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Remembrance Day at Clayesmore School & Celebrations for the 50th Anniversary of the Chapel 2006

by Jane Salkeld

Published on February 9th, 2010 11:24

11th November 2006, many OCs and families gathered at Clayesmore for a joint celebration of remembrance. The occasion was arranged to commemorate both Armistice Day and the 50th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Clayesmore School Chapel.

The Chapel was built by staff, pupils and local craftspeople and despite several setbacks was finally completed and dedicated on 7th November 1956. It was a significant achievement for a small and not very well endowed School, and had a profound effect on all those involved. Ever since it has served as the spiritual focus for the School

Shortly after 10:00am OCs started to arrive at the main building, and by 10:45 we were standing on the terrace with our poppies outside the De Selincourt room under a grey and windy sky for a short Act of Remembrance; below us in the garden the School Pupils gathered in their blue coats. A mild autumn had left the grass very green, and the trees gold and red; Clayesmore has never looked better.

In the distance a hockey match was in progress, and as the two minutes silence began, a whistle signalled the players to stop. While the Last Post and Reveille were sounded, current and past pupils stood together.

After the service, OCs were invited to relax, and enjoy the occasion with coffee and tours of the School. The corridor outside the HM’s study was full of OCs trying to find themselves and their friends in the lists for various years; the innovation of name and date badges has revolutionised the identification process. Thanks to these, I was able to identify the father of one of my contemporaries.

A row of helpful guides took parties of OCs around their old haunts. Our group got very bogged down in the Gate House which has been transformed beyond all recognition inside, although the doors and windows are original and the outside has kept its functional beauty. We were handed over to the Head of House who allowed us to straggle around exclaiming at the incredible warmth of the place! Who could believe that the echoing cavern where Carl Verrinder crouched over some ‘Heath Robinson’ pieces of equipment could ever become a smart row of study-bedrooms.

Eventually we were lured away to see the Spinney building- a brand new classroom block with lots of pupils’ art on display and a computer area with a striking mural on the wall above it shown to me proudly by one of its contributors. This was followed by a flag-draped History Classroom with a stunning view of the Cricket pitches. Finally we saw the theatre which was dark, functional and smelled of glue, wood and paint as it should.

A delicious buffet lunch was then served to us all to raise our energy for the main event in the School Chapel. To those who do not know it, the Catering Staff at Clayesmore never fail to produce dishes to delight all the senses, and it is very hard not to eat too much.

The Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving (Order of Service) was held at 2:30pm and was led by the School Chaplain, Timothy Bishop of Sherborne and the Head Master and also included intercessions by a Governor, Head of the Prep School, a prep pupil, a senior pupil an OC and the OC president. Lessons were read by the OC president and the Chairman of the Council, and the Address was by the Bishop of Sherborne.

The theme of the service was remembrance and thanksgiving, and included elements of the Act of Remembrance previously celebrated; the inclusion of past and present pupils signifying the spirit of Clayesmore to acknowledge and celebrate the past as well as embracing the future. It also featured a poem and account from Peter Newcome recalling his memorable meetings with holocaust survivors and his admiration for their spirit of survival and forgiveness tempered by a determination not to forget those who perished.

The Chapel was brightly lit and filled to capacity, our gaze was drawn to the bright painting on the east wall on the theme of Spirituality. OC Society and School wreaths were laid at the Window of Remembrance by the most senior cadets and the names of OCs killed in active service were read out by the head pupils.

Hymns were rousing and enthusiastically sung- led by the combined choirs of both Prep and Senior school, who also sang for us Lux Aeterna (Requiem) and Te Deum to arrangements by John Rutter.

Finally the new Hymn books presented to the School by The Old Clayesmorian Society were given to the Bishop of Sherborne for blessing and the Service concluded. (For more on the new hymnbook, please see below)

We gathered for a cup of tea, and a tour of an exhibition of photo albums, pictures and books about Clayesmore, and a display of previous editions of the ‘Clayesmorian’. All OCs were given a commemorative folder with Spinney fund leaflet, past and present prospectuses for comparison, the School Magazine ‘New Clayesmorian’ and a coloured print of the main School building made from a picture by David Elderkin – brother of John Elderkin OC and former Chairman of Governors.

As an OC from 69/71 I was not sure how this occasion would affect me- I am too young to remember the last war, or even the Chapel construction. There have been some very different views about how when and where the occasion should be commemorated, and I have found myself unable to contribute to the discussion at all except to state that both OCs and present pupils should be involved. However, the way it was celebrated seemed to appeal to those attending and there were many expressions of gratitude and appreciation to the Head Master, Eleanor Cooke and both Prep and Senior School for their hospitality.

I was myself most moved by the simple service on the Terrace, where the essential ‘Englishness’ of it all in colours, sounds and the company of my friends made me very thankful for my pleasant life, and filled me with hope for a peaceful and fruitful partnership between the Old Clayesmorian Society and Clayesmore School into the future.

Words, Jane Salked - OC Society Chairman.

Those attending the Service, many with their wives and partners, were: - Nigel Marks, John Salisbury, Christopher Ing, Matthew Wright, Piers Sabine, David Anderson, Colin Redston, Philip Upton, Julian Scott, Christopher Brown, Keith Hall, Robert Mash, John Grebby, Nicholas Gwinn, Peter Watson, Anthony Hawkins, Clyde Reynolds, Stephen Levinson, Lionel Pimm, John Dukes, Colin Jones, Alexander McCallum, Michael Charlton, Anthony Epps, Robert Pendered, Timothy Russell, Martin Scovell, Michael Peyron, Frank Stones, James Tilmouth, David Tolson, Johnathan Bertley, Thomas Bradbeer, David J Evans, Derek Thornbery, Roger Kingwill, Peter Wightman, Peter Skinner, Andrew Duits, Nicholas Reynolds, Penny Wood, Michael Chapman, Martin Loxton, Charles Price, Richard Reynolds, David Hammersley, John Evans, Brian Merson, Michael Peters, Chris Mahon, Dr Salisbury, Mr C Hoddinott, Mark Farrand, Mike Jones, Mr P Newcome, Andrew Beaton, Sandra & Tony Tew, Nigel Herring, Jane Salkeld, Sarah-Jane Newland, Richard Willis, Mrs McDonald, Michael Reeves, Mike Geary, Tony Chew.