Old Mount Hermon Students’ Association (UK)
Newsletter - 2018
It has been a busy time for the Alumni in the past few months with another Reunion, hosted by the Nepal Hermonites in Kathmandu and Pokhara, in December 2017. This came after the Reunion hosted in December 2016 by the Thai Hermonites in Bangkok and Pattaya, Pradip and I were unable to attend the Thai Reunion as had already been to Bangkok in March 2016 with Margaret Mapley (which Margaret wrote about in 2016). However, we were determined to join in the fun in Nepal. Thanks to great organisation and generosity on behalf of the Nepal Hermonites it was an excellent occasion and went off very well. 337 people registered for this Reunion! People started arriving a few days ahead, to sightsee etc, but we all met up for the inaugural dinner at the Radisson Hotel in Kathmandu on December 14. A band, formed of Hermonites, were playing all evening, a wonderful spread was put on, and a disco had been set up for those staying up until the early hours. We had two teachers come to the Reunion, who had been with us at school in our times, Rev. Bill Moore and Mr. Blackmore, who also attended with his wife and family. Rev. Moore got on stage and entertained us with his amazing skills on the mouth organ. Sadly Mr.Barry Ison was due to be with us, but his mother died just as he had got to Nepal, so he had to return to Australia. He was greatly missed. Speeches were listened to, and there was great camaraderie amongst all the batches. The Nepal contingent had organised a side trip to Pokhara, the next day, for those who wanted to go. It was well subscribed. Some flew and some went up on the bus, which though a long journey was apparently great fun. (We had opted to fly). We had 3 nights in Pokhara, and the evening meals were kindly hosted by some of the Nepal Hermonites. There were options to do the Australian Camp trek, micro-light flights, bungee jumping, white water rafting etc etc. I can only comment on the Australian Camp trek, which was a wonderful experience but I wish I had been fitter. The views were amazing, as you can see. On the final evening, attired in our Mount Hermon T shirts and fleeces (kindly supplied by the Nepal Hermonites) we all gathered to sing: hymns and school songs, and we had a house competition on who could sing the best. Mr. Blackmore was the judge - and Dewey won!! Mrs. Murray would have been proud of us all. Post Pokhara there were other options of going to Jomsom and Chitwan, and some people did take up on these options too. We ourselves needed to get back to Ireland, and prepare for Christmas with my parents, so sadly missed out. All in all it was a wonderful reunion.
It was also discussed at the event that we probably would now look at the next Reunion in 2020 when Mount Hermon will be 125 years old. This is in discussion and if and when there is final news I shall inform you.
Nothing much was discussed about the situation at Mount Hermon at the Reunion, but Pradip and I decided to visit this April as we had been encouraged by our Bhutanese Hermonite friends to make a trip to Bhutan. We had a simply wonderful time in Bhutan, thanks to all our friends for organising everything so well. It is a must for anyone who loves unspoilt beauty and is interested in the Bhutanese culture and heritage.
So, we went on to Darjeeling, after a night in Siliguri spent with Shiv Saria, and Jigme Kazi who came down from Gangtok to meet us too. On April 4 Pradip and I drove down to the school, with Anup Chachan, a Hermonite who runs Apsara Hotel in Darjeeling. We met Mr. Partha Dey who continues to run the school, though is the Senior Master. We knew there was no Principal, but there is an Administrator, Rev. Sardar, who comes and goes from Calcutta, but spends around 20 days a month at school. In April there were 55 boarders, and 80 day scholars. (A long way from the 700 in 1990 that Hazel Innes wrote about in the History of the School on this site). We understand the school is currently being sustained by funds generated from other schools in Calcutta, belonging to the Church. We presume with so few students funds are compromised and this is maybe why there is currently no actual Principal. The school, I must say, was looking very clean and tidy, the dining room was spotless, the children looked happy, and the air was a positive one. However they are struggling with the lack of students. The Millennium building was going through some renovation, as the Church was due to have a conference there. Painting and decorating and roof repairs were in progress. There is no plan of what to do with the building. It is a great shame all that money was spent on converting the old gym to this, and now they really need some kind of covered area they can use for sport. We noticed a new generator, which is greatly helpful with the power shortages in Darjeeling. We discussed the situation of money with Mr. Dey and reiterated that we felt none of the Alumni were happy to give money directly to the school as, in the past, we were aware of how it had been misused/disappeared. We have heard over time that many people have tried to engage with the Church Body/Governing Body to see how the Alumni could help, but it seemed to end in a dead end, from what we had heard. Many rumours have been spread about the school being sold, being converted into a hotel, that the Management were not interested at all in speaking with the Alumni. Pradip and I really wanted to get to the bottom of all these rumours to get a clear picture of what really was going on at school. Many of these rumours were immediately dispelled by Mr. Dey. However, we did ask that he clarify with the Managing Committee/Church whether they really were interested in help from the Alumni. Mr. Dey said he would try and speak again to the Church for clarification. As mentioned in my last report some people had taken it upon themselves to do-up classrooms etc, (for example Sarthak Pradhan, who currently has children at the school), but without someone on the ground and very willing to engage in this it is a difficult thing to do. There has always been a concern of, if there were donations, how these would be spent, and who would over see this expenditure. We did impart this to Mr. Dey, who understood. We walked around the school and down to Fernhill. The round building (which was a boys dormitory) is now not in use as there are not enough students. As is the Junior girls' dorms in the top of the main building. We walked on down past Fernhill to Sunset cottages, which I had never known existed. Most were unoccupied, but in the past had housed staff. Now most staff come from Darjeeling and have their own homes. Many moons ago several of us had discussed how the old, unused, lovely Darjeeling bungalows could be done up and rented to Alumni visiting Darjeeling, or current parents when they were up visiting their children. Of course it was, and still is, only a dream, but one day may be a reality. Immediately below the cottages the land has been encroached upon and a veritable village has now been built there. All the cottages, we understand, adjacent to the main playing field, are unused and dilapidated. We understand a lot of land has been encroached upon in the campus as a whole.
We knew that some Alumni are keen to continue to try and do something to save the school, and others, I understand, say they feel as there has been no communication from the board of governors or the Church why should they waste their time/money. It continues to be a very difficult situation. We are also reminded that we are up against the volatile politics of the hills too. However, St. Paul’s has 450 boarders and no day scholars, Loreto has 1,400 day scholars, and it is estimated St. Joseph’s has around 1,200 day scholars too. We learnt that in the ‘bandh’ last year (104 days), St. Paul’s moved the entire school to Siliguri and continued running the school from there, very successfully. We once again spoke to Mr. Dey, on May 24, to see what the news was. He told us the school has not appointed a Principal purely for financial reasons - they cannot afford one. He also told us the Board of Governors said they are not adverse to the Alumni extending their help, but would like a concrete proposal from the Alumni for consideration. We then managed to speak to a few people like Jigme Kazi who has agreed to discuss this with other local Alumni, and with Varongthip Lulitanond, who is the current President of Hermonites International. The Alumni who are based in India, who will be responsible for putting this proposal to the Management, are also open to suggestions and ideas, of how to revive Mount Hermon.
Jigme Kazi and Varongthip Lulitanond felt it would be best if formal letters were exchanged between the Alumni and the school with regards to the new relationship before going ahead with proposals. These letters were sent and copies are below:
Rev. K. Sardar
Mount Hermon School
May 31, 2018
Subject: Mount Hermon School and Hermonites
First of all, on behalf of all Hermonites I wish to convey to the staff, students and the school authorities our greetings and good wishes.
Sir, in the past several months some concerned Hermonites who visited our beloved alma mater have expressed their appreciation of how the school has been run and maintained despite trying situations.
Informal talks held with some staff members of the school have given us a ray of hope for the school’s future.
Mount Hermon is now nearly 125 years old and a casual glance over our school’s history proves that though we have gone through trying times we were able to overcome the hurdles with faith in God and in ourselves.
On behalf of all Hermonites I would like to say that we are deeply concerned about the present situation that the school is facing and would like to seek your advice as to how we could pitch in and help the school in whatever way possible. Hermonites from all over the world are keen on opening a dialogue with the school and its authorities to enable us to offer our assistance.
