Tag Archives: Gay Niblett

Letters from Gay Niblett and Peter Stringer / OCA UK

Thank you for all your information, keeping us up-to-date with the various Chapters in India. It is good to hear how well they are flourishing, keeping the spirit of BCS burning strong.

I am adding two reports from Peter Stringer, now retired, long-standing Hon. Secretary and myself.

Please keep the information flowing. Both the old and new OCs treasure all the news.

With best regards,
Yours truly
Gay Niblett
Hon. Life President
OCA (UK)

ANNUAL OCA (UK) LUNCH BOMBAY BRASSERIE LONDON 28TH JUNE 2014

On a lovely summers day there was a healthy gathering of OCs, at the Bombay Brasserie, where a spirit of change and renewal filled the air. Chairman Kuljinder Bahia, had prepared a surprise for us all. He had invited one of his old teachers from BCS as a special guest – the diminutive but beautifully spoken Hindi teacher – Mr V S Bhardwaj.

Mr Bhardwaj gave – without notes – an eloquent and emotional speech, which brought tears to the eyes of many of the young – and old OCs. He spoke of his humble beginnings – chiming with India’s new Prime Minister – and his gratitude to BCS for accepting him and teachers and pupils alike – taking him to their hearts. He stressed his pride in being a Member of the BCS teaching staff and his undying loyalty to the School. He then read a letter of greetings from the Headmaster, Mr R C Robinson – who had encouraged him to accept the invitation to be with the OCA (UK).

This was a “first” in the ongoing exchange of pupils and (soon, we hope, Masters) between BCS and Marlborough College. We have had pupils from the two schools visiting their opposite numbers. This visit by a BCS teacher, will, we hope be the precursor to the BCS Headmaster’s visit next year to Marlborough College, where a Memorandum of Agreement will be signed by the two Heads to layout a permanent future plan for the exchange of pupils and teachers between the two schools. A reduction the costs of visas between the two countries would certainly help!

The other surprise, was also a “first” – a short, speech by Peter Stringer – our retired but still very active, Hon. Secretary, who, earlier, with his wife Maggie, had held their last pre-Annual OCA lunch party at their home. We are all going to miss this wonderful informal gathering. However, Sheila Reed, widow of Bob Reed, continues, with the help of her lovely family, to hold her annual luncheon party at her home, at the beginning of May.

Peter Stringer, writes of the many old boys who attended, along with visitors and the joyous spirit of the young boys, who in increasing members, are attending under the encouragement of the new Chairman, and the Committee of Gursant Sandhu, Treasurer Puneet Singh, Vijay Bhailak and old stalwart Raj Lamba. A big thank you as well to all the OCs who travelled from India to attend – wish that, more of us older members could reciprocate! Peter Johans and wife also travelled over from Switzerland!

Best wishes to you all

Gay Niblett
Hon. Life President OCA (UK)

2014 Letter from Peter Stringer

BCS students on exchange to Marlborough College

Click for a larger view

Click for a larger view

A milestone was reached on Sunday 5 May 2013 when the first two BCS boys on a Student Exchange Programme entered Marlborough College.

The School Captain, Raghav Gandhi and his friend Manvendra Tomar, a Prefect of the school, arrived at Heathrow Airport at 7 a.m. that Sunday morning. They were met by John Whitmarsh-Knight, who took them to his home to await collection by taxi for their journey to Marlborough College.

Mr Mark McVeigh, the College International Liaison Coordinator, saw them settled into their respective Houses for a good night’s sleep, before getting into the School routine the next day.

The boys, who are wonderful ambassadors for BCS, have been shown tremendous kindness and help and been made to feel absolutely at home from the moment of their arrival. Doubtless they will have their stories to tell when their all-too-brief stay is over.

I travelled over from Mallorca to see them but could not do so until the Sunday as they went on a School trip to Bristol all day on Saturday.

On Sunday I was invited, with them, to the home of Mr and Mrs McVeigh for Sunday lunch. Two girls from Waterford School, South Africa, on a similar exchange programme, also joined us. After a delicious meal, we three OCs watched the Old Marlburians playing cricket. The day was completed when we went for a curry at the Raj Indian restaurant, where we were joined by Mr Martin Evans, Secretary of the Marlburian Club.

On the Monday and Tuesday both boys went up to London to enjoy the experience of the ‘big city’. A few days later – on 25 May – they returned home, after a memorable time.

