If you have any news to pass on concerning yourself or another former pupil or teacher from Finchley, please get in touch here. Also, if you are trying to get in contact with an old Friend with whom you've lost touch or you want to arrange a reunion for a group of old Friends, let us know and we will put out a message in this section.
* As noted on our front page, the year started with sad news with the passing of former Head Teacher, Stephen Szemerenyi (1983-99), following a short illness. A full obituary will follow in our In Memoriam section, and we would welcome any memories and tributes from former pupils, parents and teachers. Details will also follow here in due course of a memorial service for Stephen at the School.
* By contrast, a very happy evening was had in November celebrating the career of another Finchley stalwart, Conn O'Halpin (1957-94), at the Annual Albanian Association Dinner. The dinner fell on 11th November, so many Old Boys took the opportunity to attend the School's Remembrance Day services beforehand and dinner was preceded by a special film commemorating the sacrifice of those former pupils and teachers who fell in the Second World War and its aftermath. As always, all generations of Old Boys were represented, from a group who arrived at FCGS in 1961 celebrating their 50th anniversary to a more recent vintage who left the school in 2009 having their first reunion. All present greatly enjoyed the speeches: CHRIS PARKER giving a fine tribute to his friend Conn; Head Teacher SEAMUS McKENNA adding his own tributes along with the traditional report on the school year; and Conn himself making a delightful and humorous speech, concluding with the memorable phrase: "I may look like Good Friday on the outside, but I feel like Easter Sunday on the inside." A successful and enjoyable evening, well attended and enjoyed by all. To ensure you receive good notice of next year's event - or to organise a reunion of your own - please get in touch by email here.
* The School's Annual Magazine has been published for 2011, with the usual round-up of news from the classroom and the sports field, with a particular focus on what was the 80th anniversary of the Southover Playing Fields, re-born this year, including reminscences from Kevin Hoare and Chris Parker about their own glory days on the pitches. There is much else to be enjoyed, including - for those with fond memories of the late, great JERRY LORDAN (1952) - an appreciation of the circuitous role that he played in the invention of hip-hop music! You can download your copy of the magazine here.
* We were sad to hear in late October of the death of former English teacher KEVIN O'CALLAGHAN, who taught at the school from 1952-70, going on to become Deputy Head Teacher at St Michael's Girls School, and a stalwart of the St Alban's Parish for many years. He retired with his wife Louise to Donegal, but she sadly died shortly afterwards. He enjoyed painting the Donegal landscape and made many friends there. His funeral took place on Saturday 29th October at St Patrick's Church, Donegal Town, and was very well attended. He is remembered by colleagues as a very kind, quiet man: a true gentleman who would regale friends with stories of his time in teaching. He recalled that he once saved the White House from burning down after being given the job of escorting the fire officer round the premises on an inspection. When they got to the boiler room in the White House, they discovered that it was on fire! Mr O'Callaghan will be greatly missed by all who knew him and a full obituary will follow for him on this site in due course.
* Congratulations to FCHS legend GIULIANO GRAZIOLI (1994), who took over as Caretaker Manager at Barnet FC for the last 5 matches of the 2010-11 season after the shock departure of boss Martin Allen, with a miracle needed to save the Bees from dropping out of the Football League. In his second match, he secured a stunning away win at Gillingham, and a home draw with Oxford in his fourth match left Barnet needing a last day win at home to Port Vale and hoping that Lincoln would slip up at home to Aldershot. Lincoln duly lost 3-0 and Barnet clung on to a nail-biting 1-0 lead to spark wild scenes of celebration at Underhill. More details in the Sports News section, as well as some history of the first Old Boy to go into football management. The lesson is: if you want to save your team from relegation, put an FCHS Old Boy in charge!
