A Curious Thing Happened In 1897

A curious thing happened in 1897. What, I hear you ponder, as you momentarily put down your jam butty (the advantage of working from home). Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee might spring to mind for those of you old enough to remember, or that the Blackwall Tunnel first opened. Amelia Earhart, the famous and fearless American aviator, was born; J.J. Thompson announced the discovery of the electron. Felix Hoffman successfully synthesised acetylsalicylic acid and trademarked it as Aspirin; Bram Stoker’s Gothic horror ‘Dracula‘ was first published, and the play ‘Cyrano De Bergerac‘ premiered in Paris.

While all this was going on there were some young gentleman at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge who thought it would be nice to catch up with old school chums. They duly did and in doing so held the inaugural meeting of the Old Sedberghian Club.

Our records about those early days of the Club are very scant indeed but one thing is clear; those early founders found great fellowship at Sedbergh and wanted to continue their friendships long after they had left the confines of the school. In doing so they established a community, unbounded by distance, geography or culture, and which continues to this day to celebrate the friendships and heritage of the ancient institution of Sedbergh.

Old Sedberghian Club Dinner at The London Trocadero, July 1912.

The important word here is ‘community’. At a time when many of us are isolated, working from home, facing restrictions on whom we can meet, it is easy to forget all the wonderful people around us. It is easy to become insular at a time, more than ever, when we should be engaging with, and supporting, each other.

The Club has struggled to host social events with the present restrictions. But fortunately, technology is on our side and in the spirit of our founding fathers we now propose a global online quiz night which we hope will be the biggest gathering of the Sedbergh community since records began.

Of course, it will be more than just a quiz night. We will have hosts from across the common room staff. There will be guest appearances. The principal of the Sedbergh School Group, Andrew Fleck, will make a short address about the exciting plans for the School as we approach the quincentenary in 2025.

There will be prizes! The top three winners will receive a Christmas hamper. More importantly, the OS Club will send a Christmas hamper to the House with the most affiliated scores.

But it’s not about the ‘what’, it’s about the ‘why’. Yes, we hope it will be entertaining, but more importantly that it provides a sense of community, and a sense of belonging.

It is open to all; by this I mean Club members, parents (and parents of the junior school), and School staff. Details can be found in the contents of the OS Club October e-newsletter and here on the OS Club website.

So, I hope to meet many of you online on 19th November at 7pm for a celebration of friendship and a recognition of our global community which was founded by a few friends coming together in 1897 and which continues to share the same ethos as those young men all those years ago.

Jan van der Velde (L 77-82)
Chairman, OS Club