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 President Letter 2007
2 Laragh Lee
Enniskillen BT94 2JT
[EC1] [EC2]
December 2006

Dear Old Collegians and Friends

This my ninth annual letter to you and, as usual, I am delighted to able to pass on news of your old School and its pupils. I rely on receiving news from you, so please send on any information you may have, either by letter or preferably by email, address eirvine@btopenworld.com . I have been very pleased to receive news of Old Collegians, whether or not they are members of the Association, from some of you during the year.

This year will be the first time some of you will receive this letter electronically and we are very grateful to those of you who sent me your email addresses. This will save on postage, which is becoming even more expensive. It is not too late to send me your email address. Please send me a message, subject – Old Collegian, with your name, so that I may add it to those already received. If you have already sent me an email and still receive your letter by ‘snail mail’, please send me another email since I am plagued by spam which I do not always check through.

During the past year many of our friends, both members of the Association and others connected with the School, have lost loved ones. We send them our sympathy and prayers this Christmas, which is always a difficult time for families who are bereaved. This is the time of year when losses and separations are most keenly felt, including by families scattered all over the world.

At the Annual General Meeting last June the following office bearers were re-elected: Margaret McLean as Honorary Secretary and Hazel Scott as Honorary Treasurer, Mavis Rolston in the Vice-President position and myself as President. I continue to be very grateful to Margaret, Hazel and the Committee for their support, advice and prompting during the year. Joan Hill undertook to chair during the election of Officers and Committee. She performed her duties with her usual efficiency. Thank you, Joan.

The Belfast coffee morning took place in March of this year as planned in the Park Avenue Hotel. When I spoke with Margaret Lynas, who organises the Belfast meeting, she told me that it had been decided to keep to the change of timing for another year, even though the attendance had been around the same as at the previous New Year meetings.

Phyllis Winslow was our hostess for the Spring coffee morning. We had a most enjoyable morning, catching up with news (and exchanging recipes). In spite of the inclement weather in early spring, the garden at Minna’beg was showing the promise of the glory to come and many of us enjoyed walking round it, appreciating the collections of plants, including the Christmas roses which were still in bloom. As usual, Phyllis was an excellent hostess, giving us a very warm welcome on a chilly day. Our thanks go to Phyllis for her willingness and generosity in opening her lovely home to us.

The Annual Dinner was held in the Killyhevlin Hotel in June. Our speaker this year was Rosalind McMullan (nee Pyne). Rosalind’s subject was an account of her time spent in India where her husband was working for some years. She spoke eloquently of her life there and the lessons which she learned from the Indian people, especially the women. Rosalind had enjoyed her time there and appreciated the culture as she grew to understand it. Her talk was illustrated with a power point presentation, the first we have had for an Old Collegians Dinner. I believe that, as a result of our meeting, she has been much in demand throughout the county!
The dinner was attended by over 50 people, some of whom had travelled a long distance to be with us. Marion Maxwell (nee Cathcart) brought with her some past (well in the past!) programmes from Prize Distributions which were a source of great amusement when we saw who had got prizes for Art, Physical Education etc. The subjects did not exactly mirror the careers followed by the recipients of the prizes!
Our thanks also go to the Killyhevlin Hotel for once more providing us with an excellent meal and a relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy it. We enjoyed the extra space which the renovations provided. The staff were very helpful and attentive.

For the seventh year in succession, the September Coffee morning was held in the Staffroom in the School. In spite of the fact that the numbers were not as large as in previous years, we had a very enjoyable morning.
Thanks go to the Principal, Elizabeth Armstrong and the Vice-Principal, Irene Dunn, for having us and showing people round the School after coffee. At a very busy time of the school year, we appreciate them giving up their precious Saturday morning for us. Many thanks to Elizabeth for the use of the premises and to the Staff of the School meals kitchen for providing us, once again, with delicious home-made biscuits. I also thank the Committee for their unfailing, cheerful help at all our Coffee mornings.

Lunch on the first Wednesday of the month in FermanaghCollege continues as a firm favourite with many regulars. Some months are missed because of College holidays but the convenience of arriving at the lunch table and being able to meet with old friends without having to make specific arrangements, not to mention partaking of an excellent meal, makes this a convivial occasion. Details of how to book can be found at the end of this letter.

At the Coffee mornings we raise money which contributes to the life of the School. The website, to which we contributed last year, is now up and running and the address is www.enniskillencollegiate.org.uk . Please visit it and get more news of the school. This year marks 75 years on the present site and we would hope to mark the occasion with some small gift, yet to be decided upon, towards the school.

The activities of Old Collegians continue to be many and varied as is shown by accounts published in the local press.

Last year, I wrote of Karen Cromie being selected to represent Great Britain in basketball. This year I see she has also taken up rowing with equal success. Karen’s resilience and character were acknowledged when her parents received an award on her behalf, presented during the Fermanagh Sports Awards ceremony.

As I said earlier I am always glad to receive news of past pupils. Ann Richards (nee Moore), who came from Moscow to attend the Dinner, has moved to Canberra where her husband is continuing with his work as a Diplomat with the European Commission. They will be Australia for four years.

Ruth Little has graduated with a First Class Honours degree in history from NottinghamUniversity. Following her convictions, she is making a complete change of career and is now in Sydney, Australia, training in the management of healthy food carry-out outlets.

The Arts are not neglected either. This year, Joan Carson (nee Patterson) held an exhibition and sale of her work to raise funds for the Ulster Cancer Foundation, in memory of her daughter. Amanda May’s exhibition was of her work based on fabrics and Jill Mulligan (nee Dickson) concentrated on Fermanagh and Donegal landscapes. The exhibition by Thompson twins, together with their mother Mavis, demonstrated the range of mediums which can be used to express the artists’ feelings and ideas.

Amongst those working to raise money for charity, Florence Creighton continues to work in most unusual and challenging ways.

This is just a flavour of the information which can be found in the scrapbooks which I continue to keep, a practice started by Barbara Chapman. These were a great source of interest at the annual dinner.

Now for news of the School itself. It is distressing to report that education in Northern Ireland is still in flux and is being used as a political carrot on the road to the formation of viable government from Stormont. Also, just this week, another report has been published, questioning the viability of schools under a certain size. However, there is no doubt that, in the Collegiate, the quality of education and results far passes any standards which authorities care to set.

In the School, the Head Girl this year is Ruth Coalter. Deborah Wilcock and Kirsty Wilson are Deputy Head Girls.

Francis Maguire, who was a member of the Science Department for nearly 30 years, retired in June. He will be missed, not least for his down-to-earth practical attitude and his excellence in summing up a situation. Frances was very caring of the girls whom he taught and somehow always managed to follow their progress long after they left School.

Once again, examination results were excellent at every level, with many AS and A level grades at As or Bs. Elizabeth, School Principal, says that when she looks at the lists and sees how well some of the girls have done in spite of the difficulties which they have faced during the year, she is delighted for them. The list of destinations for leavers is varied and impressive.

The ‘Celebration of Success’, which recognises the academic and other achievements of the students, took place in November 2007, when Mr B Mulholland, Chief Executive of the Western Education and Library Board, Presented the Certificates, cups and awards. Nadine Gilmour received the Old Collegians Cup for special achievement. Cara McLaughlin was awarded the prize for English Literature, which is presented by the Old Collegians in memory of Ada Malone. The complete list of awards is available in the programme which is filed in the scrap-book. Nadine Gilmour was first in Northern Ireland in GCSE Double Award Science and second equal with another Collegian, Isabel Prentice, in Northern Ireland in GCSE French while Jane Rutherford was third in Northern Ireland in Home Economics. The evening was much enjoyed by the parents, students and guests who attended.

The curriculum in the School continues to expand and broaden to meet the demands of the twenty first century. Teachers continue to take part in trials of initiatives for curriculum change which means that they are abreast of developments in their various disciplines.

Sport continues to flourish, with individual and team successes, as do other extra-curricular activities such as charity-fund raising and the School Council, to name but a few. The Spring Concert in the Ardhowen Theatre was a wonderful success. At a function such as this, the poise, maturity and sensitivity of all the girls taking part never fails to amaze me. The show ‘Good News’, held this autumn, also in the Ardhowen Theatre, gave the music, dance and drama departments an opportunity to collaborate again. The show got wonderful reviews from all.

The above is only a flavour of the activities which take place in the School and the successes which the girls have had. Again, I have fuller records in the School Magazine, the Annual report and the Principal’s Newsletter. You will be very welcome to look at these at any of our gatherings.

Our congratulations go to the Staff of the School for all their successes and for the difference they have made to so many young lives in their care.

Our programme for the coming year is as follows:

The Belfast meeting will be held in the Coffee Dock, Park Avenue Hotel, Holywood Road on Saturday March 3 2007 at 10.30 am. All members and friends will be welcome. If you live in the area, or even if you don’t, please come and catch up on the news.

Saturday April 29 2007 at 10.30am – a coffee morning will be held at the home of Ingrid Logan, Summerhill House, Ballinamallard. Everyone attending will be most welcome.

Friday June 8 2007 at 7.00pm – the Annual General Meeting followed by the Annual Dinner in the Devenish Room of the Killyhevlin Hotel. The Committee has made a conscious decision not to invite an after-dinner speaker this year so that everyone will have more opportunity for conversation and renewing old friendships.
Please reply, to either me (02866324022 or by email to the address given earlier) or Hazel Scott (02866323229) in early June. Also, in order that friends may have the opportunity to sit at the same table, please tell Hazel or myself if you are a member of a particular party. We have found that this arrangement has worked well for several years.

Saturday September 29 2007 at 10.30am – a coffee morning in the Staffroom of the MillenniumBuilding.

Lunch in FermanaghCollege of Further Education. Every first Wednesday of the month during term-time. If you wish to go, just phone the College at 028 66 342300 and ask for your name to be added to the Old Collegians table. Friends are also welcome. The first lunch of the year will be on January 10 2007

If you have any ideas or suggestions of activities which might interest Old Collegians, the Committee would be delighted to know of them. Contact can be made with me as already mentioned.

I trust that news of your old School has been of interest to you. If there are any other aspects on which you would like me to report, please let me know. Also, if you have news of past pupils please drop me a line about them as already requested.


Wishing you a very happy and successful New Year.

Yours sincerely

Ethel Irvine (President)

Ethel Irvine (President) Doris Campbell
Mavis Rolston (Vice President) Ethel Dickson
Margaret McLean (Honorary Secretary) Olive Elliott
Hazel Scott (Honorary Treasurer) Mae Glenn
Florence Brunt Carole Johnston