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Annual Reunion Dinner 2003

The 93rd Old Tauntonians' Reunion Dinner was held at Taunton's College on Saturday 8 November 2003, attended by 112 Old Tauntonians and their guests. Chairman of the Dinner was David Bryett (1943–1952), accompanied by his wife, Mary. Master of Ceremonies was John Martin (1944–1950).

Following the meal, the Chairman formally proposed the Loyal Toast and The Memory of Alderman Taunton. The traditional remembrance of the Fallen followed. The Chairman proposed a formal toast to Absent Friends.

The first speaker was Robin Holley (1945–1951). He welcomed our guests, spoke of the Chairman and proposed the health of Taunton's College.

Robin spoke of the Chairman in both affectionate and fairly insulting terms, and the "Gang of Four", which included Robin, Denny Roberts and Terry Beauchamp. David's sporting record spoke for itself, but there were a number of other events of a more infamous nature.

Robin, in proposing the toast "The College", congratulated Jenny Fitton on its continuing success and expressed the hope that the bonds between it and the Association would strengthen.

Jenny Fitton, College Principal and President of the Old Tauntonians' Association, responded. She chose to start in a lighter vein, to the delight and great approval of her audience. Reflecting on how success is measured, Jenny asked whether any of us had kept our school reports and recalled the still familiar "one-liners".

Then, quoting from a book she had found, Jenny shared some of its contents:

  • John Lennon: "Certainly on the road to failure… hopeless"
  • Jon Snow (Channel 4 News): "He gets into quite inexplicable muddles and is slow to desert the wrong conclusions. Indulges in specious argument. Attempts to defend his mistakes rather than correct them. Asks more than half the questions every lesson and about 90% of the unnecessary ones"
  • Sir Peter Ustinov: "He shows great originality. This must be curbed at all costs"

Returning to the subject of Taunton's College, Jenny said that the past year had in many ways been the most difficult since her appointment as Principal. Hours of time had been consumed by plans to extend and improve the building and the College's facilities for sport. However, planning permission had now been received and work already started on outside sporting facilities. It was hoped to begin on the foundations for the new building in January 2004.

As to the measurement of success, this year's results showed a wide range of achievement:

  • Best ever A Level pass rate, 96%, with 100% in 27 different subjects.
  • 100% pass rates on many vocational programmes.
  • In the Creative and Performing Arts, 100% pass rates at A Level in Art & Design, Textiles, Music, Music Technology, Drama & Theatre, Studies and Dance.
  • The college Choir were invited to perform at the National Festival of Music for Youth at the South Bank Centre, continuing TC's history as the most successful state college in this national Festival.

In Sport, autumn saw the launch, by Lawrie McMenemy, of our Academy for Sport. The College entered into partnership with Southampton Football Club, and we now provide the educational input to their Academy programme, for apprentice professional footballers. College teams were British Colleges' Regional Champions in volleyball (men's and women's), trampolining, cross country and netball, and runners-up in men's basketball. The cross-country team came third in the British Colleges' national finals, as did both the ladies' volleyball and netball teams. The 1st XI soccer team was undefeated in the Hampshire League. The Ladies' trampolining team were under-19 British Colleges' Champions for the third year running.

Jenny finished by welcoming all present, thanking them for their attention and proposing the toast, 'The Old Tauntonians' Association'.

John Martin then mentioned something of David Bryett's career. David joined Taunton's in 1943 and reluctantly left in 1952. He read Chemistry at Southampton University followed by the Dip Ed course. National Service beckoned, but he "signed on" in the RAF and stayed 30 years. These years saw service at MOD, Strike Command Headquarters, RAF College Cranwell, Central Flying School, RAF Staff College Bracknell, in Germany (twice) and in Singapore.

John then introduced David, who expressed his pleasure at the honour of being chosen as Chairman.

David reminisced about his life at School and in the RAF, both on and off the sports field. Commenting on his schooldays at Taunton's, he talked of his good fortune in taking part with some excellent sportsmen. These included Terry Beauchamp, Johnny Adams, Derek Tulk, Roger Knight, Mike Rubidge, Mick Eades and Roland Driscoll. There were many successes due to both teamwork and the enormous amount of time given by Taunton's staff, such as George Carter, Rocker Cole and Jimmy Gibson and so many others.

David finished by congratulating Jenny Fitton on the achievements of the College, thanking her for her kind words concerning the Association and the Association itself for inviting him and Mary to this year's Dinner.

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