In this newsletter:
(click on a topic to go directly to it)
  = Welcome and Intro   = OD Tour to the Rijksmuseum
  = Lunch with Ashley Pople   = The CEO of the Rhodes ScholarshipTrust
  = Bishops and the Rugby World Cup   = The new Old Diocesan Magazine
  = 20 SA Schools in Pictures - a new book   = ODU Strategy update
  = Mentoring   = Dates for the Diary
  = A bubbly business opportunity   = OD Beanies
Dear OD

In an unusually busy lead up to the year end, I write about three recent successful "set-pieces" enjoyed by a wide range of ODs. There is also a short report on the ODU strategic planning workshop I facilitated in Cape Town last week. And I draw your attention to the first function of 2020 - Lunch with Ashley Pople (see below) - which I urge you to support. Ashley is not only the first ever non-Bishops Bishops Rhodes Scholar, but, as you would expect, a charming, articulate and (hopefully) thought-provoking young lady.

Please also check and take note of the dates of the upcoming events posted in the diary at the end of this post.

By this time next month, we will have a new government - or no government - and so accordingly as befits the build up to a general election, the ODU Office is hereby officially prorogued from the final full stop of this letter until mid-January.

This month we congratulate:

Jo Cockburn (F, 2008) who has been appointed an Investment Director at Ethos Partners

And to Chris Leach (S, 2008) on his appointment as Regional Manager in charge of Executive Operations at The Sun Valley Rice Company.

To both, loads of luck and success in your new roles

Our Purpose:

Having performed the role of hon. sec for the UK branch of the the ODU for the past six years, I often reflect on what our branch is trying to achieve; indeed what the ODU as a whole is trying to achieve. We have dinners, lunches, breakfasts, drinks, talks, golf matches and at least once a year, tours abroad. But to what end? I have said this before, but I'll say it again: the objective of the ODU is to connect ODs to each other and to Bishops. This point has been influential in the shaping of the new ODU strategy (see below). Personally, I don't see the ODU as a sports and social club putting on - hopefully - frequent functions and events for the enjoyment of ODs. I think ODs can do that for themselves. But I do see it very much as an organisation which leverages the common (if not shared) experiences of boys (and girls) who went to Bishops, in a way which no other organisation can and, most importantly, builds individuals' networks so that when necessary, ODs will stand ready to help ODs. It seems to me that if this objective is not being attained or even recognised, the branch serves no real and meaningful purpose. As my friends at the Old Etonian Association tell me, "If at an OEA event, 1,000 business cards don't change hands, we consider the event a failure".


The Thames Hare & Hounds inter alumni association cross country race:

Rowan Nicholls (O, 2010) is our super-fit and highly-driven captain of the OD Cross Country Team. Once a year we compete in the Thames Hare & Hounds inter-alumni association cross country race which includes 60 alumni association teams of the top schools in the UK. This is a proper cross country of 8kms and is across, usually a very muddy Wimbledon Common. This year, it takes place on Saturday 14th December. WE NEED YOU! If you are going to be around, think that 8kms is a doddle, derive satisfaction from the prospect of beating to pulp the Eton and Winchester teams, enjoy mud and exercise, then please get hold of Rowan HERE. Refreshments after and you get to run in the coveted ODU running vest - make sure you give your size to Rowan. The photo is of last year's team: Gordon Robinson, James Klatzow, John Stanfield, Caelim Parkes, Chris Molteno and Rowan Nicholls).

It would be great to have YOU in this year's photo!

The UK ODU 2019 year-end party was held on Friday 15
th November at The Hollywood Arms in Chelsea. 85 ODs, more or less, attended and in this relaxing and relaxed venue, made a lot of noise and had, as far as I could tell, a lot of fun.

It always surprises me that ODs separated by more than three years of matriculating really don’t know each other. These events and functions are designed to bring them together to rekindle memories – some happy, some not quite so – of a common experience at a very unique Bishops and strengthen the link between each other and the School. Difficult to assess, but I do think Friday's get-together by this measure was a great success.

