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Chairman's Blog

george buntingRead news here from and about OWs that comes to me directly or on the grapevine. I will also draw attention to and comment on matters of interest. If you were at Wells, do send me snippets or tweets about what you or other OWs are doing to make this blog live, up to date and interesting!

You can add your responses and comments to my blog posts on our Facebook Group.

(Please note that throughout this site, OW years refer to the year the group left Year13 (Upper Sixth). Individuals may have left earlier)

George Bunting, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Carina Evans and Georgia Crumlish have runaway success

Georgia Crumlish

Carina Evans (L) and Georgia Crumlish (R), both OW 2011 and Georgia’s flatmate Hannah Clarke (C) took part in the recent Royal Parks half marathon, a 13.1 mile route through Hyde Park, The Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens via closed roads. Their support team comprised of Lizzie Crumlish (OW 1978) and Tim Coppen (OW 2011).

At Wells Carina was a specialist percussion player who played in the National Youth Orchestra. She went on to Kent University to study Accounting & Finance and then to accountants Dechert LLP where she is progressing towards her full ACCA membership.

Georgia was a flautist, hockey player and conservationist at Wells and after many exciting adventures across the ski resorts of Europe she went to Oxford Media and Business School. She now lives in Bristol and keeps in regular contact with her OW friends.

Nico and Clare plan a party!

Clare  Nico

Great news to hear that 2013 OW Yeargroup Ambassadors Nico Alexandroff and Clare Scott are inviting all of their yeargroup to a glittering black tie five-year reunion in Mayfair on Friday 2nd February 2018. They will join Wellensians from all eras and guests from Wells at the RAF Club in Piccadilly, courtesy of our President, Mr Alwyn Gillen. A formal dinner will be followed by the opportunity for late partying.

Booking will open on 1st November (£38pp for 2013/£45 others) and partners/guests will be welcome so save the day!

After Wells, Clare went to Cambridge for her first degree and then to Birbeck College, University of London for a mini MBA. This year she has joined international management consultants OC&C Strategy Consultants as an Associate where she is “expected to pull her weight from day one” on “projects that tend to be fast, furious and brief”. We hope she also has time for her piano!

Nico took a gap year after Wells and then went on to Manchester University to study architecture. After a summer placement in 2016 at Hawkins Brown Architects he has now returned to the firm to complete his professional qualifications and commence his career. The practice operates in Manchester and London and has a vision incorporating a committed social and cultural agenda.

Clare and Nico plan to set up a Facebook page for the Reunion and invite all 2013 OWs to join (including those who left before the 6th).

Watch this space!

Juliette Pochin – Someone to Watch

juliette-pochin

I hear that the illustrious musical career of Juliette Pochin (OW 1990) now includes producing Someone to Watch Over Me to celebrate the centennial of Ella Fitzgerald’s birthday. The stunning album features Ella’s original vocal tracks digitally remastered and paired with newly orchestrated performances by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Juliette was a specialist musician at Wells and then read music at Trinity College Cambridge where she was also a choral scholar before studying voice at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

During her initial career as an opera singer she made numerous recordings including Venezia for Sony Classics, which became Classic FM’s record of the week, and a recital disc with Iain Burnside which was Gramophone’s editor’s choice. She has performed with musicians ranging from Graham Johnson to Meat Loaf and has been the soloist in the BBC’s Proms in the Park.

In addition to her singing, Juliette composes and produces as one half of the partnership Morgan Pochin Music Productions. TV credits include the EMMY & BAFTA award winning Kumars at No.42 and According to Bex (BBC1). She wrote and produced Katherine Jenkins' No.1 album Premiere, which was nominated for a Classical Brit and has worked with artists as diverse as Alfie Boe, Dame Vera Lynn, Julian Lloyd Webber, with whom she duets on Venezia, and Elton John. She has also orchestrated the opera Tangier Tattoo for Glyndebourne and Lorna Doone for the BBC.

Feature films include music production and score on First Night, music production and music direction on Dustin Hoffman’s film directing debut Quartet, and additional soundtrack and music production on Killing Jesus, a Ridley Scott production.

Current projects include a new album with Alexander Armstrong, the Ella Fitzgerald album, and a live project and recording with Pete Townshend. She recently featured on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 with Jenni Murray to promote Someone to Watch Over Me.

