5 November 2015   ::   Old Sydneians' Newsletter – Number 4


Photo: Big School circa 1959, Max Dupain


Dear Old Sydneian,
In this Term’s issue you will find news of recent reunions, a list of forthcoming gatherings, invitations to a variety of events at College Street and some material from the Archives. We’ve been very pleased to see an increasing number of Old Boys at our concerts and games over the past few months, and I very much hope this will continue.

Several of you have asked if we could publish news of marriages and births – something we’d be happy to do. Simply let Wendy Scotter know. On that note, I’m pleased to be able to congratulate Caspar Conde (OS 1999) and his wife Victoria on the birth of Christopher on the 1st October.

I’ve also been asked for news of John Sheldon, who was very seriously injured after being hit by a tram in Milan in August. John has now been moved from hospital to a rehabilitation clinic in Milan, and is gradually regaining his strength. If you would like to send him your good wishes, I will be happy to pass them on for you, via his sister in Italy.

Finally, I must thank those of you who have responded to our request for information about what you are doing. Our survey of the post-university destinations of Old Sydneians is progressing well, and has already thrown up some very surprising results.  We are always pleased to hear from you – you can contact either Wendy Scotter in the Old Sydneians’ Office ( or me directly (

John Vallance

Sydney Grammar School House 

Report on the 51-year Reunion by Paul Sanders (OS 1964/65)

A reunion of the 1964 School House Sixth Form was held in Sydney over a weekend in September this year. At the 50 year reunion last year, two former House boys, Will Boag and Ken Preshaw discussed the idea of contacting the boarders from the year. Preliminary email enquiries produced an extraordinary outpouring of cyber nostalgia. It was clear that 1964 had been a very important year in our lives and it was agreed that we should have a reunion. Prior to the event, each of us was asked to compile a 250 word biography. One of our number commented, “that’s five words a year!” This was designed to bring us up to speed with what the others had been doing for the past 50 years and was generally undertaken enthusiastically by the group. One of the more lyrical of us summed up his life after leaving school in seven stanzas of heroic quatrain. Shades of Thomas Gray!

Of the original twelve, two have died – Robert Badgery in 1990  and Brett Dawson earlier this year. Brett lived in France for many years and, although chronic ill health would have prevented him from travelling, he had participated in the email correspondence and was aware that the reunion had been planned. Of the remaining ten, only one – Brian Lukin - was unable to attend.

On the Saturday night, nine of us gathered at a lower North Shore restaurant where we dined and reminisced until the small hours. It was a splendid evening and the fact that some of us hadn’t seen one another for fifty years did not matter in the slightest. Next morning, with five of the wives, we reconvened at Mark Fesq’s home in Birchgrove. It was a spectacular spring day and we were treated to a harbour cruise on an old Navy work boat that Mark had restored beautifully. Conveniently, it was moored at the bottom of his garden. Lunch followed at Mark’s home to round off a most enjoyable weekend.

During its 50 year existence around 1034 boys attended the House, including the latest Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. At any given time there were about 60 boarders, so we were a rather exclusive yet cohesive group. School House eventually closed in 1976, almost 40 years ago, limiting the school of a rural and regional pupil contingent.

The experience of attending Grammar as a boarder was confined to a select few, the youngest of whom would be in their mid to late fifties now. A few loathed the place, but I’m certain that, despite the discipline of boarding school life, the majority looks back on the experience with considerable affection.

Our reunion was an unqualified success and we will maintain contact into the future.
Front: Mark Fesq, Ken Preshaw, Bob Burnell. Centre: Ralph Clarke, Stuart Manley, Margaret Sanders. Back: Doug Gowing, Will Boag, Paul Sanders
School House 1964
Front of ‘Rathven’, Randwick

