Old Cottonians’ Association United Kingdom President’s Newsletter Vijay Bhalaik MRCS FRCS / OCA UK annual luncheon

Old Cottonians’ Association United Kingdom

President’s Newsletter

Vijay Bhalaik MRCS FRCS

Dear Old Cottonians

I am delighted to take over the reigns of the Old Cottonians’ Association (UK) and hope that I will be

able to do justice to the office. The school is very dear to me and I feel privileged to be representing

the Old Boys in the United Kingdom. Thank you for your support.

I have been off and on attending the Old Cottonians’ lunch for over 30 years. During this time, the

association was brought together by Peter Stringer, Gay Niblett and Kuljinder Bahia. I must thank

Kuljinder for his spirited leadership of the UK chapter. He has very successfully kept the organisation

going and contributed significantly to the school, for which he must be congratulated. Kuljinder has

been supported by Gursant Sandhu who has, as the Secretary of the Association, kept contact with

the membership and Puneet Singh, Treasurer, who has kept the organisation financially afloat. I am

very grateful for their unrelenting contribution.

The last three years have been very challenging for everyone, and the OCA brotherhood was unable

to meet during this difficult time. As a healthcare professional myself, I was in the middle of the

action, but was able to arrange a Zoom meeting with my colleagues during the extreme lockdown in

the UK. Sukhminder Sehmbey, Iqroop Chopra, Raju Singh, Sundar Sidha, Gursant Sandhu and

Kuljinder were a great source of strength in those difficult times.

Since taking over the role of President in October last year, I have had regular meetings with the core

committee of the association, which includes Gursant and Puneet. We have been planning the year

ahead to strengthen the association. The main aim of the association is to support Old Cottonians

in the United Kingdom and liaise with our alma mater. Going forward there are some key areas of

development which we will be working on:

• Updating our membership directory. This will improve our communication with the

membership. I am keen to capture all Old Cottonians in the United Kingdom. My secretary,

Pam Palphreyman, has kindly agreed to support the organisation during my term as President

and has already started to work on this. I would be grateful if you could forward your details

or anyone new in the UK to Pam (pamelapalphreyman@nhs.net) so that the membership

directory can be updated. The organisation will be GDPR compliant, and your details will not

be passed on to anyone outside OCA UK.

• Financial stability of the Old Cottonians’ Association UK. It is important for an organisation to

be financially viable and there are a few models we are working on, and this is an area I am

familiar with due to my role at Health Education England and Charities Trust. We will discuss

this matter at the next AGM in London.

• Develop a framework and touchpoint for old boys in the UK. The thought behind this is that

the association has a link person for every school decade, e.g., 1950-1960 etc. This will

hopefully strengthen the organisation. If this is something that you would be interested in

helping with, then please get in contact. The OCA UK would love to have you onboard.

• Supporting our alma mater. As Old Cottonians, we are very proud of our parent school and

there are many ways we can support it. The OCA UK under Kuljinder supported many projects

at the school and I would hope that this can be strengthened. I am aware that our

membership has very successful businessman/financiers/bankers/doctors and writers. My

plan is to link up with the mentorship programme at the school, so that the headmaster,

Mr Simon Weale can approach you. If you are willing to mentor a young Cottonian, either

during his school time at Bishop Cotton School or after leaving school, please get in touch with

myself or Pam.

• Develop the OCA UK website. This work is ongoing, and we are looking for an enthusiastic

volunteer/volunteers who would be willing to take on the challenge of developing this. The

role would mainly be for content delivery. I am grateful to our last President, Kuljinder, who

is funding the website development. If you have an IT/journalism/content editor background,

please consider getting in touch with myself or Gursant.

• Supporting the Old Cottonians’ Association. I would hope to strengthen the relationship

between the various chapters in India and abroad.

• Annual lunch. We will continue with the tradition of our annual OCA UK lunch on the last

Saturday of June. This falls on the 24 June this year and will be held at Bombay Palace, 50

Connaught Street, London, W2 2AA. All Old Cottonians and their partners are invited, and

the cost will be £50 per head. This is a great social gathering when the younger members of

the Association can network with the senior members. I would encourage everyone to

attend if they are able to. Please RSVP to Puneet (puneetsingh932@hotmail.com or


Sadly, over last few years, we lost many of our older members. I thank Gay Niblett for his assistance

in collating the below information.

Peter Stringer (Lefroy 1941-1947). Peter was the most spirited Old Cottonian I have had the privilege

of meeting. He had great enthusiasm and reminisced his time in school, sharing his experiences with

the members. His leadership kept the association together for the last 20 years. He will be sadly

missed by all.

Dr Humayun Khan (Rivaz 1941-1947) used to regularly visit us from Pakistan. Humayun was one of

the old boys who left school on the 3 June 1947 during the partition of India and later joined the

Pakistan Superior Services. In 1984, he was appointed Pakistan High Commissioner to India.

Sanjiv Talwar (Rivaz 1968-1974). Sanjiv was a brilliant academic student. He topped the Delhi

University in Economics following which he came to the UK and studied chartered accountancy. He

subsequently did a PhD in International Finance, after which he worked in international banking for

many years and then became a very successful independent consultant and finance director of e


John Phillips (Curzon 1939-1944). John was a good sportsman and apparently had an eye for Joyce

Sinker, the Headmaster’s elder daughter, and was a friend when both were back in England. He was

by then a senior member of the Farmers Union in the UK. A stalwart of the OCA(UK)

Bob Myers (Ibbertson 1936-1944) Bob was House Captain of Ibbetson. He was a Prefect and boxed

for the school. He later got a Blue for boxing at Cambridge University. Bob was a great supporter of

OCA UK and regularly invited OCs to his home in Somerset to stay for a couple of nights before the

Annual Lunch, even inviting an Old Sanawarian to his dining table at the same time.

