Commemoration Day 2014


Attached is the schedule for the day

11.00 am Commemoration Service in the Cathedral. Preacher – The Revd Canon Nick Papadopoulos OR

12.15 pm Refreshments &Welcome by the Principal in Oriel House Gardens

12.30 pm Cricket Match on The Paddock – School against the Old Roffensians

1.00 pm Lunch for ORS in St Margaret’s House.

2.00 pm Netball Match on the Prep School Court – School against the Old Roffensians

2.00 pm. Swimming Match in the School Pool – School against the Old Roffensians

4.00 pm Tea on the Paddock

OR Memoirs – Rev Ambrose Weekes

The memoirs of the Rt Revd Ambrose W.M. Weekes CB, QHC, FKC, AKC, RN.
This book, published by Sampson Low Ltd contains Ambrose’s own account of his ‘Most interesting life’. Written largely during his retirement he was never able to produce a document complete and ready for publication but his niece, Mary Snape (daughter of Isabel, Ambrose’s sister) has transcribed and edited Ambrose’s handwritten account and discovered a fascinating insight into a distinguished and fulfilling career both in the Navy, first as a Naval Chaplain rising to be Chaplain of the Fleet and subsequently in the Anglican Diocese of Europe, becoming in due course Dean of Gibraltar and Suffragan Bishop of Europe.

Ambrose, born and brought up on the Island of Sheppey, Kent, went on to be educated at Rochester Choir School and the Joseph Williamson Mathematical School before Theological Training at Kings College London and Lincoln Theological College, Ordination at Rochester Cathedral and a Curacy at St Luke’s Gillingham.

He then joined the Navy as Chaplain in 1944 and there followed a long and remarkable career in the Navy. He served all over the world including time in the Far East, two spells with the Royal Marine Commandos (having earned his ‘green beret’ at Bickleigh) , in Egypt during the Suez crisis and later in Indonesia. However, perhaps his enduring interest was with the training of young entrants to the Service and he had three spells at HMS Ganges which he described as both fulfilling and enjoyable.

Becoming Chaplain of the Fleet he described as an honour and he took on this challenge with enthusiasm and humour. In fact humour comes through in every aspect of his career, that and the enjoyment of living and entertaining. He was able to make contact with all from Rating to Senior Officers, a rare talent.

In Europe he served in Tangier, Gibraltar (as Dean) was consecrated Bishop at Greenwich, and spent the following years visiting countries in the Diocese from France, through Italy and as far away as Russia. He didn’t even stay still in retirement because he went from Rochester to Territet, Switzerland before finally hanging up his Bishop’s Crook.

Ambrose writes with a refreshing and humorous outlook, not afraid to laugh at himself and always giving a sharp and telling description of his experiences whether as a Junior Chaplain or as a respected and Senior Churchman.
The Rt Revd Dr Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe has kindly written a Foreword to this book, which is now available. It should be of interest to those who have known Ambrose in whatever context, to those interested in an insider’s view of the Navy and its workings and to anyone wishing to learn about the Diocese in Europe from one who has worked there.

Good quality A4 Paperback. B&W and colour photographs. 150 pages. Price £24.00 +P&P. Order forms available from Mary Snape (Editor) 3 Greenfoot, Mealsgate, Wigton, Cumbria CA7 1DF Tel: 01697371437
Email: February 2013

ORS – Do you have spare time in 2013

Dear Old Roffensian – Do you have some spare time in 2013?

The Old Roffensian Society is looking to get some “new blood” into its operation, as we look to provide our members with greater benefits from their membership, and continue to support the School. We currently have a couple of opportunities for any Roffensians who would like to help.

Communications Officer – We are looking for someone to spend 3 to 5 hours a month keeping our current Website, Blog and Facebook site updated with details of OR events and news. Anyone undertaking the role is envisaged as being a member of the Societies committee, and therefore a trustee of the Society. The role will require a status report to be provided to each of the 5 Executive Committee meetings held during the year, and this can be provided before the meeting, or in person. This is a role which can be done remotely and any expenses relating to this role will be covered.

Members of the Societies Committee – We are always keen to have support from ORs to ensure we continue to offer Events and Mailings that appeal to all, and if anyone feels they are able to get involved in attending 5 meetings a year and undertaking a couple of hours work a month (mainly through email and telephone contact), I would be keen to talk to them. I apologise for sounding “age-ist” but I am very keen to be in contact with any younger ORs (i.e. who left the School any time after 1997) who feel they could represent their contemporaries and join the Committee. We are not looking for volunteers who can do masses of work for us; what we are looking for are Roffensians who are able to help us in our work for Members of the Society and the School, giving us ideas of what their contemporaries would like to see the Society doing for them.

If anyone feels they could help the Society to continue to develop please feel free to contact me. May I take this opportunity to wish you a very Happy and Healthy New Year. Kindest regards Mark Snoswell

OR News – Our Charitable Support

Night life on two wheels, or, Have you ever wondered what happens to your donated blood?

When I was at School, the thought of riding a motorbike was never close at hand. Something to do with mother’s (matron) concern having seen the result of too many accidents when she worked as Senior Sister at A&E. However, time and circumstances (left school, work etc) mellowed the issue and it came to pass that I passed my test and bought a bike. Not happy with a ‘250cc’ I upgraded to a ‘750cc’ machine within a couple of years.

