Newsletter January 2009
Honorary President: Fr Albert Carette SDB (1932-37)
Chairman: Peter Roebuck (1953-59)
Secretary: Mike Kilduff (1953-59)
Treasurer: David Murphy (1961-65)
Minutes Secretary/IT Coordinator: Eric Baggaley (1946-53)
Events Coordinator: Bernard O’Neill (1958-62)
Co-opted Member (Scotland): John Bergin (1965-70)
Co-opted Member (South of England): Paul Barnes (1954-57)
From the Secretary
This is the third in our new format Newsletter and I have to bear in mind that we are seeking to reach two groups within our Association. The first is those who are on the internet, who, thanks to our excellent Webmaster, Eric Baggaley and his man in the boiler-room, Keith Dransfield, already know of the events and the news that I have to write about, because our website is kept up to date daily. The second is those of you who are in touch by mail. For me, giving you a selection of news and opinion means making a choice, because much as I would like to write at length, the cost of postage puts this almost beyond our resources. More on this later.
The last newsletter went out during the build-up to the Annual Reunion at Shrigley, organized and led this year by the class of 1958, who celebrated fifty years since their arrival at Shrigley. Bernard O’Neill, Keith Dransfield and Fr Bernard Parkes were the trio responsible. Though they did not manage to contact everyone who was at Shrigley in their first exciting year of ‘58, they did enough to bring together the elements of a very successful event.
Special Guests over the weekend were Michael John Bosco Wosser and his wife, Grainne. Michael is the nephew of Patrick Wosser, the third boy to die and be buried at Shrigley. Patrick was from Dublin. He entered Shrigley in September 1933 and died there in December the following year. The presence of the Wossers completed the attendance at our reunions of relatives of all the five boys buried at Shrigley since the 2007 publication of The Salesian Cemetery at Shrigley in which their lives are recalled. Michael and Grainne were participants more than guests; Grainne sang at the cemetery service, and again at the evening concert, accompanied by Michael on the guitar.
The Saturday afternoon ‘Reminiscence’ session was, perhaps, the most riveting two hours of any reunion in the last decade. People spoke with feeling, honesty and humour about their Shrigley experiences. Not every narration was flattering, but none were without affection, and it was the warts-and-all truth that kept the attention of the listeners. It may well have proved cathartic for speakers, too, which was what it was intended to be.
Two weeks after the Reunion, October 4th was the 50th anniversary of Damien Cocksey’s death. Dan, as we called him, was known to most of the committee. His brother Jim and sister Marie, and their partners, joined us for lunch at Shrigley before a brief commemoration in the cemetery led by Fr Albert.
The last event of the year was held at Chertsey at the end of November. The ‘Southern Gathering’ was the third of the nomadic committee meetings held this year with a social event attached. Though attendance was not large, those who were there enjoyed a meal in an Italian restaurant on the Friday evening before the committee meeting on the Saturday morning. After a buffet lunch in the Salesian House, the afternoon was taken up with Fr Joe Brown and Bro Donald MacDonald speaking about their experience in Liberia. David Murphy spoke of his work over many years at Lourdes and I spoke briefly about teaching in Zambia. All our experiences owe much to Shrigley. The day ended for some of the party with Mass at the Salesian House and dinner in an Indian restaurant.
April 1st 2009 marks the cutting of the first sod for the Shrigley Church 75 years ago on the day of Don Bosco’s Canonisation. The Committee, and particularly Bernard O‘Neill as Events Cooordinator, are working on plans for the Annual Reunion at which this anniversary will be remembered. Full details will be available in the next newsletter.
In October I had a phone call from a lady who said that her father had been a student at Shrigley. We chatted and she asked me to post copies of our three books to her as a surprise for him. Her father is John Watts, one of Shrigley’s 1929 intake. I sent the books. John wrote to thank me and shared with me some of his memories.
Fr Franco welcomed me there in 1929 and I was one of the first entrants, my number being SF46. I well remember those early days especially helping Brother install the generator in the lake. He taught me enough to enable me, later in life to be able to install a ring main or repair any electrical appliance…I am now nearly 92 years of age so my memory isn’t all it used to be but some of the memories of Shrigley will never die. My time there built the foundation of my whole life.