We are hopeful of a positive response to our concern and suggestion and are waiting in eager anticipation to work together for our beloved school.
With warm regards. Hail Mount Hermon!
Copy to: Mr. Partha Dey, Senior Master, Mount Hermon School
Mr. Varongthip Lulitanond
Dear Mr. Lulitanond,
Greetings to you and to all Hermonites from the Mount Hermon School !
This is in regard to your mail dated 31st May 2018 regarding the Mount Hermon School. I highly appreciate of your concern for the school.
Let me, in brief, inform you that I have assumed charge as the Administrator of the Mount Hermon School with effect from 1st June 2017. The situation of the school, at that time, was really very challenging due to various problems including the political instability in Darjeeling. The school was suffering from acute financial anemia. A large amount was showing in our financial report as liabilities, salary of the staff along with other related payments were due for more than 3 months. On top of that the ‘104 days strike’ in Darjeeling made the situation worse. Due to our location Mount Hermon School campus became the real ‘battle ground’. We did our best during the ‘strike’ to take care of our students by providing hostel facilities to our border students in our other schools situated in Calcutta (in Calcutta Girls’ High School – for Girls and in Methodist School, Dankuni – for boys) and by introducing ‘portable school’ to our local day scholar students. But in spite of our best efforts many parents decided to withdraw their children, which needless to mention was a big financial blow to the school. It happened with not only Mount Hermon but also in other schools. As a result of that a kind of ‘Vulture Culture’ developed in Darjeeling. Every school was (and is) trying to steal/snatch students from other schools by using unfair means. A false rumour, with an ulterior motive, was spread in the town and everywhere in our country and even abroad that management has decided to close down Mount Hermon School and has already closed down the ‘Mount Hermon Under Graduate Teachers’ Training College. Which is not true – neither we have closed the school and the college nor we have any intention of doing that. I am sorry to tell you that unfortunately even few of the Hermonites (former students of MHS), may be due to their ignorance about the ground reality, played a vital role and contributed greatly in spreading that rumour.
However, during the past few months, in spite of all these problems and adversities the school had to go through, we did our best to improve the physical and environmental condition of the school by revamping School Website, repairing the school buildings, improving the food quality in our school canteen, installing 40 KV green generator was installed, by renovating hostels etc. You will be happy to learn that after many years we have restarted the Mount Hermon Bakery. In this year, after a gap of few years we have produced our ‘Major Production’ on 1st June 2018 which was highly appreciated by all. The Students, Staff, Parents, Hermonites and people in the locality again started speaking good about the school and seems has gained their confidence in the school.
We are also working on having a ‘Dairy Farming’ and ‘Organing Farming’ projects in our school. There are many other things/projects that we need to do take up to maintain the legacy of Mount Hermon.
I once again thank you so much for your letter which has encouraged and motivated us a lot and made us feel that we are not alone in this struggle but the entire ‘Mount Hermon Family’ is standing behind us to support this noble cause. I am keenly interested and look forward for the opportunity to have a meeting with you to apprise you about the status of the school. Please feel free to write to me for any further information and/or clarification in regard to your alma mater. Before closing let me assure you that we will not spare any effort to justify your confidence in us. May God bless you all and may He bless Mount Hermon abundantly.
With thanks and regards,
Rev. K. Sardar
Administrator & Secretary
Mount Hermon School
Rev. K. Sardar
Administrator & Secretary
Mount Hermon School
Dear Rev. K. Sardar,
Good morning and respectful regards from Bangkok.
It was tremendous pleasure to receive your email reply and to learn first hand information about Mount Hermon. We Hermonites, really do appreciate your efforts in managing the situation and make Mount Hermon what it is today.
We, the Hermonites from all over the world, will start the ball rolling and discuss the best possible options to be able to assist Mount Hermon school in the future.
Once again Sir, thank you very much for your favourable reply and we will do utmost to be of positive assistance to our beloved Mount Hermon School.
Post this there has been a great deal of chatter on the various Mount Hermon group forums, with suggestions coming in fast and furiously. Jigme Kazi and Namgyal Wangdi wanted to go to the school first and see Mr. Dey, and indeed went to see him on June 14. This was to pave the way to meeting Rev. Sardar, the Administrator. This meeting happened on the June 20. The Minutes of the meeting are below:
MINUTES OF THE MEETING BETWEEN REV. K. SARDAR,
MOUNT HERMON SCHOOL, & SECRETARY TO THE MANAGING COMMITTEE
HERMONITES REPRESENTING ‘HERMONITES INTERNATIONAL’ HELD AT
MOUNT HERMON SCHOOL ON JUNE 20, 2018
The meeting was called to order with Rev. K. Sardar, Administrator and Secretary, Mount Hermon School, in the Chair.
The following people attended the meeting:
1. Rev. K. Sardar, Administrator, Mount Hermon School, &
Secretary to the Management
2. Mr. Partha Dey, Senior Master, Mount Hermon School
3. Mr. Pratap Singh Rai (1954-1967), Darjeeling
4. Mr. Sunirmal Chakravarthi (1968-1972), Darjeeling
5. Mr. Mukesh Singh Adhupia (1978-1979), Darjeeling
6. Mr. Vikramjit Dhir (1980-1993), Darjeeling
7. Mr. Sarthak Pradhan (1982-1991), Darjeeling
8. Mr. Sachep Pradhan (1982-1994), Darjeeling
9. Mr. Gyanendra Thapa (1984-1995), Darjeeling
10. Mr. Shiv Saria (1961-1972), Siliguri
11. Mr. Sushil Mittal (1963-1972), Siliguri
12. Mr. Jagdish Saria (1965-1972), Siliguri
13. Ms. Thangi Rema Changte (1970-1974), Shillong
14. Mr. Namgyal Wangdi (1962-1971), Gangtok
15. Mr. Jigme N. Kazi (1963-1972), Gangtok
1. Rev. K. Sardar began the meeting with a brief introduction on himself and stressed that his mission at Mount Hermon was to ensure that the School regained its lost glory with the active involvement of all stakeholders - the MC, the staff and students and the Alumni.
2. Mr. Partha Dey, Senior Master, then welcomed the alumni.
3. Mr. Jigme Kazi thanked the School authorities for inviting the Hermonites to the meeting and conveyed to them greetings and good wishes on behalf of the President, Hermonites International, and the vast body of alumni across the world.
Khadas (ceremonial silk scarves) and packets of tea were presented to Rev. Sardar and Mr. Dey on behalf of all the Hermonites.
4. Mr. Sunirmal Chakravarthi (1968-1972), former Principal of La Martiniere School, Calcutta and former Senior Master, St. Paul’s School, Darjeeling, thanked the School authorities for taking the initiative to convene a meeting with the Alumni and commended the present School authorities on the positive transformation that had been palpable to all visitors to the School. While congratulating Rev. Sardar and Mr. Dey for the hard work they had put in over the recent past, he also noted that while, “Much has been done, more remains to be done.”
Mr. Chakravarthi stressed two basic issues:
A) The need to establish a system whereby the Alumni body is ‘recognised and accepted’ by the School, and associated with it, so that a ‘working relationship’ is created. He suggested that the School authorities should look into how the Alumni bodies such as the OPA in St. Paul’s School and ALMA in La Martiniere are formally associated with their respective Schools. He offered to help in this matter.
B) The need to create an atmosphere of trust between the School and the Alumni body. Towards this end, he clarified that it was for the School and the Managing Committee to tell the Alumni body how they want the Hermonites to help. He emphasised the need for a deep bonding between the School and the alumni. He made it abundantly clear that the Alumni had no intention of either interfering in the day to day affairs of the School nor did they want to “take over” the School. He assured the School and the Managing Committee that all that the Alumni wanted was to help the School “move forward” after the recent troubled times.
