Messages From The Chairman

Please see below for a full listing of messages from OS Club Chairman, Jan van der Velde (L 77-82)

The Chairman’s Emporium of Time (December 2019)

It doesn’t take a genius to tell us that time is relative. Travelling to the Annual London Alumni Cross Country race in Wimbledon to support our team last weekend, I noted that the imperceptible time that it takes for someone to press the ‘open’ button on the train door as you are about to alight at a station is judged to be critical by the travelling public.

Human reaction is about one tenth of a second which is about as much time as you’re allowed to press ‘open’ before those immediately behind you start tutting. This tutting rises to a crescendo of huffing and puffing, so much so that the Three Little Pigs would stand no chance even if their house was made of the finest Yorkshire stone.

If you’re reactions are slow because you are elderly, infirm, or hungover, well I’m afraid that cuts little mustard. If you don’t press that button quick enough you end up squashed against the glass window of the door by a surging tide of humanity that is eager to alight.

I arrived at Wimbledon Common just as our team was limbering up, dressed in their smart and clean running vests. However such attire reveals the upper arm and shoulders and while the ‘girls’ understand the importance of an even tan, I’m afraid the ‘boys’ had, in the main, brown forearms, and were otherwise as white as a sheet. Just like wearing socks with no trousers this was not a good look. I suggested they take a roll in the mud to take on a more uniform appearance but as usual my advice was ignored.

Having taken the team photo the race was started and they soon disappeared into the woods. I waited by the finish line with the large digital clock ticking away. To while away the minutes I rummaged through all the wallets people had left with me for safe keeping but it proved to be a disappointing and fruitless exercise as no one uses cash anymore.

However it wasn’t long before runners started to appear in the distance. Many of the leaders were wearing an OS vest and soon members of our team were crossing the finishing line. It was Norman Berry (SH 57-62) who brought up the rear. Now in his seventies it was a sterling effort. As he approached the finish, others of our team joined him as by now his face was contorted with the agony of every step. I was greatly sorry to see him in such pain, but at the same time filled with optimism for the Inter-Alumni Gurning Competition in January.

Our team did well. The girls won the inaugural women’s race and the boys came second. We celebrated in the Green Man before heading to James Robertson’s (E 87-93) London Steakhouse where we were hosted in magnificent surroundings. The girls drank bubbly from the newly won cup, ignoring the taste of metal polish and countless unwashed hands which had handled it as it had been passed around. It was a great evening, and a great day.

As I made my way home I pondered the contrast between the second or two it takes to open a train door, and which feels like a millennia, and the day spent with kindred spirits which flew by so quickly. I thought to myself, it’s not time itself, but how we spend it, that’s important.

But that’s not quite true. It’s how we give our time that really matters. It was upon this epiphany that I was resolved to delve into my own Emporium of Time to see what I could spare for others this Christmas; my family, naturally, but also friends whom I never see because ‘life gets in the way’ or elderly relatives who long for company but never like to impose.

So I will be busy this Christmas. I hope likewise you find time to share with those who matter to you. And as always I will raise a glass to you all as I sit with my family, my long lost friends, and elderly relatives, gathered around the warmth of a Christmas table.

Cheers all, and a most Merry Christmas

Jan van der Velde
OS Club Chairman

Chairman's Message - The Real Purpose of Sport (November 2019)

I know we didn’t win the rugby but….

Many years ago I was asked to judge at the Speedo swimming regional finals in Cardiff. On arrival, and having been given the grand title of Chief Inspector of Turns, I was dispatched to the far end of the 50m pool, two-way radio in hand. This was a new toy for me and I found that by tuning in to channel six I could contact the local pizza emporium which was just as well as it had been a long morning and I was becoming quite peckish.