John told me that he was the boy with the trumpet, bottom right, in this photo of 1933. This copy of the picture comes from the Archive, a scan of an original given to us by Fr Albert Carette.
|This is most interesting because John enclosed with his letter a photograph of himself as a boy with Albert taken in 1933.|
John’s memory let him down here. He thought Albert was from Australia! His title Bro, of course was the one he had as a novice. John is one of only three survivors still alive from the aircraft carrier Hermes sunk by the Japanese in 1942. It would be great to hear from anyone who knew John, though there can’t be many of those people around.
During Christmas week I listened to a cassette tape that Fr George Robson gave me in the summer for the archive. Neither side was high fidelity technically, but the better one was labeled Shrigley Carols 1978. The choir and organ went through a 40 minute repertoire of Shrigley’s favourites. The singing, with the chapel’s memorable reverberation, was moving. If you were one of the singers, get in contact so that you can give us a few names for the archive records and I can try and copy the tape for you.
The other side of the tape was Rector Major at Shrigley 1979. The quality started off well, but became almost inaudible. However, if you remember the occasion of the recording, get in touch.
Now I come to more serious business. Since the Committee was first elected in September 2007, efforts have been made to establish just how big our Association really is. As I have said before, having a Directory of names and addresses is no indicator of size. Following my last mailing, with my return address on the back of the envelope, I received six letters back marked ‘gone away’. One of these was from South Africa, another from Canada. There may have been others who have ‘gone away’ but no one returned the envelope. So you can appreciate the waste in continuing to mail with little feedback. In the Spring I launched a process to update members’ details and at the same time to ascertain how people wanted to be contacted and kept informed of Association business. Response was poor. I am too embarrassed to say exactly how few people responded.
In recent months our Treasurer, David Murphy, in an attempt to encourage more people to pay an annual subscription, has made available a Standing Order mandate. While some have made use of this, the general response has been less than we hoped. Though some members are generous in making donations to the Association, if we cannot finance our ventures from regular income then we have to tighten our belts. Annual subscriptions, over the last two years have amounted to less than fifty. The cost of printing and mailing one Newsletter costs more than twenty subscriptions. Though we do not calculate the cost of the internet distribution of the Newsletter, it cannot ultimately be regarded as cost free. Our Annual Reunions, and the associated events, have over the last two years been almost self-financing, so we have few worries there.
The redrafting of our Constitution was, in part, a means of addressing the problem. We redefined those in the Directory as people entitled to be Shrigley Association members. We now regard those who have responded to our contacts, who have paid an annual or life subscription, as Enrolled Members. It is at these people future newsletters will be targeted. Entitled members whose whereabouts we are certain of may receive newsletters for some brief time, but this will be scaled down.
As I have said, the website has to be our chief means of keeping in touch. This has, Keith informs us, ‘hits’ running into the thousands. If you make a hit, please think of making contact with the Webmaster or one of the committee to show your interest or appreciation.
There are items on the website that ask for response. Eric and Keith are trying to put names to all the members who appear in the reunion photos in the Gallery section.
In the autumn I discovered this building out of sight on the edge of the golf course at Shrigley, no longer easily accessible to anyone not playing golf. It contained old desks and dormitory furniture from Shrigley day. The road to the farm used to pass this building, but is now long covered over. If you remember it, or worked in it, sorting spuds, for example, feed us your thoughts.
Members from the '50s vintage will welcome news of Terry Gerighty (1952-58).
As part of a long recent trip 'down under' Fiona and I stopped off in Hong Kong for three nights, hoping to catch up with Peter Lally; but, to the great regret of both parties, Peter was out of the country on holiday during our stay, so that plan fell through. Then, following five weeks in New Zealand, we were invited to spend a week in Melbourne with Terry and his French wife, Marie-Claude, with whom we have kept in touch down the years but not seen too much of. With all three of their sons having long flown the nest, the Gerightys spent all of 2008 in Melbourne, where Terry led a University-based project on 'Aviation English'. Having for some 35 years built a very successful EFL business, based in Banbury but with outstations around the globe, Terry had also found time to become a leading expert in 'Aviation English', whose central objective is to ensure that pilots and ground-control personnel master a common, foolproof, technical language.
Peter, Marie-Claude, Fiona, Terry
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