Forthcoming SGS Reunions

The following reunions are confirmed for the remainder of 2015. Should you require any further information, please call the Old Sydneians’ Office on (02) 9332 5888 or email
  • 1980 35-year ReunionSat 7 Nov – Dinner at Manta Restaurant, Woolloomooloo Wharf
  • 1950-51-52 LunchMon 9 Nov – Nicks Seafood Restaurant, Cockle Bay Wharf
  • Melbourne Old Boys’ Annual Dinner Thu 12 Nov – The Athenaeum Club (with guest speaker Mr Michael West, OS 1980)
  • 1960/1961 55-year ReunionFri 13 Nov – Tour of College Street with the Headmaster Dr Vallance at 4.30pm followed by drinks in Big School, College Street at 5.30pm
  • 1975 40-year ReunionFri 20 Nov – Tour of College Street 4.30pm followed by drinks at Hotel William, East Sydney
  • 1975 40-year ReunionSat 21 Nov – Dinner at Weigall Pavilion, Rushcutters Bay
  • 1945-46-47 LunchFri 27 Nov – Wallace King Room, Sydney Grammar School (with guest speaker Mr Mark Tedeschi AM QC, OS 1969)
  • 1948 LunchWed 2 Dec – Greenwood Hotel, North Sydney
SGS 1965 50-year reunion group collage

The Kid Stakes

In August 2015, a partnership between Australian Film Institute and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia brought back to life The Kid Stakes (1927), an early silent movie based on the comic strip character Fatty Finn starring Robin Ordell (OS 1938). It was one of the last silent films to be made in Australia with live musical accompaniment.

Shot almost entirely in Potts Point and Woolloomooloo, the film offers unique insight into life in the harbourside suburbs during the depression-era years of the 1920s. Film critic Paul Byrnes calls it "one of the greatest comedies of the silent era, although it was largely dismissed at the time as simply a children’s film".

This historic piece of Australian silent cinema is due to be re-released on DVD for general use in the coming months with the help of AFI /AACTA and the NFSA.
David Donaldson (OS 1946-47), John Barry Burke (OS 1947) and John Jackson Morris (OS 1949-50) were all involved in the film’s rescue while students at Sydney University. To read a story about the rescue of The Kid Stakes visit:
To view recollections of The Kid Stakes on ABC TV:

The film’s star Robin Ordell was a pupil at Grammar from 1936-1937, already well known when he enrolled from his starring role in The Kids Stakes. Shot by Robin’s Father Tal Ordell, a well-known radio personality, Robin left school early to follow in his father’s footsteps as a radio announcer. Sadly, the Second World War was to intervene with his budding entertainment career, with Ordell being shot down and killed over Germany piloting a Lancaster bomber in 1944.
Robin Ordell as ‘Fatty Finn’ 
Robin and Tal Ordell
For more information on The Kid Stakes, please contact Sydney Film Festival co-founder David Donaldson by email


You are invited to attend any or all of these concerts at College Street held at the School. For more information, please contact the Old Sydneians’ Office at

Tuesday 17 November 6:30pm – Jazz Combos Concert in the Palladium Theatre
All of the School’s small jazz ensembles will perform in this concert. In addition to the Form I-V Jazz Combos, this will include the Electric Guitar Ensemble. This free concert is roughly one hour without interval.

Friday 20 November 6:30pm – Ensembles Concert in Big School
A Chamber music concert of approximately 75 minutes and admission is free. Limited parking will be available in the Middle Playground.

Tuesday 24 November 6:30pm – Term IV Concert in The New Hall
This concert will include the School Orchestra, School Choir, Seymour Orchestra, Sheldon Strings, Alastair Mackerras Chamber Orchestra, Cantorum, Grammarphones and Croonivores, joined by choirs from both preparatory schools. The concert is approximately two hours long, including a short interval. The playground will be open for parking by 6.00pm. Refreshments may be purchased in the Foyer of the New Hall before the concert and during interval. A donation on entry is appreciated.

Dates and venues may change at times, so please check the School webpage for the latest information.    

75th Anniversary of Air Force Cadets in 2016  

An invitation to all former Air Force Cadets

The Air Force Cadets organisation is celebrating 75 years since formation during 2016. As we are on the cusp of the ATC/AIRTC/AAFC Diamond Jubilee, it is a fitting time to reflect on Air Cadet activity over the last seventy-five years.
Are you a former Air Cadet of 6 Flight Air Training Corps/AIRTC or 306 Squadron AAFC? If so, help Grammar prove its tradition of Air Force cadet parading – unbroken since 1942 – and reconnect by registering your interest with the current Commanding Officer, David Roach in the Old Sydneians’ Office on (02) 9332 5884 or email

Address details?

Have you moved recently or changed your email address? If so, please email us on or call the office on (02) 9332 5888 and we will happily update your details over the telephone. Perhaps you may also know of an Old Sydneian who has not received this. If so, please ask them to contact our office, and we will give them the opportunity to receive this and any forthcoming newsletters.