I hope this finds you all keeping well and safe in these bizarre and difficult times.
I am well aware, that an update on all things OA committee related is way overdue, and for that you have my apologies. Things have been a tad hectic on the NHS work front, so I claim that as my excuse!
Our AGM was held in September as a Zoom meeting. Many thanks to all who attended. The minutes from the AGM will be available on the website.
A key event in our OA committee life, has been the stepping down, in September, of Jenny Richardson as our Chair and Nick Cassidy as Treasure & IT officer,and all things Website! Both Jenny and Nick have been instrumental in the successful running of the club over many years and their contributions have been huge.
Jenny joined Abbotsholme in September 1976 aged 28. She taught English, was a deputy head and was a much-loved houseparent to Cederholme (a girls boarding house at the time). Passionate about drama, Jenny was an inspirational force for a generation of lucky students. She retired in 2004 after 28yrs in full-time teaching and has continued her association with Abbotsholme with a further 16 yrs. at the OA coalface! Jenny’s encyclopaedic knowledge of past pupils is a testament to the esteem and affection in which she is held as so many have kept in touch with her.
Nick was a pupil at Abbotsholme from 1968-72 and his support and enthusiasm for the school and the impact he feels his time there had on him, is a joy to listen to. Nick’s knowledge and management of all things financial has been invaluable, and his tremendous effort, time, dedication and foresight in developing the OA website has allowed us to be able to engage more easily with all of our membership, and reconnect to many of those who had lost touch with the club.
We extend sincere thanks to Jenny and Nick, on behalf of all OAs, for their dedication, enthusiasm, and hard work over so many years.
More recently, Wendy Franklin has stepped down as Communications Officer. Wendy was at Abbotshome from 1987 -92 and now lives and works in Australia. Wendy has been responsible for communications on both the Club website and social media. Again, we extend our sincere thanks to Wendy for all her hard work in maintaining such an important part of the club.
Clearly, there have been some changes! In view of no updates to share regarding events held/to be held, It seems a good time to introduce you to your new OA committee and give you a little insight into who we are. Be assured we are all enthusiastic and dedicated to ensuring the OA Club continues to be successful in serving our membership and meeting our aims in doing the best for our school and it’s pupils, both past and present.
We are always keen for people to get involved with the running of the club and would welcome any of you if you feel you can contribute in any way. Whilst the current pandemic has certainly brought us many challenges, and has prevented us holding any of the planned events this year (we will keep you informed of when we are able to re-schedule things), it has also given us the opportunity to focus on improving the way we use IT in both communicating with our members and holding committee meetings.
We are currently holding meetings via Zoom (never the same as seeing the whites of each other’s eyes, but a fair alternative!), and we also have the capacity to use video conferencing when we are finally able to meet face to face again. All of this had made it easier for ANYONE, ANYWHERE, to join the committee or participate in things more easily.
If any of you are interested, or just wish to throw suggestions at us for future events; what you would like from us; update us about your life and adventures or just to say hi, please use the contact form on the Members Website or feel free to contact me directly, my details are below.
Please find below a short Bio – and of course a lovely picture – of a few of our committee. The second instalment of the rest of the motley crew will follow in the next newsletter.
Ruth Ostrovskis-Wilkes (nee’ Wilkes)
Abbotsholme Pupil 1975-1980
OA Committee Chairperson.
After leaving school, I moved to London to do my nurse training at Kings’ College Hospital. I worked in London & Sheffield, before spending a few years nursing in Melbourne Australia. I have specialised in cardiothoracic nursing, with a bit of Intensive care thrown in for good measure!
After a bit of ‘toing and frowing’ between Aus and the UK, I finally settled back in the beautiful Peak District. Never one to let the grass grow, I had a break from nursing to work for a pharmaceutical company for a few years. When my 2 boys were young (now 26 & 23…where did that time go!), my husband (now ex) and I set up a private physiotherapy clinic in Sheffield.
In 2004 I decided to return to nursing and have worked in the cardiothoracic unit in Sheffield ever since. Some part of my addled brain decided it would be a good idea to do a MSc in Healthcare Education & Practice, & concurrently, a MSc in advanced Clinical practice, whilst working full time! This led to my registration as a Nurse teacher and an Advanced Clinical Practitioner in 2012. I am currently the Senior Sister & ACP in the Thoracic Surgery and Trauma Unit, and for all its’ challenges, I love it!
The beautiful surroundings I’m lucky enough to call home, offer me all the stress therapy I need and the love of walking, inspired by those school hikes!, keeps me healthy. I still love riding (although I now get little chance) and if there is a game of rugby being played you are likely to find me either on the side-lines or shouting at the TV!
I feel very honoured to be Chair of the OA Club and to have the chance to give a little bit back to the place and people that gave me so much.
Gina Embleton-Sonneville (nee’ Embleton)
Abbotsholme Pupil 1981-1985
OA Committee Deputy Chairperson
My daughters have both attended Abbotsholme, with my youngest still here.
I was in orchard house and went on to university to study philosophy.
I married a Dutch man and lived in holland until 10 years ago. I love swimming and I coached the swimming team whilst at school.
Abbotsholme gave me a lifelong sense of adventure and the confidence to follow my dreams. Within the OA club I manage the new and current membership administrationand this year am honoured to be the Deputy Chairperson.
Shelley Grimshaw (nee’ Johnson)
Abbotsholme Pupil 1984-1990
OA Committee Secretary and Treasurer.
