Dragon Community Archived News

The Dragon Community is broad and active. It includes Old Dragons, parents, staff, former parents and former staff. The Dragon has strong values and an enduring culture that forms a bond across generations, and the strength of its community is cemented by events that provide regular opportunities to re-connect, supported by social media including an active Facebook page. As the leavers are comforted each year: ‘Once a Dragon, Always a Dragon’.

John Hunt - ShoebagThe Life of a Dragon Shoebag

John Hunt (OD 1946), who attended our recent reunion, sent us a copy of his letter that appeared in the Daily Telegraph on the 4th February 2016, which we thought would amuse you.

Name tapes: the well-travelled, long-lasting kind

SIR – I notice, with regret, that Cash’s, the company that makes woven name tapes, has gone into administration (leading article, February 1).

I still travel with shoe bags that I took to my prep school, complete with name tapes. The bags (and the name tapes) have seen service in the Army and were with me during the 50 years that I spent in several African countries. I took them to various European countries, America, the Far East, and they are shortly to visit southern Africa again.

John has since told us that his 'shoebag' has large yellow initials embroidered by a Great Aunt and the famous Cash's name tape - F.John Hunt.

'Over 'shoebag's' lifetime he has travelled to the Dragon School, Repton School, West Germany with British Army of the Rhine, Tanganyika Territory (1954), Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Dubai, Zambia, South Africa, Canada, USA, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Panama, Belgian Congo later Zaire, Congo Republic, Ruanda/Urundi now Rwanda, Burundi, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Basutoland (now Lesotho), Botswana (was Bechuanaland), Swaziland, Malawi (was Nyasaland), Namibia, Mauritius, Germany, France, Italy, Malta, Crete, Poland, Spain, Holland,Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Switerland, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

'Shoebag' lived in Africa for 53 years, has visited the Arctic Circle, and has been round the Horn, round the Cape of Good Hope, twice through the Suez Canal and once though the Panama Canal. 

A life towards which all shoebags should strive! 

Pre-1950s Reunion

On Thursday, 24th March, the Dragon was delighted to welcome back 180 Old Dragons and guests to the pre-1950s Reunion at the Dragon. After a drinks reception, the Rev Anthony Harvey said Grace. The Hon. Peter Jay delivered a warm and witty speech which was followed by the Headmaster welcoming the Old Dragons back to the ‘Neverland’ memories of their childhood. The highlight of the afternoon was a rendition of the School song recorded especially for our former pupils by this year's boarders at Sing Song. Each attendee was given a souvenir booklet, researched by Archivist Gay Sturt, which included the words of the School Song so everyone could join in. It was a very joyful event full of fond memories, renewed friendships and laughter.

Our oldest attendees were Deidre Arthur (OD 1930) who had joined the Dragon in 1929, Richard Griffiths (OD 1939) and John Woodcock (OD 1940). We were also delighted to be joined by Old Dragons who had travelled from overseas: Tristram Pye (OD 1943) travelled over from Munich, Germany, Michael Berger (OD 1944) from Portugal, as well as Martin Green (OD 1948) and Michael Boyd-Carpenter (OD 1945) from France.

New York Drinks 2014

A wonderful time was had meeting Old Dragons and guests at the Roger Smith Hotel in New York on Wednesday 22nd October. Over 30 guests shared fond memories and renewed old friendships over wine and canapés.The ODs spanned across a wide range of year groups from Matthew Southern (OD 2004) to Professor John Hedley-Whyte (OD 1947) and his wife Tessa, who travelled from Boston to attend the occasion.  

Our newest NYC member who attended was Nick Ainley (OD 1995), who has moved recently to live and work in New York. Desmond Devitt, Registrar, spoke briefly about the success of the New York Exchange programme and the school's close ties with New York.

He mentioned that Matthew Hickman (OD 1977) is to be our new Dragon Community representative in New York with the aim of creating a more supportive network for all Dragon Community members working, living or studying in the New York State area. He talked to guests about the planned Music facility. Many ODs were interested in the project and others pledged their support to help make it a reality.

