OCA UK – Winter 2008 News Letter




Dear Friends

I write at a time our thoughts turn to Christmas and family and New Year and future hopes.    However, this year has been deeply affected by the dire financial situation worldwide and the tragic ruthless loss of lives in Mumbai, not to mention Africa and other parts of the world.

                Closer to home, we have lost Shirley Jones – a tower of strength and cheerful optimism who stood behind our Treasurer Arthur Jones all these years.   Our condolence to him and his family, who will, like us, miss Shirley terribly.    We must get our chins up and look forward to the New Year, when we celebrate our 150th School Foundation Anniversary at Marlborough College on 1st July 2009.    The day will start with a Memorial Service in the College Chapel at 11.30 am.   Later at a reception we will present to the Master of Marlborough College the Bishop Cotton Challenge Cup for the winners of the Annual Cricket Match between Marlborough College and Rugby School.    We hope to have a brief tour of the campus followed by lunch in the main Dining Room, under the gaze of the portrait of Bishop G.E.L. Cotton. our Founder.   After this we will watch the cricket match, take tea and then see out the day’s play.    Those wishing to return home will leave

                Those wishing to see the final day’s play can stay overnight in one of the hotels in Marlborough – please let me know and I’ll try and reserve rooms locally.    The Challenge Cup will be presented to the match winners but in case of a draw or the game having to be abandoned due to the weather; it will remain with the College pending the result of the following year.

                I feel that this Celebration is particular and special to the Old Boys of Bishop Cotton School Simla and therefore only they and their wives and immediate family should attend.    This will also ease the position of the Catering Staff at the College – where term will not have ended and there will, in any case, be present family and friends of the players of the two school cricket teams.     A point to consider if you wish to have a room in Marlborough for either or both 30th June and 1st July 2009.     We are looking forward to a healthy contingent of OCs from India, Pakistan, the Far East, Australia, USA and Canada, along with those from Europe.  

                We are also approaching the Indian High Commissioner and the High Commissioner from Pakistan to see if they will honour us – and Marlborough College, who has given them an open invitation to attend the Celebrations on 1st & 2nd July.

We are also looking forward to attending the 150th Celebration at Simla in early October 2009 where the OCA Overseas have contributed to new doors for the IRWIN HALL.

                The above taken into account and a wish by some OCs to retain the Annual Luncheon on the last Saturday 27th June, I thought to ask those interested to indicate their wish to attend on a form for the official programme of the celebrations which will be sent out in the New Year.   Numbers for this lunch which has been requested to be repeated at the BOMBAY PALACE.    It is likely that the demand for that lunch will be reduced and it is thought therefore to invite friends from BCS Bangalore, Sanawar and Auckland House – the latter two of which no longer hold their official Annual Lunch.

                Meanwhile let us hope that In this world that the greed and plenty of the few, which has led to the deprivation and despair of the many, is addressed by more than words by leaders of the world over, in an effort to bring PEACE and comfort to us all.

                May I wish you a Happy Christmas and a healthy and peaceful New Year.    Gay Niblett (Rivaz 40-47)



It is at the closing of another year and the one before Bishop Cotton School Founder’s 0ne Hundred and Fiftieth YEAR!     What an aspiration to look forward too?     But before we move forward with eager anticipation I must make every effort to cover the months since our Spring Newsletter.

Spring I think arrived early but do not ask about Summer – did we have one?   It came and went with lots of cloudy weather and enough rain.    Thank goodness major flooding less than last year.  I find it difficult to reconcile my thoughts on global warming for some summer evenings did lack BTUs – or is it old age has begun to tell me something!

We did not manage to gather enough numbers to meet at Tony Verma’s Laguna Tandoori restaurant in Nottingham early this year.     But on the 26th April late Bobby Reed’s wife Sheila hosted a super afternoon at her Watchbury Cottage.    A full lunch for the OC boys in the dining room and the ladies indulged with their treats in the grapevine conservatory.    Sheila’s daughters Caroline & Jancis were in perfect harmony providing the warm hospitality – Robert would have been very proud.

 Chairman Gay Niblett and I attended the ultimate Auckland House School Association Reunion the second weekend in May at the New Cavendish Club in London.     A sad and tear-filled occasion and I ask myself will I ever meet these members of our sister school again?     Over the years I have attended quite a few Reunion meetings and making acquaintances.    My school years in Simla were under age to have attended the social evenings and dances we heard from elder boys so much about.    Yes a rich chapter in a school boarder’s life now laid to history.    Farewell Sisters and may the passing of years to come never dull our halcyon background.