And it was just when my pizza had arrived and I was paying the delivery boy that there was a problem with the start signal and the recall sound was given. Most swimmers stopped and those that didn’t were caught by the false start rope, that is all except for the swimmer in lane one who had managed to swim under the arc of the rope and was now clearly well on his way. Seeing the impending calamity the Referee, Assistant Referee, Starter, Stroke Judge, the person who brought round the water, the person who brought round the sweets, Coaches, Assistant Coaches, swimmers, and the Cardiff Male Voice Choir, all charged headlong down the pool in an attempt to stop our hapless hero. Some raced ahead to the second false start rope and tugged and hacked at the unfathomable knot which had been tied extra securely by the helpful poolside assistant, others threw anything to hand such as floats, pull buoys, water bottles, and blue plastic chairs ripped from their mountings but by now he was just yards from the wall and nothing and no one could stop him.

It was only at the turn when a warm slice of margarita pizza fell squarely on his head dropped by you-know-who, that he finally stopped and as the St John Ambulance crew attended to the officials, many of whom were in need of oxygen after their exertions, and as our fugitive climbed out of the pool, it was in that moment that everyone saw this for what it truly was - a metaphor for life - for in these troubled times he had persevered, he had continued despite all that life could throw at him and he had prevailed.

In a flash the gallery were on their feet in rapturous applause, the swimmers banged their drums and hooted their horns, and with the Cardiff Male Voice Choir booming out ‘Men of Harlech’ across the pool, with their rich baritone voices and their faces streaked with tears, our plucky hero began to walk back to the start. Towels were laid end to end so that his feet never touched the ground, girls wrote out their phone numbers on scraps of paper and pressed them into his hand, and here and there mothers held up their little ones so that they might catch a glimpse of this returning conqueror. And as he reached the end and took his place again at the start, and to a crescendo of adulation and a cacophony of sound from around the pool, his team captain took off his T-shirt and handed it to him for surely this was his hour and truly he was the Victor Ludorum, the winner of the games.

And that’s the thing about sport. It resonates and it inspires us, and continues to inspire long after the event has passed. Maybe England didn’t win the rugby final but we’ll talk about the New Zealand game for years to come. We continue to have admiration for the England Women’s football team; We all remember where we were when Mo Farah, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, and Jessica Ennis excelled on the athletics track, and for those of us who are old enough we remember how the city of London came to a standstill as Ian Botham repelled the Aussies at Headingley in 1981.

So, well done England rugby. Maybe you didn’t win, but you achieved so much more.

Jan van der Velde
Chief Inspector of Turns

Chairman's Address (September 2019)

My friends,

It was with great interest that I learnt some months ago that Sedbergh School had commissioned a new promotional video. Having starred in the last one, I was glad that it would finally be superseded, and my debut as an actor would finally be consigned to history.

Now, on hearing the synopsis of this new blockbuster I have to admit I was somewhat intrigued. The central character was to be an actual wolf to reflect the Spirit of Sedbergh. This was a brave directorial decision indeed. If the maxim ‘don’t work with animals and children’ wasn’t enough, Sedbergh was going to mix the tender offspring of trusting parents with the Hound of the Baskervilles. It had me thinking the outtakes would be fun to watch in a Quentin Tarantino kind of way.

At the Premiere, with the great and the good of the world in attendance, and as I fought my way along the red carpet past ball gowns and champagne waiters, I did wonder what age category the British Board of Film had given it. So I settled into my chair, popcorn in hand, and watched with glee as the lights dimmed.

Oh my goodness! I was greatly and pleasantly surprised, even uplifted. It was sophisticated, it was subtle, it was sublime, it was Sedbergh. My fear that the wolf would just be a labradoodle with sticky-on ears was unfounded. I don’t know what breed it was but it would have scared the daylights out of me had I come across it on the fells, presumably gnawing on a recently killed sheep.

More importantly I showed it to my daughter who is the proud owner of my four grandchildren. She and her husband don’t see the School as an option because of the distance from here in Sevenoaks to Sedbergh. But she indulged me and watched the video.

It was an epiphany moment for her. Suddenly she wants to know all about Sedbergh and wants her and her husband to visit. ‘Dad’ she said ‘ look at those beautiful blue clear skies. I thought it rained all the time in Sedbergh’. I looked at my shoes and said ‘No, it’s a common misconception. Besides, global warming has done it wonders’. ’And the air’ she continued, ‘it looks so fresh, not like down here’. (I’m not sure why her part of Sevenoaks has smog and acid rain but then again I live on a private road).

