In the months before I went to BCS as a new boy in the 4th form my father handed me a copy of the previous yearbook with the comment: This is where you will be going in September.
I flipped the pages and saw lots of black and white pictures of sports teams, cadets, houses but what I really remember is the picture of the prefect with the headmaster Mr. Pattison. Uniform, legs crossed, hands grasped together and not a smile on any of their faces. I looked at the names… Ian Taylor, William Mitchell. I thought: Boy this is a tough bunch of guys. I don’t know if I am ready for this.
By the time I got to the school tough guy William Mitchell was gone. He was replaced by other tough guys but when they are alive and in colour you realize they aren’t that bad and I did survive.
After Tim Price called me a few months ago to tell me I was to be inducted into the Henniker Williams Society I did some thinking about the path, and more particularly the people I met along that path from my first day at BCS to this enjoyable dinner tonight at the York Club and I would like to highlight some of them to you tonight.
The first important point was not in fact a person, it was a place. At that time First Team Hockey and also second team, The Abenakis I think, had an alternating home and home match against Deerfield Academy in Deerfield Massachusetts.
While I knew that old boys gave money to BCS I was certain that it was not on the scale I saw at Deerfield. For example, I knew that School house wasn’t named after an old boy named Robert School. And I said to myself that even though I didn’t like soggy toast or cadets, when I left the school I was going to constantly give money to BCS, and I did.
The next person I want to mention is Graham Hallward. Graham was a student at BCS and for a long time his father was chair of the Board of Directors. For those of you that don’t know Graham he is a professional fundraiser. By that I don’t mean he makes a living at it. Only that he is very good at it.
Probably 20-25 years ago Graham came to see me at work. I knew he wanted to touch me for some money so I was prepared. He noted and described the Capital Program for which he was trying to raise money and then got to the crunch. He said he wanted a 3 year commitment and he thought I should give $10,000 per year. I nearly fell of my chair! While I had been giving each year, it was, probably in the $100-$200 range. Well, we sawed it at $5,000 per year for 3 years. And Graham probably left happy because he would have been satisfied with $2,500 per year. Looking back I can only say that he certainly raised my bar.
The next person I want to mention is the first student I ever met at BCS. I was the first to arrive in our room of 5 people. When he arrived with his parents, as a new boy as well, I helped him carry his trunk up to our room. That person was Scott Abbott. During our time at BCS Scott and I were not busom buddies but I can say that Scott was firstly a lot smarter that I was and secondly Scott was absolutely the finest manager of First Team Hockey that ever lived.
But really the reason I highlight Scott is not so much his time at school but what he has done for the school since. I remember being in this room a few years ago when Scott was inducted into the Henniker Williams Society and it was a great event. Because Scott is from my era at BCS it hit me in the head. What Scott has done for the school is what people from my era and our stage in life should be doing for the school. In effect he raised the bar for me again.
The next person I would like to highlight is an old golfing friend of mine Frazer Elliott. I think I had some influence on sending his son Frazer Jr. to BCS and Frazer contributed to the School by going on the Board, and I think by being a very active and enthusiastic board member. I remember golfing with Frazer and we were talking about the school. I complemented him on the contribution of his time to the School’s affairs. I noted that I didn’t have that much time to give but I was willing to give financially. What did he think the School needed most. Frazer had been to visit the Greenwood School and said that they had an Enrichment Centre that was working well and it acted as a real differentiating offering for Greenwood. What followed were discussions with Lew Evans the head at the time, the development of the Centres objective, physical location and layout and the opening of the R.D.W. Howson Enrichment Centre.
Well I have highlighted a number of individuals but I can’t leave without mentioning as a group, the many different people I have met through my association with BCS. I am thinking of the staff at the School for whom BCS is far more than a 9-5 job. The people that have served on various boards related to the school and those who may not be on board but have given freely of their time and expertise to make BCS a better school. When I see what the BCS community has and continues to give, I am very humbled to now be a member of the Henniker Williams Society.
There is one person here who falls into that last group I mentioned that I do want to single out. That is the tough guy prefect I mentioned at the beginning of my comments and that of course is Will Mitchell.
I am not going to outline everything Will has done for the School except to note that at exactly the time he was expecting to retire BCS came calling and he stepped in as head of school at a very difficult time for BCS. He delayed his retirement, put the school on a stable footing and has handed off responsibility to Tyler Lewis to take the school to the next level.
I, and I assume, others expressed the view that the Old Boys and Girls community should do something special for Will. The answer I got back was that he didn’t want anything for himself but would be pleased if we all made contributions to the Mitchell Scholarship.
Now I knew about this before so I made sure that I brought my chequebook and I plan to leave a cheque tonight with Greg Stevenson. And I would like to ask all of you to do the same, either tonight or in the next few days. As others have raised my bar in the past I hope I can raise yours.
Thank you and I am deeply touched with the honour.