The origins and history of Sibford Old Scholars’ Association.
As one of his final legacies, Robert Brearley Oddie, Sibford’s second head, fully endorsed the setting up of an old scholars association. Most of the other Friends schools had such a body but Sibford had lagged behind. The ‘Sibford Old Scholars’ Association’, commonly known as ‘SOSA’, was inaugurated on the 19th June 1903. Its first President was Joseph Spence Hodgson, and its first General Secretary was Edward P Kaye. Its main aims were and still are:
(a) to foster interaction between former scholars and staff and present day pupils and staff;
(b) to further school day friendships;
(c) to enjoy the mutual benefits that can arise through a sustained relationship with the School and former scholars;
(d) to encourage a spirit of loyalty amongst present scholars;
(e) to assist the further development of the School.
The first annual Reunion was held at Whitsuntide between May 21st and Tuesday 24th 1904 and its first Annual General Meeting was held over that same reunion. It was a residential weekend which remained the norm until 2008. The only time in 110 years a Reunion didn’t take place was in 1915 during the First World War and in 1921 due to economic disruption throughout the country. After 2008 the Reunion has become a daylong event held on the School’s Open Day in June although many stay over to the Sunday to attend Meeting for Worship at Sibford Gower.
Other important dates in SOSA’s history are:
1904 – The first annual magazine of the Association was published and was called simply ‘Sibford Old Scholars’ Association – Annual Report’. This title was changed in in 1935 when Annual Report was removed from front cover. A further change to the title occurred in 1940 when the title became ‘The Sibford Magazine’. Further changes happened in 1950 when the magazine was simply called ‘Sibford’ and this remained until 1971 with the emergence of a joint publication between the School and SOSA.
1907 -The Old Elm at the cross roads on entering Sibford Ferris was adopted as the symbol for SOSA . A plot of land was bought in 1934 and a garden of remembrance was built in the opposite side of the road. Despite the loss of the old Elm to old age and the ravishes of Dutch Elm disease, an Elm tree still remains in the garden.
1908 – The SOSA motto was adopted from the Domeday book “Ye menne of sheep-ford wendath withersover they wilen” which in modern English reads “ You men of Sibford go where the will takes you.”
1911 – Charles E.Brady was appointed as SOSA’s first representative on the School Committee. A second representative was added in 1948.
1921 – The Annual Reunion was held over Easter for the first time but reverted back to Whitsun in the following year.
1922 – A Constitution with Rules was established for the first time.
1932 – The SOSA badge was designed by Howard Quinton and incorporated into the Association – its inscription “Quo Volumus Vagamur “ is in Latin and is a play on the SOSA motto ‘Go where the will takes you.’
1940 -45 Despite the Second World War, the Reunions continued as did the SOSA Magazine. Howard Quinton was President for an unprecedented four consecutive terms 1939 – 1943.
1953 – SOSA celebrated its fiftieth anniversary and had joint Presidents for the first time – Alice Long and Edward P.Kaye
1965 – The last Whitsuntide Reunion took place. It moved to the August Bank Holiday for many years except for an Easter Reunion in 1971 and a Spring Bank Holiday reunion in 1997 & 1998.
1971 – The first publication of a joint magazine between SOSA and the School was introduced – probably the first community venture of its kind in the country. This ran until 2000 when the School started its own magazine ‘The Sibfordian’ and SOSA went back to its own publication but called it ‘The Sibford Rocket’.
Also in 1971 a Presidential Dinner was introduce to Reunions and this continues in one form or another until the present day.
2003 – SOSA celebrated its 100th birthday. An oak tree is planted at the Hill by Stephen Bunney on the School’s Open Day to commemorate the event. Guy Kingham was SOSA’s President and leads the celebrations at a black tie Ball at the Reunion.
2006 – No magazine is produce this year due to administrative difficulties and it was missing again the following year. The Reunion is moved to the October half term – SOSA is very much at the crossroads as to its future.
2008 – ‘The Sibford Rocket’ is abandoned and a SOSA Newsletter is introduced along with a re-introduction of a joint magazine with the School, under the title of ‘The Sibfordian’.
2009 – A new Constitution is introduced bringing closer ties with the School. The annual residential reunion is abandoned due to its unsustainability and is replaced by a Day Reunion held on the School’s Open Day in June. Bryony Veysey becomes the 100th person to be named as President.
2012 – The Association is able to donate £40,000 towards the refurbishment of the main School hall.
The Association has endured and their support of the School has been enormous, and they have been involved with many of the appeals that have taken place over the years. Several old scholars have returned to Sibford to become valued members of staff and of the School Committee.