No Man is an Island

6 May 2010: 3 years 8 months on . . .

“In the end, it’s all about your Creator, your contribution, your family and the friends you made along the way.”

That’s the last paragraph of my previous blog note.

At the time of writing this note, Old Greys have returned to Port Elizabeth from around the globe. Last night the 25th Selley Music Concert in a jam-packed Feathermarket Hall ended to a standing ovation. Tonight, it’s the 500 Old Greys who will be having dinner in that same hall. Robin Jackman will speak. Between Wednesday and Saturday, hundreds of Old Greys will attend many functions and sporting events. There will be a great deal of conversation, laughter and tears, reminiscing and reminding, stories and anecdotes, beers and beers!      

The school’s motto is Tria Juncto in Uno: this time being the past, the present and the future – the three joined in this one week of reunion. And reunions are all about the friends we made along the way.

Last year, in my closing address to the class of 1984 who were celebrating their 25th reunion in 2009, I wrote the following:

Dear Gentlemen of the Grey: Class of 1984


Reunion ’09 has come and gone, and, quoting your 1984 Matric Dance invitation, time has parted us once again!


If we had thought those previous 25 years had passed by quickly, then the four months of preparation and the four days of the reunion week were but just a blink.


But, oh, what a blink! I can’t remember when last I have laughed so much, when last I have seen people enjoy themselves so immensely, listened to so many stories being told, memories being relived and friendships being rekindled. For a while there, it was like being transported into another world – the usual negativity and stress of everyday life put aside to make way for an experience that has certainly recharged my batteries and I certainly hope yours, too. I cannot think of any other experience where four days passed in such a positive way.


The photographs published on the internet and the comments being passed around the world certainly tell a story of camaraderie and friendship for which you can be very grateful and of which you can be extremely proud. If anything, The Grey can certainly be proud of its crop of 1984 and you, in turn, can be thankful for the Institution that has helped mould you into the citizens of the world that you are today.


Shortly after the Institute opened, when Sir George Grey was recalled from the Cape Colony to Britain in 1859, he wrote to the teachers and students of the Grey Institute on 20 August 1859 – now 150 years ago – and said,


“Every man desires to aid in blessing others, and in doing good; but it is not given to many men to see such early fruits springing from those labours in which they themselves and others have engaged. God has, in the case of the Institution from which you [have come], given me this pleasure, and has allowed me to hear the affectionate outpourings of thankful hearts. You may yet do me another kindness, and that is, to let me hear that, from The Grey Institute, and from amongst yourselves, good and able men have come forth. “


Gentlemen, ex-pupils, Friends – I can say it no better! A teacher’s remuneration does not make him rich, but his wealth lies in the fact that he can lay claim to having had some small influence in the lives of the pupils which are entrusted to him. I certainly have had the privilege and honour this past week of witnessing, at first hand, such “good and able men”! It has made me very proud.


I wish to thank you all most sincerely for the opportunity that you afforded me to assist in organizing your reunion, together with Luke, Craig, Andrew and Mike. Thanks, too, for the very munificent gift that was presented to me at the Yacht Club – I am most grateful and extremely humbled by your generosity and the very kind expressions articulated there in word and in song.


As we take leave of each other again, to follow the paths set before us, I wish you all the best in your endeavours across the world. May you and your families and friends continue to experience the happiness, the fun, the laughter and the companionship that was so evident in your Reunion Week in May 2009. May God truly bless you in all your activities.


When I became ill almost three years ago now, one of the goals I set for myself was to celebrate your 25th reunion with you. I am only too thankful that I was able to be a part of it. Please remember my family and me in your thoughts and prayers as we face a very unknown and daunting future. We draw our strength from God and from your support and friendship.


And, if I may be so bold as to paraphrase Sir George Grey, You may yet do me another kindness, and that is, to let me hear that, from amongst yourselves, you will continue, as good and able men from The Grey Institute, to support each other and your school and to reunite whenever the opportunity arises – always mindful of those who will no longer be with you.


Please stay in touch, and feel free to visit whenever the opportunity arises.


Be an ACE …


Live     A bundantly

Laugh  C ontinuosly

Love    E ndlessly


Your ex-teacher and friend


These sentiments are still true today for all of you who are attending the 154th Reunion of The Grey. Enjoy this weekend at your Alma Mater. We are all truly blessed to be Thousands joined in One by this unique Institution.

Henry Adams wrote: “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”


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