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Never a dull moment...

RGS Back to School Day 2023

On Friday 23 June we welcomed back to RGS 120 of our alumni to retrace their student steps. The sun was out in force, so, armed with a booklet containing photos from each decade (1940-1980), our visitors stepped into the coolness of the church where they grabbed a refreshment, found a seat with their old school friends and watched the photo reel we had playing. Images of RGS boys in school caps, prefects from the 1940s suited and booted, CCF parades and sports teams from over the years appeared on the screens around the church. Each decade brought a dynamic change in fashion as well as expansions to the school.

Once settled in church, Jonny Hylton (RGS ’99) welcomed our alumni back and being an ‘Old Boy’ himself, talked about his own days at school and how he has maintained friendships with his classmates into later life. He emphasised the foundations that being at RGS can give an individual and how we are looking forward to celebrating our 350 anniversary in 2025.  Jonny introduced two guest speakers to the stage to recount their days at school. Bob Knox (RGS ’65) recalled how on a school trip to Cambridge, people fell into the Cam when punting and Foundation Archivist Peter Burgess (RGS ’74) invited everyone into his diary of a schoolboy. Thank you to both Bob and Peter for taking the time to share their memories with us. Feeling nostalgic, our alumni were treated to Richard Hare (staff) on the organ where they were led into the RGS school song, ‘To be a Pilgrim’. This brought lots of joy to our visitors, and we could hear how proud and loud they sang along.

With the first part of the afternoon complete, our guests stepped out in the bright sunshine and gathered in house groups of old, Underhill, Kinnersley, Wray, Redstone, Priory, Linkfield, Northdown and Doods, along with our new houses, Bird, Cranston, Hodsgon and Williamson to be lead in tours of the school by students from Second Form, Foundation Ambassadors from the Lower Sixth and the Foundation team. Our tour took groups past the site of the old swimming pool (where the table tennis tables stand and next to the new swim lodge), up into the Wright Gallery and along the Headmaster’s corridor where they got to marvel at the stunning student artwork that lines the walls. Finding themselves at the bottom of the old staircase, our guests looked up and recounted the memories of the old Headmasters standing tall and overlooking the students below. As they made their way up the stairs to the Old School Library, they took in the names on the boards of House Captains, Head Boy (and more recently Head Girl) and those that lost their lives in WW1.

The Old School Library brought back many memories for our alumni, many recalling how it was once a gym, with ropes hanging from the ceiling and monkey bars that everyone tried to successfully master. We had displayed photos from different decades, as well as photos of how the school building has changed over the years, and copies of The Pilgrim dating back from 1936 all the way to 1980. Caps, scarves and badges lay between the memorabilia, giving each person a little trip down memory lane.

It was time to move on and with much to cover, our groups set off to see the most recent addition to the school, The Harrison Centre, followed by the Ballance building, through to Broadfield lawns and Cornwallis, before our final destination took us to Peter Masefield Hall for a spot of afternoon tea. A selection of sandwiches, mini cheesecakes, cream filled scones, fruit and juice awaited our guests and everyone sat line by line, just as they did in days gone by to tuck into a well-deserved afternoon treat.

The day finished off with Headmaster Shaun Fenton thanking our guests for coming back to our school and how, no matter what takes you far and wide, you will always be a Reigatian. Mr Fenton told the guests that this is ‘their school and he is just the caretaker’. He spoke proudly of being part of the RGS family and how he is grateful to be part of the journey.

Finally, it was time to say goodbye to our former students and with a final thank you from the Foundation team, we said our farewells until next time.

To view the pictures from the day, please click here.





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