The Future of Communications with Old Stopfordians

At the AGM on Thursday 10 May 2018, the committee of the Old Stopfordians Association voted to dissolve the Association and to combine its activities with the External Relations Department of the School.

This decision marked the end of several years of discussion and deliberation in which various options were explored and considered both in Committee and in conjunction with the school. Needless to say the final decision was taken with heavy hearts but with the knowledge that in its new form the committee could extend the opportunities for Stopfordians to maintain the friendships and contacts made during their time at SGS. It would also continue to encourage former pupils to support the activities of the School in the way it had always done.

In influencing the decision a number of factors were taken into account.

One very significant factor has been demographic. For many years, the number of Stopfordians remaining in, or returning to, the Stockport area has dwindled as career opportunities, increased mobility and professional working practices have seen alumni scattered across the United Kingdom and beyond. The numbers of former pupils residing in the greater Stockport area in the 1950’s could be measured by the large attendances at the Annual Ball at the Town Hall, where in its heyday, numbers of 725 Old Stopfordians and their partners were not uncommon.

The effect of this has been two fold.

For a long time the Football and Lacrosse clubs, life blood of the Association, able to recruit new members to the committee and provide a ready source of officers, no longer exist and while the Golf Society still manages to field teams for competitions, its numbers too are falling. The London Branch of the OSA regretfully called time on its Annual Dinner due to low numbers.

For several years the Committee has found it increasingly difficult to recruit new members locally who have been able to commit to meetings and the organisation of events and activities. This is not for lack of enthusiasm or will, but frequently working practices and other commitments which prohibit regular attendance. This is not a situation particular to the OSA and many Stopfordians will have experienced similar situations in organisations with which they are involved.

A second factor is the way in which communication methods have changed and the provision of time and resources needed to keep in regular touch with, currently, over 6200 former pupils. This has proved an increasingly difficult issue for the Association Committee to resolve. In 1992, when a simple computer data base of members was introduced, it was in effect just an electronic version of Richard Reeman’s card index. In those days, and until 1998, membership was voluntary and the numbers involved were substantially fewer.

A third factor is that, over recent years, the External Relations Department have been increasingly providing much of the administration for Stopfordian events, continually improving methods of communication in a very effective and professional way and organising increasingly popular Summer Reunions and London Events. The Department now has the staff and resources to deliver information to our former pupils in a way that the OS Committee could not begin to replicate and thus it makes sense to combine the ERD’s expertise with the knowledge and personal experience of former members of the Committee.

So we bring to a close an Association which has been very successful in its own right, as well as a substantial ally and supporter of the School, but introduce a new arrangement which will build on strong foundations and look to the future.

So how will this work?

There is to be a new Stopfordian Committee chaired by the External Relations Director. This will be an advisory committee and recommendations would be considered by the External Relations Committee of the School. Membership will not require election and attendance will be open to any alumni, former parents, staff, Governors and the Head Boy and Head Girl. There will not be a structure of Officers but members may take responsibility for specific areas such as finance, particular age groups or geographical areas. The flexible membership of this committee is designed to facilitate a range of views and ideas from all those who would wish to contribute.

Meetings will be held termly with one of these taking place on the day of the Retirements and Reunion Barbeque (or a similar event) so that former pupils can contribute their ideas in person.

There will continue to be a President of Old Stopfordians who will have a tenure of up to 2 years and the Committee will continue to organise the Annual Dinner.

The financial affairs of the old Association will be transferred to the School, but any money will be held in a separate account and allocated to specific projects determined by the Committee.

Please continue to send us your thoughts, ideas and general updates, we welcome them all.

Best wishes

Stuart Helm

Please contact External Relations for any further information.

The History of the Old Stopfordians’ Association will shortly be available on the Archive Website.