Another ex-KBGS Reunion has been and gone, and what a heart-warming affair it turned out to be, not just with ‘the usual suspects’ coming back for another helping, but also several new faces plus some returners after a few years’ absence. We were particularly pleased to be able to welcome Ian and Shirley Micklethwaite, Stewart and Irene Cardwell as newcomers, and David and Doreen Robinson, Geoff Blackburn and Diane, and Colin Hodgson, as the returners. On the day, the number of attendees was thirty-seven but would have been over forty had five people not had to cry off, for a variety of reasons, at the eleventh hour.
At the first Reunion which Gill and I organised, in 2009, there were fifty-one people present. Of those, sixteen were still with us last Friday, while a dozen, at least, have since passed on. There were forty-three two years later, in 2011 – which registered the only significant drop in the seven reunions held since that first one (was it something I said?!) – because the figure has hovered around the forty mark ever since.
Nevertheless, every year there is a certain anxiety about numbers, I suppose because one is aware that inevitably, someday, the reunions will no longer be sustainable. We survivors are, alas, an expendable commodity, for none of us is getting any younger; and yet, I am continually amazed to find that there is, every year, a number of people who would have come had the date been right, and what appears to be a much larger pool of Old Boys who have yet to find out about our on-going existence. There is no sure or easy way to reach these latter, the best we can do is to keep mentioning the event in the ‘Keighley News’ and the ‘Telegraph and Argus’. I am personally aware of a dozen or so OBs who ‘don’t do’ reunions or who, because their time at the School is remembered as anything but rosy, want nothing at all to do with anything remotely connected with the School – but how ‘remote’ does one have to get before that becomes irrelevant? However, this latter reaction – which I well understand – has me thinking about what actually draws our regulars to the annual event. Certainly, the long-ago, shared experience has a presence, and it is usually a pleasure to meet someone you haven’t seen (or even thought about) in fifty years or more – I witnessed just such an encounter last Friday – but much more important, I think, are the new friendships the reunions have forged, whose ‘content’ is very much more concerned with who and what we are now than who and where we were then. Perhaps only when one has experienced this can one appreciate fully what the reunion means to the regulars. I have never seen myself as a reunion person and am not too sure, now, how I drifted into it, but I have to admit I am glad that I did.
I wonder if anyone else has any thoughts along these lines which, for me, pop up every year?
Last Friday’s event was, as usual, made the more enjoyable with the sumptuous feast Janet and her team put on for us, and with the most interesting display of old school photographs Jan Rotheram and David Kirkley brought from the Keighley Schools’ Heritage archive. As far as I am aware, the only negative notes struck were the absences through illness of ‘Spike’Rannard (and thus John) and Eric Sutcliffe, and that of Derek Taylor. We spoke to ‘Spike’ this morning and learned that right up to the last minute he had hoped to come but then was advised against it. We hope to see him next year, for up to now he has been the most regular of all our members. And speaking of next year let me remind you that the Reunion will take place on Friday, 21 September, 2018, same time, same place, thanks to the continuing generosity of the Keighley Rugby Union Football Club – so do put that in your diaries.
All good wishes to you all, in the meantime,
Doug (and Gill)
of course I would have been there if possible, but it's a long way to go just for a lunch - albeit a very special lunch.
I certainly hope I can attend again some time in the future - just keep it going!!