Tak Kwan conducts

Tak Kwan

Good to hear news about Tak Kwan (OW 1989) who has just been appointed Conductor of the Guelph Youth Music Centre in Ontario. The Centre chose him “not only because of his conducting and teaching skills, but also his wonderful musicality, and warm, gentle manner. We are sure the kids will love him, and blossom musically with his guidance.”

Tak was born into a musical family. His father was a violin maker in Hong Kong, and Tak started playing the violin at the age of seven. At Wells he represented the school in performance with visiting musicians and he gave violin recitals abroad. After Wells he studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Tours of the USA and France followed as a soloist and chamber musician and in 2010 he was invited as lead violinist to the University of Concordia, St. Paul, MN for the premiere of a work for string quartet. In the same year, he performed for the Queen in Toronto. In 2011 he was selected to study at the Julliard in New York.

He is also Music Director and Founder of Lavender Chamber Ensemble which promotes young and talented artists by rehearsing and touring together, Concertmaster of Northumberland Orchestra and Choir and Conductor of Yip's chamber Orchestra. He has fond memories of school and is delighted that Cedars Hall is now further enhancing music at Wells.

Sam Okell mixes with The Beatles

Sam Okell

Congratulations to Sam Okell (OW 1998 and Foundation Fellow), who is a senior engineer at Abbey Road Studios, has been awarded an Emmy Award, to sit alongside his two Grammys, for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Nonfiction Program - The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years.

Sam says “the best thing about being an engineer at Abbey Road is being able to work in some of the greatest recording rooms in the world. This is the stuff that only a few engineers get their hands on…the variety and range of projects is really special, from film scores and orchestras, to bands and remixing some of the classic albums of all time!”

He played drums, piano, guitar and percussion from an early age and was always the technical one even then, playing with the P.A. or an 8-track recorder. After Wells he took the Tonmeister degree course at Surrey University which included a placement year at Abbey Road. He made such a good impression that he was taken on full time after graduating in 2002.

His credits include many major film scores, such as Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Shrek 3 and many others. He won a Grammy for his role in re-mastering the entire Beatles catalogue.

Anna Wyse – a green blue activist

Anna Wyse2

Another OW celebrating a Wells anniversary year is Anna Wyse (née Steinitz OW 1987). Anna is Environmental Manager at MDL Marinas Ltd. which runs 7,000 berths in the UK, Spain and Italy and supports the Green Blue, an environmental awareness campaign which Anna had previously project managed for the RYA. She is also a sailor herself, of a Royal Baltic Storebro 32.

Anna describes herself as a ‘lobbyist and left wing activist’. She been a councillor in the past and stood for the Greens in this year’s local elections. She campaigns widely, e.g. recently taking issue with stereotypically coloured childrens’ clothes for her daughters, Francesca & Emma. She played violin at Wells and I am interested to see that she still takes an interest in music education, supporting opponents of suggestions that music theory should be less rigorous.

Good luck to Anna - the world needs people who get up and make things happen – even if they are not always the things one would chose onself.

Jeff Peabody back on home turf

Jeff Peabody

A long overdue mention on this blog for Jeff Peabody (OW 1987) whom we were very pleased to see again in the summer. The Peabody dynasty at Wells goes back to 1972 with the arrival of Mr Philip and Mrs Daphne Peabody as Headmaster of the Junior School and House Parents of Jocelyn. They were a much loved part of the fabric at Wells for 22 years and their children Jane, Roger and Jeff were all pupils. Philip continues to support the school and was on the new pavilion committee. It will sadly soon be ten years since Daphne died.

At school Jeff was a keen cricket player noted for his bowling and a rugby player. He was senior NCO of the RAF Section of the CCF. After Wells he went to City University on an RAF scholarship and achieved a 1st in Aeronautical Engineering followed by five years with the RAF as an Engineering Officer. A milestone year followed, with marriage to Becky and a (not unconnected) career step change into teaching. He did a PGCE at Oxford Brookes and after a couple of other posts he returned to Wells in 2002 as teacher of mathematics and Housemaster of Cedars. He immediately made a favourable impression by handing back three quarters of the first floor to be used by dayboys previously consigned to the basement; however his ban on frying sausages went down less well.