The point is, it resonated. It changed the mind of someone who was until that point quite entrenched. What a fabulous job; congratulations to Andrew Fleck and the marketing team.

And well done Wolfie; you did us proud, even though you are slightly offside in the closing scenes as the ball is passed long the backs.

Ladies and gentlemen, see what you think. Please share it, like it, and, most of all, appreciate it.

Jan van der Velde
OS Club Chairman

Chairman's Message - The Economics of Endeavour (August 2019)

Dear Sedbergh Chums

I am deeply concerned about the economics of endeavour. The Autumn term is fast approaching and once again eager Sedberghians will be declaring their commitment to sport using various percentage ratios. These percentages always exceed 100% and this is what worries me.

I’m not quite sure when a percentage first entered the lexicon of the English language to assert one’s commitment. But by the late ‘70’s when I was at Sedbergh we would often quote ‘110%’. That was until someone offered to ‘give it 120%’ and was promptly given a position on the 1st XV. This person, who had out-thought us all, was clearly an undiscovered genius, but their ambition was to have consequences. It started ‘commitment inflation’ which has continued to this day. What was once 110%, rose rapidly to 150%, then 200%, and now, as I sit here with my head in my hands, an unthinkable 1000%. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, commitment percentages are out of control; and we can’t even blame Brexit.

The danger is that we devalue Endeavour. My ‘110%’ now equals ‘1000%’ at today’s rates. The currency is starting to lose its efficacy; it has become ‘Monopoly’ commitment, not taken seriously, no longer an expression of a desire to do one’s best, but almost a parody of what was once a serious statement. We need to act.

What I propose is a revaluation of commitment percentage. One hundred percent should be the maximum. If someone wants to give just 80% commitment we should applaud them. After all that would be a pretty good score in an exam, and ‘bravo’ for being honest.

And if we are being honest, as we get older, who’s to judge us, except ourselves. Achievement, of course, is there for all to see but even then who’s to say if we reached our potential, if we did the most with the gifts that we were given, except ourselves. We have to accept though that achievement depends much on the breaks we have as we make our way along the great Snakes and Ladders checkerboard of life.

But commitment, endeavour, call it what you will, is different. We can always try our best, that gift at least is ours; and only we know how high we have scored.

So, wherever you are in the world, whatever you are doing, wherever you are on the great Checkerboard, ‘give it the beans’. Find the passion, the drive, the motivation; give it 100%. After all, it’s how we play the game that’s important.

Cheers All,

Jan van der Velde
OS Club Chairman

Chairman's Report (June 2019)

I am increasingly challenging the great medical minds of our age to keep me young. The mind and body are no longer as one, the latter being in rebellious mood. So on my latest visit to the clinic my doctor thought she would give the once over. It was while I was having my knee bashed with a rubber mallet, more usually preserved for panel beating, that she noted my brown striped Old Sedberghian socks.

This got her talking, thankfully, because my kneecap was becoming quite sore and I thought I might have to book another appointment to address the damage done in this one.

It was an opportunity to tell her about our Club and what's been happening. For instance the 1990-2000 Reunion Lunch at the the London Steakhouse earlier this month, where as always we were honoured and entertained by the owner of the restaurant, James Robertson (E 88-93), and who was able to attend for the first time himself as a guest, being of suitable vintage. This venue, with the year group reunions, is becoming a huge success.

Somehow the intimacy of the place encourages the years to roll away. Soon we're talking about old times, embellishing stories of our youth, and singing badly to celebrate the two birthdays of the day. Thank you James for a fabulous lunch, and for the excellent hospitality of your staff. And thank you to John Guthrie (H 50-54) for his generous donation to the event. It was much appreciated by all.

Perhaps not directly associated with the Club was a the retirement dinner of Richard Witt who has held the post of Foundation Director since 2006. I, we, have worked with Richard for many years. He has worked diligently and tirelessly. He has been inventive and creative in finding ways to raise money for the Foundation and therefore the School. Most of all he has worked with integrity and which has served to underpin the trust that people have in him. All important in such a role.

