Thirty-five years after leaving QE, a group of rugby-loving Elizabethans returned to the School on a specially arranged visit that included an opportunity to see the current First XV in action.
The group from the class of 1986 enjoyed a sometimes-emotional day hosted by Headmaster Neil Enright: some were meeting for the first time in more than three decades, while even those who had remained in closer contact had been kept apart for the past year-and-a-half because of Covid.
Several of the 16-strong group sported new alumni rugby shirts designed by current Head of Rugby James Clarke (OE 1999–2004), which they had purchased through the School Shop. As well as the 15 old boys, all of them 1986 leavers, the visitors included the sister of Graham Dunkley OE, Gail, who was at Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School at a time when some lessons in the Sixth Form were mixed between the schools.
Mr Enright said: “I really enjoyed the occasion, which all sprang out of a request from one of the group, Simon Butnick, in a conversation I had with him on LinkedIn earlier this year. It was great to welcome Simon and his peers back and to see them rekindling old friendships – in some cases, for the first time since they left the School.
“With a group of this size, we were able to offer something quite bespoke – knowing they would enjoy the chance to see the First XV game and talk to the players afterwards. We look forward to having the group as active members of our alumni network and keen supporters of the School.”
Among current and former staff present were Mr Clarke, Deputy Head David Ryan, Headmaster’s PA Nicola Weston (who knew many of the visitors from her own schooldays) and Dave Maughan, who was Head of Games from 1974–2003.
The group then set off on a tour of the School, led by the Headmaster, who was assisted by QE’s new Development Officer, Sharla Worrall. There were many comments about how the campus had changed – the visitors left the School just two years after the arrival of reforming Headmaster Eamonn Harris (1984–1999) and well before the major building projects that began in the late 1990s.
Afterwards, several of the group reflected on the day on LinkedIn, with OE Jason Rush writing: “It was a great day. The First and Second XV played their hearts out and reminded us what it used to feel like to play rugby at this wonderful school. Thank you for accommodating us. We will all remain in contact.”
It was, in fact, a day of mixed fortunes for the School’s rugby teams: while the First XV lost their match, the Second XV won theirs. Other victories went to the U16A, U15A, U14B and U13B teams, while the U15B, U14A and U13A sides lost.
- The School is currently asking all alumni to spend ten minutes filling in a survey it has commissioned from independent education consultancy RSAcademics. The results will help shape the School’s offer to its former pupils in the coming years. The closing date for the survey to be completed is Monday 11th October 2021.