Jeff and Becky have two children and when he left Wells the Head predicted that one of them would one day succeed her. There is now to be a vacancy but I think a bit too soon for Sophie (17) or Sam (14).

Jeff is now at Millfield where he continues to teach maths and is fixtures secretary for the FC. We very much look forward to seeing him on home ground again soon.

Victoria Hillman's book launch

Victoria Hillman2Thanks to Victoria Hillman (OW 1998) for news of her crowdfunder project (OW participation invited!) to enable publication of her book Forgotten Little Creatures which shows just how wonderful and beautiful are the smaller animals we have around us.

Over the last four years she has photographed and researched plants, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles and has now written a book bringing all this together. Today she is launching a crowdfund to help raise funds for publication of the book and an accompanying exhibition.

She says, “the aim is to encourage others to get out and explore the areas in which I have photographed”.

Victoria went on from Wells to a BSc in Zoology and MSc in Wildlife Biology and Conservation. She has a lifelong love of the outdoors. She was a wildlife guide in Scotland and a National Geographic explorer for a project in Romania and now specialises in responsible and ethical macro photography in the field. This year she has been published in Wild Planet Magazine, and others and she writes top tip articles for The Photographer Academy. She continues her role as a Manfrotto Ambassador.

She lives in Frome with husband Chris. We wish her deserved success with her new book.

Congrats to starring OWs

A-level-Results-2017

Congratulations to our new 2017 members for their A level results which included many stars this year. The overall pass rate was 99.1% and over three quarters achieved A* to B with almost 20% A*.

Four A* OWs are Thomas Matthews (to read Engineering at University College, Oxford) and Benjamin Richards.

Three A* OWs are Emilie Colliar (to read Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Trinity, Cambridge), Orlando Fraser (to read Engineering at Oriel, Oxford), Gemma Gordon, Kaia Nisser (to read Human, Social and Political Sciences at St Catharine’s, Cambridge), Oliver Passey, Nicole Pellizzon, and Daria Rozhnova.

Also a mention for Blandine Jacquet (to read Natural Sciences at Queen’s, Cambridge and also as their organ scholar) and Dillon Whitehead (to read English at Gonville and Caius, Cambridge and also choral scholar at Trinity College.)

There were also a record number of music scholarships. Of particular mention, with multiple scholarships are Laura Cooper, Edgar Francis, Adam Heron, Osian Jones, Phoebe Lu, Ashby Mayes, Gwyneth Nelmes, James Thomas, Zoe Tweed and Poppy Webb-Taylor. Peter Wilson has been offered a place to go straight into the second year of the Guildhall Jazz BMus course.

Students on Mr. Chris Eldridge’s specialist mediaeval history course did particularly well, for which we congratulate tutor and taught and hope this will enhance an interest in the contemporary history of Wells which is so easily neglected.

We greatly look forward to following how these academic successes translate into life stories for these Wells family members over the next 80+ years.

Henry Bussell killed in action

 Bussell final

We honour our fellow Wellensian, Lt. Henry Richard Bussell (OW 1897) who died for his country exactly 100 years ago, on 17th August 1917 at Langemark, near Ypres.

Henry was serving with the 5th Battalion (and attached to the 7th Bn.) of the Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert’s). The Battalion was part of 61 Brigade, 20th Division and fought in the battle of Passchendaele, an allied attack which had begun on 31st July.

On 16th August the Brigade was responsible for a front about 700 yards wide on the western bank of the Steenbeek brook less than half a mile from the village of Langemark. From zero hour at 4.45am, the Brigade crossed the brook and had a comparatively easy advance (apart from endless deep mud) with 7th Bn. Somerset LI and 7th Bn. King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry advancing to take the first two objectives, coming under fire from Au Bon Gite until that was taken by 12th Bn. The Rifle Brigade of 60 Bde. The advance continued, taking a blockhouse west of Langemarck and Langemarck Station. 12th Bn. The King’s (Liverpool) Regt and 7th Bn., Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry then took over and continued to the final objective by 7.45 am.