* The Oratory was full to capacity on Sunday 10th April 2011 for the Annual Mass to remember Deceased Old Boys. Mass was said by Fr. John O'Halloran, who read the Gospel on the resurrection of Lazarus and gave a thought-provoking sermon on its meaning. Many members of the Delaney family were present as we remembered Old Boy TONY DELANEY (1984), who died in June last year, with family member and current pupil Ryan Delaney reading the Psalm. We enjoyed perfect weather for the occasion, and many of the Old Boys in attendance took the opportunity for a walk around the grounds. We were pleased to see former teacher ANTHONY KEOGH in attendance; DR. MARTIN KENNEDY PHELAN (1956) - recently retired from his Harley Street practice, visiting the school for the first time in many years; and it was especially pleasing to welcome DAVID JOEL (1953) who lives in Nova Scotia, but was able to attend the Mass while visiting London on holiday. The Mass is always a sad occasion, but also a fitting tribute to those we have lost, as seen in the film below.
* David Joel is one of those we have added to our Google Map of far-flung Old Boys, and many thanks to all others who have been in touch over the last couple of months to pass on their details. You can see the state of the current map below.
View FCHS Old Boys in a larger map
* One of our many Canada-based Old Boys is BRIAN CURRAN (1949), who emigrated to San Francisco in 1957 to work for Bechtel, building oil refineries and pipelines across the world. Brian lives in Toronto with his wife Molly, and they are enjoying retirement with their six children and twelve grandchildren. One of their sons, Andy, was much taken by the Gothic design of the Colney Hatch asylum on one trip back to London, and decided to form a Heavy Metal band on his return named Coney Hatch. In their heyday, the band toured in support of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, and won a Juno award, the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy. The band are still going strong on the Canadian concert scene. Brian also sent us two photos from his last year at the school. He is able to name most of his classmates in the first one, but struggled more with the Cricket XI. If any other Old Boys want to assist with the names, we'd be delighted to hear from you.
- H.R.Briskham, P.Donegan, M.Demolder, T.Mackerness, D.J.Murray, M.O'Connor, J.Gorsuch, G.Powell
- D.Hopkins, A.Phelan, J.B.Curran, R.Barwell, A.Jollye, Fr.Dent, ?, B.Larner, ?, P.Grant, J.Hughes
- K.Burkinshaw, K.McCourt, R.S.Lawrence, A.Heap, J.Weener, T.K.Martin
NB - Troy Kennedy Martin (far right, front row) went on to become one of our most renowned Old Boys with a legendary screenwriting career for TV and film, including such credits as The Italian Job and Edge of Darkness. He died in 2009.
* Old Boys from the 1980s and 1990s will be pleased to hear that former PE teacher and top footballer PHIL HALLWORTH has been in touch with the school, and keen to hear about some of the features of this website. He is currently working at the Looe Community School in Cornwall. He sends his best wishes to all staff and former pupils.
* Arsenal's goalkeeping travails in the 2010-11 season led to a flurry of excitement that we might see Old Boy JAMES SHEA (2007) make his first senior appearance. It was not to be - this season at least - but James continues to do well, and is currently on loan at Dagenham & Redbridge. This prompted some Old Boys to enquire as to the latest whereabouts of one of the school's former top-flight stars, PETER FEELY, who attended FCGS in the 1960s with his brother MURRAY. Peter broke into the Chelsea first team as a 20-year old the season after they won the 1970 FA Cup, and went on to spells with Bournemouth, Sheffield Wednesday and Gillingham, where he averaged a goal every other game. We contacted Peter, who lives in Perth with his wife Cathy and three sons, having enjoyed a highly successful career in Chartered Surveying and Property Investment in Hong Kong and Australia over the last 30 years. He had a reunion with many of the classmates from his year in London last June, and hopes to do the same again this summer.
* Greetings to PATRICK FITZGIBBON (1959), who will have been enjoying our series of memoirs from the 1950s, and offered a great anecdote of his own. "In my first year at FGS", he writes "I joined the overseas trip to Belgium, staying in Ghent. As I recollect Tom Hudson (Biology) was the party leader. One highlight of the trip was a visit to a brewery, where the local beer was available - free. I had obviously enjoyed my free beer as later that week, I and a classmate found a shop selling chocolate liqueurs. Having consumed a few of these I rather think that we were somewhat noisy. Unfortunately walking back to the hotel a gentleman on the other side of the street made a point of coming over to us. He was most annoyed and told us we were bringing the school into disrepute. (in those days we always wore school uniform, including caps). He explained that he was an old boy of the school, and recognised our uniform. He took our names and said that he would report us to Canon Parsons - which he did. How unfortunate were we, to meet with an old boy in a foreign country!!"