Many people have been involved in this programme. From B.C.S., the Headmaster, Mr Roy Robinson and his able Assistant Praveen Dharma. Old Boy K.C. Anand has helped liaising between School, parents and the British High Commissioner to obtain visas and saw them onto the plane at Delhi Airport. Mr Deep C. Anand has cemented the relationship between the two schools, hosting a Reception for the Master of Marlborough College, Mr Jonathan Leigh and his wife Emma. Present at the Reception, along with Old Boys and their wives, were two Marlburians on the Exchange Programme – Hugo Wilson and Sam Green – who, having been accommodated at Mr Deep C. Anand’s guest quarters in Gurgaon, were then accompanied up to Shimla for their stay at B.C.S. We hope to see them and their two predecessors from the year before – Rory Manley and Max Adams – at the OCA Lunch on 29 June at the Bombay Brasserie.

From Marlborough, the newly appointed Master – Jonathan Leigh – took immediate interest and through Mr Mark McVeigh, the successor to Larry Lamont, the programme was put in place. Mr Martin Evans, Secretary of the Marlburian Club, has kept an eye on the programme and with Jane Pendry – Alumni Relations Manager- ensured that the exchange has featured in the Marlburian Magazine and Newsletter.

Last but not least we are grateful to Mr John Whitmarsh-Knight, who has spent several spells in BCS teaching the boys – amongst them Raghav Gandhi and Manvendra Tomar – for his support and wonderful act of meeting the boys at the unearthly hour of 7 a.m. in London.

We must now look forward to the repeat of this Exchange on a yearly basis – with longer time being spent in Marlborough and eventually the exchange of teachers being added to the programme.

With our sincere thanks to all those involved for their time, effort and keen interest in the success of the exchange.

With best wishes

Gay Niblett
Hon. Life President OCA (UK)

Board of Governors BCS Shimla – response

Further to “Open Letter to Board of Governors, BCS Shimla”  here is an update from Gay Niblett

I was delighted to hear of the response from the Board of Governors to my open letter.

We all look forward to hearing of the progress with the ‘Infrastructure Development Fund’ in the School and hope that from overseas we can report a development with our meeting(s) with the Master of Marlborough College in September.

We shall also maintain and progress our efforts with the Head Masters of Rugby and Westminster.

With our thanks and very best wishes

Yours ever

Gay
Hon. Life President
OCA(UK)

Changes… Transitions…. [OCA UK]

Saturday 26th June 2010:

Changes…Transition.
(Capt. Vivek Bhasin : Chairman OCA (UK Chapter)

From Kindergarden to Transition and then to Lower I……
Isn’t that’s the way all Cottonians start?
The OCA (UK) Chapter’s Annual Lunch at Bombay Brasserie was attended by 45 OCs and their wives; in my case my Mother and Brother ( an OC stalwart) accompanied me.
It was my Mother who packed my trunk and my bedding roll, gave me my red attache case and putting on me Black  ‘ tuffies’ shoes from Bata, tying my laces put me on the Howrah-Kalka Mail on the 5th of March 1961……..at the age of FIVE……… The Old Cottonian   has come a long way.

Having accepted the position of Chairman of the Old Cottonians Association  United Kingdom on this date, I wish to first Thank all my Seniors; especially:

-Allan Gay Niblett-Chairman OCA (UK) who is now appointed as Honorary Life President; indeed the most remarkable and dedicated Chairman in the history of the Association. Unfailing in his responsibilities, he makes at least 12 trips a year to London from his Mallorca Home; nearly always at his own time and expense; personally writing such meaningful and intelligent letters in his most beautiful handwriting and ensuring that whatever he says…’will be done….for the Good of the OCA….for the Good of BCS’. To me he is a Father, a mentor and a true true friend. Christine….you are Beautiful.

-Peter Stringer-Secretary of the OCA (UK) who breathes the Simla Air and has dedicated his 150 years( yes he is 150)  for his love of BCS-he too has stepped down,( but I am not releasing him in a hurry). Peter lives in Whyteleafe and has steadily over time, built a small museum of BCS in his pretty home. Maggie his Dear Wife has given him a study where he sits, thinks, paints….Bishop Cotton forever…. To me he is my Rock of Ages.  Maggie we love you.

– Raj Lamba:   A Hard Core Cottonian who always supports and is part of the Committee….permanently.

– Vinod Nanda: The hardest of the core…..a fellow Lefroyian…..Guts and Glory……A committee member…permanently.  Over the last 10 years he has always been there..offering his home for us to attend meetings before we move on to an authentic north Indian khaana at Southall.  Rosy we appreciate it all…… we really do.

-Arthur Jones: A wonderful wonderful person…..always there; Peter Stringer’s true bother in arms…at home and in the pub……God! We do miss Shirley.

-Ken Richards:….motoring down from Marlborough….until… until then….we know how life goes through its changes…..the mind is willing but the body is weak….the last angrez speaking Hindustani…never forgotten.

