OKT November 2017 Barua

If you have ever thought of making a donation to your old school, the Duke of York, or Lenana as it is now known, but have not yet done so, now is the time. If you have previously donated and are thinking of doing so again, now is the time. Here are some very good reasons why now is the time to do it.

  1. As you know from our previous baruas our principal objective is to award bursaries to high performing pupils who either attend the school already or who have been awarded a place, but cannot afford the cost. Currently we support 11 such pupils. They are in the photo below. In January 2018, in addition to those 11, we would like to award a further 5 bursaries minimum to worthy students. These will become payable around February 2018 but we still need donations to cover them. The cost per pupil is about KS 100,000 pa, or just about £750. Can you please help?
  2. In addition to raising funds to provide for bursaries, we contribute to improvements to the infrastructure of the school, in particular to the sporting facilities. We do so in conjunction with the Laibon Society, which consists of old boys of Lenana School. We believe in the value of providing an all-round education, such as we enjoyed, not just the academic experience. In recent years, the Kenya Government has invested considerably to enhance the academic aspects of Lenana, but it is for others, including us as Old Yorkists and the Laibon Society to improve the infrastructure. In that respect, the hockey pitches at the entrance to the school have been restored to their original condition and the golf course is currently being re-established but the largest and by far the most ambitious project currently underway is to build a brand new 25 metre length swimming pool with associated filtration equipment, facilities etc., as sadly, the school has been without a functional swimming pool since 2008. Here is as  picture of the work in progress. The cost of building the new pool is 14 million Kenya shillings (around £100,000). Of that the Laibon Society have so far raised about 8 million, including a contribution from us, the OKT, of one million Kenya shillings. They are actively looking to raise an additional 6 million shillings to enable construction work to continue without interruption. They are encouraging year groups to compete in a “Wall of Fame” league table board, which is proving successful but further donations are urgently needed to see this project to completion. Again, can you please help with this.

In addition to the above, there are many other infrastructure projects ongoing or about to start involving us, the Laibon Society, the Government or other donors. Here is a summary of them from Ronnie Andrews:

A couple of projects which involve us are restoring the tennis courts with an all-weather surface suitable for a range of other sports, and the financial commitment, from an independent donor, to rebuild the squash courts. The school is a hive of activity and the signs are good that academic performance will also improve in the coming years under the new Principal, Mr. William Kemei. Some of the most recent developments at the school are:

  • Sponsorship by a group of companies led by Kenya Re to assist in turning the school into a model for the education of physically disadvantaged pupils. This will entail lifts, ramps and various other methods of assistance to aid those who may previously have missed out on top level education and sporting opportunities.
  • A new dining hall at Block 2 to accommodate up to 500 pupils will begin the process of centralisation of dining. The new facility will revert to gas fired ovens once more.
  • The new Library and Resource Centre was recently visited by the Cabinet Secretary, ICT, Joe Mucheru (also an Old Boy) and by the PS Finance Dr. Kamau Thugge (pronounced Tugey) in recognition and commitment to turn the school into an ICT Hub for the National Schools system.
  • The swimming pool is reaching the tiling phase and should be ready for the New Year and the swimming term. As stated above, despite the great effort of the Laibon of all year groups and ages, the funding gap is still considerable and we need all the help we can get from you now.
  • The Laibon/Old Yorkists AGM and Dinner was to be held on the 17th November at the same time as the EA Safari Classic Rally. This has been delayed now until early in the new year to tie in with Founders Day, the opening of the new swimming pool, refurbishment of the squash courts and the inauguration of the Golf Academy and new golf course.
  • The Laibon v Cambrians return golf match will be held at Sigona on the 3rd November and should be a good bash. With our advantage of several past members of the Kenya Team and some former captains of Muthaiga and Karen, the Patch were soundly beaten in the first round at Vet Labs last month. We are now looking to keep the trophy in the return match and raise an appreciable amount for the Laibon Pool Project. (PS The turnout was exceptional - over 160 players – and the Laibon retained the trophy despite a strong fight from Patch. Old Cambrians DO have better golf shirts though!)
  • Nigel Champion and his wife Lisa visited from Australia and ignited a whole lot of gatherings and trips as he climbed Mt Kenya, visited Serara Lodge (look it up), stayed in Watamu and unsuccessfully sought a big fish for the pot and even camped in Nakuru with no noticeably negative side effects. On the way he met with Piers Bastard, Dave Mousley, Charlie Fraser and myself. See the photo below. He also committed himself to a Bursary programme and a Scholarship offering where he will support several needy pupils and, if possible, assist them to attend Australian Universities. In addition he met with later year Laibons David Gatende and David Mambo, both past Chairmen of the Kenya Squash Racquets Assn (KSRA) and in discussion mapped out a plan to rehabilitate the court and commence a training programme for Lenana and for surrounding schools.
Andrews, Bastard, Champion and Fraser on their recent trip to Nakuru.