As well as being an easy way of getting into during a rail strike (my reasoning for taking my test) it is also fun as other OR’s who are bikers will attest too.

A few months further on and I was wondering around a bike show and passed a stand for ‘Blood Runners’. A few questions answered, I became aware that they are a voluntary organisation who take a duty rota from 7pm to 7am every day of the year (all day on Bank Holidays) and their task is to relieve the NHS of the cost and burden of using taxis or otherwise busy ambulances, to transfer blood, platelets or samples either from the national blood bank (the nearest in Kent is Tooting in London) to any of the Kent hospitals – or vice versa.

Some training (how to look after the blood/samples etc) and some route awareness (planned routes must be followed in case of breakdown while on a call) and duty nights arrived. Calls can come in at any time of the night sending a rider off to a hospital or a rendezvous. Some calls are simple collection and pass to another rider at a pre-ordained mid-point or deliver to the hospital concerned. Others are slightly more ‘urgent’. Of the sixty plus calls I have been on since I started only one has been a ‘red run’. Normal calls are such that there is enough time to get from A to B within the ‘rules’ (although the Police are aware of the service and tend to look favourably on riders as long as the conditions are good and they are not being too excessive – we don’t have flashing blue lights on our cars/bikes). Red runs are typically a little more urgent – ‘as quickly as you can please’ but still within the rules of the road. Blood Runners are not permitted to break the speed limits or cross red lights – but at 3am there is far less traffic on the road so journey times are eased. All runs have time limits within which the delivery must be made. Longer runs for example Tooting to QEQM are split over the distance (North Kent and East Kent with a changeover at Medway Services).

So, back to the question – donated blood will be taken to the regional blood bank where it will be held until dispatch to the required hospital (which will always maintain its own supplies stock). During the day the NHS will deliver the supplied as part of the standard service. At night, SERV (Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers) kicks in up and down the country. All organisations fall under the umbrella of NABB (National Association of Blood Bikes) although the group in Kent is SERV-Kent ( Others include around the country go under the heading of Freewheelers or Whiteknights. Essentially all do it ‘for fun’ – riding on a moonlight night or just a warm summer evening is some of the best riding there is.

An example of the Tooting to QEQM would be a call received by SERV control at (say) 19.40hrs. Within five or six minutes the Surrey section has initiated the journey and identified the first rider – also advising the Kent section of the first change at Kings (a garage near Brands Hatch). Within twenty minutes of the first call – the two Kent riders are allocated – from Kings to Medway Services and the last leg – Medway Services to QEQM. The first change over is set at 21.00 (allowing Tooting time to prepare the blood and Surrey to get it to Kings) with the next being 21.30 at Medway Services. Then on for delivery to QEQM at around 22.15. Including the ‘odd’ mileage legs (for riders to get home) this equates to over 200miles – all of which is free. This would be a cab fare well in excess of £200 at night! There are five riders on each night and most nights – everyone gets a call, so that is quite a lot of NHS funds saved.

It is worth remembering that everyone gives of their time (and money) to be part of this. Most use their own bikes (or cars – if there are too many boxes to carry) and supply all their own kit (reflective jackets, magnets for cars and so on. There are no claiming back expenses. No petrol refunds. One or two groups have one or two branded bikes (it helps with advertising and raising awareness) but these are also a drain on the charity (SERV Kent charity number #284455) keeping them on the road. It is also worth noting that this is a 365-day a year operation on a voluntary basis – even bad weather will not stop it. When the last bout of snow hit, SERV mounted ‘white-cover’ where all duties were covered by regular ‘riders’ who also have access to 4×4’s. We then assisted in moving not only blood, platelets and samples but medical staff when needed.

The Old Roffensian Society has already kindly sponsored SERV for £1000 this year, for which SERV are immensely grateful. Hopefully you will never need the benefits of a Blood Runner. When my brother Michael Ratcliffe (OR) was severely ill in Hammersmith Hospital – runners were completing regular trips. I was not aware of this until many years later when I mentioned to mother (now ex-Matron) that I was taking it up as ‘hobby’. Only then did I find out about the hidden impact of what being a Blood Runner really is.

If anyone wants to volunteer to become a blood runner – will direct you to your nearest organisation and they are always looking for more riders or controllers. Anyone wishing to donate (always gratefully received) can identify their nearest group on the same web site. For a company wishing to donate £1000 or more there is now the opportunity of having one of the brnaded bikes bearing your company details as the sponsor for the following year – together with further promotional opportunities.

And if you happen to be plying the motorways late in the evening and a bike comes by in a yellow & red fluorescent jacket (with a box or two on the back) – give a thought to the volunteer Blood Runners – wind, rain, snow or sun – they are there 365.

There is no way of knowing for certain when delivering a box of blood, just how much of a life saving situation you will have assisted in.

Every run is potentially life saving and there is nothing better than riding with a grin on your face and a purpose in your ride!

Andy Ratcliffe OR ‘77-‘87

Current bike: Triumph America shown in photos.