The School, like all such institutions needs a Foundation. It provides funds where major projects cannot be supported by fee income alone. The success of the Foundation is largely down to Richard and as such he leaves a tremendous legacy. I know he is not quite leaving us yet but on behalf of the Club, well done, and thank you. We offer our full support to Isabella Bennett, the new Foundation Director, and to Andrew Fleck and the School as they continue to raise funds in anticipation of the 500th anniversary of Sedbergh School.

So, back to my doctor. I limped away with a clean bill of health, knowing that my reflex in my now stiff knee was in first rate order. I was therefore given the all clear to travel to Sedbergh this weekend to watch the County Cricket match. It's a first for Sedbergh. Good luck to Dan Harrison and staff. I hope for warm weather, cold beer, and first-class cricket.

Cheers all,

Jan van der Velde
OS Club Chairman

Chairman's Report (April 2019)

Friends and colleagues,

Your intrepid Chairman is writing this message from the sunny climes of Fuzhou on the west coast of China. Some of you will already be ahead of the game and realise this is where our international school, Rong Qiao Sedbergh School (RQSS), has been created.

And what a place it is! The first phase has been completed (in a year) and is open for business. The full school will be completed in another twelve months and eventually take up to 3,000 pupils.

The school itself has been built, and is run by, the Rong Qiao Group. They share the same values as Sedbergh and this underpins a united philosophy for the education of children.

My trip was timed to represent Sedbergh School during a visit by His Royal Highness The Duke of York. I’m glad to report the visit by Prince Andrew went well and did much to further cement relations between our two institutions. Please see the additional article in the newsletter on the Duke's visit.

It was also an opportunity for me to explain about the workings of the OS Club and our vision to be the leading alumni association of any school. Great interest was shown by staff and parents alike. This heralds the inauguration of an alumni association for RQSS. In time, and once the RQSS Alumni Association is established, we hope that our two associations will work closely together, sharing contacts and career opportunities, for the benefit of younger OS in both the UK and China as they take their first steps in their professional lives.

It is an exceptional school. There have been many people, both in the UK and China, who have worked very hard, and have shown great vision, to bring about the formation of RQSS. They are to be congratulated. Of particular note is Jared Djuhar for building the school to the highest of standards, with all its many amenities, in just two years.

My sincere thanks to the Headmaster and staff of RQSS who have been most hospitable and friendly throughout my stay. I have much enjoyed my time here in China. My thanks also to the Chairman of the Rong Qiao Group, Tedy Djuhar, and his sons Jared and Jasper for making me feel so welcome. Their vision and foresight is to be applauded.

Cheers for now,

Jan van der Velde
Chairman, OS Club

A Message From The Chairman (February 2019)

Dear Friends

I am often asked about my time at Sedbergh and the enduring qualities that makes me want to return year after year. Sometimes I ramble on about the ethos, the hills, the ‘Sedbergh DNA’, the call of the wild, the rugby, the rain and more rain, and the quirks of public school life in general that made my time at Sedbergh fun.

But then I pause and say simply it is the friends that I made.

Last Summer I was invited to say a few words at the Leavers Service. One thought seemed to strike a chord:

‘It wasn’t until a few years after leaving that I began to realise that the people who meant most to me were the people with whom I had shared my time at Sedbergh. Likewise for many of you the person whom you can really trust, the one person whom you can ring at 2.00am, the person who will want to hear about your success and not be jealous, the person who will be by your side on your wedding day, the friend who will be a godparent to your children, who celebrates with you when times are good and on whom you can absolutely rely when your fortunes in life are at an ebb, is probably sat here today in this Chapel’.

It turns out that they were prophetic words. Recently I have had cause to call some of my old chums at 2.00am. They have been a fantastic support and helped me at a time in my life when I would rather have been sunning myself on golden sands somewhere. Whether they are still my friends after calling them in the small hours, is another matter. But this is what Sedbergh’s about, friendship.

And long may it continue.

