Below is a detailed note about the discussions and meetings that have taken place over the last 6 months. Your committee believes that it is important that the membership are kept fully informed on these discussions as this MAY lead to a significant change in the way in which you as members have a relationship with the school.
In short, the school are taking the following action:
A new past pupils ‘Alumni’ is being set up which will be known as the ‘Dukies Association’. The school has funds from a number of past military Charities. This will be transferred to the new fund. Please read the notes prepared by Geoff.
Your committee is fully aware that these ‘developments’ could lead to the end of the OBA in its current form, but this will be a decision that will be decided by you the members. We, as an OBA committee, will monitor the progress of the new committee by the presence of our members, and then when we feel we are able to make a recommendation to the members, will do so. Please let us have your feedback on the major change.
The OBA, its future and the School’s plans
2012 saw some significant changes in
1) the OBA’s activities in collecting money for charities at our April and November events and
2) the relationship between the School and the OBA
1.1 Funds raised by the OBA Raffles.
During 2011 the DYRMS OBA decided to set aside a sum of money in memory of its former President Aubrey Sadler.
Further funding would come from collections and raffles held at our OBA events and be used for the benefit of OBA members who had need for emergency funding e.g. poor health, grants for specialised equipment etc. The money so far collected in 2012 is in a separate account whilst the future of the fund is being considered.
The OBA committee insisted the fund be managed in a transparent way, that it be ring-fenced from other OBA accounts and preferably be in a charitable trust. However, the setting up of a charity fund would have created a number of administrative and resource difficulties for the OBA.
Requests to OBs to join the Committee and help run the events continue to fall on largely deaf ears with the same few members attending the meetings and AGM.
As it stands the membership of the OBA numbers about 750 and has remained close to this number for a number of years. It is not growing but it is ageing. Younger former pupils are not joining in any significant numbers, few attend the OBA events and less than 5 girls have joined the OBA.
1.2 The School and its relationship with the OBA
In 2012 the School also took a fresh look at how it markets itself. It now has a full time Marketing Director and a new Executive Vice-Principal. At the April 2012 lunch the headmaster informed the OBA that they would like to have closer links with the OBA in a way that could be mutually beneficial and felt that with their resources they could offer some assistance with activities involving the OBA and the School.
Three OBA Committee members were asked to form a sub-Committee to
1 find the best way to manage the monies raised
2 explore with the School how School/OBA relations could be improved in light of the Headmaster’s comments.
This sub-Committee was subsequently invited to meetings at the School in May, August and October. The team was enlarged from 3 to 5 after May.
The School explained that they wanted to broaden their appeal to all former pupils and make better use of such media as Facebook, Twitter and websites to reach across all sexes and ages.
They also wanted to establish an association along the lines of other public schools where former pupils support their old school not just financially but by, for example, networking, providing internships and job opportunities. This would be a School initiative and would run with or without the approval of the OBA. They stressed they would welcome our involvement and hoped we would be supportive of their ideas.
2. The Outcome
As a result of these meetings it became clear to the OBA committee that the School was
1 going to go ahead with its plans to set up an alumni association
2 inviting the OBA to be part of the process
3 offering the OBA the use of its resources
4 able to use its current charitable fund to accommodate the OBA’s funds for the purpose the OBA had been collecting them.
In turn the sub-Committee was able to appreciate the need for a modern, media friendly association that encompasses all ages and sexes and realised that if the OBA did not accept change the OBA could carry on as it is or would eventually wither and die.
The OBA is clearly unattractive to the younger School leavers and given the School’s approach to an alumni association (see below) the OBA committee was forced to address the rationale and future of the OBA.
The School expressed its clear wish that it would welcome an input from the OBA and that the OBA could have an influence on the future of the new association and the management of the funds collected. This is explained in more detail below.
2.1 The New Association – The Dukies’ Association (TDA)
The new association will be called The Dukies’ Association. It will be run and managed by the School. The objectives are:
• to provide an active link between former pupils and the school
• to facilitate events, reunions, careers support and fundraising between past and current pupils at the school.
• to offer networking opportunities through a shared website and social media pages.
• to build a database of names to contact using various communications channels including email, social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) and post.
The Draft Proposal for its structure has been produced by the School. See Appendix 1.
The involvement of the OBA is sought and the OBA has been asked to nominate three people from the current OBA committee to sit on the new Dukies’ Association. Three people have been nominated and will attend the first meeting in February.
2.2 The OBA’s Future
Where does that leave the OBA?
The OBA will continue to exist. It will run in parallel with TDA for the present but members of the OBA will need to consider whether they join the new Dukies’ Association or stay in the OBA or join both associations.
As it stands the membership of the OBA is about 750 and has remained close to this number for a number of years. It is not growing but it is ageing. Younger former pupils are not joining in any significant numbers, few attend the OBA events and less than 5 girls have joined the OBA.
There are mixed feelings in the Committee as some see the new association as the beginning of the end of the OBA. However, whether we join forces with TDA or carry on separately, it will be an OBA members’ decision and at the next AGM the way forward will be on the Agenda.
2.3 The Management of OBA Funds
During the meetings it came to light that there is a fund managed by the School for the benefit of the pupils. It has charitable status and has about £600k in its coffers.
The Board members of this Trust have agreed for it to be renamed ‘The Dukies’ Foundation’ and to invite a former Dukie to sit on the Foundation’s Board and represent former Dukies’ interests including a fund to help any Dukie in need. See Appendix 2
This fund will provide a well invested, charitable and resourced fund for the monies currently held by the OBA. However, any decision to move the OBA funds will be up to the OBA membership.
The OBA representative who has been put forward by the OBA is the current Treasurer, and any decision involving the OBA funds will probably be deferred until such time as the Treasurer is able to report back to the OBA.
• The School is going to set up and run a new association for former pupils – The Dukies’ Association. This will go ahead with or without the OBA’s approval. (not that the School need it).
• The OBA have an opportunity to influence the new Association
• The OBA need to ask:
Where are future recruits to the OBA coming from?
Where are the younger members coming through to take office?
If TDA takes over running events – especially November – where does that leave the OBA?
Is it time to disband the OBA and migrate to the Alumni association?
Should the OBA continue and run in parallel to the Alumni?
• As it stands the membership of the OBA numbers about 750 and has remained close to this number for a number of years. It is not growing but it is aeging. Younger former pupils are not joining in any significant numbers, few attend the OBA events and less than 5 girls have joined the OBA.
• There are those who consider the OBA to be “withering on the vine”, whilst others feel it isn’t broken so don’t fix it.
All of the above issues will be decided by the membership. Attend the AGM or table questions to be raised as it is the OBA’s future under discussion.
Geoff Ralph, OBA Committee Member