With previous years’ guest speakers featuring one of the best teachers the school has had and a real life version of James Bond, this year’s speaker was of an equally high calibre.
Daryl Upsall, the guest of honour, is an international fundraiser extraordinaire. His career has been of huge significance internationally, delivering the first pan European fundraising and awareness campaign for HIV/AIDS in the early 90’s, and he worked with some of the greats in this field, such as Freddie Mercury and Elton John, to raise awareness of this terrible disease.
He raised $3M for Nelson Mandela’s election campaign with zero budget, and as fundraising director for Greenpeace International was one of the pioneers of raising awareness of climate change, later working with Al Gore and many others in order to get climate change on the agenda across the world.
His work has been of benefit to mankind.
From humble beginnings in Boston, he graduated and moved to Cambridge to read Geography, converting to Social and Political Sciences in his final year. He didn’t find his time there easy as, at the time, Cambridge was primarily attended by wealthy students who had been privately educated and Daryl coming from a Grammar School, was not endowed with the airs and graces of his publicly educated peers and admitted it to be a real struggle to fit in, finding his feet by organising rally’s against the cuts to education funding proposed by Mrs. Thatcher’s government.
He is someone who is entirely grounded and he said that BGS gave him the confidence to succeed in life and a strong moral grounding to fall back on in times of great stress.
His speech was moving, enthralling and enrapturing.
Dan Elkington, the current president, began proceedings by talking briefly about fundraising efforts this year, and delivered thanks to the immediate past president – Peter Sharman, who has been president of the association for nearly a decade. As part of the association’s spending this year a new school piano was purchased and, on the evening, was named Peter as a small token of thanks for the many years’ service to the association.
John McHenry, the current head teacher, delivered a vote of thanks to Darryl and reminded us of the huge financial pressures the school is under, in that the school, after struggling for years due to a disastrous period when the school was nearly closed as part of a ‘merger’, now is facing the ‘fair funding formula’. This will manifest itself as a cut to the school’s funding, just when it is getting back on its feet financially.
The current head boy, Joe Dean, and head girl, Smilte Matulionyte, (the school is a boys school, but mixed sex in the sixth form) delivered and proposed a toast to the Alumni Association, the speaker and the school.
The school song, Floreat Bostona, a latin piece written by a 19th century head master, was sung to end formal proceedings.
Attendees came from all over the world, with Daryl himself travelling from Barcelona and guests coming from across the UK and further afield from the US and EU too, with ages of alumni ranging from their early 20’s to early 90’s.