Cheers all

Jan van der Velde
OS Club Chairman

OS Weekend – A Hundred Years of History (December 2018)


Each year we return to the School to meet old friends, reminisce, to tell our partners and children embellished stories of our youth, enjoy perhaps a glass of wine or beer, watch the sport, climb Winder, listen to the singing in Chapel, laugh, bump into old masters, and generally remember the spirit of Sedbergh.

This year, with our weekend set to coincide with Remembrance Weekend, the returning members of our tribe encountered an altogether different experience. By bringing these two special events into the one occasion we were able to celebrate the end of our Pilgrimage, a unique and fantastic achievement by the Sedbergh community in which we have visited every grave or place of remembrance of those Old Sedberghians and masters who died in the Great War.


At a sell out dinner Neil McKerrow gave a carefully crafted speech and with words that held us all transfixed. As I wrote to him afterwards, he asked brave questions about the War and answered them. He articulated our thoughts eloquently and in a way that resonated. It was a most intelligent piece of prose, expressed with feeling and understanding. His speech brought to a conclusion a journey that had in fact started in 1914. There was a sense of history when he spoke and we felt we were, and had been, part of something truly special.

Afterwards we rose in unison to applaud Neil for his fine words, in gratitude for his leadership and endeavour throughout and, most importantly, for those names on the Cloisters which Neil has helped to bring to life, and whom we remembered and celebrated at a most memorable and moving OS Weekend.

Well done, Neil, and well done everyone who has helped with the Pilgrimage. You have, we have, honoured the commitment our Nation once made, that we would never forget. It brought to an end a most remarkable five years. Poignant, historical, interesting, even fun. There has been a sense of camaraderie throughout.

Captain Leake the last grave

If I have a lasting memory - Neil’s speech aside - it is the last grave, Captain Leake, which I visited alone at a cemetery set on a remote hillside next to a disused and overgrown railway track that once brought the wounded and the dying to the military hospital.

As the sun was setting I placed a cross and read out the words of Winder. Afterwards I sat there until it got too dark to see. It was a most spiritual end to an incredible journey.

Keep well, travel safe, enjoy life,


Jan van der Velde
OS Club Chairman

The Endurance of Youth (October 2018)

There was a time when our Old Sedberghian chums waited until their more senior years before returning to the fells of Sedbergh to reminisce about their formative days at our Alma Mater.

How things have changed. Last weekend was ‘Sports Weekend’ where the more agile members of our Club returned to do battle on the netball, hockey, and rugby pitches. This was all well and good but the evening before our far thinking Alumni Director, Ben Collins, had arranged a bash for all concerned in the newly renovated Black Bull Hotel.

It was a full house. Many had returned, at least in part, to meet up with Chris and Sara Hirst. Particularly the girls who, with much appreciated help from Emily Hirst, had returned in great numbers. Good to see, and good for the future of the Club.

There was much fun and laughter as always at such events. Old and young mixed well together with a reunion of old Powellians doing their best to entertain the ladies netball team.

I’m not sure what time the party finished. I went to bed at, well, some indeterminate time. I heard that a group of ladies went up Winder at 2.30am being sufficiently loaded with anti-freeze. Some revellers were still in the bar at 4.00am. They were a noisy lot and as I lay in my bed two floors up I thought, ‘good on you, you remind me of my youth’.

Yes, the Spirit of Sedbergh lives on. My sincere thanks to the Black Bull staff, it was a great evening with great food and great service. I know you may have had a few complaints. They are well deserved but such is the endurance of youth.

Cheers all


Jan van der Velde
OS Club Chairman

Message from the Chairman (July 2018)

Fellow Siblings of Sedbergh, I hope this newsletter finds you well.

Our Alumni Director, the debonair Ben Collins, and myself have been continuing the good work of the Pilgrimage. We have been on a road trip to Belgium and France to visit some of the fallen. By now many of you will have heard that the OS Club has undertaken something quite special. We, collectively, set out in 2014 to visit the final resting place of every one of our fallen from the First World War, and to do so by 11th November 2018. Of the 257 names inscribed upon the Cloisters 238 have so far been visited. Each has been respectfully honoured with a reading, a cross, and soil from Winder. The Pilgrimage is unique in it’s ambition and scope. As for our road trip we visited 20 graves. As always it was a moving experience to stand by the grave, or inscribed name, and read about their short lives.