* Greetings to NICK JANKUNAS (1979), who got in touch to pass on news of himself and his older brothers TONY and CHRIS who attended FCHS in the 1970s. Nick works as an Industrial Engineer in Essex, and lives with his wife Anne and his two teenage boys Patrick and Justin in Potters Bar. Tony lives and works in Manchester, and Chris is a self-employed builder in Clacton. The Jankunas brothers also had cousins at the school, Bulaitis and Cernis, and if anyone wants to get in touch with them or Nick and his brothers, you can email Nick here. Nick asked after his old form master TERRY SMALL. He will be pleased to know that Terry is still a fixture at the school, working alongside CHRIS PARKER and PETER KEENAN on the school's one-on-one tuition programme for boys in need of extra help.
* Greetings also to the following Old Boys who have been in touch and would welcome contact from old schoolmates of their vintage. Click on the names to send them an email:
GRAHAM DUKE (1979) says hallo to all his contemporaries from the 1970s and hopes to hear from some old classmates; and
CHARLES MORGAN (1973) lives in York and sends his greetings to his old classmates.
* Finally, we were delighted to hear recently from Mrs Joan Pienne, who was married to the late Mr Arnold Pienne - Art teacher at FCGS in the 1950s. We recently noted on the website that current Year 12 student James Brosnan is following in Mr Pienne's footsteps as a fencing international. 89 year old Mrs Pienne lives in Aldeburgh in Suffolk. She was herself a champion fencer, cruelly denied the chance to compete in the Olympics because women's fencing was restricted to the Foil class until 1996, just as Mr Pienne was denied his chance in 1940 because of the outbreak of War. The Piennes' daughter Suzanne is married to Alan Robinson, a Master at St Edmund's College in Ware, a school whose history is intertwined with Finchley's thanks to Canon Parsons. Mrs Pienne was delighted to hear of James Brosnan's progress and hopes to see him fencing for Britain in the future.
Other recent notices:
* A highly-entertaining evening was had by all at the Annual Albanian Association 'Old Boys' Dinner on Friday 12th November 2010, held to mark the retirement of JOHN SHUTLER, after 35 years service to the school. It is a tribute to John that his appearance produced a full house in both senses: the School Hall packed to bursting, and every part of the school community represented: current and former pupils, parents of current and former pupils, and current and former teachers were all in attedance, as well as members of John's family. There was also a small but significant moment of history at the dinner, with SINEAD SARSFIELD (2010) becoming the first female former pupil of the school to attend. She was one of many current members of the school's administrative staff dressed in red and gold sashes marked with the legends: 'We Love John' and 'John's Darlings'.
In a temporary break from tradition, PETER KEENAN was relieved from catering duties and instead entertained his many former English pupils with a characteristic speech ("Settle..." he urged his excitable audience at one point), introducing his long-term colleague John, whose own speech focused on the distinctive Finchley sense of humour (and required one!). SEAMUS McKENNA brought the formal proceedings to a close, presenting a handsome plaque to John and flowers to MRS ALISON SHUTLER. He also presented plaques to two other stalwarts of the school retiring after long service: BOB MURDOCH (24 years in the Languages department) and JIM CUNNINGHAM, stepping down as Chair of Governors after a decade.
Raffles, games and other entertainment followed, and a highly-enjoyable evening was had by all present. A full photo gallery of the dinner can be seen below, with thanks to the new Chair of Governors, Jane Inzani, for her photographic skills.
- MICHAEL RIDDLE (1945) was the second of three brothers to attend the school, the eldest of whom - FATHER GEOFFREY RIDDLE (1942) - is still serving with the White Fathers in Tanzania. Michael enjoyed a career as an English teacher, and lived in New Barnet with his wife Paola. You can see an obituary of Michael, including the funeral address written by Fr Geoffrey, in our 'In Memoriam' section.