– John & Katherine Phillips:  John… Tall, bold, Mighty……decisive….and the delicate but firm Katherine. The OCA (UK) will always need you…..for a lot more. Your hard work and sincerity is always appreciated.

– Peter Evans (Lamboo):…….He may live in Amsterdam….and is a more in-depth painter than Van Gogh….A PILLAR of BCS..ageless….forever. His strength is what drives all of us….onwards.

– Bob Myers: A tower of strength; his knowledge and planning excellence knows no bounds.  He too keeps BCS always on his mind…on his agenda.

Shiela Reed: A true Lady Cottonian; yes she is. No doubt.

……and so so many more Seniors whose faces, whose actions,  I can never forget……    Dr Daljit Singh…never ever failing to be there. Thank you Sir.

Dr Humayun Khan……Hashim Khan Esq,…..in a complex world….you make it look …So Very Easy….

On behalf of ALL Cottonians far and wide…… I Salute You ALL.

AND NOW…….(into Transition to a newer and younger generation)…

-Young Puneet Singh:   The numbers Kid…..(Treasurer)….!!! A ROCK, BISON
-Young Gursant Singh…
-Young Gursant Sidhu…..
-Young Mrinal Vijay..
-Young Bunti Singh..
-Young Kuljinder Singh  Bahia…
-Young Rana Datar
-Young Bhawani Singh
-Young Mohit Chowdhury
-Young Marshal Brar
-Young Chaku Talwar
-Young Siddha
-Young Samson Rathur
-Young Ladinkima….

AND every  young, youthful OC who in a way is omnipresent here in the UK.

THIS IS A TIME FOR CHANGE. OUR SENIORS HAVE IN EVERY GRACIOUS MANNER MOVED TO EXHAULTED POSITIONS LEAVING US , THE YOUNGER OCs TO FURTHER CEMENT OUR ORGANISATION HERE IN THE UK.    FOR ME AS CHAIRMAN, I KNOW I NEED THE STRENGTH OF THE YOUNGER GENERATION……I BESEECH YOUR HELP…

We need to come together more often..
Very good suggestions and ideas flow from the young….We need to Listen, we need to sit together and make this work…..for ourselves, for future OCs and for Bishop Cotton School.

Lets also be frank and open.. We need Cottonians who have the infrastructure, organisation, financial capacity to come forward and assist whenever/wherever possible.

1. We need to have at least 4 to 6 get togethers here in London. Suggestions are Welcome!!
2. Culminate in the Annual Get Together on the Last Saturday of June every year..
3. As suggested the ‘out-of -towners’ and the younger chaps in College need to be supported by way of  subsidised travel/accommodation to attend the same.

In clear terms,   every OC in the UK is part and parcel of the Association. Every OC visiting the UK must make contact..
Networking plays a great part in today’s world.
The OCs worldwide form one of the greatest networks..we need to develop this further.

We are Blessed and Proud that  we were Born Cottonians.
Lets make the most of it! Help each other….Help our School  and enjoy ourselves

May God Bless the OCA (UK) and Bishop Cotton School.

My Sincerely Regards

Capt. Vivek Bhasin
Lefroy 1961-1970
Chairman
The Old Cottonians Association, United Kingdom

Open letter to Board of Governors, B.C.S. Shimla

I write to you with the attached letter, which was sent to each of the Members of the Board of Governors of Bishop Cotton School. It is my “last bugle call” as Chairman OCA (UK) but a “reveille” to all Cottonians with special emphasis on those Indians living in India, who can more easily make the journey up to the old School to see the situation as it is and with their support, ensures the changes are made to carry BCS successfully forward into the 21st Century.

With my thanks and best wishes to all Cottonians,

Gay Niblett
Chairman OCA (UK)

Chairman and Board of Governors
Bishop Cotton School
Shimla 171002 (HP)
India

4 June 2010

Dear Chairman and Board Members :

I address this letter to you on the occasion of my stepping down as Chairman OCA(UK) after 10 wonderful years at its helm. It is also a seminal moment in the history of our School, in the 150th year since its foundation.

No longer can we look back alone on its history, its tradition and its name on the CV of its pupils to set them apart in the world of globalised pressure and competition. The future demands a stronger, more pragmatic background, based on today’s exigencies and values.

I have been privileged to read Vijay K. Stokes (Rivaz 1948-54) treatise, “150 years of Bishop Cotton School – an assessment of the past – and the future” which should be mandatory reading for all members of the B.O.G. and the Staff of B.C.S. and would be a salutary and eye-opening document for all pupils of B.C.S. past and present. A masterpiece by a brilliant scholar, author of innumerable papers and publications and a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers amongst many distinguished honours and for the past 20 years studying the culture of the area 50 miles north of Shimla.