All the pictures HERE

And in conclusion...:

While in Cape Town last week, I attended the ODU Committee year-end lunch and was delighted that Brian de Kock (O, 1952) former Founders (my) housemaster, legendary Bishops Latin teacher and the most cunning leg spinner ever, was also there. Many of you know that our super-efficient and hardworking ODU Administrator is Nicole Durand, but I wonder how many of you know she's Brian's granddaughter. Here they are together looking relaxed and, well, familial. Nicole is getting married next month (to an old Wynberg boy, can you believe it) and we wish her and Grant all the best for a happy life together.

I was also very fortunate to meet Tony and Rose Reeler (left), Bishops Principal-elect. Tony, immediately after stepping down from his current role as Headmaster of Pretoria Boys' High, takes up the reins at Bishops in the third term of next year when Guy Pearson retires,

For all those taking a break over the Christmas and New Year period and perhaps even heading back to South Africa for some sun, and to the rest of us who're not able to take any holiday, have a relaxing and happy time.

Kind regards

Nicky Bicket
Friday 31st January, 2020

Ashley Pople (St Cyprians) is the first ever non-Bishops pupil to win the Diocesan College Rhodes Scholarship. 

She is reading for her DPhil in Economics (Behavioral and Development) at Oxford. Her talk will cover among other things the impact the Scholarship has had on her, her Oxford experience, and the direction of her degree(s) and what she plans to do as an economist once she receives her doctorate.

The lunch is on Friday 31st January, 2020 at The Carlton Club and including all drinks, costs £45.

We are limited to 30 places so to RSVP now, please click HERE. Invitations, if there are still places available, a general invitation will go out closer the event

Read more about Ashley HERE.


And of course the Rugby World Cup! Oh joy! Oh rapture!  Our very own Francois Louw (W, 2003), called "The Penalty Hunter" by more than one British commentator, brought some Bishops Blue and more than a little flair to the matches and how effective was he in doing so. I wrote to Francois after the match to send the congratulations of all the UK ODs (or rather those who were supporting the Springboks) and wishing him luck for the next RWC in 2023. I received a charming note back and have agreed with him that, dates permitting, he will speak to ODs in the new year about his RWC experience. And he also told me that there will be no 2023 RWC for him, an announcement which I believe is already in the public domain. Matthew Pearce (G, 1987) now a highly-respected rugby commentator, and who addressed the ODS in Cape Town at the launch of the October 2019 magazine spoke of Francois as a pillar of the team, whether he started or came on to wreak havoc among a tired opposition later in the games. So, more to follow as soon as we can arrange a date.
Every once in a while - actually, quite frequently, now - we uncover ODs who do extraordinary things completely invisible to the ODU. They need to be discovered and celebrated. One such is Duncan Bull (O, 1971, left) who, for the past nineteen years, has been the curator of the non-Dutch paintings at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. With a hugely impressive CV packed with international experience and academic qualifications, he is a long way from his prematurely trimmed post-matric year in 1971 when he and the School disagreed on his anti-apartheid activism strategy, quite tame at the time, but a step too far for Bishops. He hasn't looked back since, and has established his international reputation at this most iconic of international art museums.

The idea of an OD tour of the Rijks was hatched at a lunch your secretary had with Duncan in May this year and the beginning of November 15 ODs and wives visited the city and enjoyed two-and-a-half days of sheer pleasure and edification.The trip included two set-piece dinners, the first at Cormac Petit's (O, 1973) very grand and exclusive club, the Koninklijke Industrieele Groote Club
and the second at d'Vijff Vlieghen, an ancient and echt Dutch restaurant situated quite close to those areas you'd rather not show your children around.

At the first dinner, beautifully arranged by Cormac, Duncan gave a short talk on the Rijksmuseum and the following day's proceedings and an introduction to Robert Jacob Gordon, a hugely influential explorer and cartographer of the Cape in the 1700s and thanks to Duncan's scholarly and investigative efforts is taking his proper place in both the Dutch and South African history (if you would like to read more about him, Duncan has curated a website within the Rijks' website which can be found HERE).