5. Mr. Shiv Saria (1961-1972), while expressing his appreciation for the manner in which the Church has “kept the School going” in spite of all the recent “calamities and difficulties”, expressed his complete confidence in the Church being ‘capable’ of running the School successfully. He repeatedly stressed that everything be done to create a positive outlook about the School and urged everyone not to be misled by rumours. He opined that the first and foremost task before the Alumni and the School was to increase the enrolment of students and restore the ‘prestige of the school.’ Mr. Saria urged Rev. Sardar to ‘facilitate’ the formation of an Alumni-School association so that the alumni could contribute in a meaningful way. He further emphasised on the need to strengthen the School’s Accounts Office and make it transparent and accountable in order to improve the School’s revenue.
6. Mr. Sarthak Pradhan (1982-1991) raised the issue of improving and School-Parent/Guardian interface so as to help build confidence among the various stakeholders. He also urged the Administration to look into other immediate needs of the school, including the need to recruit good teachers, and begin a ‘cosmetic facelift’ of the School buildings. He underscored the need to work on an urgent basis on the School’s collapsing drainage system and the leaking roof of the Main Building.
7. Mr. Sachep Pradhan (1982-1994) focussed on improving the School’s decaying infrastructure and working on student discipline.
8. Ms. Thangi Rema (1970-74) spoke of her family’s close and abiding relationship with the School and suggested that the School should explore ways and means of increasing the number of students from the North East since parents of the area would be very keen on sending their children to good Christian Schools closer to the North East.
Mr. Chakravarthi suggested that the School should look into the idea of doing road shows and conducting Admission Camps in the North Eastern States, Bihar, Nepal and Thailand just as some other reputed Schools in the neighbourhood have done. The Alumni in these areas would be glad to help.
9. Mr. Namgyal Wangdi (1962-1971) urged upon the Managing Committee and the School Authorities to trust the Alumni and give them the ‘green signal’ so that the Alumni could help the School on a long term basis.
10. Mukesh Singh Adhupia (1978-1979) opined that a working relationship between the Alumni and the School would be mutually beneficial.
11. Jagdish Saria (1965-1972) said his only dream was to ensure that the School regained its past glory.
12. Sushil Mittal (1963-1972) stressed on the need for mutual understanding. He added that everyone should go about helping the School in a “Christian-like” manner.
13. Pratap Singh Rai (1954-1967) thanked Rev. Sardar and Mr. Dey for “bolstering” the “enthusiasm and courage” of the Hermonites in working for their alma mater. He remarked that he had heard encouraging reports of how the School was improving and he hoped that a partnership between the School and the Hermonites would see this reach greater heights.
14. Mr. Jigme N. Kazi (1963-1972) traced the background of how this meeting came about. He reported how a request from the President of Hermonites International,(HI) Mr. Varongthip Lulitanond (1973 - Bangkok) to Rev. K. Sardar culminated in this meeting on 20th June 2018. A meeting with the School authorities had been sought to express the deep concern of Hermonites all over the world for the School’s survival and future success and also to look into the possibility of the Alumni having a meaningful and enduring working relationship with the School authorities and the Management Committee in order to help the School regain its past glory and fulfi the aims and objectives for which Mount Hermon had been set up almost 125 years ago.
Mr. Kazi said the main purpose of the meeting was to seek the formal approval of the Managing Committee for the Alumni body to associate itself with the School in a deep and meaningful manner with the long term view in mind. He stressed that if this was done, then and then only can the Alumni engage itself in an organised and systematic way; otherwise any help given by the Alumni would be on an ad-hoc basis.
Mr. Kazi briefly traced the formation of a global body which was initially conceived during the School’s Centenary celebrations in 1995. The idea had had the approval of Mr. G.A. Murray, former Principal, and before long several alumni chapters were begun in various places. Hermonites International now had chapters all around the globe with a large membership.
Mr. Kazi presented Rev. Sardar with a copy of the draft Constitution of Hermonites International for his perusal and comments.
He expressed the hope that the Managing Committee, the School and the Alumni would be able to work in unison in the interest of the School and concluded by saying that this would be a fitting tribute to the great Founders, Principals, teachers and students who had dedicated themselves to working for the greater glory of God and the School.
15. Rev. K. Sardar in his concluding remarks made the following observations:
a) That his main goal is to work for the betterment of the School and also to build a healthy relationship with the Alumni.
b) That his association with the School went back to almost ten years even though he had taken up his responsibility as Administrator only on June 2017.
c) That though the School was undergoing great financial stress, he did not seek any financial help from the Alumni. He further clarified that the School’s financial difficulties had started more than 15 years ago and he was looking at various ways and means by which this could be remedied over the next few years. Towards this end he remarked that he had re-started the School’s bakery and hoped to begin dairy and organic farming in order to raise resources for the School.
d) That apart from the recent political instability, “negative publicity” of the School had also been responsible for the School’s current poor image and declining student enrolment.
e) That he was confident that he would be able to put Mount Hermon on an even keel within the next two years.
Rev. Sardar assured the gathering that there should be no doubt about Bishop Philip S. Masih’s desire and dream for Mount Hermon. He said that Bishop Masih, who is the Chairman of the Managing Committee, is deeply concerned about the School and is determined to put the School back on its feet as a leading School of this region. Bishop Masih had instructed him to clear all misunderstandings with the Alumni and Rev. Sardar was pleased to inform all concerned that he would have the pleasure of reporting a positive and fruitful meeting with the Alumni.
Mr. S. Chakravarthi, on behalf of all the Alumni, thanked Rev. Sardar for the courtesy extended in meeting former students and for sharing his time and concern with them. He also expressed the hope that this would be the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship between the Alumni and the School and wished the School Managing Committee and the Administration every success in the task they have undertaken to restore the School’s old glory and pride.
The meeting was then adjourned for fellowship and lunch in the School Staff Dining Hall.
The meeting was held in a very free, frank and cordial atmosphere. Those present at the meeting unanimously resolved to lay a firm and strong foundation for a healthy and lasting relationship between the Alumni and their Alma Mater with the blessing of both the Managing Committee and the Methodist Church in India.
We now await further news as to how things will progress from hereon. The essential thing is that this news reaches all alumni worldwide so everyone is up to date of what is happening at our old alma mater.
Darjeeling itself has changed considerably in the two years since we last visited. Smarter restaurants have opened. A great deal more building has gone on - hotels, shops etc. Glenary’s has a terrace now off from the coffee shop downstairs, and the restaurant upstairs has been revamped and a roof terrace added. Das Studio remains, (Durga Das is still running the shop,) as does Keventers (still famous for its sausages and bacon), Frank Ross the Chemist which also has a cafe, Oxford Book Store and Habeeb Mullick, Jolly Arts, New Dish (still run by our Hermonite friends, the Hung family) etc. The horses still ply round the Mall. The road down to Tungsoong, past the pony stand is now a single-track with high rise buildings either side. Every inch is being built on. The Planter’s Club has been demolished and a new building is coming up in its’ place with double the amount of rooms. It is sad to see the old verandah gone, and the charm of the place all but vanished. Bata shoe shop was burned down and remains in a sorry state. Where there were, for a long time, shacky type shops lining the opposite side of the road from Frank Ross etc, this area has now been built on and Kentucky Fried chicken, Pizza Hut, Himalayan Java Coffee, etc have come up. The stalls have moved to the right hand side of the Mall road - the side facing the mountains. Darjeeling is now a year-round tourist destination and I suppose with that comes the wish for all these fast food places, more hotels etc. I think though Darjeeling did seem to be cleaner. Whatever one says we still have roots there, and some of the old places exist and therefore there is a sense of the charm still in evidence. Some of you may be aware it has been gripped by World Cup fever and has turned into a very colourful town covered with flags of all countries playing in the cup.
Whilst we were in Darjeeling we met up with a Hermonite who spends her time between Canada and Darjeeling. Tenzin Chokyi Zingkha from 1991 batch. She had also been to MH recently and found much what we did. She did tell us, which was confirmed by another Loreto girl, that both Loreto and St. Joseph’s were hoping to try and help the ailing Mount Hermon. The idea had been that as they are both thriving and couldn’t take all applicants that they would recommend MH for those who they didn’t have space for. This idea needs to be pursued further, as Mount Hermon desperately needs more students. Her batches are all most concerned too about the plight of MH.