So, the day before he died, Henry took part in the advance across the Steenbeek within a few hundred yards and on the same day as Harry Patch (7th Bn. Duke of Cornwall’s LI), ‘the last Tommy’, who died at Wells aged 111 in 2009.

On 17th August the Battalion War Diary records;

“At 2pm OC 7/Som LI was ordered to arrange a further attack on the enemy in conjunction with 60 Bde. The 7 DCLI & 12 Kings were each allotted half of the task with 7 KOYLI & 7 Som LI in support. Zero hour was at 7pm. At 6.30pm advanced Bde HQ was established in a concreted bunker NE of the village. Our artillery commenced on objective at 6.30pm and as soon as it commenced the enemy commenced shelling the NE end of the village and heavy machine gun fire came from the right flank and rifle fire from the left flank. At 7pm the 12th Kings having moved forward, C & B coys 7 Som LI occupied the line vacated by them. At about 7.30pm OC 7 Kings sent back a message to say that he thought a few of his men had reached the objective, that he had had heavy casualties and asked for reinforcements. B & D coys were pushed forward with orders to join the 12th Kings and found them held up by the boggy and impassable ground. The Battn on the right was also held up so OC 7 Som LI gave orders to dig in & OC 15th Welsh agreed to take over the situation as it stood and carry on with the relief which was completed by 1am.
Casualties estimated at 4 officers killed, 8 officers wounded. OR: 33 killed, 18 missing and 121 wounded.”

Sadly, one of those officers was 2nd Lt. Henry Bussell aged 38. His body was never found and his name is commemorated on the Tyne Cot memorial and also at the Estate Duty Office.

At Wells, Henry was a star scholar. In the fifth form he won a Bronze medal, The Dean’s Prize for English Composition, The Plumtre Memorial Prize for Greek Testament and The Collins Prize for Drawing. In the previous year he had also won four prizes.

He was the younger son of Prebendary Barton Bussell and Mrs Catherine Bussell who lived at 4, New St., Wells. In Feb. 1904 Henry joined the civil service at the Estate Duty Office at Somerset House. Immediately on the outbreak of war in 1914 he enlisted voluntarily as a private in the Prince of Wales' Own Civil Service Rifles. In 1916 he was gazetted an officer with the 5th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry.

We will remember them.

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Holly Beale – an orient express OW

Holly BealeMany pupils are welcomed to Wells from HK and mainland China – now we have news from Holly Beale (OW 2007) whose fast moving career has taken her in the opposite direction and 3½ years in China.

After Wells, Holly graduated BA in philosophy at Southampton University and then joined US and international casual wear retailer Abercrombie & Fitch on their Manager In Training program. She has since held store management positions in the UK and in 2013 she moved to Beijing as part of a major new strategic direction for the company. There she took an immersive course in mandarin and after only two months passed the HSK2 exam. Management jobs in Beijing and Chengdu have followed and Holly is now a General Manager and working towards her HSK4 exam which requires an ability to communicate fluently with native Chinese speakers.

She was sorry to miss our summer reunion in Wells and says she was thinking of all her old friends. “I am greatly enjoying my new adventure in Asia. Naturally I am missing home but appreciating my opportunities. Wells will always be a special place.”

Holly particularly valued her time in the CCF(RAF) at Wells and recalls her Three Peaks Challenge expedition. She is also remembered for her drama performances which included Sleeping Billy, Cabaret, As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing and Little Shop of Horrors which clearly has no connection with her current endeavours. We very much look forward to hearing more from her soon.

Bassoonist Ashby Mayes blows us away

Ashby MayesA hero among our newest OWs has been Ashby Mayes (OW 2017) who masterminded the 2017 Yearbook with most admirable efficiency. The Association sponsors this every year as a lasting record for VIth form leavers of their final years at Wells. Often there is a fair bit of post-production work required before printing, but Ashby edited and delivered the book polished and print ready.

YEARBOOK 2017 Page 001He said then, “the past few months have been very busy, sending email after email, nagging for that final baby photo to be sent in, formatting the 109 profiles into a 70,000 word document. I’m sure the whole year is fed up of seeing yet another email from me but at least it’s over now! I have been honoured to make this yearbook. Reading through everyone’s profiles, it’s so nice to see people sharing their favourite memories at the school as well as many random in-jokes and nicknames I will never begin to understand…  I hope you treasure this so you don’t forget what an incredible place Wells Cathedral School really has been for all of us.”