Moving from the past to the present, I was at Sedbergh at the end of term to welcome the Class of 2018 to the OS Club. Quite a number of you have, in one way or another, offered to help these younger OS as they find their way in the world. Thank you for your voluntary services, it is important, and it is much appreciated. If there are more of you that can help, whether just by giving career advice, the offer of work experience, or being a friendly face in a foreign land, then please contact Ben Collins, Helping the next generation of OS, just as we were helped in our time, is central to what we, as a Club, represent.

Keep safe and stay well!


Jan van der Velde
OS Club Chairman

Message from The Chairman (May 2018)

Fellow Sibling’s and Friends of Sedbergh,

I am pleased to report that our Club continues to go from strength to strength. Two years ago we set out to be the best alumni association of any school in the country. We are well on our way. Our participation in the Rugby Ten’s in Hong Kong is one such example of our vision and ambition. Well done to all who took part and helped to arrange a fantastic week. In particular my personal thanks to our Alumni Director, Ben Collins, who worked so very hard behind the scenes.

Likewise my thanks to all those who helped arrange the 1980’s reunion at the London Steakhouse; James Robertson (E 88-93), Director of the London Steakhouse, for hosting the event; Tom Hartley (E 88-93) of Brewin Dolphin and Sam Moore (E 94-99) of Lycetts Insurance for their sponsorship. It was my vintage and we had a great time, sharing stories, catching up, and reminiscing. The venue was fantastic, the food superb, and the drinks were free courtesy of our sponsors. We couldn’t have asked for a better day and on a personal note may I say how nice it was to see so many old friends.

Speaking of old friends I am very sorry to report the loss of Peter Yorke. Peter served at Cressbrook and Sedbergh for many years. I knew him as my English teacher but later as a friend and devoted member of the OS Committee. He was a most honest, sincere, gentle man of great intellect. I am most grateful to him for his wise words and support over the many years we shared together on the Committee, and in more recent years, in my position as Chairman.

Onto happier news and I note that the School continues to perform extremely well. As such there has been a reorganisation of the senior management team and my congratulations to Andrew Fleck who becomes Principal of the wider Sedbergh School establishments, Dan Harrison who becomes Headmaster of Sedbergh School, and Peter Marshall who becomes Chief Operating Officer and Bursar. A great management team who deserve our admiration and support.

OS 1980's Reunion Lunch

Cheers all,


Jan van der Velde
OS Club Chairman



Message from The Chairman (February 2018)

Once again the days are getting longer and soon we’ll all be putting on our old sports socks and reliving our youth by running in the cool air of an evening. While the fireplace and the TV are always tempting alternatives, I shall be running (a word I use in its broadest sense) in the park as I have a race coming up for which I need to start training. Yes, it’s the annual race around the ‘Ten’ between the Bursar and the Chairman of the OS Club.

Ten Mile day has become a great favourite amongst the OS community. The day is of course about the runners but there is a certain bond that exists between us all as we collectively remember the days when we too pushed ourselves to the limits. We empathise with those who now take to the course.

This year we are once again holding a pre race dinner at Simonstone Hall. It has become a great favourite and if tickets are already sold out then I urge you to book early for next year.

This year we also remember Brooke Dowse, (Housemaster, rugby coach, classicist, and friend to many), at his memorial service on 19th March (the day before the Ten). We are expecting somewhere between two and three hundred at the service and afterwards we will descend on Lupton House for refreshments. It promises to be a fitting event for someone who gave so much to Sedbergh.

We hope to see as many of you as possible, at Lupton House, at Simonstone Hall, or just out on the fells encouraging the next generation as they seek glory and honour around the ‘Ten’.



Jan van der Velde
OS Club Chairman

Message From The Chairman (September 2017)


The years seem to revolve rather quickly at my age and last week the annual clock struck for our ‘OS Weekend’ at Sedbergh. As always, this encourages the great and the good, the faithful, and the inquisitive to return to their Alma Mater for a weekend of festivities. It was a big turn out with John Spencer, a favoured son of Sedbergh, speaking at the evening dinner about his time with the British Lions. ‘I remember when rugby was dangerous and sex was safe. Now rugby is safe and sex is dangerous’; This, and other great insights added humour and pathos to a most enjoyable talk. We are extremely grateful to John and hope he returns more often.