- PADDY COSTELLO (1953) died in September after a short illness. Paddy (who can be seen in the spectacles, on the far left of the group below) was a stalwart of the Old Boys, St Alban’s Parish and the Finchley community: a Knight of St Gregory, a Knight Commander of the Holy Sepulchre, and a former Chairman of Bishop Douglass School. Our thoughts are with his wife Bridget (Biddy) and his children.
* The School has been receiving regular reports from another great historian, the intrepid DAVID WINTON, former pupil and teacher, who has now been teaching for a number of months at schools and universities in China, as he defies the idea of retirement by embarking on a new and highly-challenging phase of his teaching career, doubtless taking the opportunity to hone his legendary karate skills in the process! You can see extracts from his first China diary here, and we will bring you more extracts over the coming months.
* Old Boys of several generations will be pleased to hear that both ANTHONY 'SAMMY' HEWSON and CONN O'HALPIN were in attendance - and in fine form - at the school's annual Presentation Evening on Thursday 18th November 2010. There was much to celebrate and enjoy on the evening, not least a very amusing and inspiring speech from Guest of Honour, former Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and currently President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Sir Hugh Orde, whose attendance was kindly organised by Old Boy TOM FLAHERTY. Conn O'Halpin was one of many to say how remarkable and pleasing it is that any person once responsible for policing in Northern Ireland should be made to feel so welcome at the school: a testament to the progress of recent years.
* We have been in very enjoyable correspondence recently with two Old Boys from the 1950s, GERRY McMANUS (1956) and JOHN O'SULLIVAN (1957), Gerry passing on his memories of life at the school and its many characters amongst the pupils and teaching staff (which you can see in this section); and John getting in touch from New Zealand to pass on wonderful memories and photos from school football in the 1950s and from the early years of Albanian FC, which you can see in this section, along with an account of the small part he played in launching the managerial career of one Harry Redknapp!
* Also in correspondence has been St Michael's Old Girl MRS EILEEN PARNWELL (nee O'Connor), who will celebrate her Diamond Wedding Anniversary with Old Boy JAMES PARNWELL (1945) later this year. Eileen's connections with the school go back to her childhood, when her father - William 'Pat' O'Connor - was right hand man to a young Canon Parsons, then at the outset of his service as Parish Priest of St Alban's. Mr O'Connor served as Sacristan and Choir Master at the time the school was launched in the presbytery at Dale Grove. After the move to Woodside Lane, Eileen's mother, Norah, who worked most of her life in accounts, organised and administered the Governor's Fund from the family home in Nether Street. Eileen's brothers (sadly no longer with us) MICHAEL and MARTIN both attended FCGS in the 1940s, MARTIN O'CONNOR going on to become a much-admired Chair of Governors. Eileen and James' sons, MICHAEL and ANDREW PARNWELL attended the school, and - to her own amazement - Eileen herself ended up on the staff of FCHS for the 8 years before her retirement, using her background as a professional librarian to good effect by setting up the new school library in the Stephenson Block, since handed on to DAVID WINTON and to current school librarian, PAT GALLAGHER. Eileen suffered for her art, once having her foot broken under the misplaced boot of former pupil, JASON STEADMAN. Eileen primarily got in touch to pass on a fascinating archive item for our history of the FCGS War Years (see here) concerning FATHER BILL CAMPLING, curate at St Alban's who accompanied the FCGS touring party on their trip to the Rhineland in 1938. Eileen recalls that Fr Campling steadfastly refused to become a teacher at FCGS, despite Canon Parsons' expectations, though it appears the Canon did persuade him to serve as 'Sports Master' and coach of the football team for a couple of years before the war. Fr Campling went on to become a Parish Priest at Berkhamstead, and Eileen kept in touch with him until his death in December 1996. We are very grateful to Eileen for her wonderful memories, and for the service she and her family gave to the school over many decades. Any contemporaries who wish to get in touch with Eileen can do so via this email link.
