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News > Old Oakhamian Stories > Meet the OO Chairman

Meet the OO Chairman

In our latest edition of The Old Oakhamian Magazine, we welcome Jonathan Stevens ('79) as the OO Chairman. Jonathan shares his memories of Oakham School and plans for the OO Club.

Oakham School has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember; as the son of Michael and Mary Stevens, who were a part of Oakham since the 1950s, I have many fond memories of life in my early years spent in and around the School.

In the 1960s as a family we moved into Chapmans. Although it was many years ago, I can still recall milk churns and deliveries of food in the early hours when food was prepared individually by each House and if I got lucky, I joined the boys for breakfast. I also remember a very special day for Oakham in 1967 when in my best coat and sporting a very short haircut I got to join others waving flags frantically to welcome her HM Queen Elizabeth knowing we all needed to be on our best behaviour.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that the first girls joined us at a time when John Buchanan was at the helm as Headmaster. The Stevens family moved into Orchard Close, along with the builders… this certainly was an interesting time for my parents, balancing their own family, a new extended family of girls and an ongoing building site!

I joined Oakham School as a pupil in 1974, in the early years of co-education. Oakham was at the forefront of education then just as it is today – a forward-thinking and high achieving school, with teachers always striving to be the best they possibly can be in supporting young people at one of the most important parts of their lives. This was despite a time when the country was experiencing various economic difficulties, including strikes and power cuts; I can even remember having an injection in the School Sanitorium by candlelight during one power cut – never would this happen today!

I enjoyed many happy years in Johnsons House, embraced the role as a House Prefect, before moving on to School House. Opportunities in sport resulted in me playing for the 1st XV and in 1977 touring Japan and Hong Kong. Another sporting highlight was being ninth man in the shooting team in 1975 when we won the Ashburton Shield. Shooting is very much a team sport, and I was lucky enough to have been coached to a very high standard resulting in me being made captain in 1978/9.

So much has changed over time with the buildings and how things are done, which is how it should be…progress. I, like other Old Oakhamians, have many good memories of the old life at Oakham School; learning to swim in the outdoor pool at the end of Cemetery Road, watching House plays and concerts in the Barraclough on very uncomfortable chairs! Standing on duck boards watching the 1st XV when the pitch was at the far end of Doncaster Close, cricket with the old, thatched pavilion and the CCF band parading on Doncaster Close.

When it came to my time to leave Oakham, there was a strong feeling that I and my fellow pupils were well prepared for life after School. I still hold that belief of Oakham today; that with a wide curriculum, co-education, and the enormous opportunities available at the School, Oakhamians are blessed with the social skills, practical approach to life, confidence, and resilience needed to take on the next chapter of their lives. Our Old Oakhamians have achieved so much, and I regularly read with pride the many successes and outstanding achievements of those who enjoyed what Oakham offered them – a strong foundation for life.

My life after Oakham included a long and stimulating career in the Insurance Industry, working in various UK locations and more recently in London. For a number of years, I continued to play for various rugby clubs, including Oakham Town. Today I remain a keen Leicester Tigers and Nottingham Forest supporter, avidly follow Notts Cricket and when time allows, enjoy my time rowing for Nottingham Rowing Club at West Bridgford. Between us, my partner and I have four children, well to be more accurate, young adults, living and working in London and who make us very proud.

My roots are firmly in Oakham. I have a strong affinity to Oakham and Oakham School with lots of fond memories and I was delighted to have been asked to take over the baton from Jono Wills to become your new Chairman. It is a hard act to follow as he is a true Oakham legend. As an OO who has held numerous positions in the School, his knowledge of Oakham and of Oakhamians is second to none, but something I will work hard to build on.

I feel privileged taking on this role. The OO Club has a great history and whilst it is important to recognise and celebrate this and its achievements, I want to better understand the expectations of OOs going forward, our involvement with the School and how the OO Club needs to evolve and change moving forward. I very much look forward to meeting as many of you as possible over the coming months to hear your views, however, I appreciate some of you now live and work outside the UK, therefore, please do not hesitate to reach out to me to share your valuable thoughts.

This article is published in the latest version of The Old Oakhamian Magazine which was released in December 2022, you can read the whole magazine here: The Old Oakhamian Issue 118

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