150th Anniversary celebrations of BCS Shimla, held at Marlborough College

Report on the celebrations of the 150th Anniversary of Bishop Cotton School Shimla, held at Marlborough College Wednesday 1st July 2009

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At last the celebration of the 150th Anniversary of B.C.S. Simla!

It was the first time a celebration of B.C.S. had been held at Marlborough College – and thanks to The Master of Marlborough it was to coincide with the playing of the Annual Cricket match against Rugby School – the two schools in which Bishop Cotton was so involved.

Above all, what we needed was a dry, sunny day.

Well, we got the sun – it seemed the entire English summer sun was concentrated on those two days. It was hot – very hot – and humid into the bargain, as if the weather from Delhi had been flown over especially for it

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However the buildings of the School were bright and shining and the pristine quadrangle green and reminiscent of our hallowed quad at B.C.S.

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Before 11 a.m. the first of the old stalwarts with their wives and families started to arrive for coffee and biscuits at the Adderley. With bated breath we awaited the arrival of the coach from London. To the minute it disgorged its precious cargo, having left at 9 a.m. under the control of Raj Lamba – with added numbers of young OC’s – well done! Vinod Nanda (organising the coach) had done a great job.

At 11.30 in the magnificent Chapel of St. Michael and All Angels – a reminder of our own simple Chapel at School, the School Choir, in red cassocks – no surpluses – led by the Senior Chaplain, James Dickie, commenced the Celebratory Service with “O God Our Help in Ages Past…” The lesson, culminating in B.C.S. motto “…overcome evil with good” was read and The Master gave one of the most stirring, powerful and memorable addresses any of us had ever heard in Chapel. A fitting tribute to Bishop Cotton and all his schools.

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We then proceeded to The Master’s gardens for a ‘Cava and Canapés’ Reception and huddled in the shade of the trees before being herded together for the group photograph. (No chance here of running from the extreme left of the group, behind everyone, to appear again on the extreme right!)
[Group photo will be posted here as soon as we receive it from John Phillips]

This was followed by lunch in the main School Dining Hall – a sector partitioned off, with Ibbetson napkins in the wine glasses; Curzon table cloths, Lefroy represented by the green quadrangle and Rivaz with its light (Cambridge) blue left to do the important job – serve the delicious meal – ever true to their motto “sirvamos”!!

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We presented the Bishop Cotton Challenge Cup to The Master. Unfortunately at the last minute the High Commissioner for India, His Excellency Shiv Shankar Mukherjee was summoned to 10 Downing Street. He sent his apologies and deep regrets, but informed us that he had recommended to a group of British MPs who will be visiting India soon, that they take in a visit to B.C.S.

After lunch, the School laid on a shuttle of mini-buses to take us to the Cricket Pavilion to watch the cricket match. Again, tea, cakes and biscuits were laid on. By the time stumps were drawn, many had drifted off to cars and coaches, replete and overcome by the generosity and charming care that had been bestowed on us all by Marlborough College.

The match ended the next day in a Draw, so the Challenge Cup remained in the custody of Marlborough College, to await another year before the winners’ name could be engraved on it.

The day will remain with all those OCs who attended it as a wonderful, unique and lasting memory. We hope that those present who in 25 years time attend it again – perhaps at Rugby School – will have seen a strengthening of the bond between our three schools. And let us not forget Westminster School, from where Bishop Cotton left for Trinity College Cambridge to start his educational lifetime mission.

We look forward to seeing the increasing exchange of students and teachers between all our schools, as we’d hoped would be expressed by the High Commissioner for India in his speech at lunch.

Now it’s time to look forward to the centenary – in May 2010 – of the Old Cottonians Association.

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