After our visit to Darjeeling we went down to Calcutta. We met with Wendy Morrow, who was at Mount Hermon from 1952-56. We met up with Wendy, who had been the Executive Secretary at the Tollygunge Club in Calcutta for many years, at Mocambo’s in Park Street. Some of the Calcutta Hermonite alumni also hosted an evening for us at the International Club, and we met up with some people we hadn’t met in years. The spirit of Mount Hermon lives on in us all.
Hon. Secretary OMHSA
The School Houses - Pokhara, Nepal December 2017
Pokhara December 2017
|L to R - Betty Banerjee, Prava Rai, Mr Blackmoore, Anita Adhikare, Varong Thip, Pradip Verma.||
Australian Camp, Pokhara
More of Cindy's pictures of her visits are in the Photo Gallery under the tab - "Cindy's Pictures."
Newsletter 2016 - 17
I am quite late this year in getting the newsletter written. My apologies.
Once again we visited India, this year in March, travelling with a classmate of mine, Margaret Mapley Jackson and her husband, Nigel. Margaret’s father, Jeffrey Mapley, had run the Maintenance Department at Mount Hermon from around 1959-71, and her mother, Rachel, ran Ailina Guest House. Margaret had not been back to India since they left in1971 so we decided we would make this exciting trip back together. I am leaving the bulk of the Newsletter for her story of the trip.
My up to date information on the school is slightly sketchy but this is what I have been told, or have seen myself. When we visited this year we found that the girls who were boarding, had been moved out of the ‘new’ Millennium building back into the main building, and all were housed in the newly-painted, and renovated senior girls dormitories. They were looking lovely. Apparently the Millennium building was leaking, and needed repairs. The main corridor in the Main Building downstairs had been repaired (after the cracks appeared after the earthquake), and repainted and was looking excellent. As for the renovation and contributions, Sarthak Pradhan played a important part in getting permission from the school authority allowing the renovation work to be carried out. I think they were responsible for three classrooms being repaired and the major cracks being repaired around the corridor.
We met with the current Administrator, Mr. Norton Emmanuel. As I write there still is no Principal. Mr. Emmanuel visits from time to time from his school, where he is Principal, The Methodist School, Dankuni in West Bengal. Mr. Emmanuel greeted us warmly and we discussed the situation at the school. At the time there were more boarders and day scholars than there are today. I was recently told there are only 80 boarders and 120 day students. We heard some boy students had had to be expelled for disciplinary reasons. Therefore with so few students money continues to be a huge problem. Some classes have taken it upon themselves to renovate their own old class, and collected the money from their classmates for the renovation. This was welcomed. However this is not really a long term solution.
It was felt by some that a clear cut, independent, report on the school needs to be done. Mr. Emmanuel has been approached and if this is agreed things can then move forward. There are many different alumni groups, and it is all rather disjointed. Many now feel an apathy towards the school, as in the past their offers of help, or being involved have not been taken up. Possibly the only way forward is to have a single united body of alumni, but I’m not sure where this should be based. Ideally in India, I would imagine. However, what we really need is to see where all the problems lie within the school and goals set to remedy the issues and take it forward. Then people can be approached to help financially when a clear cut solution is on the table. We will then need people at the helm that everyone feels confident with and feels they can trust.
There is a huge Mount Hermon Reunion being organised by the Thai alumni in Bangkok and Pattaya, December 15-18. So far there seem to be around 277 people going - that includes Hermonites, and their families. We are hoping that the issue of Mount Hermon’s plight will be raised, but we shall have to wait and see what may come of it. They have indicated there will be a slot to discuss the situation the school is in, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.
As and when we do hear more news we shall try and keep everyone updated.
With warm regards to everyone.
My Return to India.
By Margaret Mapley
My return to Darjeeling, my birth place, took 45 years! It was bitter sweet, an emotional rollercoaster. My memories of India were those of a 12 ½ year old, aware of what was of interest to me as I tagged along behind my parents! I have wanted to make this trip for a very long time, as I still consider Darjeeling ‘home’. I wanted to create memories as an adult.
My husband Nigel and I flew into Delhi, where we met our friends Lucinda and Pradip Verma. A side trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal was not negotiable, as was the tour to see the Qutub Minar, the Bahai Lotus Temple, the Birla Temple, and Humayun’s Tomb. I really have no memories of Delhi, but the Taj lived up to what I remember it to be – magnificent. One thing that stuck out for us was the incessant horn honking! Nigel shared with our tour driver that he had whiskers like a cat – that even though traffic was crazy, he knew exactly where the surrounding vehicles were. We shared some time with another Hermonite, the ‘Queen of Delhi’, Anita! She cleared her schedule to spend time with us and to help us find things that were on our ‘to buy’ lists!
I had the best seat on the plane as we flew to Bagdogra – the Himalayan Range was on my left almost the whole flight! The drive up the hills to Darjeeling was an experience my husband has never had – windy, narrow roads, and all the switchbacks! I remember riding the train up and down from Darjeeling to the plains, maybe the only time we drove by Jeep was when we left in May 1971. It was hard to recognize for the most part, as the roadsides are now mostly built up and inhabited. When we travelled by train, there was wide open space, hills to one side and the drop to valleys below on the other.
The shell or skeleton of Darjeeling is still the same – the roads up and down from the Chowrasta to the New Dish, the Mall to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. Das Studio, Keventer’s, Glenary’s. BUT, it is so built up – the hillside from the Planter’s Hospital to the Chowrasta now covered with structures. It was very hazy for the time we were in Darjeeling, so a clear view of the Kangchenjunga Range was elusive – even from Tiger Hill! I remember the walk from MH to Tiger Hill when we raised funds for the floods in Bangladesh, but the look-out is nothing like it used to be – a building is half taken down and rebar sticks up in many places. I tried to walk as many places as I remember walking with my Father – the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute to see the display of Tenzing and Hillary’s gear from their first climb to the top of Mt. Everest, around the Mall, to Glenary’s for tea. Nigel and I went for a ‘joy ride’ on the Toy Train, to Ghoom and back. It too seemed to be much smaller than my childhood memory!
Beloved Mount Hermon – what more can I say! It was great to walk once again in the halls, up the steps to the ‘hospital’, up the path to the top field, out the school gates and home to Ailina. I had been warned by many that it was in bad shape, and I thought I was prepared, but I don’t think anyone could have said anything more to prepare me for the state it is in. It was exciting to walk through ‘Wayside’ where we lived, telling everyone where things were when we lived there (the bedrooms, the add-on Dad built, the bathroom, the hiding spot in the chimney enclosure). Everyone was surprised that I could recall it all so vividly. It is sad that many structures at MH have not been regularly maintained – the staff cottages below the playing field, the hospital, the classrooms, the chapel. We were able to go up to the junior girls dormitory (although they are not in use at this time due to lack of enrollment), and were taken round the dorms that are in use now (senior girls dorm being one now in use again). It was amazing to see the same lockers and cupboards that were in use in the senior girl’s dorm – my Dad built those! It was funny to walk beside the concrete water towers above the hospital – I am sure they were 50 feet tall when I went with Dad to check on the water levels! I was struck with how small things are in reality – when I was younger, it seemed like a long walk from school to Ailina, the yard in front of the study hall (where there used to be a BIG tree) is really not very big!
It was a fluke that we were actually in Darjeeling for Mount Hermon’s 121st birthday! Pradip, Cindy, Nigel, Thangi, Sarthak and I met with Mr. Emanuel on March 10th to talk about concerns, and we were invited back for Chapel celebrations the next morning. Unfortunately Cindy and Pradip both were ill, so Nigel, Thangi and I went back for Chapel. We were invited to speak to the students and share our thoughts as alumni. I wish I had known ahead of time that we would be called on, as my thoughts were whipped together in a matter of 5 seconds and I feel I could have been more eloquent if I had planned it out beforehand!
We stayed with Shiv Saria in Siliguri for a night before our flight to Kolkata. It was great to share a meal with some fellow Hermonites, one classmate, Narendra Saraogi! Nigel, Pradip, and I joined Shiv for his morning walk. Nigel sure got to see what happens on the streets on a normal day – a family of pigs hoofing it down the median, a Holy Cow laying in the waste from the stalls chewing its cud. Shiv’s complex was like an oasis in the middle of it all!
We stayed in Kolkata for a couple of nights at the Grand before Nigel flew home to Canada. Once again I was struck with the contrast between what lay inside the walls and what was on the outside. This is truly a beautiful colonial building that has been well maintained. I don’t have many memories of places in Kolkata, but the activity on the streets was familiar. Another Hermonite friend, Betty, opened her home for visits and cleared her days to make sure I found a saree! She had connections to get my saree blouse made in 2 days! We joked about Betty being the “Queen of Kolkata.”
Lucinda, Pradip and I took the train to Maheshgunj for a couple of days. We stayed at a beautiful colonial plantation home. It was on an indigo plantation many years ago. It was interesting to see another part of life in rural India.
The three of went on to Bangkok to visit some of our Thai classmates. I stayed with Kuruvin and her husband. We were taken out for a wonderful Thai meal with the group, and shared many memories and laughs! This was the first time that I had seen my classmates in 45 years!
There is such a contrast in India - people who are employed and live well, and others who rely on the local water spigots on street corners for their morning showers. Beautiful colonial buildings, some clean and well-kept while others right beside them are in ruins. I must say that it still tugs at my heart! It was great to finally see what I left behind – what was my whole world, the only place I had ever known as home. Whenever we watch movies about India, Nigel always asked “Is that really how it is?” Now he knows – the beauty and the filth, the busy cities and the slow paced villages, the advanced and the behind times. All of it somehow manages to work side by side and creates the country that it is – my home.
Margaret Mapley (Jackson) – Oct. 2016.
I have been asked by James Sinclair to take on the role of Hon. Secretary, which is rather daunting, as I shall have to try and follow on from Hazel Craig, which will be a hard act to follow. She is a great loss to us all.
As we have just been to Darjeeling I thought I would write a bit about our trip, Darjeeling itself, and of course Mount Hermon.
It was my father, David Gibbs, who suddenly decided he would like to make a, possibly last, visit to India to see old boys, friends and St. Paul’s (he was Rector there from 1964 -72). My mother didn’t feel able to come, so remained behind (breaking her hip just before we left, but was well cared for, so we felt able to go).
We went straight to Calcutta, where several airlines and now flying direct to, bypassing Bombay and Delhi. The weather was very pleasant and we stayed in the Grand. It remains the grande dame of Calcutta hotels, and is still the haven it always was. Calcutta is no different I think, bustling, busy, but charming and full of delightful people. People complain of the traffic, which is true, but if one avoids the rush hours, it isn’t so bad! We met up with a couple of Hermonites who had been at Mount Hermon in our era; Betty Bannerjee, whose father had been a doctor on the tea gardens and Miti Adhikari, who has returned to Calcutta with his wife, to promote Indian bands, after a very successful career with the BBC in London. As we had to chaperone my father it didn’t leave us a great amount of time to connect with any others. However, I had also gone to St. Paul’s for a couple of years as a youngster, so did see some of my own classmates from that period too, as the Paulites put on various lunches and dinners for my father. The Clubs in Calcutta still thrive and waiting lists to join run into years! We have been lucky to visit most of the Calcutta clubs over the years, and the old rules are all still in place – dress codes, wonderful snacks – cheese chilli toasts, cheese balls, fish fingers, paneer tikka, kathi rolls and so on, along with the chota and burra pegs, pukka club food served on linen cloths in the dining rooms, old bearers who have been there for years, and so on. There is something very comforting about it all. How pleasant it is to go into a place where everyone is dressed properly for dinner.
After four days of a fairly hectic regime we had been invited to stay at the ancestral home of old Paulites, about a three and a half hour drive from Calcutta – in Maheshgunj. If you would like to see photographs of the place do look up www.balakhana.com. They have opened it as a homestay. It is a 19th century French villa. The drive was breathtaking – through the Bengal countryside – wonderful scenes of life beside the numerous ponds, paddy fields stretching as far as the eye could see, typical small villages bustling with life, villagers selling their produce on the roadside – shiny purple aubergines, short, fat cucumbers, long string beans,- bullock carts carrying heaps of jute, thatched huts, sweet shops with pyramidal piles of colourful sweetmeats, schoolgirls in crisp, starched uniforms, hair neatly plaited, carrying armfuls of books, colourful woven saris washed and blowing in the wind. It was a feast for the eyes. Balakhana was a very special place. Set in 16 acres of gardens, fields, and fruit trees with langurs high in the trees. The Jalangi river flows close by – just a short walk through a typical Bengal village, filled with laughing children, and past people tending their crops either side of the raised path to the river. A lone boat wends its way down the lazy waters. Utterly peaceful.
We were treated to wonderful Bengali hospitality – sumptuous home cooking, and wonderful company in the most idyllic spot. Each night mosquito nets were hung over the four poster beds, as we slept with the top windows in the high ceilinged rooms open, letting the heat out and the cool of the night in. We heard jackals howling in the near distance – and it really took me back to nights in Darjeeling.
Our next leg was back to Calcutta for the night and on to Bagdogra the next morning. Calcutta airport is no longer our DumDum but a smart and modern Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport. Bagdogra is much the same, small and informal, with its busy café with temptations such as momos, pakoras, cutlets and fish and chips!! We didn’t stop but went on straight up to Kurseong, climbing rapidly out of the heat of the plains. The scenes never change; the tea gardens, lush forest vegetation, the red and white rhododendron trees, the steep climbs and hairpin bends. It was misty at Kurseong, but we stopped at the Tourist Lodge, which on a clear day has a wonderful view of the snows. It is a well-known stopping place to Darjeeling, and has a good menu, with of course plenty of Darjeeling tea! Onwards and upwards to Darjeeling. We have been to Darjeeling regularly over the years, and were not surprised by the crush of traffic and further new buildings. My father hadn’t been back for 5 years, and noticed a big difference. We were staying in the Mayfair hotel, at the far end of the Mall road, opposite Raj Bhawan. It was the old summer-house of the Maharajah of Nazargunj, and has had some tasteful additions added to ensure there is space for the restaurants etc. We have stayed here for several years, and have found the rooms extremely comfortable, with excellent bathroom facilities, good food and very pleasant staff. It has a Library, filled with photographs of Tenzing and the Everest expeditions, and a bar dedicated to the artist Goray Douglas, whose works adorn the walls. It is a nice walk up to the Chowrasta from the hotel.
The Chowrata has also changed a little. Beneath the end of the Windamere’s land they have now built a stage for performances etc. The old row of shops with the Oxford Book Store, Habeebs, Lekraj are still there – with little change. However, Lekraj is closed, Habeebs is run by the same family, but the old man my parents bought lovely things from has died. The Oxford book store still has many wonderful publications on the hills, books by Indian authors, guide books etc, and will post on anything you buy, to save you carrying the book with you on further travels. The ponies for rides are still there, but their quarters are not in good shape. The huge expanse of the Chowrasta remains, but a Café Coffee Day (sort of Costa Coffee type place) has come up next to Jolly Arts, modern influences of course. All the shops on Nehru Road we knew are still there – Das Studio, where Durga Das still runs the show (Mohan was visiting whilst we were there too), still has a wonderful array of photographs, postcards etc, Frank Ross the Chemist, Bata, Keventers and Glenarys, which has a wifi café and bakery downstairs, and the restaurant upstairs is as good as ever. We were in both places, and had to have our cream cones with pots of Darjeeling tea. So good. On the opposite side of the road below the D&DMA (Planters Hospital) a new construction is coming up (narrowing the road) and is housing modern fast food ‘joints’ – like Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut. This, I suppose, is progress……When we were there in earlier times, there was nothing, and then a series of make shift shack type shops came up. These have now been relocated and they are erecting this new concrete building. The Planters Club still carries on and we have in the past sat out with beers on the terrace over looking the road below and life in Darjeeling. There are so many hotels now in Darjeeling that I think they struggle with bookings. However, it has its old world charm still. There is much building in Darjeeling, and positively thousands of vehicles. Everyone it seems runs a taxi, and the streets are lined with drivers waiting for a fare. There is a one way system round town which otherwise would become impassable. Sometimes the change is depressing, but one can still see the old Darjeeling pushing through to remind us of our happy days there.
