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14 December

Festive OV news!

A bbc special feature for OV Stephen Cleobury 

Please do look out for the Christmas edition of BBC Music magazine and you can read a wonderful article written about Stephen Cleobury (Ch 58-67), who is Music Director at King’s College, Cambridge.  Stephen has held this prestigious position for the past 37 years, from which he will retire in July next year. This Christmas Eve Stephen will conduct his last Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, which will be broadcast live to millions from King’s College Chapel.  This year represents the 100th anniversary of this very special service, with the first service being held in 1918 when, as the article reminds us, “Cambridge must have been a desolate place 100 years ago, haunted by the ghosts of students who never returned from Flanders and were indeed ‘on another shore and in a greater light.’”

The article also includes some wonderful and amusing quotes by some of King’s choristers, who obviously appreciate the significance of singing in this renowned choir. At this year’s Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, Stephen is including a carol written by each of the people who directed the choir at King’s during the past 100 years: Arthur Mann was the first, with his harmonisation of Once in Royal David’s City, Boris Ord’s setting of Adam Lay Ybounden and Harold Duke’s In the Bleak Midwinter will be sung, as well as carols from David Willcocks, Philip Ledger and Stephen himself.

After his final evensong in early July Stephen will head off on his last tour with the choir, to Australia.  We look forward to hearing more about Stephen’s last few months at King’s, which we are sure will be full of special moments to remember.

University Challenge Success for Lizzie

Having successfully made it through the first round of University Challenge, we were very excited to see OV Lizzie Fry (Cr 07-14) compete alongside her fellow students from St Edmund Hall, Oxford, in the second round of the competition on BBC2 on Monday 10th December. As the youngest team in the competition, St Edmund’s has also garnered attention for the equal gender balance within their team. We were keeping our fingers crossed for a positive outcome as Lizzie’s team battled it out against Clare College, Cambridge on Monday, but we needn’t have worried as St Edmund Hall stormed to an impressive 245-105 win.

As always, Jeremy Paxman bombarded the teams with a plethora of tricky and diverse questions ranging from classical musical all the way through to introduced species of birds and even Jane Fonda. Lizzie and her team all kept a cool head, and they seemed to be enjoying the competition. We are thoroughly looking forward to watching them compete against the other teams when round three is aired. Whatever the outcome, we are very proud of Lizzie, and wish her, and St Edmund Hall, the best of luck as the competition progresses.

Ov proud ambassador in the guardian this week

If you receive The Guardian newspaper, you may have noticed an article on Monday 10th December in the supplement about OV, Luissa Burton (Cl 06-08). As we have previously reported, this year Luissa became the first UK winner of the Miss Europe World title and she is also the ambassador for the British Skin Foundation. 

Throughout her ten year long modelling career, Luissa has struggled with the skin condition, psoriasis and she talks quite openly in the article about living with psoriasis.  On winning the title, Luissa pledged to take her Miss Europe World sash to the summit of Europe’s highest peak (Mount Elbus in Russia), which she achieved in October.  Her ascent of Mount Elbus, which stands at over 5,000 metres and claims an average of 26 lives each year, has raised more than £10,000 for the British Skin Foundation so far. Luissa is now focusing on improving understanding about psoriasis and eczema and says, “What people don’t understand is that psoriasis is not contagious. Having a skin condition like psoriasis or eczema shouldn’t stop you from living your life and taking part in normal things.”

Having been an ambassador for the British Skin Foundation for five years, Luissa feels her ability to positively influence others in her position is a big responsibility. We wish Luissa all the best in the remainder of her Miss Europe World year and know that she will have a huge influence whatever she goes on to do next.