* Other Old Boys who have got in touch and would like to hear from any contemporaries include the following (click on their names for their email links):
ANDY WEEKS (who attended FCGS from 1957-64, and subsequently played for Albanian FC) now living in Derbyshire.
PAUL O'DEA (who left FCHS in 1979) who and now lives in Norfolk.
GRAHAM HUGHES (who left FCGS in 1955), now lives in East Sussex, and would particularly like to hear news of his old friend KEVIN KILKELLY.
ROBERT HOGAN, great friend of this website and the school, who lives in Earl's Court, and would like to hear from any contemporaries from St Alban's Prep in the 1950s.
MARCO LOMBARDELLI (who left FCHS in 1982) and now lives in St Alban's;
RICHARD FERRARI (1981) would also like to hear from students of that era; and
FRANK TINGAY, who lives in Totteridge, and would like to hear from any contemporaries from St Alban's Prep (1961), Challoner (1966) or FCGS (1968-69)
* Greetings to PETE POHL (1947), one of our older Old Boys, but far from the oldest! Pete remembers life at FCGS during the 1940s, but does not have great memories of the cold and basic 'utility classrooms' (long since gone) which were built during the war to accommodate rising pupil numbers. Pete boasts the proud record of never having played football while at the school, managing to evade the attentions of the sports masters on Wednesday afternoons for several years hiding out on the over-bridge at Oakleigh Park Station. After leaving FCGS, he worked as an instrument maker and then spent 30 years in Sweden working for SECO Tools AB, returning to the UK with his wife in 1995 to spend his retirement here. He does not remember many of his teachers' names, but has fond memories of Mr FG WILLIAMS, a Form 1 tutor who Pete recalls making up his own ghost stories. He is in touch with one former pupil, BRIAN HAMER (1949), but would like to hear from any other contemporaries. You can email him here.
* Greetings also to one of our far-flung friends - SEAN MAGEE (1978) - who lives in Australia around 80km north of Sydney, and works in fund management. He has fond memories of the school, particularly of CHRIS PARKER ("I'll never forget the time he was game enough to allow the class to give him the bumps on his birthday!" he recalls). Sean will be pleased to know that Chris is still a fixture at all school and Old Boys' events, and - despite his retirement - still occasionally gives the benefit of his wit and tutoring to some of the younger FCHS boys struggling with their reading. Sean will be back in the UK some time this year, and would like to hear from any contemporaries who fancy a beer on his return. You can email him here.
* We have added Sean to our world map below (courtesy of Google Maps) of Old Boys living overseas. Get in touch if you want to be added to the map, or know of anyone else who should be, especially if you know of anyone who can beat New Zealand's JOHN O'SULLIVAN (see above) as the farthest flung Old Boy!
View FCHS Old Boys in a larger map
* We were very sad to hear of the sudden loss of TONY DELANEY (1984), who died while undertaking a charity walk for Multiple Sclerosis on Ben Nevis on Saturday 26th June last year. His funeral took place on Tuesday 6th July at St Alban and St Stephen Catholic Church in St Alban's. Our thoughts are with Tony's brothers - and fellow Old Boys - Pat and Mick, as well as his wife Dee, his sons Nicky and Fionn, and his stepdaughter Millie.
* Obituaries can be seen here for four other Friends of FCHS who died in 2010: MATTHEW BURROWS (1993); JOHN HERRON (1980); PAUL WALSH (1979); and HUBERT RICHARDS (1939).
* We were delighted recently to hear from a contemporary of Hubert's: PETER PLUNKETT (1942), once Captain of Feckenham House, Victor Ludorum at the sportsday of 1941, and stalwart of the school football and cricket teams. Peter features in the latest chapter of our series on the Finchley War Years. He now lives in Tonbridge in Kent.
* We owe a great debt of thanks to three individuals who have helped with our record of the War Years. Former pupil JOHN GOBLE (1941) kindly provided his memories and photographs of the 1938 school trip to the Rhineland, while our counterparts at the Alumni Association of the Aloisius Kolleg in Godesborg got in touch to pass on their own school records about the visit by John and his classmates. And finally, Mr Raimondo Bogaars from Aalst-Waalre in the Netherlands got in touch to pass on invaluable information concerning one of the Old Boys killed in the war, KENNETH WINTER (1936)
* Greetings to YINKA BADMUS (1981), another of our far flung Old Boys. Yinka is now working in Hong Kong but keeps in touch with many old friends from the school.
