On Saturday (8 June 2019) , Harrogate Grammar School welcomed back rafts of ex-students as they held a special Open Alumni Reunion. The Main Hall buzzed with excited voices browsing photographs of times gone by, and the occasional cry of delight as past students and staff recognised each other after years apart.
Out on the rugby pitch, over 50 ‘Old Boys’ spanning three decades of players congregated and limbered up to play against current HGS students. Over 100 spectators lined the pitch despite the rain, listening to Mr Roy Mackay, who has been teaching at the school for nearly 30 years, giving a heartfelt speech thanking all the ex-students for coming back.
Mr Mackay said:
It’s so glorious to see the overwhelming support the ‘Old Boys’ have for their old school. We’re definitely looking at an annual ‘Old Boys’ rugby match from now on – we’re already planning the next one! The team spirit shown today is testament to the strong community created by our school over the years; something that continues to grow and develop each year. It’s something we can all be very proud of.
After the matches, both players and spectators gathered indoors for refreshments, chatting animatedly about their time at HGS. Back in the Main Hall, tours of the school were led by members of long-standing staff and current sixth formers, taking the students on a trip down memory lane as well as showing them how much the school has developed and evolved over the years.
Matt Windsor, said:
I really enjoyed it, especially the tour by Mrs Weston – I was amazed by how much has changed in 8 and a half years, I can’t begin to imagine how the older alumni felt!! It was nice to catch up with some of my old teachers too, none of whom have changed. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take any photos … but I wish I had!
Joseph Fitzsimmons said:
I was at the school from 1993 to 2000 and have some fantastic memories – the teachers were incredible.
From here I went on to do a degree at Hallam University and am now assoicate director at Eddisons in Leeds.
To play in the old boys rugby match is a dream come true, with Roy Mackay and some of my old pals.
Fiona Gilbert said:
I left in 1979 and have been to couple of reunions over the years. The school has changed greatly since my time here.
When I left, I decided to not go to university and because of that the headmaster refused to shake my hand. I think that made me more determined and have gone on to have a number of businesses.
It was around the time the school became a comprehensive and the headteacher left shortly after, but it was a little controversial at the time!
Harrogate Grammar School are this month launching a new alumni platform, ‘Harrogate Grammar Connect’ where further photographs of the reunion event will be shared. The platform was created to provide an interactive and user-friendly network for former Harrogate Grammar School students and staff to communicate with each other, share news and career opportunities.
Mr Neil Renton, Associate Headteacher of Harrogate Grammar School said:
We have been developing connections with our alumni community over the last few years and this event coincides with a new alumni platform on our school website. It was a real pleasure to see our alumni, across many generations, come together and share their memories of HGS as we toured our school.
There is something quite special about how a school bears witness to so many interactions and stories that become part of the folklore for each year group of students.
The event also hosted sixty ‘old boys’ who returned to the school to play rugby against some of our current students.
Under the direction of Mr Mackay, who has served our school for 30 years, the matches were played out with commitment and respect for the traditions and standards that he has fostered. We would like to thank all the alumni and staff who attended, and we look forward to building our alumni network further for the benefit of our community at
HGS. We encourage our alumni to join our platform at http://www.harrogategrammar.co.uk/school/alumni/
Past students can join the network at www.harrogategrammar.co.uk/school/alumni