ODs based in or around New York are encouraged to contact the OD Office to help us plan future events for the Dragon community.

BAFTA Win - TheebBAFTA Win

Congratulations to ODs Naji Abu Nowar (1995) and Rupert Lloyd (1994) for their exceptional debut film Theeb, winning the 'Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer' at the 2016 BAFTAs. Theeb was also nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars and Abu Nowar won Variety's 2014 Arab Director of the Year. Set during WW1, the film explores the impact of an external culture on a young Bedouin, Theeb, and his tribe. Naji told the Guardian, "If you love what you do, then no matter what your level of success you will be happy. I don't need an Oscar or any awards or success to be happy, because making films does that for me." 

1963-69 Reunion (2014)

Thomas Brown - Featherbones Book LaunchOD Book Launch

Prize-nominated Thomas Brown (OD 2002) celebrated the publication of his second novel ‘Featherbones’ at Waterstones in Witney on 13th February 2015. 'Featherbones' is the tale of a young man being haunted by loss, a difficult past and the struggle to accept his truest self. Thomas read from his book, signed copies and answered questions with tea, coffee, cake and booky chat. Thomas' previous book ‘Lynnwood’ was shortlisted for the People's Book Prize. 

Fathers Breakfast 2014Fathers' Breakfast 2014

Early on Saturday morning, 13th September, we were delighted to be joined by over 150 fathers from both the Dragon and Lynams for the annual Fathers’ Breakfast. After a welcome from the Headmaster, the catering team provided a hearty BBQ of bacon and sausage butties, with plenty of coffee to keep fathers warm while they chatted on a slightly chilly September morning.

Thank you to everyone who was able to join us, we hope you enjoyed it.

ODs Nominated for BAFTAs and an Oscar

THEEB, written and directed by Old Dragons, has been nominated for two BAFTAs and an OSCAR. The BAFTA nominations are for Film Not in the English Language and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer for Naji Abu Nowar (OD 1992) and Writer/Director and Rupert Lloyd (OD 1994), the film’s Producer. The Academy Award nomination is for Best Foreign Language Film.


Skipper Society Day 2014

Skipper Society Day 2014Every year in June, ODs and members of the Dragon community who have pledged legacies to the Dragon are invited to attend the Skipper Society Day – an annual event which welcomes them back to the school.

This year was no exception and on Saturday 7th June Skipper Society Members and their guests returned to the Dragon for a morning’s musical entertainment in the Lynam Hall. Fifty children, including pupils from our Dragon Pre-Prep: Lynams and Years 4-7, performed songs from Annie Get Your Gun and Pirates of Penzance. The Year 2 Lynams children playing their violas and violins received rapturous applause for their wonderful efforts and there was not a dry eye as the Dragon School Choir sang John Rutter’s, The Lord Bless You and Keep You.

A delicious lunch with the Headmaster followed the concert and enabled Skipper members an opportunity to hear about the School’s future plans and latest achievements.

For more information about joining the Society please click here.

World Athletics in Safe Hands

In his role as Honorary Legal Adviser to the London World Athletics Championships 2017, the Honourable Michael Beloff, QC (OD 1954) is heading up the International Association of Athletics Federations’ Ethics Commission. Michael's distinguished career includes holding various sport related positions, including Ethics Commissioner for the London 2012 bid, the Chairman of the IAAF Ethics Commission and membership of the Court of Arbitration for Sport since 1996. It is gratifying and comforting to know that the ethics commission is led by an Old Dragon, and former Dragon Governor, and we will be following the progress of the commission over the coming months.

Staff vs Parents and ODs Cricket Match 2014

On Friday 9th May Parents & OD XI took on a Staff XI in the T20 format. The parents meant business this year, with numerous Oxbridge jumpers appearing on the field and three young gun ODs in Matthew Karslake (OD 2010), Jack Gordon-Colebrooke (OD 2010) and Jamie Beale (OD 2012).