Allan Bapty (Rivaz 1936-1944). Allan was a doctor who did a lot of missionary work looking after

people suffering with leprosy, mainly in Nepal and Africa.

Clive Hardy (Lefroy 1940-1945). Clive was House Captain of Lefroy and an all-round sportsman. He

was a keen supporter of OCA UK

Arthur Jones (Lefroy 1942-1945). Arthur was a keen cricketer and played for BCS. He always attended

the Annual Lunches.

Lance Jones (Lefroy 1935-1939). Lance served in the Indian Police Force and when he returned to

London he was a fervent Arsenal supporter. Despite being rather frail in his last years, he was full of


Douglas Reed (Rivaz 1940-1946). Doug (Dhumchu) was House Captain of Rivaz. He was a formidable

long-distance runner and unbeatable marathon performer.

Robert (Bobby) Reed (Rivaz 1940-1946). Bobby was an outstanding sportsman and academic. We

OCs, however, must thank him and his wife, Sheila, and their family for hosting many lunches at their

home. Sheila continues to attend and was present on an overseas trip to the school.

They are in our thoughts and the OCA UK fondly remembers their association with the membership.

I was fortunate last year to meet the Headmaster of Bishop Cottons School, Simon Weale, along with

his charming wife Rebecca, and the schoolboys on their cricket tour to the UK. The OCA UK, under

our President, Kuljinder, hosted the boys and staff during this visit and it was a delight to meet the

boys and watch them play cricket. Some of the old boys were able to follow and attend as the

Cottonians continued their tour. The school will be visiting the UK again this year for a cultural tour.

Again, this would be an ideal opportunity for the OCA UK membership to meet and support the school.

Cottonians plan to visit Strafford-upon-Avon, Rugby, Bath and London during this period. I am hopeful

that the headmaster and his wife will be able to attend the OCA UK lunch on the 24 June. Their

programme is as follows.

18th June – Arrive in London – transfer to Oxford.

19th June – Visit to Stratford Upon Avon and then Rugby School – visit Cotton House and meet the

Rugby archivist who will show us the archives on George Cotton.

20th June – Tour of Oxford and Oxford University – transfer to Bristol

21st June – Sightseeing in Bristol then interaction with pupils and staff at Bristol Grammar School.

22nd June – Morning in Bath with visit to Kingswood School. Evening tea/BBQ at Cotton House,


23rd June – Visit to Harry Potter World

24th June – Sightseeing in London

25th June – Sightseeing in London including production of Comedy of Errors at the Globe

26th June – Sightseeing in London including visit to Westminster School

27th June – Return

The school has appointed a resident teacher in charge of alumni affairs- Deepa Kennedy. She will be

the point of contact with Bishop Cotton School. She can be contacted by emailaluminibishopcotton@

gmail.com. Please contact her for any help required. This is a welcome step

for old cottonians all over the world who can now keep in touch with their alma matar.

I look forward to seeing you all on the 24 June.

Kindest regards, Vijay

All OC’s and their family members are invited to attend OCA (UK) annual lunch, which is to be held on Saturday 24th June 2023 (12 noon onwards) at Bombay Palace, 50 Connaught Street, London W2 2AA.
1. Bombay Palace will charge us £50.00 per person for food. Please therefore pay in advance by telegraphic transfer (preferred method) or by cheque.
Telegraphic Transfer Lloyds TSB Bank Sort Code
Account Number Reference
30 93 84
Please insert your name (plus number of guests)
Please make your cheque payable to OCA (UK) and send it to our treasurer Mr Puneet Singh, Flat 1, 1 Frognal, London NW3 6AL. Please write your name on the reverse of your cheque. OC’s can also contact Puneet on 07841590990 or puneetsingh932@hotmail.com
** Any donations to OCA (UK) would be greatly appreciated.
2. Soft drinks are inclusive. You will need to pay for any drinks (beers, wines, spirits).
3. If you have any questions about the reunion, then please get in touch with Mr Puneet Singh using the details shown above or Mr Gursant Sandhu on 07788716525 or gs@notarypublicgs.co.uk.

4 thoughts on “Old Cottonians’ Association United Kingdom President’s Newsletter Vijay Bhalaik MRCS FRCS / OCA UK annual luncheon

  1. David Wood-Robinson

    I, David Wood-Robinson, and my brother Mark were both at BCS from 1940 to 1944 and our brothr Colin at the prep-.schoolse. I do not remeber which house but we lived in the Headmaster’s house and Acheson House (?). Colin has become a well-known biologist, publishing school text books, Mark a very well-known lighting engineeer and President of the LIghting Council, lighting every big church and cathedral in the SW of England, and I, after graduating in Naval Architecture and working on the Clyde was ordained in the C of E and have worked in Japan, W Australia and Britain.

  2. Carol Brown8ng

    I am Carol Browning.
    David Browning my husband died in December 2022.
    I did email Vivek to tell him.
    We used to got o all the lunches until,the latter years.
    We went to Bishop Cotton school for the reunion in 2000.
    I would like to attend the lunch in London if that is possible.
    We knew all the people really well.
    Carol Browning.

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