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Golden Jubilee Celebrations - 6 July 2013

 

 

SATURDAY 6 JULY 2013 - WHAT AN INCREDIBLE DAY!

 

It is nearly three years ago when we began to think about the fact that St Thomas Aquinas School would be 50 years old in 2013.  We began to map out a series of events to take place throughout the calendar year 2013 and, as we know, it all began with our School Mission beginning appropriately on our Feast Day, Monday 28 January.  It was an incredible week that none of us will ever forget and we will continue to be blessed by the experience for many years to come.  The Mission was wonderful but it was only one amongst several events to mark our special year.

 

We identified Saturday 6 July 2013 to celebrate our Birthday.  We checked the weather forecast so we were confident the sun would shine and the sporting Gods would be with us too.  A win for the British and Irish (Welsh) Lions was confidently predicted and we knew that Andy Murray would win his first Wimbledon.  The day was right so then the hard work began.  Numerous people were involved in the planning over countless meetings but special thanks must go to our Marketing and Website Manager, James Ingram who promoted our big day superbly and liaised with a huge number of past staff and students.  And thank you too to Sharon Williamson, our Business Manager who masterminded the whole event from beginning to end taking care of every little detail.  In the final few weeks staff and students responded magnificently to ensure the school looked sparkling for our visitors and all 10 faculties prepared the theme of 50 years however it applied to them.  The day before the Marquee arrived and thanks to a huge team effort and the great work of the site team led by June Simms we were ready for the big day.

 

From early in the morning staff began to arrive, the final preparations were complete and now all that was needed were some guests!  The Lions match contributed to a slow start but from 12.30pm the crowd began to build.  For some it was all fairly familiar but for others it was a journey through time.  It was a real pleasure to welcome John Beard who joined the school as a young Geography and History teacher in September 1963 and stayed until 1966 before joining Humphrey Middlemore School in Harborne and subsequently moved to Kent where he became a Headteacher.  And also arriving in the Hall were several members of the Foundation Year - Ed Baines, John Conway, Tom Hopkins, James Kelly, Maurice Kerins, Richard Niemyski, Tom O'Connor, John O'Quigley, Alfred Vella amongst others.  Following much hand shaking, back slapping and general hilarity as many who had not seen each other for many years caught up again, most people made their way to the Sports Hall for a Mass of Thanksgiving.

 

We were blessed with the presence of no fewer than ten priests led by the Vicar General and former Tommy's student, (1981 - 1986), Monsignor Timothy Menezes.  Monsignor Tim delivered a wonderful homily full of profound insights but also much good humour that was greatly appreciated.  He introduced his brother priests - Fr Jan, our School Chaplain and Parish Priest of St Brigid's; Fr George, Parish Priest of St John Fisher; Fr David, Parish Priest of St Joseph's and St Paul's; Fr Seamus, Parish Priest of Our Lady of Fatima; former chaplain, Fr Stefan; former students, Fr Eamonn Corduff and Fr Gerry Lennon; and former Aquinas teachers, Fr Frank Smith and Fr Bill Wilton.  It really was the most wonderful celebration full of joy and thanks for the many blessings bestowed on St Thomas Aquinas School over the past 50 years.

 

Following the Mass I had the opportunity to welcome our many guests - current staff and students; former staff and students that I knew; and former staff, students and friends of our school that were here before my time.  It was a privilege to particularly welcome John Beard and the Foundation Year of the school both of whom received a warm ovation.  And then I was delighted to introduce a special message from our founding headteacher, Mr Paul Olsen recorded on 14 May on his 90th Birthday.  Naturally, Paul was at the centre of the photograph showing the Foundation Year and alongside him sat a young English teacher, John Bartlett who took over from Paul as headteacher in 1974 and served the school for 30 years until his retirement in 1993.  John too had recorded a message which was warmly appreciated by everyone but it was particularly pleasing that, despite poor health in recent years, John was able to join us for the Mass and the meal afterwards.  We also remembered the late, great Pat Manion.  And finally it was a pleasure to present James Ingram, Sharon Williamson and Pete Roberts, author of Tommy's Volumes 1 and 2, with a token of our appreciation.

 

Following the Mass there were tours of the school, a wonderful meal in the Marquee and an excellent concert in the Sports Hall.  Everyone had a wonderful time the final revellers leaving just before midnight following a day we will never forget.  I understand some hardy characters continued the celebrations at The Camp long into the early hours - an awesome achievement!  Do check the website www.stacs.org for further details and look out for future developments regarding our St Thomas Aquinas Alumni Association.  Well done everyone!

JIM FOLEY

 


Paul Olsen's message for the Golden Jubilee


John Bartlett's Golden Jubilee message

 

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