28h May the Himalayan Hill Schools Reunion was held for the fifth occasion at The Clay Oven at Alperton near Wembley.     Nine OCs and wives attended another gala afternoon.    Our Chairman even persuaded OCA (New Delhi) President Deep Anand join us, but who had to slip away shortly after lunch was served.    Good food, good company and a lot of friends that I know from India and the Circle in the UK, I got to meet.    A great live band playing the music we grew up with and the sound attuned to our ears and years!    Have not lost the urge to dance – the last time was at a wedding last year.    The rust soon melts away after a few glasses of the amber liquid and plenty of pretty girls to dance with.    Maggie knows my style, so made it quite easy for me to get started and a lot of fun.     

The June Wednesday afternoon before the OCA(UK) Reunion lunch Maggie and I held our usual garden party.    With the help of our daughter Marnie, her daughter Olivia and my grandson Ryan we erected a marquee on the first lawn the previous Sunday.   This year thank heavens not a drop of rain but a glorious day.   Maggie as usual put on the spread and plenty of khanna, I was the chief bearer and good barman.    We welcomed Humayun Khan and Hashim Khan from Pakistan, Kiran and Deep Anand, Elisabeth and Peter Evans from Amsterdam, Elisabeth and Peter Johans from Switzerland and Johnny McLaughlin completed the visiting OCs from abroad.    Other OC UK members who were able to join us made my day!   It is days like these, I feel privileged and proud to be a member of the Old Cottonian family.     Before tea was served we gathered to present our out-going Treasurer Arthur Jones and his long supporting wife Shirley a present and monies collected from many OCs to signify our gratitude for carrying and care of the OCA(UK) purse.    What we OCs have in common one finds difficult to discover or to describe to the world around us.

The unexpected sudden change of venue from the Bombay Brasserie to the Bombay Palace on Connaught Street was brought about very late notice from the BB, given to understand they would be undergoing refurbishment.    However, we had a resounding appreciation and approval from all members for this new venue.     It really turned out an excellent afternoon and fully enjoyed by all.     Attending numbers up on last year, 91 this year but strangely there were less OCs in attendance.     We had a lot of guests and wives but over all it was good.    A lot of our regulars were missing and many of the younger members who have attended in the past were absent.     What was outstanding and unique we had four School Captains join us –

Clive Hardie (L40-45) 45,   Hassian Agha Red (I 38-47) 46-47,   Jessie Pudwell (C42-47) 47,   Daljeet Singh (R47-54) 54.

Also noting we had quite a few attending the Reunion for the first time.    Peter Travis (R42-45) from Woking, James Turner (I 34-44) from Cornwall, Upindera Singh (C53-59) and his wife from Chandigarh and Vivek Srivastava (C63-69) flew in from Sudan on his return to Washington.     OC Board of School Governors members Deep Anand and Kiran, Anil Mehra and Leena were present.

Chairman Gay Niblett opened the after lunch speeches giving a rough outline of OCA(UK) account and the notice of Treasurer Arthur Jones stepping down and for Puneet Singh (from the younger generation) taking an active part and controlling the Association funds.    Welcome Puneet and we hope you encourage more of your peers to come and join forces!    We older members on the committee are looking forward to you Freshman to carry on the baton.  

Deep Anand (R47-51) gave a speech mainly to draw our attention to the School and informing us of preparation in India to celebrate the forthcoming Founder’s Year Celebrations.   

Anil Mehra brought us upto date on the School with a quick summary and making plans to employ a Senior Master and Science Master from the UK.    The School he informed us is doing very well under the leadership of Headmaster Mr. Roy Robinson and Mrs. Dorothy Robinson.   

Things are looking good as BCS reaches forward to greater achievements and takes a noble stand as an outstanding hill school.  

Humayun Khan (R 41-47)as always implied his good wishes and fondness for dear Patina raising our spirits to a happier mood.

 Another happy Reunion ended on a high note as Vivek Bhasin assembled choristers and sang the School Song.    With this closing a point of reference I do believe might draw your attention to next year we must celebrate with unity and enthusiasm – Please come and join us and with pride pay tribute to our heritage and remind ourselves …….    Of Cotton’s off-told story……….

