By way of introduction, I am the current Chairman of the Board of Governors at St George’s Weybridge and I consider myself to be Always Georgian as my connection with, and affection for the school runs deep. I am an Old Georgian (OG ‘78), I have two brothers-in law Rupert Chichester (OG ‘77) and Crispin Quail (OG ‘78) and my wife, Rosemary, and I are blessed with four children Matt (OG ‘06), Stephanie (OG ‘08), Zoё (OG ‘10) and Joe (OG ‘13) all of whom went through the Junior School and College.

In our school Mission Statement we state that we are “perfectly balanced”; co-educational; 3 – 18; Josephite; Catholic. We are a Josephite School. The Josephites are a teaching Congregation. They have founded schools since 1817 and now have 16 schools in Belgium, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, the USA and the UK.  The Founder, Constant Van Crombrugghe, became Principal of the College d’Alost (Belgium) as a young priest. He was aware of the lack of educational opportunities for the poor children of his home town, Geraardsbergen.  He gathered a small group of men together to address the problem, and in April 1817 constituted this group as the Brothers of St Joseph, who would later develop into the Josephites. The Congregation branched out from Belgium into other countries, reaching England and founding St George’s on 18th August 1869. 150 years ago this year. Van Crombrugghe was a priest, teacher and head teacher. He wanted the spirit of the Gospel to pervade the life of the schools he founded. Teachers were to follow 3 central pillars of Josephite spirituality: Misericorde, Douceur and Politesse: to make a loving kindness, gentleness and mutual respect a reality in the classroom, the playground, and onwards into the life environment. This is the Josephite ethos. This is what underpins the educational offering of St George’s. If you are Catholic, of other faith or of no faith (and all are warmly welcome at St George’s), I would hope that you would agree with me that it is very easy to buy into this Josephite ethos. Who would not want that to be the basis for a learning environment for their children? The Josephite flame has been burning at St George’s for 150 years, never brighter than now.

18th August 2019 saw the Georgian Family come together at a wonderful mass celebrated in the College Chapel on the actual date of our 150th anniversary when our Director of Music, Richard Quesnel, interrupted his honeymoon to direct a performance of the College Prayer set to new music of his own composition! 23rd September 2019 saw the official handing over of the .23m Activity Centre which lies at the heart of our Celebrate 150 campaign. Visitors to school over the last year will have seen the mighty construction project tower upwards and which now proudly stands on the College site. We now have facilities for dance, Pilates, Zumba, fitness training and, of course, indoor sports. One exciting aspect is our Mental Performance Zone where we are introducing an important toolkit, developed and kindly donated by OG John O’Keefe. This has never been done before and is not just to support sports but has a wide benefit across all students and staff. A feature on this is covered inside this issue. The Activity Centre is a social venue and a place where the entire school can gather in one place under one roof. It dominates the campus, because of its size, because of its beautiful design, and because it is the talk of the county; other schools will want to come to St George’s and play on our glass floor. It is a building that we expect to stand for 200 years. We expect it to be state of the art for 50 years. The glass floor is not a gimmick. It reflects our ambitions to be ahead of the game. In 50 years time glass floors will become the norm. The fundraising campaign for the Activity Centre was immensely successful, achieving .6.5m in contributions thanks to the wonderful generosity of so many Georgian family members. We would not have reached this target without the support and generosity of our major benefactor and OG, Mike Gooley. In fact, Mike was inspirational in driving us to think boldly for the design of the building, the result of which is the magnificent structure now wrapped firmly onto Woburn Hill. Mike will be featured in a later issue of the magazine and readers can find out more about his really interesting journey. As we end one successful campaign we will be looking towards the future and securing funds for the Bursary Fund where we hope to have an announcement on that launch in the next few months. The introduction of the first issue of the new Always Georgian magazine builds on our proposition to establish a life-long Georgian Community to facilitate social, career and business opportunities for all family members by delivering a vibrant events programme and communication channel. We aim to provide guidance and support for all students, and opportunities for parents and OGs to engage in careers advice and work experience. We hope to encourage financial support for the school through an integrated development programme – to help St George’s deliver a perfectly balanced education.

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