The Association was formed in 1923 by a group of ex pupils of the then King Henry Vlll’s Grammar School getting together “over a pint”! In conversation they realised that there was at that time no network that could provide ex pupils with a fulcrum for information about their fellow school chums and a means of getting together. So started King Henry Vlll’s Grammar School Old Boys Association. Throughout the School’s lifetime it has provided the town and the world with a host of important and influential public figures, who have be in the forefront of public life in a multitude of ways. The Founder-members sponsored a handsome memorial to their colleagues who had died in The Great War; this has been updated to include those who have given their lives in all the recent conflicts so that others may live in peace. Yearly since those days we salute those ex pupils and others at the November Armistice Service held at the school.
The Association flourished in the inter-war years, Opera. Amateur Dramatics, Rugby, and other Sports interests were catered for, with the news and views of all members being in our first class journal, The Gobannian.
Socially there were dances, and, as today, the highlight of the year was the Annual Dinner, held at the start in the old Greyhound Hotel, now in the marvellously refurbished town centre hotel The Angel.
Ex pupils and members of the KHGS-OBA were busy from 1939 and still are in the Middle East on war service and peace keeping duties. The local sea/air cadet corps, founded by senior masters and past pupils, made a significant contribution to the well being of local boys and girls. The Air Cadets Corps are still a part of Abergavenny life and often a spring board for membership of Her Majesties Forces. I am sure they like us are proud of our formative days at King Henry.
Subsequently the Association has evolved to meet the changing needs in secondary education, and works very harmoniously with the comprehensive school and became King Henry Vlll’s School Old Boys Association, the latest metamorphosis (wouldn’t Fanny Jones be proud to know that I still remember my Biology) is to welcome ladies into the fold and to do so the Association has become the King Henry Vlll’s School Former Pupils Association
Events include in July a cricket match against the seniors, an annual Golf Match (whilst is not exactly the Ryder Cup is equally contested), a prize fund to finance awards, representation on the governing body, participation in sports and commemorative ceremonies, and a healthy spirit of co-operation on both sides. The most interesting recent initiative is to support the school rugby match against teams from Portadown in Northern Ireland. This replaces the traditional School versus Old Boys fixture that was for so long the final “crunch” of the season. In the modern context it is probably a more realistic and socially relevant development.
The Association’s Committee meets at The Angel on the first Monday (except when if falls on a Bank Holiday, when it moves forward a week) of the month. As occasions arise we support other local enterprises as well as the school. At the Rotary Steam Rally, for example, at the Food Festival, the Operatic Society, the Eisteddfod and so many charities and businesses too many to mention. The social calendar includes an outside visit for members and companions.
The Gobannian is a first class yearly magazine, packed with high quality articles and information . Carrying on a long tradition it is still printed in house by King Henry School, articles include all the up-to date information about the year’s events and achievements of the school.
Undoubtedly the key event of each year is the Annual Dinner, held early November, at the Angel. We are lucky to have such a splendid venue, which is proud to host us and have allowed us the privilege of having a brass plaque in the entrance portal.
The dinner is a chance for old friends from all over the world to meet again, relax, and reminisce, and to be entertained by a good speaker.