Parent Charles Olver was the first to get his timing going and was retired when he reached 30; he was ably supported by parent Jonathan Orders who made a really classy 28. The Parents and ODs finished on a solid 121. In reply, the staff got off to a slow start with wickets falling regularly. Ty Stooge reached 30 with shots all round the wicket and Mr Foster clumped the ball to all corners, literally. Seemingly in control, the staff needed just 21 off 5 overs. However, after Umpire (and, by chance, Parents’ Manager…) Sasha White gave Master i/c Cricket Mr Went out LBW, a few unnecessary run outs and then the other Umpire, Mr Devitt, pulling out the stumps as he thought the game was over, the Staff still needed 10 to win off only 5 balls.

Ty Stooge returned to the crease and managed 4 off the next 4 balls – 6 were still needed for victory. Charles Olver bowled the last ball…Ty heaved across the line, top-edged it and the ball just crept over the boundary for the required six runs.

An enthralling end to a great game and the staff, ODs and Parents ended the day with a buffet to rival some of the evening’s bowling in the staff dining room.

Desmond Devitt Retires

Desmond DevittAfter almost 40 years of dedicated service, Desmond Devitt has retired from the Dragon. During an extraordinary Dragon career, he has (amongst many other things) been Head of History, 1st game cricket coach, i/c Sound, Housemaster of Gunga Din (17 years) and Registrar. Many parents and Dragons will be indebted to Desmond for all he has done and we wish him all the best in a very well deserved retirement. Please email your memories and recollections for the OD Magazine to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For all admissions enquiries please now contact our Registrar, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., in the Admissions Office.


London Drinks Evening 2013

On Thursday 19th September we held a drinks evening for ODs from 1990-2003 at London’s Bar Soho. It was a wonderful turnout, thank you very much to everyone who came along and helped to make the evening so memorable. We will be in touch again very soon, and look forward to planning a similar event in future. Should you wish to get in contact or would like any further information on future OD events please contact the OD office at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

London Drinks Old Dragons 90-03London Drinks Old Dragons 90-03

London Drinks Old Dragons 90-03

London Drinks Old Dragons 90-03

Victoria Moves on to Pastures New

VictoriaWe say goodbye to Victoria Humble-White, Dragon Alumni Officer, who leaves us on 19th January 2016. Victoria joined us from Oriel College as Development Officer. Prior to that she was Assistant Curator at the National Trust – where she developed curating skills which she put to good use for our outstanding Dragon WW1 event last September. Victoria took on the role of Alumni Officer in 2009 and has been a very great asset to the Dragon in that role, putting her degree in English and Classics to good use with her sensitive and intelligent communication with ODs, the development of a series of excellent reunions, writing and producing many editions of the outstanding magazine and maintaining the OD web and online presence.

Victoria will be joining the Academic Office at Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford and we are sure you will join us in wishing her the best of luck in her new role.

1953-1958 Reunion

1953-1958 Reunion Booklet

Over 150 Old Dragons from 1953-1958 returned to the Dragon on Friday, 22nd March 2013 for a reunion dinner and a chance to reunite with old friends. ODs came from all over the world to see the school again, some of them for the first time in 60 years. Headmaster John Baugh welcomed everyone and Grace was said by Bishop John Snape (OD 1954). Journalist Stephen Jessel (OD 1956) then spoke warmly of his Dragon years and his contemporaries.

After dinner, the ODs had an opportunity to mingle and meet old friends, during which time a souvenir booklet produced especially for the occasion was handed out to everyone. The booklet includes photos of all of the ODs who attended the reunion, and recalls their time at the school with photos of them from the 1950s.  Hard copies of the booklet can be obtained from the OD Office. 


New Music School Architects Appointed

 The Dragon is pleased to announce that Oxford-based Architects Berman Guedes Stretton (BGS)  have been appointed to review and develop the School’s building masterplan including a new Music School, which remains the School’s top building priority.