At Wells Ashby was an accomplished specialist bassoon player and sang in the Chamber Choir. He also won a place with the National Youth Orchestra of Greta Britain as principal bassoon. After a holiday in Italy he is looking forward to going to the Royal College of Music in September.

Alice Tapfield – award winning matchmaking

Alice Tapfield 3

I hear exciting news from Alice Tapfield (OW 2000) who is heading up the New York expansion of award-winning British matchmaking firm The Vida Consultancy. Alice has consulted for Vida for six years and assisted setting up the initial London network.

She says "We will officially launch in the autumn in NYC, but over the summer I'm starting to invite eligible single men and women to join us. It's usually $400 for our open membership but I'd be happy to waive this fee, pre-launch, for any Old Wellies. So if anyone is looking for love in NYC, please just email me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ".

Alice spent her early years in Australia before moving back with her family to the UK and came to Wells for her sixth form. She then went to Exeter University and obtained a 1st Class degree in Politics with French. This included a year studying in Provence, where Alice became fluent in French. She subsequently developed her client relations background predominantly in London, and also in Dubai and France.

At Wells she was an acute watcher of life and people and The Wellensian records her insightful observations of her contemporaries.

Alice moved to Manhattan in summer 2016 after her marriage to Pavan Uttam, a New Yorker-via-Delhi. They were married in St John's Church Glastonbury, and held their reception at the Bishop's Palace in Wells.

We very much look forward to seeing her at a future NYC reunion.

Adam Fosberry in the swim of things

Adam Fosberry

Good to see Adam Fosberry (OW 1987) in fine form at our reunion. Adam says he is “growing old disgracefully” but by profession he is a highly respected nurse practitioner at Yeovil Hospital. He lives in Glastonbury with his wife and daughter and remains a true Somerset man, “good food, good cider, good company, fantastic scenery, fantastic schools”.

He has fond memories of his time at Wells which was sadly cut short by one day. He was suspended on the last day of term for swimming in the Tudway Quilter’s pool at Milton Lodge after the sixth form ball. Knowing Elizabeth TQ and remembering David I am quite sure they would have turned an amused blind eye, but no doubt rules are rules!

We very much look forward to seeing Adam again at a future reunion.

Slightly envious of Carol Outerbridge

carol-outerbridge Copy

How very excellent that Carol Outerbridge (née Taylor OW 1977) came from Bermuda to join her yeargroup at our Wells reunion. Many of us would like to travel the other way as her island home, it must be admitted, is almost as beautiful as the city of our school.

Carol returned to Bermuda in 1981 and she and her husband Bill (from one of the oldest island families) founded Pembroke Tile & Stone in 1989 after careers in the construction industry. They introduced Bermuda to concepts in tile and stone that were not previously available and offer ‘a style for every lifestyle’.

Carol and Bill have a daughter Catherine and are now semi-retired. They love boating and are planning to go cruising the Bahamas and USA in boat Grand Cru. She is involved in dance as a trustee of the Bermuda Civic Ballet which promotes community inclusiveness and contributes to Bermuda's cultural heritage.

She is still in touch with Lucie Amos and Hilary Barefoot and sends a big thankyou to Chris Neave for organising the 1977 yeargroup to come back to Wells.

A Sparkling Reunion

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A grand reunion last weekend of over seventy OWs and friends at Wells, some of whom in my photo stayed late to enjoy Mrs Elizabeth Cairncross’ port and brandy. The Wellensians were also of a fine vintage, and 1977, 1987 & 1997 OWs were well represented.

There was also much else to see and do at Wells in mostly glorious weather, capped by an OW win on the cricket field on Sunday.

On Monday a smaller team of us welcomed 108 sixth formers individually into life membership of your Association – and so the eternal cycle of our 1,100 year old school moves on.

Glasto welcomes Vicki Stone

Vikki Stone Glasto2017

Our own Vikki Stone (OW 2001) was at the festival on Sunday afternoon on the stage at the Astrolabe Theatre. She performed her debut orchestral work Concerto for Comedian and Orchestra with 26 musicians from the WCS Chamber Orchestra.

