It all started in September 1948 with the young Anthony Cole disembarking from the family Austin 8 outside the Lyceum Cinema at the top of the New Lodge Road and crossing the road successfully with his older sister Fiona, carefully watched by his father and deposited in the classroom under the charge of Miss Brownell. A year later it was Miss Muriel Sutherland (an old girl of the School, sister of Ismay and a member of the forty sixers group of old pupils who met regularly for many years.) This was followed by the Salters sisters, Winnie and Elsie, in successive years and long division coupled with a reasonable use of the English language had been mastered by the time year five commenced at Wingfield under the auspices of Miss Elliott whose team included Mr D G Thompson, Hilda Linton and Malcolm Fisher and also the musical duo of Miss Curran and Miss Clements. These fine people coupled with the education system of the time in general and the ethos of the School in particular provided me with a fairly undeserving start to life which has helped me by an immeasurable amount ever since.
The grammar school period ended in June 1961 when I took up an apprenticeship in a Quantity Surveyor’s office. Early years in Donegall Square South, Belfast coupled with the all-round combination of education and life’s experiences has left the writer thankful for all that passed and followed. Friends made through the School connection have remained friends for decades and now that there seems to be more time available than previously it is great to see these people on a regular basis and share the craic and past experiences of yesteryear that is a legacy of the Old Boys’ Association.
I have always worked in the Province and it was a proud moment when our children were accepted for education at Ben Madigan Preparatory School; Peter and James continue in the family business in construction and Sarah is employed as a Chartered Surveyor in the Civil Service, coupled with starting and raising a family. Peter left school early to take up and apprenticeship in the motor trade and, after several enlightening years, he crossed over to construction where he combines the day-to-day working of the family business with fairly regular “spokesman comment” for BBC Radio on the current situation in the building trade. James who is the second successive generation to spend three years on the School cricket team is also in construction with housing being the main thrust at the time of writing. Sarah’s name appears on the School’s International Honours Board as a skier.
One of the main sources of contact between the School and the Academy family has been The Owl Annual School Magazine which is now in its 91st year. This quality publication has been a great success down the years thanks to the editors who are pupils at the school and also the fine work of teaching and office staff to provide a sought after publication since 1924. It has been said that the owl is one of the wisest birds and we look forward to the hundredth edition. The magazine is readily available from the School on completion of a direct debit form.
My first Presidential duty was on 20th May this year was to attend the unveiling of a plaque at the side of St Anne’s Cathedral to mark the founding of The Belfast Academy in 1785. The fine bronze plaque was unveiled by Des Simon, our oldest Old Boy and father of Geoff, a Past President of the Association. Geoff and I worked together for many years and remain close friends and cricket and rugby fans to this day. Vernon Clegg was the instigator of the plaque and it is with great interest that we read of the scholarship link between the Cathedral Choir and the School. Vernon’s work in both Choir and Association matters has been deeply appreciated over the years.
In June this year while on holiday I was delighted to hear of the success of the Andrew Forbes’ First Eleven in winning the Ulster Bank Schools’ Cricket Cup for the first time against a very strong Campbell College Eleven who were defeated by a small margin by a magnificent Academy Eleven. My personal thanks are extended to Brian Boyd, Academy cricketer and proud parent for his bombardment of text messages which kept me informed by the minute. The subsequent report by Ian Callender, journalist (and Old Boy) in the Belfast Telegraph on 20th June made great reading for all members of the Academy family.
In September I attended a dinner at Hydepark to celebrate fifty years of Academy Old Boys’ Cricket and with four teams currently playing in Northern Cricket Union Competitions on most Saturdays it is great to see the ongoing success of the Club and the further good use of the Castle Grounds on a regular basis.
The Academy Rugby Club continues with three teams playing at Roughfort and I look forward to attending fixtures on a regular basis. The ongoing International appearances of Iain Henderson are followed with great enthusiasm and father Gordon has every right to be very proud of all that is happening. A speedy recovery is wished to fellow International Stuart Olding from injury.
Then Golfing Society continues to thrive under the Captaincy of Iain Knox and his Captain’s Day Prize was won by James Beattie. The Ferguson Trophy was won by Adrian Brown and the Picken Cup was won by Sheldon Coulter.
The Annual Dinner takes place on Saturday 28th November 2015 at the Wellington Park Hotel at 7.30pm and Iain Knox is to be thanked in advance for his good works in the organisation of this function.
The Old Boys’ Luncheon Club, coordinated by Robin Reid, continues on a monthly basis and is often supported by around fifty Old Boys in a series of venues throughout the Province.
The London Dinner will take place at the RAF Club in Piccadilly on 19th February 2016. We have 120 spaces available and early booking to avoid disappointment is urged. David Haslett is to be congratulated on the ongoing success of this now annual function.
On Friday 25th September I attended the first of this year’s dinners at Foyle College, where a most enjoyable evening ensued. I look forward to representing the Old Boys at other dinners during my year. I consider it a great honour to carry out this task and all other associated duties as President.
I would like to thank in advance Dr Louis Campbell, Nik Simon and Iain Knox, and all other Committee members for all their help in seeing me through the rest of my year and I take this opportunity to wish our Senior Vice President Robb Fletcher every success in his time in office and especially in his Presidential year.
Annual Dinner: Saturday 29th November 2014 at the Wellington Park Hotel.
The dinner this year will again commence at the earlier time of 7.30pm.
For table bookings and reservations contact Iain Knox:
Luncheon Club: Lunches are held monthly. For further information contact Robin Reid:
Annual Quiz Next year's quiz will be held in February 2015 at Greenisland Golf Club.
Old Boys' Cricket Match The Old Boys'/School cricket match will be held in June 2015 at the Castle Grounds. For further information nearer the time contact Mark Shields:
Golf Society Provisional Dates
Picken Cup: 18th June 2015 at Malone Golf Club.
Captain's Day: 11th September 2015 at Royal Belfast Golf Club.
For further information contact Ken Knox:
Academy Cricket Club Anyone wishing to join for the 2015 Season should contact Mark Shields.
Academy Rugby Club Anyone wishing to join should contact:
Colin Petrie: email: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: 07518418620
Club lunches are held in the Clubhouse at Hydepark before home league matches.
For further information contact:
Geoff Nevin: email: email@example.com Telephone: 07715568717
The School is keen to keep its data base of BRA Old Boys up to date.
We would be grateful if you would email your name and school leaving year to the address of the School's Alumni manager given below: