September 2nd 2017 – Old Lewesian's Reunion

The Chapel Trust had the opportunity to address the 135 OLO members who attended the reunion and update them on developments since the last reunion in 2014.

Principal of these was the establishment of the Organ Scholarship programme. Having started with one pupil it had proved possible to extend the scholarship to accept a second student. Both were able to play at the afternoon's service in the chapel and it was wonderful to hear the magnificent Victorian organ being played so proficiently. Both pupils came down from the Organ loft to take a bow and receive the enthusiastic applause of the congregation.

The Trustees were also able to explain that following the success of the Organ Scholarship and the realisation that relatively small amount could make transformational differences to peoples lives, further discussion had taken place with the school to identify other areas where the Chapel Trust might be involved.

The preliminary discussion had thrown up the possibility to award prizes associated with some of the old Grammar School trophies, such as the Edgar Povey Trophy - awarded for Integrity and Honour. Other options were funding to provide a particularly gifted student with  equipment that might help them move from good to excellent. Examples discussed were artists materials for a gifted fine art student, sports equipment (cricket bat, tennis racquet etc) for a gifted athlete, perhaps the cost of an off site course where relevant (public speaking course, specialist sports training etc).

Another issue discussed was the possibility of establishing a choir and paying for an external choirmaster.

The school also noted that they normally arranged an annual visit to the WW1 battlefields/war cemeteries in France/Belgium. It proved popular but there were always students who were put off by the cost. Although related mainly to WW1, the school felt the trip was sufficiently in harmony with the Chapel Trust's aims and objectives, the trust might want to sponsor the trip.

With this range of options available and given the tangible evidence of the success of the Organ Scholarship, the Trust received a number of offers of financial support on the day. Such was the enthusiasm, it was possible to confirm a third Organ Scholarship on the spot for a very talented female pupil who our tutor felt would benefit but up until the reunion, the funds had not been available.

With substantially larger funds following the reunion, both from one off donations and from monthly standing orders the Trust will be able to renew discussions with the school positive in the knowledge it can take forward a number of projects which will be recorded on the website as they are established.

During the plenary session of the reunion it was also possible to advise OLO members of the progress on the book being written by David Arnold. David was able to bring members up to date on his researches and provide copies of his 3 articles published in the Sussex Express which show how from a simple beginning the project has unearthed numerous new information streams and hitherto unknown stories and connections. Not withstanding all the new material, David is hoping for publication by year end for a 1st Q 2018 launch.

Alan Pett was also able to advise OLO members of his own researches into the family histories of the 55 boys whose lives were lost. He is working closely with David Arnold on this.

One other very significant development reported was that the school, through a very supportive and enthusiastic member of staff responsible for Chapel Activities, Paul Holt, has advertised for, interviewed and appointed 8 pupils to be “junior trustees” to work with the Chapel Trustees. This is a wonderful initiative as it will allow a new and younger perspective on what the Trust is trying to achieve and ensures that the Chapel remains a key focus for the school. An initial meeting between some of the Chapel Trustees and the junior trustees is scheduled for early October.   

Overall, the Trustees left the reunion with a feeling that some real momentum was building around the programme of works and with a renewed sense that the Chapel was to remain a central part of the Priory school.