Oh yes he is! OV Tom Riddell (Cr 02-09) is featuring as Robin Hood in this year's Swan Theatre Pantomime 'Maid Marian and the Merry Men'. Tom says,

"We're coming to the end of our second week of shows and it's been really well received by the (predominantly) school audiences so far. It's great fun to be part of and it's lovely to be working with Worcester Rep again, having worked with them for the first time last year in Sleeping Beauty, and to have been directed again by OV Ben Humphrey (Cr 93-04), who also taught me briefly during my time at King's. Robin, in this interpretation, isn't quite the hero he is traditionally, but I get to sing a silly song, get chased around the auditorium, and generally lark around on stage while Maid Marian does all the work. It's great!"

A Characterful Christmas

We are delighted to feature this great update from OV and graphic designer, Lizzie Unwin (S 97-08) about her very festive work with Christmas trees:

"For me, Christmas doesn’t just start in December. Over the past 6 years I have been helping Character Christmas Trees both on the field and off it. To get a tree ‘Christmas ready’, it can take up to 7 years to grow and each year, every single tree requires pruning. With some 35,000 trees it can take quite a while! Each year, come rain or shine (mostly rain as the farm is based on the West coast of Scotland) I would be out with my ruler and secateurs, ensuring the trees grow to the perfect shape. Not all trees, however, are made to be perfect. We also grow ‘Character’ Trees. These are the trees that other Christmas tree growers would get rid of as they don’t conform to normal standards. We think that these trees deserve a Christmas as well and, in fact are often a lot more interesting. Who wouldn't want a tree where you can have 5 stars, or one where you can place presents inside the tree?

As a graphic designer I am used to sitting in front of a computer screen all day and so, by helping with the trees, it was a nice break! I did, however get to put my design skills to good use, creating the brand and website for Character Christmas Trees. We opened up an online shop and can now send out Christmas Trees in the post. In the picture you can see us netting one of the trees ready for delivery.

At Character Christmas Trees we believe that every tree deserves a Christmas!"

OV Chris Tarrant on TV

It’s always tricky deciding which TV treats to tune into on Christmas day, but whatever happens don’t miss OV Chris Tarrant (Ch 60-64) at 9.15pm on Christmas Day, Channel 5. Chris will join Sir Michael Parkinson, Jimmy Tarbuck, Debbie McGee and Lionel Blair as they pay tribute to comedy genius Tommy Cooper. Tommy Cooper In His Own Words looks at how the fez-wearing wonder managed to marry slapstick, comedy and seemingly incompetent stage magic to such brilliant effect. Watch out especially for an interview with Cooper’s daughter Vicky who gives her first-ever TV interview about her famous dad.

A Donation to St Richards Hospice

Head of Alumni Relations, Sophie and Development Assistant, Alice were delighted to hand over a donation to St Richard’s Hospice this week. As part of an exercise looking at how the Development & Alumni Relations Office is viewed by OVs we asked a small and random selection of OVs to answer questions about what they believe the purpose of our office is, and ways in which we can further help engage and support OVs. For each response to the survey, we donated £1 to St Richard’s Hospice.

Hospice Chairman John Bawden is a former King’s parent and he remains very much a valued member and contributor of the King’s family today. Sophie was therefore very honoured that John accompanied her in handing over the cheque at the Hospice. John also very kindly took time to show Sophie and Alice around St Richard’s where they were thoroughly inspired by the wonderful facilities and dedicated staff. 

King’s Carols

Every December Worcester Cathedral fills to the brim to join in the King’s School Carol Service. Thursday night was no exception as King’s put on a resounding repertoire of music and wonderful readings. It was such a pleasure on the evening to be joined by so many OVs and members of the King’s family who still count the King’s Carol Service as a regular in their Christmas calendars. Governors, Trustees , OV Club Committee members and members of the 1541 Society were amongst our guests who enjoyed singing Oh Little Town of Bethlehem and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Readings included John 1:1-14 by the Headmaster and Luke 2:1-7 by Head of School, Sam Martyn-Smith. The School Choir delighted with Carol of the Bells and the Choristers sang the Cradle Song. The festive feelings continued as we enjoyed mulled wine and mince pies in College Hall afterwards.