Andrews, Bastard, Champion and Fraser on their recent trip to Nakuru.

As we’ve said before, the Old Boys movement is now acknowledged as one of the most active in Kenya and is growing every day. A gathering can be a few people or several hundred such as the recent memorial service held at the school chapel for the Rev. Norman Dodman. Thousands are Facebook followers of the Laibon and Old Yorkist pages and there are over 500 members of the recently started “Telegram” page not to mention the WhatsApp groups that have sprung up. The successes of old Boys are widespread and the integrity and spirit of the alumni is remarkable and extremely gratifying in this time in Kenya and throughout the world. It would be good to hear of them all, small successes and large, young and old. Any news of the “Original 49ers” would also be most welcome. The Principal has openly committed himself to supporting and working with the Old Boys, as did his predecessor, William Mwangi, and the cooperation with his and the Board of Management is exemplary.

The work of Optimum Kenya Trust (and its affiliate trust in Kenya, the Msaada Kenya Trust) has ignited interest and support for needy pupils. Its work is widely acclaimed throughout the Old Boy community. But the intention of these communications, is that Old Boys, whether Yorkists or Laiboni should get together and interact. Support for the school flows from support for one another.

Besides all the above, I believe it is important to welcome and recognise that more culture is returning to the school. In our heyday we had no end of active societies and clubs; Young Farmers, Political Society, Natural History Society, Dance Band to name but a few. Most, if not all of those, withered and died. However, I am happy to tell you that, thanks to the class of ’98 and the efforts of Mr Levi Wataka, amongst others, the Boston Symphony Orchestra have donated musical instruments to the school. A concert by the rejuvenated Lenana School Orchestra is scheduled soon. Furthermore, Lenana has just joined with some other local schools in a chess competition, which it is hoped will become a regular event in future. There is still a long way to go, but I think these developments are indicative of an onwards and upwards direction. Let’s donate to keep the impetus going now.

As part of our effort to meet up more often, even in small groups, Robin Crosher recently organised a very enjoyable Kirk House reunion at the Bushey Hall Golf Club just North of London. A few from other Houses joined us as Honourable Kirkites for the day. We played 18 holes with some mixed success and then had a very successful lunch and natter and then we gave an awesome rendition of the old school song, Soave Rosam. Here is a photo of those who enjoyed their Tuskers and who sang;

Back L to R; Robin Russell, John O’Grady, Nigel Gaymer, Rodney Bridle, Neil Morison, Robin Crosher Front L to R; John Crosher, Mike Harrington, Alan May, John Tucker, Rob Rowland

Back L to R; Robin Russell, John O’Grady, Nigel Gaymer, Rodney Bridle, Neil Morison, Robin Crosher
Front L to R; John Crosher, Mike Harrington, Alan May, John Tucker, Rob Rowland

By the way, as some of you may know, a year 3 pupil at the school died recently whilst in transit from the school Sanatorium to hospital. There was a small but totally peaceful demonstration by fellow pupils along the Ngong road in sympathy for his passing. Contrary to some malicious rumour, there was no violence, nor was the demonstration broken up by the police. This tragic event has raised our interest in improving the San’s facilities and, in answer to an appeal by Ronnie Andrews, 12 Laibon Old Boys, who are Doctors, have so far offered their support and services.

Following a request by the school, the process has begun of restoring and correcting the Sports Honour boards from 1949 onwards that previously adorned the school Hall.  We have also been asked to help create a web-based gallery on the OKT website of the school’s various top competition teams from as far back as possible. These photos may also be printed and framed so as to adorn the schools walls. More on this subject will follow in the next barua, when we may ask you to contribute photographs representing your memories of the school. 

In conclusion, we should all be pleased to have influenced the regeneration of the school since our efforts began just over 2 years ago. Thanks to your generosity, we have also changed the lives and prospects of the pupils we support. Much of what we have achieved is due to the energy and commitment of Ronnie Andrews, David Kabeberi, the former Principal Mr William Mwangi and now the current Principal Mr Kemei. They, together with the Laibon Society and the Government, are doing wonders in regenerating the school and its infrastructure. Our thanks go to them and our best wishes go to all the pupils and staff at the school.

Let us continue to work with them in an effort to recreate our experience of the all-round education that we enjoyed, for the current generation of pupils at the school and, in the meantime, have a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
John O’Grady
The Optimum Kenya Trust and The Msaada Kenya Trust