In a first for the OHA, on the evening of what should have been the OHA Annual Dinner, 34 people got together on Zoom to hear a series of updates from President Colin Blessley as well as memories of Simon Gelber, Tony Alexander and John Carleton.
Those dropping in came from places as far apart as Wichita, Kansas; Dallas, Texas; Cape Town; Hong Kong and New York.
The event proved to be so popular that future ones are already being planned and will continue even after we have all been released from the lockdown.
Colin Blessley's Words:
I am sure that this is a very novel experience for many of us – not just Covid – 19, but also having a drink on Zoom. Thank goodness technology has evolved since the first time I did videoconferencing at work in the late 90s.
So, it’s great that we are able to meet up, albeit it virtually. Due to the shielding requirements, I have not been beyond my front door since 23rd March, other than for the Thursday evening applause, so this is a welcome change.
I suppose that one of the interesting aspects of this event is to see how we all look after 10½ weeks of lockdown – hair length (particularly of those who do not have a live-in stylist), has the “Trojan” or “Just for Men” run out, how many now have facial hair and the degree of suntan? The big question is will we recognise each other when this is behind us?
For those fortunate enough to have gardens, at least the good weather so far has been a blessing – it has certainly helped with my solitary confinement.
I trust that your DIY skills have been used to good effect and that the “To do” list is getting shorter. The secret is to not get too enthusiastic, as we may have to make these tasks last us for a while.
On to matters OHA…
As most of you know, the club house is shut down until further notice. It is Mel and Pauline’s home, as well. They are both vulnerable and we need to safeguard their wellbeing. We are helping them out and providing support to the extent possible.
The grounds are being maintained in readiness for the recommencement of sporting activity – we do not want to get caught out with urgent remedial work being required. Thank you, David Heasman, for coordinating this important aspect.
Financially, we can weather the storm without raiding the investment fund, even if we generate zero revenues from activities until the end of the 2020/2021 rugby season.
We issued a bumper Spring edition of OH Notes – if any of you have not yet read it, I encourage you to do so. Our thanks to all contributors and to Richard for his editorial skills. We are always hungry for more material, so your contributions, no matter how modest, will always be welcome.
The School has been very active in contributing support in the current situation. In addition to providing schooling on-site for the children of key workers, the School’s Design & Technology Department has produced well over 4,000 PPE visors for key workers. Also, members of the HABS community have been carrying out volunteer work to support vulnerable persons in the community. All a great altruistic effort.
I just wanted to say, on a personal note, that, if you know of any OH who are having difficulties in the current circumstances, please let us know and we will do our best to help. From my father’s memoirs about the HOBC in the after-war years, it is clearly evident how the resurgence of activities for the survivors was a major contributor to the recovery process for many people.
Sadly, since the beginning of the year, we have lost a number of friends:
Simon Gelber – Clive Hyman will say a few words a bit later
Michael Levin [staff]
Dick Benbow [staff]
Tony Alexander – his brother Nigel will remember Tony shortly
John Carleton – John Wigley will pay a tribute to his colleague
Without wishing to single out any particular individual, the loss of Simon and Tony was particularly painful for our organisation and myself. Both were absolute stalwarts of the Association and their respective sporting clubs. Simon was the backbone of the OHCC for many years and Tony seemed like the life and soul of the OHRFC – always larger than life. They will be sorely missed.
I have fond memories of Jack Carleton – known as “Tubes” – who, despite his best efforts and infinite patience, was unable to get me to pass O Level Chemistry.
Let’s raise a glass in their memory and observe a minute’s silence to reflect on their lives.
I think that it would now be appropriate if our MC, the ever-inventive Mr Tarpey, steers us into the more enjoyable part of the evening.
Stay well, stay safe and stay sane. I look forward to seeing you in person in the not-too-distant future.
Tony Alexander (OH 1962)
OHA, OHRFC and OH Lodge are deeply saddened to announce that Tony Alexander (OH 1962 - one of the original "Removal Men") has passed away.
Tony was a legend in the OH World and will be hugely missed by every single person who ever met him. His enthusiasm, effervescence and charm will never be replicated.
A very sad day in OH history.
The Funeral Service for Tony Alexander will take place on Monday 27th April at 12.20 pm. With the current restrictions only the close family may be present.
We have a webcast available if you wish to join us on Monday at 12.20pm. Please use this Link and Password.
Login / Order ID: 25157
ORDER OF SERVICE
An order of service is available to download on this link, no password required
There will only be family flowers for the service but if you would like to make a tribute donation to his favourite charity, The Royal National Lifeboat Institution, then this may be made here. Along with Maggie, he would always stand his turn as a collector during their appeals.
The Old Haberdashers Rugby Club and Old Haberdashers Association are collating memories and tributes. Any recollections, anecdotes or photos may be e-mailed to either Ian McCarthy, President OHRFC, or to Richard Carlowe, Administrator OHA, . These will be collected and published at a later date.
MEMORIAL and CELEBRATION
When circumstances allow we shall gather together to celebrate Tony’s life. Details will be circulated as soon as practical.
Maggie, Nigel, Tim and Jenny would like to thank all of you for your kind words and good wishes at this sad time.
With Best wishes
Simon Gelber (OH 1973) Memorial Service
We are devastated to receive the news that Simon Gelber, mainstay of the Old Haberdashers’ Cricket Club and a key member of the Association’s management team, passed away on New Year’s Day after suffering a major heart failure on Christmas Day. He will be sorely missed by all those whose lives he touched.
His funeral will be a family and close friends ceremony.
The Memorial Service shall be held at 11.30am on Saturday 8th February at The Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in Elstree. All are welcome to attend. Please park in the Coach Park.