BGS have a reputation for delivering high quality architecture and have won a number of invited and open design competitions and many awards, including the RIBA National award, RIBA and RICS Regional Awards and RIBA Conservation and Sustainability Awards. They were finalists for the Building Design Education Architect of the Year 2013, and their recent projects in Oxford include Wolfson College, Pembroke College, Queen’s College and St Clare’s.The School will now be working closely with BGS over the next three months to confirm the master plan for Bardwell Road and Lynams. The principles for Bardwell Road remain to bring all academic functions, including music, into the heart of the School, whilst developing the pastoral, boarding and staff accommodation in concentric zones radiating out from the academic heart. As soon as the key elements of the masterplan have been confirmed, we anticipate developing the design for the new Music School in time to resubmit a planning application this autumn. We will provide further updates as the masterplanning and design work progresses. 

OD Cricket Match 2012

On Sunday, 27th May, a stalwart side of OD sportsmen faced off against the cream of the staff cricketing crop for the 2012 ODs vs Staff cricket match. The two teams refused to let the soaring temperatures affect their game, with many holding onto long-held rivalries from their previous encounters. Fortified by unending refreshments, the ODs batted first and scored a very respectable 158 runs. All the ODs played well, despite several pre-game confessions of rusty batting and bowling. However, the Staff side pressed their home advantage and by the end of the afternoon had almost levelled the score. A final thrust from the Staff left them victorious by only a few runs. At the end of the match, the scoreboard showed 161, and the two teams determined to play again next time.

OD v Staff Cricket 2012

Remembrance Service 2015

The Dragon held its Remembrance service on Wednesday, Armistice Day, at 11:00am and we were delighted to welcome back Old Dragons and former staff to share in our whole school act of worship and remembrance.

Remembrance Service 2015This year two members of HMS Dragon’s ship company joined us for the service and laid a wreath on behalf of the Armed Services. Dragon pupils read poems and led the prayers and ‘No Ordinary Sunday’ by Jon Stallworthy (Old Dragon) was read, along with ‘The Spires of Oxford’ and ‘The Soldier’.

At 11:00am the school bell sounded and the two minute silence was impeccably observed, followed by a beautifully played ‘Last Post’. The Concert band played a moving rendition of ‘Abide with me’. The wreaths were laid by our youngest two boarders on behalf of Dragon pupils and Mr Desmond Devitt laid one on behalf of the staff. The service was brought to a conclusion with two Old Dragon pipers playing ‘The Flowers of the Forest’ and a Lament.

On 6th September 2015 the Dragon held a WW1 commemoration day. We have produced a short video (see below) which evokes much of the spirit of the day, and the emotions behind the act of Remembrance. Please take a few minutes to view this short video or read the full story here as part of this special period of respect and reflection.

Remembrance Service 2015


London Dragon Debate 2012

'Educating the 22nd Century Child'

The inaugural London Dragon Debate took place on 14th May, kindly hosted by Hogan Lovells. Chaired by Barnaby Lenon, former Headmaster of Harrow School and Chairman of the Independent Schools Council, a panel of professional educators discussed education for an unpredictable future. Joining our Headmaster, John Baugh, on the panel were Claire Oulton, Head of Benenden School, Patrick Derham, Headmaster of Rugby School and The Rt Revd. Peter Hullah, the Former Bishop of Ramsay, Former Headmaster of Chetham’s School of Music, and Former Principal of Northampton Academy.

Questions gathered from the audience in advance formed the basis for the panel discussion on both the contemporary curriculum and what education and learning might mean in the future. The importance of various skill sets against the global backdrop of a future job economy was hotly debated by both the panellists and the audience. This led to a more philosophical discussion on the core purpose of education and the key values inherent to teaching both now, and in years to come. Following the debate, discussion continued over drinks, also at Hogan Lovells, where the panellists and audience members could enjoy a spectacular view over the City of London.