As the title suggests, it is an orchestral piece, but the concerto “soloist” is a comedian. It is a spoken word concerto (with some equally fine music), focusing on comedy and is the first work of its kind – “a sort of Peter And The Wolf but with jokes”. We loved the debut performance recently in Cedars Hall and she will be taking it to Edinburgh and elsewhere this summer.

The piece has been in development for a year, and has already received support from Arts Council England and the PRS Foundation Women Make Music scheme.

Vikki also had a spot on the Cabaret Stage at Glastonbury and is busy with work for TV and other live performance. She is great fun and we love her!

Thanks to Gabrielle Close!

Gaby Close

A big thank you to Gabrielle Close (née O’Meara OW 1987) who has done a fantastic job in organising more than 20 of her yeargroup (so far!) who will join us at our summer reunion on Saturday 1st July.

Gaby showed her leadership skills from an early age as House Captain and Captain of Netball at Wells and she won the UVI Languages Prize. She has been a loyal OW over the years and also organised a 2007 reunion for her year.

After Wells, Gaby went to University of Surrey to read International Studies and Linguistics. She went on to Sandhurst and later served in The Royal Signals Corps.

After leaving the army she went to Brunel for a Masters in Education (SEN) and is now Interim Head of Special Educational Needs & Disability Operations, Autism Strategic Lead at Surrey County Council. A major focus of her recent work has been the opening of four purpose built highly specialist centres hosted by local schools in Surrey where the number of children and young people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder has risen by 50% since 2009.

We very much look forward to welcoming Gaby and all her friends next week for what promises to be an excellent occasion.
(Booking for the reunion closes this Sunday)

James Buckle at the ROSL

James Buckle

Congratulations to trombonist James Buckle (OW 2011), who won the Gold Medal and £10,000 first prize at the finals of the prestigious Royal Overseas League Music Competition at Cadogan Hall last week – the first brass player to win the Gold Medal in its 65 Year history.

The international competition, open to musicians across the Commonwealth, is of the highest standard, with previous winners going on to win Grammys, enjoy solo international careers and take Principal positions at some of the world’s leading orchestras. James played three pieces for the final including Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro, and New Orleans by Eugene Bozza. He was accompanied by Alison Procter (OW 1986).

James was a specialist bass trombone whilst at Wells, Captain of Cedars House and a good tennis and cricket player. He won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in 2011. Since graduating he has played regularly with the Philharmonia and the Royal Philharmonic and has been picked to study with celebrated trombonist Ian Bousfield in Bern next year.

Lieut. Charlie Croom – killed in action

Charlie Croom3

From The Wells Journal of Friday, June 15, 1917:

DINDER

KILLED IN ACTION. – The sad news has been received in the village that Lieut. William Chas. Croom, youngest son of Mrs Croom, was killed in action of June 7th. Lieut. Croom, who is the first villager who has been killed in the war, enlisted in the Artists’ Rifles in October 2015, and in June, of last year obtained a commission in the 1/6 London Regiment. It was whilst leading his men in a company of this regiment that he was killed. He was educated at the Wells Cathedral Grammar School, and proceeded to the Wisley Royal Horticultural Society Garden. The late Lieut. Croom, who was 20 years of age, was well known and highly respected in the village, over which a gloom was cast on the receipt of the sad news of the passing of so promising a life. – A memorial service was arranged to be held at Dinder Church at 7.15 pm. yesterday (Thursday).

William Charles Croom (OW 1915), or Charlie as he was known to everyone, was the youngest son (of six children) of his widowed mother of Lower Farm, Dinder. His father died before he was born. After Wells he went to RHS Wisley to train in horticulture and is commemorated on a plaque there. He first joined the 28th (Artists Rifles OTC) Battallion, the London Regiment and his initial commission in July 1916 was with 10th (County of London) Battalion, known as the ‘Hackney Rifles’. He was then attached to D Coy of the 1/6th (City of London) Battalion.

