Therfield Alumni - Inaugural Meeting, Therfield School, 23 October 2004

This was attended by 57 past and present staff and former students, going back to 1948. Messages of support were received from 4 others who could not come (including Chris Pratt) and from 12 who did not make it on the day.

In preparation for the event posters were on display in the Leatherhead, Bookham and Ashtead libraries; two letters were sent to the Surrey Advertiser (?), Leatherhead Advertiser (2) and Epsom Guardian (1) (figures in brackets show how many times printed). Announcements were also sent to the editors of the Parish Church, Methodist and URC Leatherhead parish magazines.

For the years 1980-90, a sampling approach was used and a total of 909 messages were sent via Friends Reunited. A Reunion announcement was added to the Therfield FR pages. It would seem that the most effective source of interested contacts was via the Press, the response from FR being very thin - some may not now look at it much these days, or are not subscribed for emails - however, whenever they do next look they will get the message and may make contact.

Frank Haslam introduced the event on behalf of the Friends of Therfield School. Frank set up the original Therfield School website, which is now run by the school, and retains responsibility for the Alumni,and History and Friends pages.

Talks were given by former Headteachers John Wooding and Terry Reddin.

John Wooding spoke of the bringing together of the school on one site, the numerous changes that were faced (see the History pages) and the learning process by which the continued success of the school was developed. He amused us with his stories of the visit to BBC tv and the Irish commissionaire, and of his attempt to drive a school hovercraft .

Terry Reddin reminded us of the challenges face in the Thatcher years and his anecdotes included the Cabinet Minister's car, the day the drains overflowed and the day Tel saw off the travellers.

We will tell these and John's anecdotes in full some time!

Both John and Terry paid tribute to the support given by their staff at all levels and recalled that many had gone on to senior posts in other schools.

John Wooding, Barbara Sharkey, Terry Reddin

Graham Tuck, the present Headteacher, was struck down by flu and at short notice his place was taken by Alun Thomas, who with 33 years at Therfield and responsibility for guiding pupils through their first year was perhaps ideally qualified to address our inaugural and tell us of the plans for the school. He also paid tribute to Frank Claytor, John Wooding's predecessor. Alun spoke of the continuation of the Therfield ethos of best for all, ever improving academic success, success in personal development (e.g. Duke of Edinburgh Award progress) and the plans for Sports College status, and the very good recent Ofsted, which was however critical of the buildings - something that is being addressed at long last.

We are most grateful to John and Terry for their support and to Alun for standing in for Graham at short notice.

Frank Haslam gave a presentation on what had lead to the idea of forming an association of former staff, students.

It was agreed:
- to avoid the word Old in our name and 'Therfield Alumni' was adopted (TA).
- that the TA be open to all who have been students or staff at Therfield or the Leatherhead County Secondary School, or governors, or parents of students (next of kin who wish to continue their association with the school are also welcome, adds Frank).
- that those present would do all they could to propagate knowledge of the formation of the Therfield Alumni
- that at least one event should be set up in the next 12 months
- that it would be especially appropriate to bring together Therfield's musicians in an event to celebrate the enthusiasm for music communicated by Chris Pratt (and that greetings be sent to him on behalf of those present - this has been done by Frank).

The meeting was invited to form a group to steer the Therfield Alumni through the next 12 months, and encouraged by Dave Cox, those named below met at the end of the afternoon to develop ideas.

Displays of albums and photos were appreciated by many present, thanks to the hard work of Barbara Sharkey.

Thanks also go to the team from the Friends who assisted on registration, refreshments and setting up, and to Mrs Christine Stedman, Catering Supervisor. And especial thanks to the Therfield Jazz Orchestra which entertained us (some of whom seen on left) and said they had a good time and when could they do it again?

The Therfield Alumni Steering Group:

Alun Thomas 71-cur Head of Y7
Andrew Martin 75-82
Beverley Hall 86-92
Caroline Sweby ?-83
Dave Cox 77-99 Sociology
Douglas Marsh 80-85
Frank Haslam 94-cur FOT, website
Joanne Cook 86-92 then Budd
Lesley Price 79-82 then Atherton Geog
Lisa Butcher 82-88 then Budd
Lucy Boydell 77-84 then Quinnell
Mary Denyer 84-90
Richard Everington 73-90 Dep HT Physics

Ideas arising from the Steering Group (those listed above) and current progress

Need to increase our numbers:
- word of mouth
- via parent addresses (if this can this be worked with the school in conformance with the Data Protection Act and at low cost)
- via Friends Reunited
- via Therfield Alumni website (Frank described the successful application of this in relation to his own school)
- need to update website with Y13 leavers list (has been requested)
- alumni printed magazine suggested but at present is seen as costly and effort intensive ... website and emails will reach many .. need to consider how to reach those not on-line, need to fund mailings ... ideas?

- perhaps not go for single year groups but say 3 years together
- music event very attractive, lot of talent out there, lot of goodwill: possibly use St George's Ashtead or the Theatre Leatherhead.
- events, especially discos (again talent out there that we may be able to call upon) to be set up to provide for dancers and those who wish to chat
- Dinner - may appeal to those less disco orientated

School relations:
- needs to be seen to value Alumni and for Alumni to be known to students and staff (ideally by what we are seen to do and be)
- need to discover skills and achievements of Alumni, with a view to those willing coming back to pass on enthusiasm for what they have done, appealing to academic and non academic students, motivating for achievement.
- Frank suggested researching past pupils and staff on Google and willing to coordinate a team to do this

Funding & support:
- events to be self financing
- subscriptions take a lot of effort, so not envisaged at present
- need to look at donations and Gift Aid (possibly via The Therfield Trust which has charitable status)
- the school to look at projects which the Alumni could 'get behind' as a specific focus is always beneficial to fund raising
- possibly some TAs may be able to provide benefit in kind to the school

P.S. Alun subsequently suggested we should have a TA tie for the men - but what for the women?

The website has been updated with:
A list of those who are now
Therfield Alumni
Ditto - who are on
Those who are
out of touch
TA registration form

An MS Access database for Therfield Alumni has been set up.

page update 5 Nov 2004