The Old Collyerian's Association is an alumni organisation for former pupils and staff of Collyer's School, Horsham and ex-students and staff of its successor - the College of Richard Collyer.
Annual Dinner 2016

The date for the 2016 Annual Dinner is now confirmed as Saturday 26th November - click here for more details.

Summer Reunion 2016
The Summer Reunion will be held on 21st August at Brooklands Museum - click here for more details.

A Message from our President

Sitting in the waiting room, on my bi-annual visit to the dentist, I usually like to browse through the magazines, which are usually the up market variety, e.g. Tatler, Country Life, The Lady etc. But on my most recent visit, these were no longer available, so I was left with outdated copies of Hello and OK magazines, purported to represent the trials and tribulations of what is euphemistically known as the "A list".

However, after a short while I quickly came to the conclusion that most photographs and articles covered birds, brides, babies and BAFTAs, not to mention the Beckhams, so the term ‘B list’ would seem far more appropriate.

Alongside I saw a new addition to the literature: a shelf full books which had been left by fellow patients, and which could be purchased by giving a voluntary donation to the local hospice. Naturally there was quite an assortment of reading material but I selected on a book written by a 91-year-old in 2013 on the many social and economic changes throughout his lifetime.

The book, with the fascinating title of ‘Harry’s Last Stand’, was described by the publisher as "a lyrical, searing modern invective that shows what the past can teach us, how the future is ours for the taking". Harry, or to give him his full name Harry Leslie Smith, was born into poverty in Barnsley, Yorkshire, his early years being spent through the Great Depression followed by the Second World War.

My initial reaction was “not another grumpy old man bemoaning his fate”, but realising that much of this era was during my own lifetime, I decided to make a donation, had the drilling and the filling, then left clutching my new purchase.

The book? Well, I was not disappointed. Albeit at times political, it provided an interesting read covering many of the years through which I had lived, brought back many memories and was at times very thought provoking.

The section on education, or the lack of it available prior to WW2, covered how Harry educated himself without any formal training, and without the advantage of the successive Governments in the 1950s who introduced evening classes and adult education, along with the correspondence courses which were then becoming available in the private sector.

This proved not only thought provoking, but brought back memories and made me question my own schooling; who actually taught me the "Three Rs", the basis of all learning. Undoubtedly this came from my formative years at Sarah Robinson Infant and Junior school in Crawley. It was during those war years, when teachers, all female, coped with the constant threat of the Air Raid Warning Siren, when lessons were interrupted but continued with classes crouched under desks until the ‘All Clear’ Siren sounded, whilst preparing us for the notorious, long gone, 11-plus exam. Then future education and employment rested entirely on how you performed on the day: not a very satisfactory way to decide one’s future.

Having passed, the natural step forward was Collyer’s Grammar School in Horsham, which was regarded as one of high standing in terms of achievements.

We all have our own memories of our time at Collyer’s, whether a high- or under-achiever, lessons and values learned there remain with us forever.

Perhaps my generation were fortunate: jobs were aplenty, CVs had not been required, the mere fact that you could mention Collyer’s Grammar School in your application letter was enough to ensure that you were at least were called for an interview, even if not given the position. Such was the esteem in which the School was held; not only by local employers but by the community at large. I am pleased that this reputation has been carried forward over successive generations, and continues to this day.

Now, I find myself being proud and honoured to be appointed as President of the OCA for the current year. So far, I have been fortunate to represent the Association on two occasions: at the Carol Service and Prizegiving functions. I can only admire the exceptionally talented students who are carrying on the tradition of Collyer’s education at the present College.

Finally, it would be remiss of me if I failed to mention my predecessor Stewart Mackman for his Presidential year, and all who have gone before him, together with all the members of the Committee, who ensure that the OCA continues to flourish.


Eric Austin

Eric Austin OCA President 2015-16