The following day, Duncan took us into the Rijks reading room - itself a rare and wondrous opportunity in itself - where we were able to see the drawings and records of Gordon which are taken out only once every two years.

Then onto the museum itself where, with Duncan at the wheel, we were able to focus on the important works enlivened by Duncan's encyclopedic knowledge, quick wit and hugely engaging style. 

Such a trip with Duncan's personal involvement is really a money-can't-buy experience and we are very grateful to him. All the photos and reporting can be found HERE.

Bishops, as by now most of us know, shares its Rhodes Scholarship with St Cyprians, Herschel, St Georges and the LEAP Schools in Cape Town. This followed pressure from the Rhodes Scholarship Trustees to broaden the access to and competition for Scholarship.

That and many other topics formed the talk Dr Elizabeth Kiss gave to 35 UK ODs and partners at a drinks reception held at Stonehage Fleming on Tuesday 29th October. Elizabeth is the relatively new Rhodes House Warden and CEO of the Rhodes Trust. Herself a Rhodes Scholar (Virginia and Ballioll) she holds a DPhil (Oxon) in Moral Philosophy.

In an engaging and refreshingly open talk, she spoke of the difficulties the four (Bishops, SACS, Paul Roos and St Andrews) named scholarships presented insofar as the artificially small pool of candidates was concerned although the widening of the eligibiity has taken the pressure off the need for, for the time being, further changes. 

She spoke as well about the need to widen the accessibility and readiness of candidates in Africa and this is now the next big strategic "push" for the Rhodes Trust. 

Elizabeth took questions from ODs which in the main focused on the "safety" of the Diocesan College Rhodes Scholarship - not a fight Elizabeth wants have - and the challenges of the #rhodesmustfall campaign of which Elizabeth is no supporter, preferring to confront and deal with the issues in their proper context.

We were fortunate to enjoy the company and insights of Elizabeth and look forward to more engagement. Our thanks also go to Hamish Sinclair (S, 1992) who so generously opens up the Stonehage Fleming office to the ODU  and provides wine and canapés.


The fourth edition of the Old Diocesans Magazine is out and can be read online HERE. It is the product of the labours of many, but first among sort-of equals is our indefatigable editor, Tim Richman (B, 1995) who does a yeoman's job collecting, editing (and spell-checking) copious contributions, resulting in a very impressive publication.

Challenges exist in overseas distribution of hardcopies, both in terms of cost and delivery times (up to six months - if at all - in some cases). I am exploring the possibility of having the magazine printed in the UK for northern hemisphere ODs which would mean that delivery to postal addresses up here would be a matter of days. Indicative mailing costs are around £4.50 (£9.00 per annum for two editions). If this is of interest to you, even if you are already receiving a printed version, please could you indicate your interest in this idea ((no commitment) by clicking below.

Yes I would like to receive a hardcopy of the magazine


Adrian Kritzinger (F, 2006) has started a business called Cap Classique. He writes:

"As with with most start ups, it really did just begin as an idea over a couple glasses of sparkling, which soon turned in to the founding of Cap Classique Holdings Ltd (Cap Classique UK) with my two friends and now partners. Our mission: to grow and promote South Africas version of Champagne, Cap Classique, within the UK and abroad. 

"Prosecco has largely dominated the UK's lower end of the sparkling wine market, with Champagne (and now also English Sparkling) taking care of the upper price bracket, which places Cap Classique perfectly between the two - sharing Champagnes high quality, as made in the same traditional method, but at a more affordable price. We’re looking to grow the category from the bottom up, a tough battle in gaining market share over such established products, but a real opportunity to give a proudly South African product a worldwide platform to shine.

"Essentially, we are representing a number of SA Cap Classique producers in the UK and looking to find suitable homes for them through the following avenues: direct customer & corporate sales, events, weddings, on trade space (restaurants, bars, venues, members clubs) and private sourcing & tastings. Ultimately we are searching for mutual partnerships with direct distributors and distribution channels to take onboard certain products in their portfolios for expansion.

