On Friday evening I was at the Great Hall of Bancroft's School at Woodford for the annual dinner of the Old Bancroftians, an event now well set into its second century. Details of the Old Bancroftians are at http://www.bancroftians.net/
I have not been to every Old Bancroftians' Dinner since I became associated with the school some ten years ago but I think that the turn out was as large, if not larger, than ever and what was also good to see was that there was a large contingent of recent school leavers. In fact I came across one guest who was still at the school.
Jim Williams is this year's President. He was one of the last boarders at the school. From its foundation Bancroft's had been a boys school with boarders. However it had to go through a major change in the mid-seventies when the then Labour government arbitrarily removed direct-grant status from the school. Because of this the governors, with the full support of the Drapers' Company, made the decision that Bancroft's should become a fully independent co-educational day school. He gave an amusing speech that included reminiscences of boarding at Bancroft's in its last years.
Jeremy Bromfield, who started teaching at the school in 1973, and is still working part time as well as trying to sort out the archives and write a further update of the school's history - Jeremy never slows down - also spoke. He was associated with the boarding house from his earliest time at Bancroft's so could, to an extent, corroborate Jim's stories.
Every speaker mentioned the close links between the Drapers' Company and the the school as being one of the essential reasons for its success. This, of course, is always gratifying for a Master Draper to hear. But, having been Chairman of Governors, I am more than aware that a succession of very able Heads, dedicated teachers, as well as the work of the Drapers and non-Drapers governors, have also been essential to the great success of the school over the years.
It was good to see the Old Bancroftians, of all generations, in good heart. With the words of Floreat Bancroftia sung the evening drew to a close. Yet another event organised and enjoyed by a flourishing and forward looking Association.