…… And each as on his way he goes……….  Will give the School the love he owes.


James Turner (I 35-44) writes from Cornwall a while after the Reunion to say ….  How much I enjoyed the OCA lunch, the excellent food, organisation and meeting old (very old) schoolmates after 60 years.     The reason for the lateness of this letter is the fact that if one lives in Cornwall the rest of the family, who were raised here, want to come back in the summer apparently to see aged parents but also to visit al the beautiful beaches and go sailing again.    It is always lovely to see them and of course to spoil the grandchildren without the worries of having to raise them.

I was surprised to see so many people and see how cordial everyone was, and as at the School, the absence of racial and religious friction, very refreshing these days!    I am sorry it took so long for me to get to know of the existence of OCA and I shall definitely continue to support the company of such friendly schoolmates.    Once again thank you for such an interesting and enjoyable occasion.

Jim now tell your brothers and see if you can persuade them to join in next years celebrations?

John Phillips (C39-45) Who I keep in regular contact and requested for his news……..  Catherine and I had an exciting cruise to the Black Sea in September in a party of eight friends including Sheila Reed.   Highly exciting as the conditions were very rough and at one point the ship lost all power and had no steering!    Finally still all turned out well and we managed to enjoy it all especially the calmer waters around the Greek Islands during the second week.    We arrived back home with three weeks to go before we celebrated John’s 80th birthday near the end of October.    This was a wonderful occasion.    It took place at a very old local hotel and we were helped by the presence of some OCs and colleagues from NFU days, the family and old and new friends.    It was a day we do not think we shall top despite hints dropped that they look forward to 85 and 90!!    Elizabeth and Peter Evans (I 38-44) from Holland stayed with us for the occasion and then we returned with them to Muiderberg to celebrate Lumboo’s 82nd.     Slowly we are getting back to normal – rather nice after our busy times.

Jal Boga (C45-53) Sent me a newsy letter from Canada, his daughter Meher’s home before leaving to spend the winter in Karachi.    In August he spent a fortnight on a coach tour of the West Coast of Canada.    Absolutely super and witnessed such awesome scenic beauty, some few spots reminding him of Simla.    Then followed a Golden wedding Anniversary from Meher – a 7 day cruise of Alaska.    2000 guests on board a floating delight that he highly recommends.    Enjoyment from dawn till midnight and over a dozen eating houses, offering a mouth-watering variety of food out of this world.

In September he attended the OCs Buffet dinner Gerry Godinho arranged.    Meeting up with  Johnny McLaughlin (I 41-48) who had motored up with Junaid Azim (L 01-05)from Michigan.    John and he discussed plans for the Reunion next year June in London, followed by a meeting up in Simla.   He is anxious to attain an Indian visa and mentioned he received a call from K C Anand (R 50’s)who informed not to worry he would arrange it.   While in Canada he has joined an Adult Centre visiting ¾ times a week to play table tennis and Bridge.   Both he and dear Ava keep fit with regular exercise and occupies he time laying Mahjong, Bridge and the occasional ladies social gatherings.   He mentions Ava is the kitchen boss and he is the washer-up.

He hopes that not long into the future to be with us not only to enjoy our company but to recall the very happy memories he cherishes of our great institution.    Meeting with guys like Ron Plunkett (C 43-50) & Les Homer (L43-49) and a whole bunch of God fearing souls that helped him go forward in the world.   How can he ever forget the good old days?   Sends his regards to all.

Gerry Godinho (L81-83) in Canada apologises for not corresponding earlier due to just dealing with the worst financial crisis of his generation.   (tell me more!!!).

The OC association is alive and thriving here.  A couple of years ago, we were barely 5 or 6 guys getting together now it is always anywhere from 10 to 15 of us.    Our very first official meeting was at the Mandarin in Brampton in March.    More than 12 OCs with their spouses had great Chines food and some daru.

In September, I put the challenge to all the students at university that they should come.   So we had students from Mcmaster, Windsor, Ryerson, George Brown and Humber ……. Saturday 27th September 2008 – attended

LEFROY  HOUSE  Prashant Sehgal/Sunati (80-87) Toronto, Gerry Godinho/ Debbie (81-83) Whitby, Junaid Azim (01-05) Michigan

Sammer Sodhi (99-06) Hamilton, Tanvir Sodhi (98-04) Windsor

IBBETSON HOUSE Johnny McLaughlin (41-48) Michigan, Shiv Narang (91-04) Toronto, Harpal Singh (88-00) Hamilton.