In June 1917 the regiment took part in the great attack on the Messines Ridge overlooking Ypres, where the Germans were dug in and from which they could see every move the Allies made. Shortly after 3 o’clock in the morning of 7th June, sappers set off huge mine explosions under the German positions, so loud that Lloyd George heard them in his study at No. 10, Downing Street. Then the attack took place. Charlie Croom’s battalion left their trenches at 0530 hrs, about an hour after dawn, to attack south of the Ypres-Comines canal. Charlie was a 2nd Lieutenant, the rank of officer most likely to be killed, and he would have been out in front leading the men of D company. Fighting was characterised by brutal hand to hand battle in and around the concrete bunkers the Germans had constructed along the ridge and Charlie Croom was killed during one of these encounters. The place where he died is now a golf course. Thirty private soldiers of the Battalion died in this attack, and two officers, of whom Charlie Croom was one. The successful British offensive which followed cleared the Germans off the high ground south of Ypres. His body has never been found, and he is commemorated at the Menin Gate Memorial.

About 60 people packed into the church at Dinder for his memorial service a week after his death. The children brought flowers, and the Rector Geoffrey Porcher described Charlie as ‘one of the best. Many of you had known him all his life. He went out to France fully realising that it was quite probable that he would be killed; but he was eager to go all the same, because he knew that if he should be called to die, he could not die better.’

We will remember them.

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Matthew Austen leads a big band

Matt Austen

To the Royal Bath & West yesterday where we are drawn to the big band of the Parachute Regiment and are delighted to find it led by Matt Austen (OW 2003) playing sax and clarinet.

Matt has been in the army since 2006 and has had an exciting international army music career within 16 Air Assault Brigade. This has included time in Afghanistan and most recently in Jordan where the band gave concerts for Syrian refugees. A major highlight was when in 2015 he had the honour of directing music at Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace, a glittering occasion of white ties and tiaras.

He began his fusion of music and military at Wells where he was a chorister and specialist sax player and later became Flight Sergeant in the CCF, gaining his private pilot’s licence at 16. He has fond memories of his saxophone teacher at Wells, Mr Don Close who was also there to hear him yesterday at the show.

After Wells he studied jazz at Leeds College of Music and has since played in off duty ensembles including the Matt Austen Quartet. He is married with a young daughter and lives near his base in Essex. Next year Matt leaves the army for a quite new stage of his life, training to become an Anglican clergyman; a third connection with his formative years at Wells. We very much look forward to hearing more of his new career – and especially more of his music.

Four OWs cook up a Reunion

Composite 26-05-17

While we look forward to our 2017 Wells Reunion on 1st July, four 1968 OWs are forward planning a summer 2018 event for their fiftieth anniversary. Nick Ralph, Mike Stirling, Richard Harman and Nick Pickles (clockwise from top left) are contacting all of their year and the memories are already flooding in.

Amongst these are recollections of the WCS cuisine of all those years ago which they say provided them with backbone, moral fibre and true grit of various textures and consistencies. Quite unlike the fine flavoursome fare expected by (and provided to) Wells pupils today.

Nick Ralph is a chartered accountant and management consultant who has lived and worked in Ottawa for many years, until recently as a partner in a firm and now as an independent. Mike Sterling has been living in London for most of his working life. He was with The Probation Service and CAFCASS for 30 years prior to his retirement in 2010 and since then has been enjoying an active life.

Richard Harman works part time as a systems Programmer & Consultant and has published some important railway history books. He was also Secretary of your Association for eighteen years to 2012. Nick Pickles began his career as a teacher and then moved to accountancy and became a company director. He has since run environmental campaigns and a food business in the beautiful part of Cornwall where he lives.

We look forward to meeting many more 1968ers next year!

Jacqueline Leung makes an album

Jacqueline Leung

Good to hear from Jacqueline Leung (OW 2001) in Hong Kong who is creating her first solo piano album via Kickstarter with “a track to suit every mood, whether you're sipping a coffee or a cocktail, just doing household chores, or just want to listen to a good tune.”

Jacqueline performs and teaches internationally and has won awards in the US and other countries. She has collaborated with some of the world’s distinguished musicians including our own Iestyn Davies and also adjudicated many competitions. She is a board member of the Wells Music Society of Hong Kong, where she is based and was recently elected as an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (ARAM) in recognition of her significant contribution in the musical field.

Music has also enabled her to reach out to people with disadvantages and she has made recordings and performances for a wide range of charitable groups.