This year saw a change in the presidency of the Club. John Walford stepped down after two years outstanding service. I have enjoyed working with him immensely and he has helped me shape the future of the Club at a time of great transition. He has at times been inspirational and it is a great privilege to count him as a friend. John, I wish you and you wife Pam every happiness in the future and I expect to see you both at some of the many future events that the Club has planned.

In his place Robert ‘Bob’ Graham takes up the post as our new President of the OS Club. I have known Bob for many years and he has been an outstanding supporter of the School. Bob, I look forward to working with you over the next two years.

Now, it is within our powers to bestow honorary membership to those which the Club Committee feel is appropriate. This is usually in recognition to services rendered to the School or the Club. This year it was our delight to award this title to Judith Meadows, wife of the late Peter Meadows, and to Graham Marrs, a veteran of the rugby world and a long time supporter of Sedbergh. (We have overlooked the fact that he is President of the Old Rossallian Society).

Thank you to the School for your hospitality as always. In particular the catering and support staff who work so hard behind the scenes to make our weekend so enjoyable. Also our thanks to Will Player who sang for us at dinner; and James Horon who accompanied him on the piano and who finished off the evening with a resounding rendition of ‘Winder’ on the Powell Hall organ while we sung with gusto. I thought we were in exceptional fine voice this year!

For the many people I met this weekend, old friends and new, keep well. And for those of you who weren’t there, keep well also.


Jan van der Velde
OS Club Chairman

Message from the Chairman (July 2017)

Dear friends, chums, and siblings of Sedbergh,

If you were to pop your head around the door of Sedbergh School you would no doubt find the Headmaster and his merry band of staff walking with an extra step in their stride. The School is undoubtedly doing well; let me list a few achievements:

Record pupil numbers again for September.

Excellent rating for the school in all areas in the latest inspection report (highest rating the school could achieve).

National T 20 cricket champions beating Millfield convincingly in the final.

Ranked as one of the top three rugby schools in the country for another year.

Won the Northern and Midland Independent Schools Cross Country Championships at Oundle and then within 24 hours the same team won the Southern Cross Country Championships at Harrow.

A host of individual sporting accolades.

New £4,700,000 Sports Hall under construction.

Well done Sedbergh School, and to the Headmaster and staff who have all worked so hard to make our Alma Mater such a success. We are all very proud indeed!


Jan van der Velde
OS Club Chairman

Message from the Chairman (May 2017)

Dear Friends, Chums, Siblings of Sedbergh, I trust the world is treating you well.

I am sometimes asked what the Club subscriptions are used for and what you as members receive in return. There are many initiatives which are all part of our drive to be the best alumni association of any school in the country. As part of this we are making great strides in supporting the careers of our new alumni as they leave the school. The Club now has online facilities which presents their CV’s to large corporates. In this we are one of the first school alumni associations to do so. We arrange for OSs to talk and give advice to those about to leave the School. We arrange open days for those OS in different professions to explain about their work. We will be spending several hours a week in the sixth form centre giving advice from June. We are continuing to develop this aspect of our work and we believe it to be invaluable. In all this we have our Club Secretary Ben Collins to thank for his tireless endeavours.

Yes, we are arranging an ever increasing number of social events, ones which are relevant and varied; we have the Pilgrimage, another first for any institution as far as we are aware; we have our sporting fixtures; we support the School; and we look to the future by helping those about to begin their professional careers just as we were helped in our day.

These are just some of the things your subscriptions go towards.

Cheers All,


Jan van der Velde
OS Club Chairman

A Message From The Chairman - OS Wilson Run Dinner (March 2017)

2017-03-20 Eve of Wilson Run Dinner, Simonstone Hall (12)
2017-03-20 Eve of Wilson Run Dinner, Simonstone Hall (46)
2017-03-20 Eve of Wilson Run Dinner, Simonstone Hall (15)

Some things come around with quite alarming regularity. A reminder, if one were needed, that the years are ticking by. There is of course  the Boat Race in the south and we have our very own Wilson Run in the north.