Nobbly Tanner's Files Uploaded
From 1958 to 1995, Nobbly Tanner recorded every rugby score and team for every XV to represent OHRFC. His files have now been uploaded for all to peruse.
To view them please go to
CCF Reunion Dinner - 21st June 2019
The sumptuous surroundings of The RAF Club on London’s Piccadilly was once again the venue for the Annual CCF Dinner, bringing together members of the Habs contingent from over the last 60 years.
As Officer presiding Lt Cdr Hardman provided an enthralling account of the past year’s CCF’s activities, while the School’s Senior Cadet Keeran Mahendra Kumar proposed the toast to the Old Haberdashers' present and reflected on his own life-changing time in the School’s CCF.
We are particularly grateful to individual OHs and the Old Haberdashers Association for kindly sponsoring the places of current cadets to enable them to attend the dinner.
OHA Annual Dinner - 23rd May 2019
Once again the great and the good gathered at Haberdashers' Hall for our annual event.
Following the traditional meet at the Bishop's Finger and a few glasses of extremely moreish Prosecco in the sun in the Hall's garden, the assembled throng moved upstairs to the Livery Room for what was an excellent meal with copious amounts of wine and after dinner port.
The usual Andrew Tarpey-led toasts to obscure sections of the OHA were followed by an excellent insight into the last school year by School Captain, Tamilore Awisola. He was followed by Gus Lock ('94), the new Headmaster. His incredibly entertaining speech reflected on both his time as a pupil and his new role as Head. He is an excellent speaker and everybody present was lucky to have witnessed it.
Not to be outdone, our President, Colin Blessley, finished proceedings with an amusing update on all things OH and his speech is reproduced below:
Gus, Brenda, Margot, honoured guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I’m back again ….
Gus, many thanks for your kind and supportive words.
We are delighted that we have resuscitated the tradition of the Headmaster attending our Annual Dinner. This is particularly signal in that Gus is himself an OH with a distinguished career in education and, if I am not mistaken, is the first OH to occupy the position of Head at HABS. I am sure that, under your leadership, the School will continue to thrive and improve on its outstanding track record. A warm welcome to Alison and yourself.
Thank you, Tamilore, for your words as the School Captain, in representation of your colleagues. Just when I thought that the quality of oratory could not be improved, you have raised the bar yet again. I looked forward to welcoming you as an OHA member in the not-too-distant future.
I am particularly happy to welcome again Margot Chaundler, Chair of the Boy’s School Committee, as well as Brenda Batten, until recently Mayor of Hertsmere Borough Council, together with her husband John, unofficial representative of Harrow Rugby Club.
We are also honoured to have the presence of Ian McCarthy, OHRFC President, fresh back from a continental tour, basking in the glory of the Club’s most successful season in living memory.
At this event last year, I commented on the progress that had been made in rekindling the collaborative relationship between the School and the OHA. With the arrival of Gus, and with the ongoing support of Roger Llewellyn, these relations are being taken to a new, higher level.
Since Gus’ taking over as HM, we have held a number of extremely positive, meaningful and constructive meetings, attended by Gus, David Thompson (Head of Finance of HABS and the Girls’ School), Roger, Richard Carlowe and myself. These working sessions have a single objective – to further the cooperation between our respective organisations and develop an established and sustainable programme of joint events and initiatives. This proposal has the support of Simon Cartmell (Head of the Governors) – sadly unable to join us this evening – and Margot Chaundler, both of whom share our vision and ambition.
It is early days to set out the extent of what we hope to achieve but I shall be happy to continue to dedicate my efforts to this project for as long as I can continue to be of use.
To give you four examples of how we have been moving forward – the OHFC, of whom 8 players are here tonight, now play their home games at the School and retire to Croxdale Road with the opposition for post-match refreshments. At the start of the last rugby season, as the pitches at Croxdale Road were unplayable as a result of the prolonged summer drought, OHRFC home games were also played at the School. The only downside was that the players were so impressed with the billiard table playing surface there, coming home was something of an anti-climax, had it not been for the renewed club house (more on this later). The Head of the School Grounds Staff provided on-site advice on remedial measures for our own pitches.
For all of this – and for what is to come – Gus and Roger please receive our heartfelt thanks. We look forward to an exciting future together.
Talking of “the Fortress” – as it is lovingly referred to by the OHRFC “Magentamen” – over the last year the OHA has invested some £0.25 million in refurbishing the club house and the Stewards’ bungalow. The results are, in my humble opinion, spectacular. I doubt my late father and uncle would recognise the place, other than for the external profile. I would encourage any of you who have not yet enjoyed the revamped surroundings to get out there and experience the revitalised HQ of our Association.
We have also invested in improved playing field watering equipment, hopefully, to avoid a recurrence of the situation we experienced last September.
For this work, I would like to single out a few stalwarts for special mention, without whom the project would ever have been completed to the high standard of finish. David Heasman – unfortunately not here this evening – who oversaw the whole process – almost a full-time job. Mickey Fenner and Mark Plausin of the OHRFC for all their hard work on site. And Pauline, Mel and family for putting up with living in the middle of a building site for many months. Finally, Ian McCarthy and the OHRFC for their funding of the purchase of new dining furniture and the sourcing of the new PortaKabin. I hope that you feel that all your efforts have been worthwhile and are proud of the end result.
Our sporting teams continue to go from strength to strength and I trust that, with the incorporation of new talent from the School, this trend will continue.
To round up, Andrew, many thanks for being an excellent MoC.
Richard Carlowe, who organised tonight’s event, has worked wonders with our communications with our membership – quality, quantity and frequency are all at high levels hitherto unknown.
Pauline continues to work wonders in the Fortress kitchen, now state-of-the-art thanks to the support of Simon Gelber.
And, of course, thanks to all the volunteer OH whose efforts are often behind the scenes and who organise our activities and events.