The Association was formed in 1879 but there are reports of its existence even 60 years before that. The list of Presidents is however complete from 1879.
The President for 2021 – 2022 is Dominic Hartley (OS1986)
It’s the last day of term at St Mary’s Hall, July 1st, and an outdoor Mass on the front lawns of the school is about to begin. It is one of those gloriously still summer days, Mr Mann is playing On Eagle’s Wings on the piano as the Ruds’ leavers take their seats. I am enjoying all of it, a tear in my eye as my son Oliver reads. I’m tuning in from 200ft below ground as I take the Jubilee line heading into central London. And that seems to sum up what a year it has been, a year in which we’ve missed out on so many rites of passage, but with technology being called upon to keep us all somehow connected. It has been one rollercoaster ride!
Taking over the helm from Tim Livesey (thanks for your extra year Tim!) my overriding thought as the new President of the Association is of the need to move away from Virtual Event land. I work in this field, but am passionate about the need to get back to face-to-face interaction. Enjoying other people’s company is one of the greatest gifts in life and online will only get you so far. So, my priority is to help organise as many opportunities for us to meet once again!
We start with Thirst Fridays! From August 6th, these informal monthly gatherings are aimed at all OS living nearby to a bar in a designated City. It is a call to come down to the local pub, have your first drink on the Association, meet other OS after work and go from there. The first will be in Brighton on August 6th with London on Friday September 3rd. Put these dates in your diary for a really relaxed opportunity to catch up with other OS who live in your area both the young and less young. There will be more destinations to come, I’ve persuaded my brother Jules(OS 84) to help organise a Thirst Friday in Edinburgh at some point too, so watch this space.
Next to the Association Annual Dinner, which of course was cancelled last year. The thinking is we go BIG this year to make up for it! We are going to have a huge celebration of all things Stonyhurst on February 26th 2022 at the brand new Pan Pacific Hotel in London. It’s going to be a wonderful evening in one of London’s most sumptuous hotels thanks to calling in a few favours from my cousin CJ (OS 86). There will be a drinks reception, three course meal and much more, and we’ve managed to line up an inspirational speaker Jimmy Nelson OS 86, from my year. Jimmy has travelled the world documenting 35 lost indigenous tribes and is an incredible photographer and Ted Talk pro. The ballroom will have the most advanced screens in the industry where we’ll be able to show his award-winning photography as well as showcasing many of the charitable works that OS are involved with. Then 29 Fingers, the band I founded with Tommy Lorimer (OS 86) on the drums, will take to the stage for a gig into the early hours – so come prepared to party!
For those wanting to make this a special occasion, the hotel has a fine spa, infinity pool, gym and is in a stunning Plaza so shopping is also on the cards. There will be a mass at Farm Street the next day followed by an informal Sunday pub lunch for those that are not clapped out on the sofa!
It also occurred to me that the OS would like to be more informed about events and people in the Stonyhurst Community. As a filmmaker I’ve started a Face-to-Face video series whereby I’ll be meeting some of the personalities that keep the Stonyhurst Community alive. My first stop was the current Headmaster, so look out for that edit film. Next, I am planning on visiting Paul Chitnis to understand more about the wonderful work of the Jesuit Missions and how we might be able to support them.
For those of you who have enjoyed the Association Webinar series Towards a Better Politics, Tim has two more live discussions in store for later this year, so watch this space for further details.
Finally, I will be passing the baton on to a new President in May 2022 and have a very exciting announcement to share! We are delighted that Julie Macfarlane OS78 has accepted the nomination of President-Elect and will be the first Lady President in the history of the Stonyhurst Association.
In the meantime, thanks so much to Simon Andrews OS68, who not only inspired me as a playroom master, but also worked tirelessly as the Association Chairman for many years, before handing over to the highly capable Brendan Roche OS82 in April 2021.
Past President 2019 – 2021, Tim Livesey (OS1977)
It has been a very unusual year. I am not sure how many past Presidents of the Association have been asked to film themselves giving an address to Rhetoricians who would otherwise have listened in person, at the Association’s Great Academies reception; but that gives you a flavour. This is the year that the College closed in March, Great Academies was held as a virtual on-line event, the Lourdes pilgrimage was cancelled, so too the Easter retreat for families at Stonyhurst; and a walking holiday on a section of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela was postponed, along with a number of Association events and social gatherings.
2020 will be remembered by us all and will feature in the annals of the Association, as well as the school, as a year marked by disruption but not, I hope, despair. We have simply had to adapt along with the rest of the country to entirely unforeseen events. I want to salute the way that the College and the Association went about that adaptation with a minimum of fuss and maximum of care, particularly for all those directly affected, including our Association Office staff, Beverley and Layla, who accepted the need to be furloughed with predictable grace.
The Association exists to look after its members and to build up our common life. This year has been no exception, even if many of the best-laid plans have had to be put to one side until we can regroup. In many respects it is precisely at times like these, which many of us have experienced as deeply painful – perhaps having lost loved ones – personally challenging, or just plain confusing, that we appreciate more than ever our bonds of solidarity and family. When we do meet again, virtually or in person, we will have much to share.
The year (2019) got off to a great start with a very successful Lourdes pilgrimage. Amongst the 128 pilgrims and helpers in the Stonyhurst contingent we had 26 young OS which was very encouraging. Young OS were also very much in at the Association’s Annual Dinner on November 9th 2019. Perhaps it was the location, the de Vere hotel, situated in what was once Beaumont College that attracted a large crowd of more than 200 OS, OB, friends and family. It was moving and memorable to gather in such numbers, possibly for the first time since the school was closed, and especially to be able to celebrate Mass together in Beaumont’s beautiful former chapel on Sunday morning and, later, for some of us to join OBs in their annual Remembrance Service around the War Memorial. A special thanks to our guest of honour, Tom Shufflebotham SJ, for attending and reminding us of the gifts and graces of a Jesuit education. These were admirably and un-self-consciously displayed in their superb after dinner speeches by the joint Heads of Line.