CURZON HOUSE  Deep Bains/Harsharan (62-70) Richmond Hill, Jal Boga/ Ava (45-53) Mississauga, Raj Karan Singh (92-05) Toronto

RIVAZ  HOUSE  Tom Mehre/Renuka (73-78) Mississauga, Kshitij Sood (93-03) Toronto

Gerry too is looking forward to being with us in the UK for the big celebrations next year.

Deep Sidhu (L48-52) Writes from his home in Harrington Park, New Jersey is not unarmored of School news unless it is breath-taking…..   O yeah!   Mate You must come here next year and sample the buzz.   

He is amazed at Obama oratory taking in the young supplanting the knowledge of capitalism for his strange version to conquer the financial down turn and the predicament the US is in.   (Yes Deep he is the modern American version of Robin Hood.    The whole world awaits the change of tide).      

Deep has cataracts removed from both eyes with lens implants and vision is clear without glasses except for reading.    Jogging every morning having run in two 5-kilometer races in September finishing in less than 42 minutes.    Hats off for your age and condition!!   I did my walking while on holiday.

Henry Berriff (L4I-44) who remains in regular contact by phone at my request has forwarded me some random thought –

Life’s Rungs ………  If you can imagine that each year of our life can be represented by each rung on a ladder; then at 81 I have a very long ladder!      My thoughts go back to one of the happiest times of my life – at Bishop Cotton School, Simla.

Forgive me if I have mentioned this before.   This came about by a mosquito!

Previously in Jubblepore it was stifling hot during the summer months and every year I went down with malaria – the sting from a mosquito.

On our doctor’s advice I was sent to Simla.    My father had had a shop on the Mall – Alan Henry & Co. selling materials; his partner next door Alec Jones’s Tailors made up the garments.    1930 was the world slump.    Dad sold his shop and from the cool of the hills came to the heat of the plains Jubblepore.    At Christ Church School, Jubblepore I learnt to read and write Hindi.

However, during these many years, the Hindi characters have changed and new ones have been added.     Also the language itself has had slight change with many English words thrown in.

My father spoke fluent Punjabi and as a result the Maharaja of Bickiner often came to him for advice.

In the plains to keep cool during the heat of the day all doors were shut with curtains drawn.   However one door was left open where hung a thick mat across called a kus-kus tatti.    Water trickled down this mat from a pipe connected to the garden hose.   Here I may add and those with a younger scientific mind may remember, the simple gurrah (earthenware chatti) – which through evaporation kept drinking water cool – far better for one than ice from a refrigerator!                            Look after yourselves.

Tony Sinha (R49- 50) Our retired Chairman writes in his Christmas letter from his home in rural Hampshire.   Wishing dear friends and loved ones the blessings of Noel and so hopefully enhancing their happiness.   Shopping now complete and decorations up will sit back and enjoy with his Maggie.    Stir the Christmas pud ingredients, make his wish and the aroma of sweet spices will bring forth the real spirit of a merry Yuletide.


2008 has been a quiet year and is still reminiscing after last years cruise holiday.    Life continues at a slow and mellow pace in his village (his little England).   Where folk have time to wish you the time of the day and stop to discuss the latest news in the village or elsewhere, or anything else come to that.

As shipboard life agrees with Tony and provides the nostalgia of his years served in the Royal Navy.    He reckons salt water must run in his veins for he always loves the sea.    He is desperately coaxing Margaret to come on a longer cruise than the last with enough company to look after her.   (Yes Tony a lot of people are enjoying their days on these leisure floating palaces.)




Time of Events on day at Marlborough College

                                                                                11.00am                                Arrival Tea & Coffee

                                                                                11.30am                                Memorial Service

                                                                                12 noon                 Reception & Drinks 

                                                                                  1.00pm                                Lunch

                                                                                  4.00pm                                Afternoon Tea

We will circulate details of more information for you in our Spring annual Newsletter.    

Please if you have any query contact me – your secretary at your convenience.

I shall take this opportunity to thank all members for your support wishing you and your loved ones a most enjoyable