London Debate 2012

Think Like An Artist

150 parents, former parents and Old Dragons attended the Dragon London Lecture on Thursday 30 April 2015. Will Gompertz, the BBC’s charismatic Arts Editor, entertained Old Dragons, parents and staff with his thought-provoking talk based on his forthcoming book, Think Like an Artist, in the elegant Art Deco lecture theatre of the Royal British Institute of Architects (RIBA), London.

A drinks reception was held in the theatre foyer which was decorated with a creative display of spring flowers. Two brief performances demonstrated Dragon pupils’ creative progression and set the tone for Will’s talk: The E Block Horn Trio played a hymn tune and March for Three Dragons, specially composed for them, and The Dragon Saxophone Quartet played three challenging pieces.

Will’s very witty and entertaining talk focused on the lessons we can learn from great artists as diverse as Rubens, Picasso, Bridget Riley, Damien Hirst and Theaster Gates. He concluded that great artists are entrepreneurial, focused and continually seeking out inspiration. They take ideas from the past and rework and reinvent them to create something new. Will hypothesised that a new Creative Class is evolving out of the technical revolution and therefore nurturing creativity will become essential for our young Dragons’ future success.

Think Like an Artist will be published on 16 July 2015 and Will be selling and signing copies at the next Dragon Sale.

Will Gompertz London LectureYear 4 Horn Trio: William, Robert and Theodore

Will Gompertz London LectureLondon Lecture - Drinks Reception

Will Gompertz London LectureWill Gompertz, London Lecture - Think Like An Artist

1950-52 and 2000-02 Reunion (2012)

JOD Day 2015

250 Junior Old Dragons from leaving years 2010-2014 and their parents filled the Dining Hall on Saturday 21st March to celebrate the 2015 JOD Day. All current staff members were present and were delighted to have the opportunity to see their former pupils again. John Baugh gave a warm welcome to the ODs, and encouraged them to remain in contact with the School throughout their education and as they launch their careers.

JOD Days take place biennially. As Dragons move into their new schools and universities they are encouraged to update us with their news and contact details. The OD Office is delighted to welcome back ODs for visits and to hear news of achievements, great or small.

“Had the loveliest day at the Dragon School. So lovely to be reunited with friends and teachers who mean so much.”
Imelia Taylor (OD 2012)


1970-75 Reunion Dinner

1970-75 Reunion DinnerMarch 2012 saw 180 enthusiastic ODs and former staff return to the Dragon for the 1970-75 Leavers’ Reunion. This popular and immensely enjoyable evening began with drinks in the Forum – a building new to most.

ODs came from all over the world to reunite with old friends and to see the school again, some returning for the first time in 40 years. Before a very convivial dinner, Grace was said by Canon Ron Lloyd (former Chaplain 1969-82). Headmaster John Baugh then gave a warm welcome and remarked how much the ethos of the school remains intact. Afterwards Arthur Somerset (OD 1973) entertained with an amusing speech featuring a wealth of memories, staff nicknames and school vocabulary known only to Dragons.

Guests were given a special souvenir booklet recalling their time at the school and including many of them in photographs from the 1970s. Later, Deputy Head Ed Phelps (OD 1978) and Lynams Senior Mistress Mary Kinnear led many of the crowd to continue their celebrations into the early hours at the ‘Rose and Crown’ pub on North Parade.

1983 – 1989 OD Reunion

The reunion for 1983 – 1989 Old Dragon leavers at the Dragon on Friday 20th March 2015 achieved the highest attendance for this generation, with 130 guests at the dinner.  Headmaster, John Baugh, spoke to the ODs about the School now and how the ethos of ‘robust informality and relaxed rigour’ at the Dragon has remained very much intact since Skipper’s days. Several former members of staff also joined the ODs at the dinner, amongst them was guest speaker, Chris Stuart-Clark, who amused listeners with his warm reflections on children of the 80s learning to swim in the River Cherwell.

