Andy Redwood, Vice President, RHS (Alumni) Association, on the shared common bond of current and former pupils:
"Older alumni remember waiting for their name to be called to receive letters from home during their days at RHS. By re-imagining the tradition of 'Letters Home' today's pupils are reaching out to older alumni at a time when they need human connection the most. We were delighted to support this initiative".
The 'Letters Home' initiative was a joint effort by RHS Compass Programme and the RHS (Alumni) Association to help build a bridge between current pupils and elderly alumni during self-isolation. The School's Compass Programme provides lower school pupils with citizenship skills and, in this case, develop curiosity by asking alumni questions, whilst keeping alive the disappearing art of the handwritten letter. The initiative also formed part of the school's impressive remote curriculum which enabled 750 pupils the world over to continue their studies via online teaching.
As RHS Compass teacher and former submariner, Lt Cdr Mark Edmondson Rtd explained "Having the opportunity to reach out at this time is vital for our society and we in school have grasped that chance and fully engaged with the letter writing tradition embedded in many of our alumni. The pupils are the stars and they have a real connection with our alumni as seen in the interesting and sometimes funny questions they have asked in their letters. I am certain that the 'Old Boys' as one pupil commented will certainly relish the chance to connect with their past, and I know that our pupils are very much looking forward to any response they receive.
The letter writing scheme is the perfect answer to fill a void that not being at school. It is the embodiment of 'navigating success' and brings many aspects of the programme to a single piece of work. As well as thanking the pupils for their hard work, the teachers who have organised and saved this work in light of today's data regulations must be thanked for the extra time they have put in to deliver this endeavor. Finally my thanks to Simon Marsh for providing the spark to allow this project to come to life".
From the hundreds of exchanges, pupils learnt a lot about the history of the School from those that went before them. The small selection below gives a sense of the deep connections made, some surprising things pupils discovered, and the joy and mutual benefit to young and old.
Victor Burgess (Howe 1934) and Joel
In 102 year old Victor Burgess (Howe 1934)'s case his connection to RHS stretches all the way back to the School's original site in Greenwich.Here is Victor's inspiring reply to Joel:
Lt Cdr Mike Coombes (Drake 1955) and Bella
In response to Bella's fantastic letter below, Mike drops a bombshell for us all (including those of us producing the 'Gidge' Alumni Magazine!) "Your letter asked what has changed, and what has remained the same since my time, and it has been interesting for me to reflect on this. One very minor change which I have found interesting is that in my time our hats were referred to as a 'gibbys' and it seems the spoken word over the years has changed to the present 'gidge'".
We hope to compile all the letters and responses in an online book which we will post and file with the De Neumann Digital Archive of the Royal Hospital School. In the meantime here are few more letters and replies...