* Talking of Old Boys out East, former Head Boy BRIAN DOYLE (1992), who has been living and working in Japan for the last decade, was back in London in January for a week of work and a chance to see his beloved Arsenal in the flesh.
* We were very sad to hear of the passing last year of PETER HUGHES (1931) at the age of 95. Peter was believed to be our oldest Old Boy, and surely the only one who remembered life at the school's original location in the presbytery of St Alban's church in Dale Grove. Peter's son PAUL HUGHES also attended the school in the 1950s. Thanks to BILL CULLEN (1959) for letting us know. We were also sad to receive news of the passing of DAVID SILVA (1981), who lived in Gerrards Cross with his wife Samantha and three sons Remo, Matteo and Luca. He died on 21st April last year.
* We have been honoured to receive visits and correspondence from Mrs Clare Richards, the wife of late Old Boy HUBERT RICHARDS (1938) - see above. Clare - a renowned RE teacher and author of textbooks on Catholicism - lived locally when she was growing up and used to attend the old school chapel located in what is now the front office of the White House.
* Greetings to BERNARD McDONOUGH (1950), who enjoyed our account of Football at FCGS from 1926-59. Bernard was good friends with TERRY MACKERNESS (1950), whose exploits over a four year career in the First XI we celebrated in that account. Terry died of cancer a short time ago, but he would surely be pleased to see the current school and Old Boys teams doing so well.
* Greetings to PETER KILKENNY (1955), who got in touch to pass on fond memories of Canon Parsons, Doc Ward, Fr. Dent and other stalwarts on the teaching staff. He was pleased to hear of our recent research into the demise of corporal punishment at the school, having himself once suffered an encounter with The Tolley after pinching an apple on the Orchard Field. Peter wonders what became of a contemporary of his named PADDY JOYCE, who he remembers particularly for marching around the playground wearing an old SS helmet. If anyone can shed any light, please get in touch. Peter is now retired and lives in New Barnet.
* Greetings to PROFESSOR JERZY BEHNKE (1967), Head of Zoology at Nottingham University, who will be spending 4 weeks leading an expedition in Poland this summer, showing students how to trap wild animals! His younger brothers MATTHEW (1969) and MICHAEL (1974) also attended the school. Jerzy teaches alongside SIMON AVERY, another Old Boy who is now Head of the Biology Degree at Nottingham.
* Commiserations to ROGER TICHBORNE (1979), who was narrowly defeated when standing for the Lib Dems in the Mill Hill ward in last year's Local Elections. Roger was kind enough to give a plug to this website in his excellent blog.
* Congratulations to STEPHEN SZEMERENYI, who was awarded the OBE for Services to Education in the New Year's Honours List. As the second longest-serving Head in FCHS history, it is a fitting reward for Mr Szemerenyi's years of dedication, and we are sure many other deserving colleagues of similar vintage and service will be eagerly awaiting their own summons from the Palace!
* Thanks to the kindness of Archbishop Vincent Nichols, we were delighted to receive a letter from FR. GEOFFREY RIDDLE (1942), still serving in Tanzania after more than 60 years as a White Father since he came under the wing of Canon Parsons. His letter can be seen here.
* Greetings to a pair of ex-FCGS boys now living in Ontario, Canada: Professor JOHN O'NEILL (1951) from York University, Toronto; and MICHAEL WILSON (1958), who obtained his MBA from York in 1981 and now lives in Kitchener. On the other side of the Great Lakes, greetings to HENRY COYLE (1954), living in Cleveland, Ohio.
* Greetings also to ANDREW CHARLES (1962), one of our furthest-flung Old Boys, who is enjoying life in Bali, Indonesia, and helping to run the Rotary Club out there. He would like to hear from any Old Boys who are Rotarians in their local area.