The Wilson Run has become a major event for members of our illustrious Club. The annual dinner, held in honour of this auspicious race, has itself become a celebration, not only of the race, but also of our friendship and our heritage. So this year we descended on Simonstone Hall near Hawes. A full house with seventy souls; some esteemed winners in years gone by, some ‘also rans’ (my standard), and friends of the School who share and delight in the history of the School and the Race.

It was great to see a mini reunion of the 1966 1st XV team which Simon Berry was instrumental in arranging. Brooke Dowse, my old Housemaster, came all the way over from Ireland to reunite with those players he coached fifty years ago as well as catching up with many friends from the staff room and OS community.

President of the Club, John Walford welcomed everybody  at the dinner and the Headmaster gave a fascinating update on how well the school is currently doing.

Jennifer Thornely (the late Michael Thornely’s wife) kindly played the piano accompaniment to the Long Run and Winder where everybody joined in to sing. Johnny Campbell (2016 winner and current record holder was present along with fellow winners, Norman Berry (1962), John Brearley (1967- a fifty year anniversary), our Club Secretary Ben Collins (2002) and Sam Fisher (2010) were all present.

Many OSs enjoyed a run around the course the following morning (well done indeed you brave things) and enjoyed the race in the afternoon.

A special thanks must go to OS Jake Dinsdale, Director at Simonstone Hall for offering us such great hospitality and fine food. We look forward to hosting the event at Simonstone Hall again next year!

And lastly well done as ever to our erstwhile Club Secretary Ben Collins. The net presenter score (yes we are now a modern Club with KPI’s) was 9.4 out of 10. Fantastic indeed and demonstrates once again that we are fast becoming the best alumni association of any school in the UK.

Happy Easter!


Jan van der Velde
OS Club Chairman

The Chairman's Christmas Message (December 2016)


So we come to an end of another year. What a year it has been and quite where it will lead us in 2017 is anyone’s guess.

But next year can wait for a few more days. Now is a time for reflection as we gather home for Christmas and while the world stops turning for a few hours at least. We spend time with our families, we remember those who have gone, we drink lots, we eat lots, and we make resolutions which we will break at our leisure, usually by January.

Enjoy this festive time. Recharge the batteries and use the opportunity that this time affords. Ring someone lonely, call on someone new. Make friends. You can never have enough.

As always on Christmas day, and as I try to control my two grandchildren who will be over excited and causing chaos, I will think of Sedbergh and I will raise a glass to you all.

I will wish you all a most Merry Christmas and prosperity in the years to come. And then I will no doubt have to clear up the mess that my grandsons have made while I was briefly distracted. Who cares, it’s Christmas!


Cheers one and all,

Jan van der Velde
OS Club Chairman

Message from the Chairman (February 2017)

Picture of lads at Twickers

Chums of Sedbergh!

This month, and after an interlude of thirty five years, I had a reunion with three old friends from Sedbergh; and where else, but Twickenham. Stephen Whitehead, Guy Adams, Colin James, and myself did our best to cheer England along to a victory over France while draining the Twickenham bars of their liquid reserves.

This was all well and good but the real story here is that after thirty five years, during which each of us have led quite separate lives and which each in their own way have been buffeted by the winds of destiny, it was as if we had only said goodbye to each other the day before. No sooner had we met than the jokes, the banter, and the stories started . The old laughter, which had been such a part of our friendship in our youth, returned in wave after wave, continuing well into the night, and the more civilised breakfast the next morning.

I have always said that the bonds formed at Sedbergh stand the test of time. As I become older I feel I am more qualified to make this statement. It is most certainly true, and it is an invaluable legacy that has been bestowed upon us by our time at Sedbergh, brief now though it seems as I look back through the many years and many other life experiences I have had along the way.

So thank you to my companions on the day. It was a privilege to be there.

Cheers all,

Jan van der Velde
OS Club Chairman