Guests at this year’s QE alumni dinner enjoyed a new, more relaxed approach to the occasion, while also making the most of a few additional activities during the evening.
Always a highlight of the Autumn Term, the dinner gained additional importance this year since it came in the School’s 450th anniversary year. One hundred and fifteen diners – a record attendance in recent years – gathered at Queen’s Road.
They were overlooked – but hopefully not put off their sumptuous fare! – by portraits of the two key figures in the School’s 1573 founding, Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, in the Dining Hall.
The guests ranged widely in age, from those who were pupils in the 1950s to a group of 31 who all left the School in 2020 during the first year of the Covid pandemic.
Headmaster Neil Enright said: “The OE dinner is a great reminder and celebration of the strength of our Elizabethan community.
“While our guests certainly seemed to appreciate the extra attractions we laid on for them to enjoy in our anniversary year, the dinner is mainly about people spending time with friends, making new connections and remembering their time at QE. And in this, it was a great success, with a lovely atmosphere, excellent food and some really positive feedback afterwards.”
The evening began with the QE Saxophone Ensemble playing in the Main School Hall while guests enjoyed welcome drinks. Their tunes included Irving Berlin’s 1929 song, Puttin’ on the Ritz, its title a reference to a slang expression of the time meaning to dress conspicuously and fashionably. With the black-tie dress code of previous years relaxed for this year’s new-style dinner, there was plenty of opportunity for guests to do just that: colourful ties were there in abundance (although, in fact, even ties were not compulsory).
Guests had the opportunity before and after dinner to look through materials from the School’s archives. There were also tours of the Mayes and Main buildings, with current Sixth Form students Danylo Gutsulyak, Maxwell Johnson and Sena Lai-Fujiwara all playing the piano in the Friends’ Recital Hall, entertaining the visitors and amply demonstrating the acoustics in this major new facility opened in May 2022.
Personal messages written by the Headmaster on specially produced postcards were provided for each guest.
In his words of welcome, Mr Enright recapped on the anniversary year, including the launch on 1st March of former Headmaster John Marincowitz’s “excellent” new history of the School, Queen Elizabeth’s School: 1573–2023. “It is never too early for some QE-themed Christmas shopping!” he said.
While some of the formalities involved in previous years’ dinners were dispensed with, the evening still featured the presentation of the Eric Shearly Memorial Prize awarded to 2023 School Captain Darren Lee by Martyn Bradish, Chairman of the Old Elizabethans Association.
Also retained were the traditional toasts. Eric Houston – President of the association, Master 1976–2010, and Second Master 1999–2010 – duly toasted: His Majesty The King; The pious memory of Queen Elizabeth I, our founder; Friends, present and absent; and The School.
The dinner included confit lamb shoulder croquettes and roasted chicken breast (with cauliflower bhaji and autumnal vegetable pithivier as vegetarian options), followed by dark chocolate torte and then tea or coffee, served with homemade petit fours.
- Click on the thumbnails below to view a selection of photos. (QE alumni can see all the images from the evening on QE Connect.)