Collyer’s has been a lot of things to a lot of people over the years. When founded by Richard Collyer in 1532 it existed to educate the underprivileged boys of Horsham. That tradition was largely maintained over the next four centuries or more – though on the odd occasions the emphasis was on elitism rather than equality, and despite several moves - until it underwent a radical change in 1976 when it became the present sixth form college.
Although the OCA has only been in existence since 1922, we encompass a wide spectrum of former pupils from a variety of backgrounds and who have gone on to do many different things. All have one thing in common, and that is the excellence of education they received at Hurst Road.
I know that when I departed in 1965 I was rather glad to be moving on to the next phase of my life, and I suspect Collyer’s had no regrets about my leaving. But the impression made by certain teachers, and the breadth and excellence of what they taught, stayed with me for the next 30 years or so until I felt inclined to renew my acquaintance with Collyer’s through the OCA.
My predecessors have pointed out the values of OCA membership, mainly the chance to renew memories and keep in touch through newsletters, the website, two reunions per year, all for a trifling sum. That is as true now as it ever was. But for me, the biggest benefit is pride, in having been associated with an establishment that continues, in its present form, to represent all round excellence.
I am sure there are many out there like me who may not have distinguished themselves at Collyer’s or in life immediately afterwards, but who have gone on to achieve certain things thanks to their education, and looking back feel gratitude – maybe even more so than the high flyers invited to the OCA when they went on to great things at Oxbridge. These are the people I want to attract to the association during my presidency: those now in their 40s or older, which will include those from the College as well as former grammar school boys - not just the 21st century leavers.
We hope to see you at one of our reunions and to make your acquaintance once again through the newsletter.