Westminster College 50th reunion

5 - 7 September 2014
Written by Keith Berry

On Friday evening from 6.30pm the some 20 plus guests responded to an open invitation to meet at the Chequers Inn in Oxford.  After initial refreshment of the liquid type in addition to the hugs and kisses of renewed friendship Westminster style, we moved a few doors away to the home of Frank and Sheila Nelson, where we were treated to a superb supper, prepared by Sheila, Pat and Isabel. The delights were consumed in the candlelit interior ground floor rooms and exterior garden.  It was a balmy evening and the generous fare of food was followed by someone  somehow placing a guitar into the hands of Tom Pilkington who led us in ‘community hymn singing’ with anthems from the Sixties.

What a great start to the week - end!

After meeting a former student of mine now doing innovative research in Oxford, at 9.30am at the Fishes, Liz and went up to Harcourt Hill to deliver cake and post messages on the walls of the Glasgow room.

We then went back to the Fishes pub and began packing people like sardines into the Snug - so aptly named - room which had been reserved for us.  Individual tastes were catered for before everyone journeyed up the Hill to delve into the mass of memorabilia that included some priceless Great War material prepared by Peter Forsaith who has been the College archivist for the past 14 years.

A plentiful hot buffet provided by Oxford Brookes catering staff was served at 6 pm and just when everyone wanted their post-meal nap we were called to the theatre for our much- treasured engagement with alumni folk band the Tarriers featuring three of the original members. Everyone was on the floor shuffling away thanks to our perpetual propositioner of the performing arts, Dot Stairmand.

A special surprise was the first public rendering of a song written specially for the occasion by Dave Wright entitled ‘Westminster 50 Years on…’

Westminster 50 Years On..
In the year of ’61 , that was when it all began
Hearts were full of hopes and dreams, a lifetime journey yet to come
Gazed upon the dreaming spires, seen from high on Harcourt Hill,
Twinkling stars lit up the sky, the moon smiled down & all was still
Tom arrived from Derbyshire, on his shoulder hung a guitar
Clearly heading to be a star, his hopes & dreams were heading there
Geoff arrived in similar style, happy with a Swindon smile
Off he went to play awhile to sing and rock the night away
Soon the music rang out clear, Buddy, Elvis, Cliff were here,
We joined in, the group was born, and soon we started to perform
Trevor was the heart and soul, he was there to guide us all,
All his love and spirit shared, a message all the students heard.
Friday night was our delight, down the hill for Fishes’ night,
People singing, having fun, homeward in the setting sun
We were young and free of care, lifetime friendships grew in there,
Fifty years and they’re still there, we celebrate the times we’ve shared
We separated far and wide, each one leading separate lives,
But the spirit still survived, friendships still linger on
Time goes by , we still unite, absent friends we miss tonight,
Now we’re here, we are as one, years of friendships still to come

After an interesting arrangement of ‘All in the April evening’  we concluded with ‘you'll never walk alone’,  The Westminster College song ‘Floreat Westminsteriensis’ and the traditional Westminster maori haka ‘EE combi’

Then we gathered again on Sunday Morning!  Michael Brammer played Organ Voluntaries from 10.40am in the Chapel and most people were there. Spontaneous applause followed a mark of appreciation. Andy Donaldson then took over on the pedals, stops and keys to play a Brahms piece setting the scene for the Service to be led by the Oxford Brookes Chaplain Robert Bates.

A collection realised £240 that was split between The Martyn Donaldson Music Trust and the Birch Thompson Memorial Fund, two charities directly connected with Andy and Keith.

A short meeting of the Westminster Society followed by cake which was provided by Sylvia Clift courtesy of the Westminster Society.

Please note: a sound recording of the service was made and copies can be obtained from Keith at keithoberry@hotmail.com.

Slideshow image