Since leaving school I have married and had 3 children, Chris has been my husband for 27 years. Jack, my eldest, is now 25, Rachel is 22 and Charlie is 12.
After attending Reaseheath Agricultural College I spent a couple of years working on 2 dairy farms in Knutsford, after I got married, I moved to Leicester and had my first two children before moving back to Cheshire and deciding on a career in Nursing.
I qualified as a nurse in 2003, working nights on Surgical Admissions at Leighton Hospital in Crewe then moving to Medical Admissions for a couple of years before movingon to the Healthcare Dept of HMP Shrewsbury.
I purchased a Residential Care Home for the Elderly in 2007, based in Blythe Bridge, S-O-T, and this remains my current career. I have spent the last 13 years building up the reputation of this home and increasing the available beds from 15 to 21. I have a staff of 24, who are some of the most loyal and hardworking people I have ever met.
I enjoy watching my youngest play football for Nantwich Town FC and have recently taken up walking with the hope of an attempt on Mt Kilimanjaro as soon as we can safely travel again.
Fiona Harbot-Beadman (nee’ Harbot)
Abbotsholme Pupil 1976-1980
OA Committee Communications Officer
Hi wonderful OA’s!
Like the majority of us I had a wonderful time at school, and keeping the OA club going is something I’m very passionate about.....Jennny’s “call to arms” email about a year ago, with the threat of the club folding unless we got involved, prompted me to put myself forward to the committee.
I live in Rutland, a wonderfully rural community, with fabulous walks from my doorstep. However, I love visiting The Peaks for walking, and climbing (something I took up a few years ago - I’m useless btw). So if any of you are experienced climbers and wouldn’t mind an extra person going with you please get it touch!
I hope to see you once we’re at the other end of this dreadful pandemic.
Miles Harbot has kindly put this together about his TravelAward trip to Italy....
In (I think!) 1983 Paul Hickmott and I were lucky enough to be the recipients of the travel award. It followed a chance remark from the A level Biology teacher along the lines “why don’t you apply for the travel award and study the flora and fauna of the Dolomite mountains in Italy?” It didn’t take us long to work out the award would just about cover two rail tickets and a few weeks on a campsite there. We couldn’t believe our luck when we were told we had got it! The journey there was by several trains, sleeping overnight in a couple of train stations (Milan stank and was filthy!) and a hazardous bus journey over mountain passes which got us to the campsite at Corvara, our base for the next few weeks. The mountains around the village formed the most stunning natural amphitheatre. We were truly blessed.
We studied the flora and fauna at various altitudes taking temperature, humidity and acidity readings every few hours (including nights) at various altitudes, and drawing the flora for a report we submitted to the School afterwards. Most importantly though we had lots of fun. We were befriended by numerous Italian families while on the campsite who fed us and took us with them on trips, and met the most fabulous family - Gianni, Marie-Angela and their daughter Federica (with the surname Ferrari – but alas they drove a very dodgy Fiat powered by liquid gas that seemed to need to be fuelled up every 50 miles) who, when our money was running low, took us back to their home near Parma where we stayed for an extra week and were treated like kings (in those days there was not so much tourism in remote Italy and we got the distinct impression a lot of the villagers had not seen a British person since they last passed through in World War II). It was, and remains, one of the most fun experiences I have ever hadand which taught me a lot. I think Paul would say the same even though his memory might be a little more fuzzy than mine due to the fact local wine was cheaper than water on the campsite!
Stephen Johnson writes the following about his Travel Award trip in 1989....
In 1989 Andrew Sederman and I applied for a Travel Award. Our purpose was to visit Iceland to try to meet some of the now adults who were involved in the first international school trip from Abbotsholme lead by Mr David Dean in 1968 to Iceland.
We won an award that covered our flights from Glasgow to Iceland and our camping costs for the 24 days. Our aim was to travel around the whole of Iceland roughly following the one road that circles the country. We left on 15th July 1989.
During the trip we managed to contact 4 of the people who had hosted the Abbotsholme visitors in 1968 and a subsequent trip made in 1972. Helga Duadottir met us at Reykjavik airport at 2300 on our arrival - when, due to the time of year and the Northern location, it was still broad daylight. She drove us to her sister Erna’s.
We reminisced and they then hosted us and showed us around Reykjavik for 48 hours before we set off around the country.
We climbed mountains into the snow but generally slept at lower levels. After a week of hitch hikingwe made it to Akureyri, 440 kms from Reykjavik. On the way we climbed mountains near Hof, repeating the journey of the 1972 expeditioners.
We also visited the golf course in Akureyri, the most northerly golf course in the world.
On the way we met two other people who had helped facilitate the Abbotsholme trips in 1968 and 1972 - ThornsteinEinerrson (the ex minister of sport) and Bjorn Danielsson who had helped the visitors when they were in the north of the island near Dalvik.
We had access to a flat in Akureyri - our two new friends Helga and Erna had given us keys to an empty flat which they let us use for a few days. We relaxed and recovered here before setting off on the second half of the trip.
Going via several geysers and The Blue Lagoon, we then got picked up by a guy driving a Porsche who gave us a very generous lift back to the airport.
Overall we travelled 1600 km hitch hiking or on a bus. We walked approx 200kms. It is fair to say being so wet and tired so much on this trip hasn’t endeared me to camping - it’s turned me into more of a glamping traveller - but it was a wonderful experience and has made me keen to visit and explore many other Baltic countries since.
......thank you Stephen for sharing this with all of us OAs. I think a lot of must now wish we’d also applied, and gone on an amazing adventure!