We went down to Mount Hermon of course, leaving my father to go up to St. Paul’s to see the current Rector, whom he had not met. We had spoken on the phone to Mr. Wharton to ensure he was going to be around. Sadly Aileena, the guest house just outside the gates, is now thoroughly neglected and has a fence around it. Happy times were spent there whilst I was in school, with the Mapleys. However, when we came through the gates and parked, we noticed some improvement from a year earlier. The grounds were in better shape and the malis were working away. It looked tidier and better kept. Mr. Wharton was there, and greeted us warmly and we went into his office, where we were served tea. We had met him the previous year and he had told us of how difficult things in the hills were. They now have almost an equal number of borders to day students. It is hard with all the previous political unrest to get boarders. Trying to get old students to send their children there it seems is difficult too. We had seen around the school last year, including the no longer used senior and junior girls dormitories. The earthquake in 2011 caused some damage, but there was a great deal of neglect in maintenance over the years as well. All the windows in the junior girls dormitories needed attention from good carpenters, but the rest of the dorms were more or less fine. A fresh lick of paint was needed everywhere. I understand now the claim for the damage to the main school building is still under discussion as the insurance company are prepared to only pay around half of the claim. As we are really not privy to the detail it is hard to know where things will go. There have been discussions with various alumni groups about raising funds, but until the insurance claim is sorted out we have no idea what will remain undone. I also heard that one particular batch did do up a classroom, raising funds between them, and I think arranging the works themselves. After discussions with several people it seems that what one would really need are reliable people on the ground close by to clearly detail works required, costs, and then the safe collection of any donations, with a clear picture of how this money will be spent. Not an easy task.
As some of you will be aware a new building has come up, where the old, open gym was, above the main school field. This, I understand, had been destined to become a new dining hall, but after the earthquake the boarding girls are now in that building. The dining hall moved down to the basement of the main building some years ago, and a library is now where our old dining room was. Last year we happened to visit on the day the Junior School Musical production had it’s first showing – revived after 25 years I understand. It was called ‘The Magic Basket ‘ and was quite delightful. Mrs. Murray would have been proud. I think Mr. Wharton was, and rightly so. The music was very good, and the children were charming in their colourful costumes, all singing in tune. We really did enjoy it.
The outlying old Darjeeling cottages, that housed staff, are all in need of repair. They are treasures really and it is a shame they have not been able to be kept up. Some years ago I had suggested that if places like Aileena and it’s adjacent house could be restored Hermonite parents/visitors could rent the places, bringing revenue into the school, and keeping the properties in good repair. However, the logistics, money to do this etc, is always the issue. I am sure we all have ideas of where any fundraising monies could be spent, but the most difficult part is the management that end of the funds and how they are spent.
We also met Rev Noel Prabhuraj, the Vice Chairman/Secretary, on this trip and he was the person who brought us up to speed on the situation with the insurance company. We also talked about staff, and the question of foreign staff came up. As I suppose work permits are difficult and paying a foreign staff salary would also be difficult, if people wanted to volunteer to come and teach with simply board and lodging the school would be happy to welcome the help.
We took the car back up to town and met my father along with several other people in Glenary’s, before driving down the hill to the Dooars, to spend a few days on a tea garden, owned by a Paulite. A wonderful, restful time, in a lovely climate, with superb garden food – taking one back to days gone past. We sat on the lawn watching beautiful birds flit through the trees, listening to the Gauhati train as it chugged through the garden, drinking excellent CTC tea, and being spoilt. We managed to meet another Hermonite, Shiv Saria, on his garden, Soongachi, and he was most hospitable. After mouth-watering momos, we had a delicious vegetarian lunch, and then we drove around parts of the garden seeing how he had brought up inhospitable areas, learning about irrigation techniques and generally enjoying the beautiful tea garden scenery. I knew a classmate of mine, Beverley Mackie, had spent some time on Kumlai garden, which was very close by. Shiv kindly got in touch with the current Manager, and we went to visit it. The old bungalow they would have lived in was still very much in use, and I took a lot of photos to send Beverley. What I hadn’t realised was they had also lived at Soongachi! After four days in the Dooars we returned to Calcutta and our seventeen day trip with my father was at an end. He returned to Ireland, and we went on to Goa for a short break.
I hope this will have taken you back to times at school and memories of Darjeeling. Of course much has changed, but our love of school, and the friendships we made there, will always be close to our hearts.
Cindy's Photographs of her trip
St. Andrew's Church
Old Brabourne Park - now a Grandstand!
Chowrasta looking South - The Chalet is still standing.
Chowrasta -Habeeb Mullick is still in businness
Glenary's Tea Room - (once was Pliva's)
Keventer's Milk Bar looking a bit crowded.
Back of the School building
Top of the New Building
Building from Main Gate
Main school corridor.
The Junior Girls' dorms
Senior Girls' Dorm
Living by a Bengal pond
Enroute to Maheshgunj
Balakhana from the garden
Verandah at Balakhana
Happy faces in village at Maheshgunj
My sincere apologies for the non-issue of Newsletters to our membership since 2009. The reason is that our Hon. Secretary, Hazel (Innes) Craig suffered another stroke in 2011, and has now been moved to a care home from the retirement village where she had been since 2009. Unfortunately, Hazel is no longer able to carry out her duties as Hon. Secretary, and I too, as Hon. Treasurer, have been remiss in sending out Newsletters to our subscribed membership. I hope this Newsletter will make up for the missing years. Should you wish to contact Hazel by post, her address is Sunrise of Chorleywood, High View, Chorleywood, Rickmansworth, Herts. WD3 5TQ .One of our supportive members, Liz Ellis (Betty Halden), has been persuaded to be our Acting Honorary Secretary.
I have, however, been keeping our website www.oldmhs.com up-to-date, and those with Internet facilities are able to keep up with recent news. I have extracted the following items from our News Update page. However, in order to reach those of our members who don’t have Internet facilities, I will issue annual Newsletters in future and post them out. Postal charges have become increasingly expensive though, so I have had to limit the issue of the Newsletters to only those without Internet services. I will publish the Newsletters on-line on our website for all to see.
Our website is doing very well, and is popular with those of our members able to access it, and other visitors and old school students, with 5,500 hits since November last year. Previously, the counter hit over 35,000 visitors till Yahoo ceased to support our website and I had to transfer to Mecca Web Hosting. If you do have an email address, (or perhaps a close friend or relative has one that I can contact you through), please let me know, and I will add you to the distribution list so that you will be aware of any updates to our site.
Unfortunately, we were not able to hold an annual reunion lunch last year, as reported in the News Update for 2012. I will try and organise a small reunion perhaps in September this year, if the responses from our membership is reasonably good. But we will have to find another venue for this occasion, as we do not wish to use the Bombay Brasserie in London for this event, due to our bad experience last year.
With all good wishes,
Hon. Treasurer) and Webmaster
NEWS UPDATE 2013
Many of our earlier students, of the 1960s and 70s, will be sorry to learn that Mrs. Murray (Patricia) has been seriously ill with vascular disease, weakness of the heart, poor circulation and kidney problems complicated by diabetes. She was in intensive care at the hospital, and at one point it was touch and go, as she had to have one of her legs amputated above the knee. However, she has survived the emergency treatment and is now slowly but surely recovering, and it is hoped that with proper care and treatment, she will fully recover from this ordeal. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and all her family, and especially her husband Graeme who is soldering on despite his own health problems.
