threatening disease) and their carers.   Normally the public cannot stay there but I put a case to the Trustees that by allowing our Group to stay (at an off-peak time) it would achieve two objectives a. to publicise the place and b. to raise some money for their “wish list”.

This was agreed and I undertook that we would raise support to the amount of a minimum £50 per room occupied.  This donation can be gift aided too.

This will be the tenth such event.  I gained some publicity in the Bournemouth Echo for the first walk, at that time the hotel was in Southbourne. Its possible we may get a newspaper mention this time, so I hope for reasonable numbers.   The cost has been held at £55 pppn, dinner b&b and there is no single supplement.   For those who have not been before, the hotel is of a reasonable standard, with ensuite rooms and it is situated within 3 or 400 yards of the pier in central Bournemouth.  Bring your bus pass, there is a good service!   I have provisionally booked 5 double/twins and 5 singles.  You are welcome to be with us whether or not you undertake the walk, there is plenty to see in the area and the New Forest.

If you are likely to attend it would help if I could have names as soon as possible, to firm up the booking.  No deposit is required, and of course you can cancel with reasonable notice.   However, I can possibly leave it until say a month before.  Dennis Johnson,

Old Askean Annual Lunch, RAF Club, 2nd May 2019 –

The Old Askean Association Annual Lunch was held at the RAF club on Thursday 2nd May 2019. Some 50 members and guests enjoyed a splendid meal, an interesting talk from the Federation Principal Mr Alex Williamson about fostering closer liaison between the former pupils associations and the college.

This was an excellent occasion and hopefully next year there will be an even larger attendance.



Smoked Salmon with brown bread and butter

Roast Sirloin of Beef with Yorkshire pudding, traditional roast potatoes and a selection of vegetables

Apple and blackberry crumble with vanilla custard

Coffee and petits fours




View from the Heights – May 2019

  The Heights Hotel overlooks Chesil Beach and Weymouth Harbour. Since the rambling club was last here in 2006 the Olympic Rings had been constructed because, in 2012, some sailing competitions took place off the coast. Sunsets were spectacular from our dining area, and the views are outstanding.

  The first ramble was on Portland itself and involved going part way up the west side and down the east, with a path linking the two. However it appears a housing estate had been built since the guide map was devised! It took some time to navigate our way out but there was, needless to say, a pub for us to ask locals how to find the route, over drinks. The footpath appeared to be especially steep and Dennis and Roger went to investigate. As a result the rest of us waited for three walkers coming in the opposite direction who remarked on Roger’s red tie, and were greatly impressed by his correct dress code for Old Askean ramblers. He was able to tell them that the club was founded in 1889 for cycling and camping, with rambling as a lesser activity. After easy terrain it was a shock to find a small rocky ‘ravine’ to cross. As four of us arrived a woman on a horse came and plunged down and up the other side! I was helped down but, not to be outdone by a mere animal, attempted the climb on my own and fell, causing cuts and grazes to my hand and arm. I was patched up by a passing walker and we continued to the Lobster Pot near the lighthouse to eat. There were pots along much of the coastline, their position indicated by floating markers.

  Since Diana and I were staying for only a couple of rambles I looked back in my diary for memorable events in June 2006 before I was reporting for the magazine. Among them was my unsuccessful attempt to climb Pulpit Rock, on which two of my aunts were photographed near the top in 1928. The caption reads ‘Edie and Win with the wind up’! Unfortunately the quality of the picture was poor, so Uncle Harry is shown climbing instead.

  We didn’t have much joy at pubs on the rambles back then. At The Sunray the distinctly unsunny landlord wanted to charge Roger £10 for parking his car for the afternoon, even though we had eaten there. On a hot day between Higher Brockhampton and West Shalford, I was asked to prevent the leading ramblers from passing a thatched pub. Imagine our dismay when we found it had burned down a month before. Fortunately we were able to cadge water at the village hall where an event was ending.

  Having declined the five-mile walk by the River Frome, Diana and I suggested a short walk through quarries close to the hotel on our last day. Sculptors were working at one and beyond it was a sculpture park with completed figures of an elephant, octopus, lion-faced man and a grinning dog among others. On a rock face Antony Gormley had carved a human figure he called Still Falling– something I am resolved, if possible, not to do again! I will not do so in OA rambling company, anyway, since I regret that this is my last report for the magazine. Age has caught up with me.

  Back in 2006 we had sung The Sandbin outside by the War Memorial but this year, for the benefit of Diana and I, it was sung the night before this ramble and we stayed in the restaurant to sing.  



Sixteen of us assembled for ‘standing orders’ at our hotel along with Rocky a Border terrier, rescued by Hazel and Roger, previously owned by a friend who could no longer cope with him. Three more members joined us later in the week. Rocky accompanied every ramble and even appeared to lead some, but to claim that would be denigrating the skills of Dennis and Roger! 

When Bill Bryson wrote A Walk in the Woods his understated title referred to trekking in the Appalachian Mountains. However the first Rambling Club walk, a stroll through the forest, was just that. The forest was the New Forest in Hampshire and we began at Lyndhurst Heath near the hotel at Cadnam where we stayed. It was only three fairly easy miles, starting on open heathland with a single cow (an escapee?) and several ponies which would came right up to you. Once among trees navigation was difficult, but modern technology saw through to Beechen Lane and back to Lyndhurst. Presumably ‘beechen’ is the local plural of beech, as in children and oxen, and there were beech trees on both sides of the lane. 

The next day our fittest four accepted an invitation to join the New Forest Ramblers for a fiveandhalf mile ramble beginning at Millyford Bridge. Fearing I would merely stroll and hold up the others I was not one of the four. I understand there were some tricky paths with fallen trees to be negotiated, and the pace was brisk. I also didn’t take part in the slightly shorter ramble at Keyhaven by The Solent on a hot, sunny day. Those who were not taking part in any of the walks went to towns like Lymington where there are cobbled streets and the church has a huge gallery erected in 1798. There are attractive villages such as Minstead, gardens noted for azaleas and rhododendrons, Beaulieu Abbey and The National Motor Museum. 

The final ramble began at Burley which seems to be a village obsessed by witches and things occult. I usually find something historical to write about when recording Old Askean rambles and this time it was a stone rather like a milestone but placed on the edge of the village in 1802. It reads ‘Peace restored 27th March 1802. Rest and be thankful’. This refers to the fourteen months of peace, agreed at the Treaty of Amiens, during the wars with Napoleonic FranceThe path took us along a disused railway track and through Holmsley Bog which fortunately lay below road level. 

Blazers were worn for the last meal of the holiday and The Sandbin was sung more tunefully than in the recent past. Unfortunately there was no Welsh choir present to appreciate our efforts. Jenny set the quiz which was won by Ann Johnson (on her own she insisted). 

Vic Harrup