My thanks to Association members who organised excellent, and very well attended sporting events at St John’s Beaumont, and Preston Grasshoppers, and many more besides. We plan to re-run in the autumn the two topical issues events cancelled because of the lockdown: virtually if necessary. These are looking at what makes for public discussion and debate that contributes, rather than puts at risk, the common good.
Thanks also to the Association Committee which met as usual throughout the year and is ably, and sympathetically, chaired by Simon Andrews. Its members, like all those who work so hard to organise events and gatherings – with the excellent and indispensable support of Beverley and her team – are all volunteers. The Association is necessarily a team effort – a pooling of our collective and voluntary social capital. Do consider whether you have ideas, energy and time to contribute to our joint effort.
We are particularly proud of the help we are able to give to a number of charitable endeavours, to which will be added next year a contribution to the Stonyhurst Foundation to provide a bursary for at least one student who would not otherwise be able to benefit from an education at the school. The Association’s investment income has, along with the markets, taken a hit this year; so if you were considering making a donation to support our charitable work, now would be a very good time.
I am immensely grateful for the privilege and honour of being President over the past year and am delighted that Dominic Hartley OS 86, following in his uncle’s footsteps, has agreed to take over from me. The Association has, however agreed, to another unprecedented development in this most unprecedented of years. I will continue as President until 2021 so that Dominic can begin his term in more favourable circumstances. In the interim, he and I – ably supported by, amongst others, my predecessor Jimmy Burns – will work closely together to plan for the next stage of the Association’s life. We have been given, quite literally, pause for thought. Amongst other things we will be looking at how the Association’s current structures, membership arrangements and constitution might be updated, and where possible simplified, to ensure we are as fit for purpose as possible, in a time of tremendous change and challenge. That work will commence shortly and run though the autumn; along, we hope, with a resumption of more familiar Association activities, currently on hold. Of that more anon.
In the meantime: a sincere and personal thank you to you all for your forbearance during an exceptional year.
Laus Deo Semper.
Past President 2018 – 2019, Jimmy Burns OBE (OS1971)
Jimmy Burns (born Madrid, 1953) studied at Stonyhurst from 1966-1971, after attending St Philip’s School in London. He then studied Modern Iberian & Latin American Studies at University College, London (BA) and Politics & Government at the London School of Economics & Political Science (MA). After working for The Catholic Herald, and as script writer and researcher with BBC and Yorkshire TV, he joined the Financial Times, where he pursued his career as a foreign correspondent and with a range of other reporting jobs including security, public policy, and politics. Since retiring from the staff of the FT in 2009, he has continued his links with the newspaper and continues to contribute to media on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the author of several books including the Land that Lost its Heroes which won the Somerset Maugham prize for non-fiction, Papa Spy, and a biography of Pope Francis. He is the author of Cristiano & Lionel: The Race to be the Greatest Footballer in History published in May 2018. He has served as a non-executive director of The Tablet, chairman of the charity The British Spanish Society, and a volunteer with The Lourdes Pilgrimage.
Past President 2017-2018, Robert Brinkley CMG (OS 1972)
Robert Brinkley is a senator (member of the governing body) of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU) and chairman of the Ukrainian Institute London, which is affiliated to UCU. He also chairs the Chatham House Ukraine Forum and the BEARR Trust, a British charity which supports small health and social welfare groups in Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Asia and the South Caucasus. He is a trustee of the Keston Institute, which studies religion in Communist and former Communist countries. He offers consultancy advice to businesses and comments in the media based on his international experience.
Until 2011 Robert Brinkley was a British diplomat for 34 years. He served as High Commissioner to Pakistan (2006 – 2009), Ambassador to Ukraine (2002 – 2006) and as head of the UK’s worldwide visa operation (2000 – 2002). He had previously had two postings in Moscow (both in Russia and in the Soviet Union), as well as positions in Bonn, Geneva and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. In 2010 – 2011 he was seconded to Associated British Foods plc. He speaks Ukrainian, Russian and German.
Past President 2016 – 2017, Father Nicholas King SJ, OS 1966.
“After Stonyhurst I went up to Oxford to read Classics, with the firm intention of becoming a wealthy barrister after that. However at a particular moment, which I can date to within a few minutes, and greatly to my surprise, I realised that the only thing that I could do if I was to be happy was to join the Jesuits, who had taught me at Stonyhurst. That was 47 years ago, and (so far) I have seen no reason to change my mind… For twelve years I taught New Testament and Greek at the University of Oxford, where at Campion Hall, the Jesuit house. Most recently I have published a translation of the entire Greek Bible into English, something that I can hardly believe. Currently I am Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Heythrop College in the University of London. Before I came back to Oxford, I taught for many years in South Africa, which was one of the most remarkable experiences of my life. Jesuits do all sorts of things, and our task is to do whatever the Church asks of us. Like many of my confreres, this particular Jesuit has always been a teacher at secondary or tertiary level; but I have also done a good deal of writing. And I have coached cricket and Rugby in my time. Let me simply say this: if it is the life for you, then there is no better or happier way of life. But it must be the life to which God is calling you”.
Fr Nick was a tutor in New Testament Studies at Campion Hall and the Theology Faculty at the University of Oxford. He is a celebrated translator of the New Testament. He is currently living in London and working as the Provincial’s assistant for formation.