Vijay K. Stokes, like the President of OCA(India) and myself was in Rivaz House, whose motto is ‘Sirvamus’. We all have the School and its future at heart and I quote three small extracts tying-in the past with the future which portray the thoughts of us all:

“… Some good things about (our) school years … irrespective of their background, a rigorous enforcement of the uniform and pocket-money, a strict enforcement of the leave policy and an equal treatment of all parents made all students “equal”. Personal integrity was considered important, as was telling the truth. One did not do underhand things – that was just not cricket! The School motto ‘Overcome Evil with Good’ was in consonance with Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals”.

“ … Mr ‘Tubby’ Whitmarsh-Knight – who set a very high standard as a role model for integrity and as a teacher – was the Senior Master and (my) House Master, the school was well run! Later, as the qualifications of the teachers declined, many of the good practices became rather lax and richer parents could ask for rules to be bent; the School tended to become more of a ‘finishing school’ for the rich” and finally :

“ … The focus of education must shift to training the mind to think – which is the essence of education – and to inculcate a sense of enquiry that best prepares persons for rapidly changing environments. THIS WILL REQUIRE HIGH QUALITY TEACHERS who can make science and mathematics more exciting than cricket (IPL not withstanding!) THE STATUS QUO WILL JUST NOT DO.

“ … WORKING OUT THE REQUIRED REVOLUTIONARY CHANGES IN EDUCATION IS CERTAINLY BEYOND THE KEN OF THE CURRENT STAFF.”

The vital points made by Mr Vijay K. Stokes are echoed by me and other OCs worldwide: a radical change in direction and control by the Board of Governors along with a change in attitude and structure in the running of the school; a delegated line of responsibility filtering down from the Headmaster via the Senior Master, House Masters (and teaching Masters) through Prefects to the pupils themselves must be clearly laid down. Only thus will there be mutual respect achieved with mutual responsibility.

Staff accommodation has to be made decent and acceptable enough to attract the highest level of teachers – who may be fewer but better.

Staff salaries must be increased substantially, commensurate with better qualifications and enough to attract teachers not only from the best in India but from outside India – cost of living adjustments will be taken into account along with leave and travel and the needs of families – not making it essential to have both husband and wife working, simply to provide a living wage!

The infrastructure of the whole school must be overhauled.

Classrooms, dormitories, bathrooms, kitchens, dining-room, recreation rooms laboratories, I.T. and Art, Engineering, Crafts, Hobbies, Theatre and other studies must be renewed and up-dated. Sports facilities improved immensely.

Class sizes must be restricted to 30 pupils per class.

The total number of pupils must be reduced to between 300 and 350.

Fees will have to be raised – without fear – to reflect the changes in the facilities and infrastructure and the upgraded staff.

The School has to compete not only with other schools in India but be looking to provide for schools from the UK and USA who are selling their brands worldwide.

Globally fees for boarding schools range between £25,000 and £30,000 per annum.

Marlborough College has set up schools in Malaysia and the USA. They are actively seeking partners in India. This is not just for the exchange of teachers and pupils. Harrow, Rugby, Westminster and Dulwich College have joint ventures in India and China or are seeking them. This also applies in the setting up of similar schools in the Middle East.

Over the past 18 months OCA(UK) has been developing a relationship, principally with Marlborough College but also with Rugby and Westminster – all schools associated with our Founder, Bishop Cotton (and could call on Harrow School as well) to try and integrate to exchange teachers and pupils between BCS and Marlborough College. The Master of Marlborough, Mr Nicholas Sampson, his Deputy and Mr Larry Lamont – who has met Mr Robinson at school – are keen to foment the relationship. It would be a travesty if all these efforts were not acted upon now.

A chance was lost some 10 years or so ago, when Board Member Mr Deep C. Anand hosted a number of Marlborough pupils on a visit to India with Mr Martin Evans, Secretary of the Old Marlburians. Following last year’s 150th celebrations at Marlborough and the annual cricket match between Marlborough and Rugby – a team from Rugby came to India and was entertained in Delhi by the OCA.

So the potential exists. It must be nurtured.

India stands in the forefront of nations in I.T. and its sons and daughters occupy posts at the highest international levels in Banking, Science, Research, Industry and Commerce. It is to these posts that B.C.S. must aspire for its pupils and now is when it must act – taking the vital steps to renew and reinvigorate its great institution to meet these challenges.

Forgive me for writing at such length but the added inspiration given to me by Mr Deep C. Anand and Mr Vijay K. Stokes caused me to amplify and substantiate those views.

I trust you will consider, digest, discuss and act soon on our thoughts, which come from our hearts and the love of our alma mater and gratitude for all it gave us.

With very best regards,

Yours most sincerely,

Gay Niblett
Chairman OCA(UK)