I am pleased to announce that a new headmaster of Mount Hermon School has now been appointed as a replacement for Mr. George Fernandez who has now retired. He is Mr. Terrence Wharton who was once at MH Teacher Training College. We do not yet know much about him, but as news filters through I will keep you posted. We sincerely hope that he will be able to bring about changes to restore the school to its former standing, as it has not been doing well in recent years.
NEWS UPDATE 2012
Our deepest and heartfelt sympathies to former Headmaster "Boss" David Stewart and his family on the tragic death of his younger son aged only 47 years. After a sudden and unexpected illness, John leaves behind his widow Jude and their two young sons, Jack aged 9 and Joshua aged 6. To lose a son in the evening of his life has come as a shattering and terrible shock to dear Boss. We pray that he will be able to meet this tragic loss with fortitude and courage. He is in our thoughts and prayers.
It is with deep sadness that I have to announce the death from cancer of my dear classmate, Menno Ziessen, on 8th October 2012. I had met up with Menno and some other MHS friends in London on the 1st September, and he seemed very cheery and full of life on that occasion. Sadly we did not know that time would be so short for him. Menno was at Mount Hermon from 1947 to 1959. He attended some of our Reunions in London in recent years, and was a very supportive member of OMHSA. He will be sadly missed.
Members will be disappointed to know that we did not hold our usual Annual Reunion this year. One of the reasons is that our Honorary Secretary, Hazel Craig (Innes) suffered another minor stroke recently and has had to be moved from her retirement village to a care home in Chorleywood, as she has suffered further memory loss, and would not have been able to attend this year. Apart from this, she is keeping well and is still bright and chirpy. Anyone wishing to write to her may obtain her current address by emailing me (email@example.com) and I will forward you her postal address, as she's not on email any more. The other reason is that our older members are finding it increasingly difficult and expensive to travel all the way in to London to attend these Reunions, so the response for these gatherings is becoming very poor. Also, we do not wish to use the Bombay Brasserie for these occasions due to our bad experience last year, and finding another convenient venue is a problem.
MHS School News
There was recently a campaign to support the candidature of Mr. Jigmi Kazi, a former Mount Hermon Student, Teacher (1976-79) and President of the Hermonites International, in Sikkim, as next Headmaster of Mount Hermon School after the proposed retirement of the current Head, Mr. George Fernandez in April this year. However, after a lot of meetings and indecision by the school's Management Committee, it has been decided to retain the services of Mr. Fernandez for another year until a replacement is found. Mount Hermon is not faring well, and in fact came at the very bottom of the League Table of Boarding Schools in India. The number of students has also drastically fallen, due to poor administration and the recent earthquake which has damaged the school building. It is hoped a decision will be made soon, as Mr. Kazi seems an excellent candidate to fill the position, and has the interests of the school at heart.
NEWS UPDATE 2011
As in the past, our school reunion lunch took place at the Bombay Brasserie, London on Saturday 28th May. The attendees were Hazel Craig who was accompanied by guest Geoff Rhodes, Fazle Khundkar, Daisy McLaughin (Badal) who was accompanied by her daughter Gaye and Granddaughter, Menno Ziessen, Liz Ellis (Betty Halden) and her husband, Ronen Ghose and Jim Sinclair and guest Jimmy Pyke. As usual it was difficult to muster up sufficient members to attend and it was thanks to guest attendees that we were able to make up a dozen people for a table. Understandably, it is becoming increasingly difficult for our members in the UK, particularly our older ones, to get into London for this occasion, and rail fares are becoming increasingly expensive. Also, we were disappointed with the Bombay Brasserie charges. The buffet lunch was reasonable enough at £25 a head but extras were added on to the bill - e.g. £18.00 for 4 bottles of still water! Also drinks at the bar and at the table were prohibitively expensive, and some of these were surreptitiously added on to the bill! Owing to these factors, it is becoming doubtful whether we can continue to hold these annual school reunions in the future. However, it was a very enjoyable reunion, and members like Menno Ziessen kept us entertained with his lively school stories.
We are very sorry to hear from former Headmaster of MHS, David Stewart, of the death of his dear wife Dorothy Stewart on the 15th August. She will be fondly remembered by many students of her years at Mount Hermon. Our thoughts are with him and his family.
It was also with great sadness that we heard from Dorothy Searle, daughter of David Francis, that her father died on the 15th of June of this year at the age of 93. He was one of our oldest members and was in Mount Hermon from about 1923 to 1932. He was a regular attendee at our past reunions, and will be sadly missed.
NEWS UPDATE 2010
Our annual school reunion took place at the Bombay Brasserie, London, on Saturday 22nd May. Those who attended were Hazel (Innes) Craig (Hon. Secretary), Liz Ellis (Betty Halden), James Sinclair with Guests Jimmy Pyke (ex-North Point) and Celine Franklin, Daisy McLaughlin (Badal) and her daughter Gaye Davis, Joyce Course (Leroy), Fazle Khundkar and Tariq Rahmin. Although there was only a few of us (many members responding with their inability to attend), a very good time was had by all. The meal was excellent with a wide range of curry dishes served buffet style in the conservatory area of the restaurant, which was light and airy. Photographs can be seen on the "Look at Them Now" page in the Photo Gallery.
Most recently, we have had contact with Lynda Du Croix (Martin) who was in school in the 1950's and would like to contact her old school friends. The most interesting contact of last year was when I received an email from Kitty Katzell (Mildred Engberg) who was the daughter of one-time Headmistress, Lila Engberg (1931-35), and who lives in New Jersey, USA. Mildred accompanied her mother to Darjeeling when she was a child. Besides the very precious old school magazines and photograph albums she so kindly sent me at her own expense, she also included a biography of her mother, entitled "Lila" which she published in 2006, which includes a very interesting chapter of her mother's term as Headmistress of Mount Hermon School. She was well acquainted with Carolyn Stahl, Headmistress (1918-29) and in fact travelled back to the States with her on furlough in 1930. This was of great interest to Susan Eason, great-great grandniece of Carolyn Stahl, who had visited MHS in 2000 to search for any information on her Aunt Josie, and who had written to me seeking information on anyone who had known her. It was a great pleasure to put Susan and Kitty in touch with each other and Kitty was able to fill Susan in with stories about her Aunt. Other contacts have been made with Calvin Laporte, Edmund Jonah, Zoe Kelman, Tim Reynolds, Carol Horne, Greta Halling Nielsen (Christensen), Sandra Robinson (Phillippe), Aimo Aho, Connie Isaacs (Constance Mozelle Anna Saul), Wajid Ali Khan Panni, June (Anderson) Wallin, and Jigmi Kazi who is a journalist in Sikkim and was elected First President of Hermonites International (formed in 2005). He was a student in MHS from 1963-72, in the Teachers' Training College (1974-75) and a Teacher in 1974-75. Please see our Contacts Page for further information.
It is with great sadness that we have to announce the death of Author and Honorary OMHSA Member, Terry Martin, on the 29th April 2010 after a long illness. He wrote three books on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway; the first "Halfway to Heaven" published in 2000 and subsequently Volumes One and Two of "The Iron Sherpa," the Story of Darjeeling and its Remarkable Railway. He was a regular supporter of OMHSA and attended several of our Reunions in London. In his first book he published the words of the old Mount Hermon School songs, "Going Home Day," and "Riding Roads of Sunshine." He will be sadly missed.
Members will also be saddened to learn of the death of Edith Stiffle (Lloyd-Marrow) on 9th April 2010. Edith had been an invalid for some years and was in a care home at the time of her death. I also heard from Gordon Hostetler of the deaths of Oprha Hershberger (2003), Adrienne Peace (Kilroy) ( 2008) and Mary Ann Melchart (Hostetler) (2005). It was kind of Gordon to provide me with this information. I wrote to him after our 2009 Newsletters were returned undelivered from these members.
Contact with Greta Nielsen (Christensen)
We heard from Greta Nielsen who sent us some old photographs which I have published on our website. She has since become a Life Member of OMHSA.
