Saturday, September 10th, 2011
Thanks to the initiative shown by past
student Philip Walters, a general school reunion dinner was held on the evening
of Saturday, 10th September 2011, at The Michael Sobell Sports Centre in Aberdare.
General View of the Reunion Dinner
About 170 past students converged on the Michael Sobell Sports
Centre on a stormy autumn evening. Guests arrived from Aberdare, and other corners
of the UK as well as two from the USA and one from Australia. The school entry dates
of participating old boys spanned almost fifty years, with Tom Evans being the earliest
(1929-35), whilst the youngest were pupils of both the grammar school and the comprehensive
school as their schooldays included the transition year of 1978.
The function was held in one of the very large halls on the ground floor which
had been reduced in size by a partition to better accommodate the numbers attending.
At around 7:30 pm John Cynon Davies rose to welcome the guests and requested that
they should take their seats at tables where the seating had been arranged so that ‘boys’ of
similar entry year were together. Grace preceded the dinner, and was said by Father
Bernard Jones (ABGS 1959-64). Between the courses there was a considerable amount
of mingling whereby past students wandered from table to table greeting old friends.
Tolerant waiters had to thread their way through the tables where as many people
were seated as were standing, engrossed in animated conversation.
The quality of the food provided by the caterers was exceptionally good, and
the ample quantities of wine provided on the tables was much appreciated. The menu
card is reproduced below, where the impressive set of courses can be seen.
After the sweet course Philip Walters rose and spoke briefly to introduce Professor
Brian Morgan who was to give a short speech and to propose a toast. Brian began
by thanking the team of Philip, John Cynon Davies, Keith Nicholas and Gerald Carter
who had organised the event and enabled us all to come together on that night. Colin
Rees & Steve Hammonds were thanked for promoting the event on the ABGS website.
Brian also recalled the recent passing of Ken Griffiths who had been foremost in
the organisation of the centenary dinner in 1996, and who would certainly have present
at this one had he still been with us. Two teachers who were present Tom Evans (Long
Tom) and Dalla Jones, were warmly welcomed [although both could also justify their
presence as past students]. Brian mentioned the efforts made by Malcolm Lloyd and
Adrian Servini who had come over from the USA to attend, and of Russell Lloyd who
had come from Australia.
He reminisced briefly on his days at school recalling how it had formed and benefited
us all. He reminded us of the legendary PEP who had been at the school as man and
boy for almost 60 years - and who could forget him with his wife Blanche, walking
around Aberdare, doffing his hat to everyone he passed. The Headmaster of Brian’s
day, Mr. Jess Warren with his study at the top of the clock tower. He
said he could never forget Dai Cube (Biology), Caryl Edwards (Economics), Haydn
Manning (PE & Sport), Gethin (Music), Meirion Jenkins (Geology) and a host of
other Great characters.
Of the school’s reputation, he recalled how over the years he had attended
numerous events, and when asked, “Well, where you from then?”, he would
reply ABGS. The response was often “Oh! not another one from there!”.
The school was obviously well thought of, and he said that we could be justly proud
of the reputation that this small school, from a small Valleys town, had achieved
over the years. Its reputation had been gained not least by the quality of its examination
results, but also from its achievements on the rugby field - recalling his own team’s
victories over Neath and Merthyr. As for the following day, he hoped that Wales
would produce a memorable performance against South Africa. Concluding his comments
about rugby, he drew attention to the presence on a nearby table of past student
Mark Davies, Scarlets Chief Executive.
In addressing those guests from abroad, he recommended a visit to the WMC in
Cardiff and to view the giant letters on the façade of the building which
form a wonderful one-line inscription, and which allow the light to shine directly
through into the the Penderyn Awen Foyer, which is the largest of the three foyer
bars. The English inscription being: “In These Stones Horizons Sing.”
In his final remarks, Brian thanked one of the guests, Nigel Short (ABGS 1974-79)
and Chairman of Penderyn Distillery, for providing every table with a bottle of
the company’s whisky for charging the glasses for The Toast. Nigel also had
tickets with him for the use of guests should they wish to make a visit to the distillery
on the following day. Brian concluded by proposing The Toast: “Aberdare Boys
Grammar School and Absent Friends”. The boys responded and sampled the mellow
warmth of the Penderyn spirit.
The event concluded around midnight with reveller Long Tom Evans, now in his
95th year, being amongst the last to leave!