“The dinner was delicious and the wine flowed as freely as the conversations with many old faces/friends whom all had interesting life stories to tell.”
Edward Searle, OD 1985

“It was really great fun to catch up with everyone after so long.. Thank you for an excellent evening.”
Tom Grand, OD 1988

“It was a great evening and fantastic to catch up with people from the past (even if hard to recognise at times!). It brought back some wonderful memories of a very special childhood and made me realise how privileged I was to be able to attend the school.”
Ben Gannon, OD 1988


Old Dragons in the Varsity Rugby Match

1945 Varsity MatchThe Dragon has a strong reputation for rugby and has produced a string of international players and England captains. In a year in which two former pupils of the Dragon featured in the Varsity Rugby Match between Oxford and Cambridge Universities, it is fitting to recall the long tradition of Dragon involvement in the fixture throughout its one hundred and thirty year history.
(The image on the right shows four Old Dragons snapped at the 1945 Varsity Rugby Match)

Prior to this year’s match, twenty seven different ODs have played a Varsity match, and due to several of them having played in more than one Varsity match (indeed, four have played in three matches and eight have played in two), the Dragon has been represented a total of thirty times on the Varsity pitch. Four Dragons went on to captain a Varsity team – Ronnie Poulton (OD 1902), John Pearce (OD 1938), Philip Moore (OD 1934) and Giles Bullard (OD 1936) – and ten Dragons have been awarded Blues. A further nine Blues were awarded “Wartime” Blues in the unofficial matches held between 1940 and 1944. ODs have predominantly played for Oxford in the Varsity Match; only twice have Old Dragons represented Cambridge during the history of the Varsity Match. Brian Jones (OD 1937), whose grandson Gus, also an OD, played this year for Oxford, played for Cambridge in 1949, while James Foster (OD 1980) did so in 1988. It is not unusual for more than one Dragon to play in one Varsity match; like in 2012, two Dragons played in the 1927, 1947, 1949, 1950 and 1956 fixtures, four ODs played in the 1940 fixture, and three ODs were joined by an OD referee, Cyril Gadney, in the 1945 fixture.

The most notable of Dragon rugby players are Harry Vassall, Ronnie Poulton, Bernard Gadney and Cyril Gadney. Vassall – later known as ‘Jugs’ – was early connected to the Dragon through his friendship with influential Dragon headmaster, Charles (“Skipper”) Lynam, which was forged when Skipper played three-quarter under Vassall’s captaining of the Oxford University team in 1882-3. Vassall gained his first sporting ‘Blue’ during the 1879 Varsity Match, and went on to lead Oxford to victory in the 1881 Varsity match with a performance in which ‘picking up close to the line [he] went over like a traction engine’. He is recognised as one of the most important figures in the early development of rugby.

Ronald (‘Ronnie’) Poulton left the Dragon in 1902 and played for Oxford in three Varsity matches from 1909, captaining the last one. During the 1909 match, he led Oxford to victory by scoring five of the game’s nine tries. This remains the individual record for the fixture. Poulton went on to captain England in 1913/14 and was killed in the First World War, aged just twenty-five. He was one of the most notable players of his time, and considered by many contemporary observers as perhaps the greatest-ever attacking rugby union three-quarter.

Bernard Gadney left the Dragon in 1923 and was a scrum-half for England's rugby team in the 1930s.  He won 14 international caps, captaining the side eight times, and led England to win the Triple Crown in 1934, and to their first victory over New Zealand, in 1936.

Cyril Gadney, who left the Dragon in 1919, became an international rugby referee and was made President of the Rugby Football Union in 1962.

This year’s Varsity Match (2011) saw recent ODs Will Rowlands (OD 2005) and Gus Jones (OD 2007) bolstering the Oxford side in the fixture’s 130th incarnation, continuing on the long and proud tradition of Dragon Varsity players.