"I have been looking at the OMHSA pages and enjoying it all very much. I am living in Denmark but went to Mount Hermon from 1943 to 1945 (Greta Christensen). My old friend Doris Hunt (Hazel's classmate) showed me the school home page when she visited us on a cruise tour and stopped in Copenhagen. I met Hazel in England in 1995 and we had dinner together with Doris and her husband at Gilbeys Restaurant in Old Amersham - please give her my love."
Many apologies from me regarding the lack
of newsletters, mainly owing to (1) My having moved house and (2) my having been
in hospital after a minor stroke. But I’m glad to say I’m fully
recovered now. To repeat myself, my address is now 3 Badgers Walk, Cedars
Village, Dog Kennel Lane, Chorleywood, Rickmansworth, HERTS WD3 5GA, a
retirement village where I have bought a bungalow. It was a
wrench to leave my old house with all its memories of my husband and myself, but
it was a bit oversized for me to live in and run, so I decided to
join my friend, Anjali Paul (nee Dutt) whom some of you may remember from our
schooldays at MHS, and who I used to visit, 5 minutes away from where I
used to live. Sadly, Anjali died suddenly just before I moved
here (2007). She was a good friend, and it was very sad. She
was captain of Windsor House, (my house) when I was at MHS from
1940 - 1943, all those aeons ago! I used to visit Anjali
frequently, and that was how I came to know Cedars Village.
Some more MHS news is that I was contacted
by a gentleman whose Grandmother, Daisy Badal, was also a student at MHS in
the 1940s. Daisy is still with us I'm pleased to say, and if
anyone would like to be in touch with her, please let me know, and I will delve
around in my messy study for her current address! (My apologies for
being unable to supply this in this current newsletter. Put it down
to the fact that your Hon. Sec. is still all at sixes and sevens).
We hope to see many of you at our
forthcoming reunion lunch at the Bombay Brasserie in London, on 23rd May this
Salaams and samosas,
Hazel (Innes) Craig
www.oldmhs.com has attracted some ex-MHS students to join OMHSA.
These are: Dianne (Williamson) Bonny (MHS 1942-45); Roger
Griffiths (MHS 1963-65); David Ghey (MHS 1943-44);
Frances Ghey (MHS 1939-43); Lucinda (Gibbs) Wharrie (MHS
1968-72); Ronen Ghose (MHS 1950’s); Ron Ghose (MHS 1981-82); Pradip
Verma (MHS 1961-75); Raji (Samuel) Woodland (MHS Teacher 1961);
Menno Ziessen (MHS 197-59); Barry Morrow (MHS 1950-57); Shantha
Arulanaantham (MHS 1969-71) and Daisy Badal.
We have had the pleasure of meeting some of them at our recent reunions.
- Brian Parker with his reminiscences of books he received as prizes on
Speech Day during his school year (1947) and who would like to contact Ira (Rao)
Dash; Frank Jacobs who is visiting Darjeeling and Mount Hermon, where
his mother Elizabeth Badal attended in 1935-45; Thinley Dem from
Bhutan (MHS 1972-82), Sheila Ingram whose mother Margaret Pierce-Jones
attended Mount Hermon School during the 1930s/40s and would like to hear from
any "oldies" who might remember her; Kitty Katzell (formerly Mildred
Engberg) in school from 1926-34; Pratab Singh Rai (MHS 1954-67)
who lives in Darjeeling and who is a regular visitor to OMHSA and other Mount
Hermon websites; Trevor Schubert (MHS 1957-65); Andrea (Phillippe)
Porter and Sandra (Phillippe) Robinson (MHS 1959-61).
We were also contacted by Gaye Davis, daughter of Daisy Badal who
has now joined OMHSA as a Life Member and who is looking forward to attending
our next reunion,with her daughter. We have had contact with a
charming young lady, Susan Eason, from the USA, who came across our
website. She contacted me as she is interested in hearing from any of our
older members who may remember her great-great-grandaunt, Carolyn Stahl,
who was Principal of Queen's Hill and Mount Hermon between 1918 - 1928 (See
History of MHS page). She has recently visited the old school, travelling
half-way across the world, just to see the place where her "Aunt
Josie" worked. She has sent me a lot of early photographs of both
Queen's Hill and the newer Mount Hermon School, which had just been built,
(1925) as the photographs clearly show building materials scattered about, from
her Aunt Josie's collection. I have intermingled these photographs in the
appropriate parts of the Photo Gallery, and have marked them as from the
"Stahl Collection." These photographs Susan kindly sent me have
survived the years (about eighty) pretty well, though some editing was
necessary. The pages that have been updated with her pictures are: History
of MHS, and in the Photo Gallery - Old School, School Staff and Older
Our Reunion Lunch
at the Bombay Brasserie, London on Saturday May 26th was a great success.
There were 17 of us altogether, including guests, and those who attended were
Fazle Khundkar, Menno Ziessen, Liz Ellis, Dianne Bonny
& husband, Shantha Arulanantham, Elizabeth Goold, Cindy
Wharrie, Joy Broad, Tariq Rahman & little daughter, James
Sinclair and two guests, Terry Martin - author of "The Iron
Sherpa" a book about Darjeeling and the DH Railway, Fabien
Raymondaud (Guest) and Hazel Craig Hon. Secretary OMHSA.
On 19th December 2007,
Just before Christmas, there was a mini-reunion (courtesy Jimmy Pyke) at the
Shikara Indian Restaurant in Chelsea Cloisters, London, with some old
North Pointers and MHS Classmates of 1954-55 - Barry Morrow, Menno
Ziessen and James Sinclair. Photographs of the event have been
published on the "Look At Them Now" page in the Photo Gallery.
Menno and James also met up with OMHSA member Ronen Ghose who
lives in Milton Keynes, in November last year.
It was really a joyous reunion for Menno and Ronen after 50 years, and
they had many school memories to share.
Reunion Lunch for 2008 took place at the Bombay Brasserie, London on Saturday 26th
April. Those members who attended
were Fazle Khundkar, Ida Smith (Ray), Liz Ellis (Betty Halden),
Joy Broad and her daughter, Terry Martin, author of the excellent
book on the D.H. Railway, who we have made an Honorary Member, and who brought
along with him three guests, Fabien Raymondaud, Marilyn Metz and Peter
Tiller. Marilyn and Peter have
strong associations with Darjeeling and its unique railway.
James Sinclair brought ex-North Pointer Jimmy Pyke with him
as Jimmy is a regular attendee of our annual reunions,
and of course I attended myself. We
had hoped for more OMHSA members to attend, but unfortunately most of them had
previous engagements for the day. Still
it was a friendly gathering and the meal was very enjoyable.
It is with great sadness that
we have to report that our loyal OMHSA member, who was always at our annual
reunion, Joyce (Ezekiel) Thorne, died in January 2006.
We also received sad news in January 2008 from Winnie Schultz Daussman,
that her school friend and OMHSA Member, Mary Ann Melchert (Hostetler)
MHS 1933-43, sadly passed away in November 2006. It is with great sadness
too that we heard news of the demise of Jeroo Gilder on April 1st 2006.
Another member who sadly died just before Christmas 2008 was Vanda Williamson.
She was a very supportive member of
OMHSA. And as mentioned before, Anjali
Paul (Dutt) died shortly before I moved to my new address (2007).
All these members will be sadly missed.
Pointer, Jimmy Pyke, who is a regular guest at our London reunions, has
returned from Darjeeling, which he visited in March 2008. He paid a
courtesy call on Mount Hermon and was invited to tea by the Principal, Mr.
George Fernandez. He said the school is now looking very impressive!
next reunion is planned for Saturday 23rd May 2009 at the Bombay
Brasserie, Courtfield Close, Courtfield Road (Opposite Gloucester Road Tube
Station), London SW7. The cost of
the meal is £25 a head and drinks can be had at the bar at a special discounted
website address is www.oldmhs.com
Please contact James Sinclair (Jimsin12@aol.com)
if you have changed your email address, postal address or phone number for our
records. We would particularly like the email address for Joy Abrahams
(Callow) as emails to her old address are bouncing.