"If there are any interested parties, please do not hesitate to contact me. Likewise, to please share with fellow family, friends, colleagues and sparkling enthusiasts.

"I’d be happy to engage on any level, whether it’s advice, introductions and or direct business opportunities, all is welcomed and appreciated in gaining traction at this early stage within the UK market.

"Hopefully we will soon have Cap Classique available for future OD events, being celebrated in the hands of those who have helped grow the category and business".

To get hold of Adrian, please email him at or through the website, Instagram: Cap_Classique

The ODU may not be a GE or Goldman Sachs, and it may not compete for customers in the same way Tesco or British Airways needs to, but we do compete for engagement. So we need make a set of choices around how best to build the interest and engagement of as many ODs as possible. By these two measures, the UK is doing well, but overall, the ODU has some way to go.

Last month just on 500 ODs kindly gave their time to complete a questionnaire soliciting opinions on the current plan and asking for suggestions as to how it may be refreshed. Based on those responses, I was in Cape Town last week to facilitate a planning session, the output of which will be circulated shortly to ODs for comment and then presented to the AGM next March for ratification.

Without pre-empting the final strategy - which will be circulated for comment next week - it was gratifying to see that overwhelmingly (93%) of all respondents still believe that the ODU fulfils a real purpose in the 21st century. We now need to build on how our Union can leverage that positive endorsement and make the ODU not just the envy of alumni associations around the world, but by becoming so because we are able to do so in a way which attract and keeps our membership satisfied.
"I think [my mentee] found the exercise valuable ... although I think I may have derived even greater value from the exercise...
"I’d like to thank you for the mentor initiative, and for giving me my first opportunity to spend time with a mentee. This is definitely a two-way street!"
The panel of mentors is building steadily and the requests for advice and guidance increasing. More and more, this programme is being seen as something of real value and it is gratifying that non-ODs are writing in to see whether they too can tap into the wealth of experience available.

The quote above, from one of our mentors Oscar Foulkes (W, 1984) illustrates that it is not only the mentee who derives the benefit from the programme. Our mentors find the interaction with younger ODs stimulating and rewarding as well..

So, if you would like to put yourself as a mentor or request one, please do so via this form.

Don Nelson (G, 1957) the well-known South African publisher, has produced a new book 20 South African Schools - A Pictorial History which is due for publication on 9th December.

The book includes: Bishops (which features as the cover photograph), SACS, Wynberg, Grey College, St Andrew's, Paarl Boys' High, Grey High, Paarl Gymnasium, Queen's College, Rhenish, Dale College, Maritzburg College, Muir College, Durban High, St Cyprian's , Springfield, Hilton, Selborne College and St Mary's.

The price to ODs is R350 (a discount on the R425 price to the general public).  Should you like to order one, please email Lucinda at Don Nelson Publishers to discuss payment and delivery.

Only 5 left in stock!

Now is the time to get hold of an OD Beanie. Stocks of this must-have designer item are now almost depleted and if you procrastinate, you'll miss out and, come winter, have cold ears.

They are made from pure New Zealand wool with a thermal inner lining,  Cost is £14.00 each (plus £3.90 postage)

if you'd like one, please order  

As always, wives and partners most welcome to all events and functions


14th December

Thames Hare and Hounds Alumni Cross Country Race
Wimbledon Common
Rowan Nicholls (O, 2010)


Friday 31st January, 2020

Lunch with Ashley Pople
(Bishops first non-Bishops Rhodes Scholarship winner)
The Carlton Club
69 St James's Street, London, SW1A 1PJ


Friday 19th June 2020

The 2020 UK Annual Black-tie Dinner
The Carlton Club
69 St James's Street, London, SW1A 1PJ


Saturday 17th October 2020

Annual Oxfordshire Pub Lunch
The Bell at Hampton Poyle, OX5 2QD



Friday 4th December 2020

The UK ODU Annual Year-End Party
The Blanchard Room, The Hollywood Arms
45 Hollywood Road SW10 9HX

Copyright © 2019 UK ODU, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.