by Charmaine McKenzie
©written for the 100th Commemorative Magazine, June '99
The St. Hugh’s Past Students’ Association (SHPSA), formerly called the “St. Hugh’s Old Girls' Association”, was formed in 1933 with eight members. Its first president was the School’s principal, Miss Hermione Wilhelmina Joels, and for several years afterwards, the School’s principal served as its president. The first past student to serve as president was Iris (Sorror) Jones in the early 1940s.
By 1938/39, the Association had 70 members. Its purpose was two fold: to foster a spirit of camaraderie and “togetherness” among past students and to help raise funds in support of the School. In an effort to achieve the first objective, the Association held its first annual reunion dinner on
Since those early days, the Association has expanded its objectives to meet the needs of a larger membership and a much larger student body at the School. The objectives of the Association as expressed in its Rules are:
These objectives are fulfilled in a variety of ways. Here’s a brief overview:
Keeping in Touch: Since 1984, the Association has produced a newsletter to facilitate this. Now called Leinster Links, it highlights major activities and events of the Association, the School and its student body, and notes milestones in the lives of past students. The website has been created to facilitate past students making contact with old friends and keepig abreast of activities at their alma mater. Overseas chapters of the Association have also been formed, in Atlanta, South Florida and
What’s happening at School?: This is a question frequently asked by past students. Leinster Links provides answers. In addition, through the Executive Committee and Sub-committees of the SHPSA, the membership participates in activities that benefit the present students of St Hugh’s. Past students are involved in worshipping with present students, they organise careers’ day talks, mentoring, rap sessions and a breakfast feeding programme, the Beryl Rae Breakfast Feeding Programme, in recognition of past student Beryl Rae’s (1897-1994) generous contribution to the programme. Mrs. Rae was an active member of the SHPSA up to the time of her death (
Keeping track: The Association maintains a database of past students. Outstanding past students have been recognised for their achievements through the Distinguished Past Student Award since 1984.
Community and civic activities: Over the years, the Association has assisted children’s homes and places of safety such as the Levy Home (no longer in existence) and the Primrose Child Care Centre and several basic schools. Needy individuals have also been given assistance.
For the welfare of all: Since that first dinner attended by Bishop Hardie, the Association has continued to attend to the “social, athletic and intellectual” welfare of its membership in various ways.
General meetings and Annual General Meetings are not just cut-and-dried- affairs where the business of the meeting is done and then it’s all over until next meeting. Guest speakers and demonstrations of all kinds enliven meetings and give us food for thought. The entertainment aspect of social life is taken care of by a variety of activities such as membership mixers, tea parties, wine and cheese parties, you name it. Let’s see … should membership mixers count as athletic events?
The word “welfare” should conjure up images of fundraising to any St. Hugh’s past student or present student, for that matter. It’s an integral part of life at St. Hugh’s and always has been so. The Association strives to hold one major fundraising event per year. In the past, dances or parties, brunches, musical evenings and art auctions have been among the events held. The proceeds from fundraising events go towards designated school projects.
Since 1987, a bursary for academic excellence has been awarded to a Grade 12 student to enable her to continue her education to Grade 13. The first recipient of the bursary was Audrey Elizabeth Powell. In 1995, the bursary was renamed the Beryl Rae Bursary in honour of Mrs Rae.
The St. Hugh’s Past Students’ Foundation is the most recent and perhaps the most ambitious venture undertaken by the SHPSA to date. Established in 1996, this endowment fund seeks to raise funds to assist with major projects undertaken by the School.
© Charmaine McKenzie is a past student, full version of article in June 1999 Commemorative Magazine.