Fundraising teams in schools like ours, tend to change shape, grow, adapt and in many cases, with properly resourced departments, create a positive impact on school life.
Philanthropy – broadly defined from the Greek meaning a love of humankind, has been the very reason independent schools were created in the first place. Appalling poverty sitting uncomfortably in society next to vast new wealth creation, particularly at the time of the industrial revolution and beyond prompted a fashion of hospitals (literally places of hospitality and learning), civic buildings, schools and parks often named after their benefactors. In the later parts of the last century, benefaction itself, became a rather antiquated and Victorian ideal and was replaced with government funding and commercial investment.
It is worth remembering however that without the original benevolence of such donors – albeit wealthy in many cases by ill-gotten gains such as tobacco and slavery – there would be no schools. Our own school is no exception and the oldest buildings and facilities that we still make use of are here because others donated their own personal wealth. Old boys- through the Old Tauntonian Association- have similarly donated, clubbed together, supported children and helped to create modern facilities for the school. The OTA – at one time would have entertained hundreds of old boys at rowdy reunions – acting almost in the capacity of an Officers’ Mess and Clubhouse – a safe place and half way house between boarding school, the war and life beyond.
Over time, this connection with each other and the school changed. Our traditional lunches and annual dinners prevail, but with fewer numbers and mostly gentlemen of a certain age in most frequent attendance, the need to encourage “the younger ones” has been a pervasive call.
The TS Foundation, founded in 2002 has worked with the OTA to engage old boys and girls, to encourage fundraising and good will for the school. At the very heart of this initiative, working as a well-respected member of the school teaching community, is David Bridges, who is retiring this summer after 30 years of service. David will be missed by many departments within the school, but I know that for our OT community and for me, he is simply invaluable. As the Secretary of the OTA he has worked hard to create new opportunities for the younger ones to join in for many years.
As we develop our team and welcome two new members of staff- Dr Hannah Jones and George Cockburn- database, research, events and fundraising professionals, we are glad that David will remain as an integral part of this team in his new and well deserved volunteer role of OTA President.
A team of four now; our aim remains to engage Old Tauntonians, parents, teachers, staff and friends in a meaningful way; building a supportive community for life. In reaching out not only to our alumni – our old boys and girls – but our wider family around the world, we are looking to build relationships to take us further, develop a global professional and social network, and encourage philanthropic support for children who add so much to the school with means tested bursaries (assisted places).
We’re going to use a different name: the “Taunton School Community” will embrace the OTA, the Foundation and the PTA and under this new brand- we’re going to engage more people with new events as well as preserving those old events that are still well loved.
Strengthening a partnership with alumni, parents and friends is how we believe we can genuinely affect change and progress for our school.
David will be sorely missed. His always cheerful attitude, often slightly quirky sense of humour, kindness and dedication has made coming to work a daily pleasure. He has been a loyal, hardworking colleague and personal friend to me and I wish him well as he enjoys some time off over the summer. However, as the new OTA President, working together with the new TS Community Team, we’ll see him very soon.
Goodbye David and thank you.
Alumni and Foundation Director