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With the 25th Anniversary of the Trent renowned Strawberries & Wine concert being just around the corner, the OT Society was quick to find inspiration for the Annual Dinner 2015 and what a fabulous celebration it was.
Setting the scene was a venue beautifully transformed from school dining hall to spectacular banqueting suite; the Prince Obolensky Building at Trent College is a venue fit for many purposes and once chairs are dressed and tables are decorated, it is hardly recognisable from its day to day purpose.
Joining the Head of Trent College, Bill Penty and President of the Old Tridents’ Society, Nigel White was a special guest whose idea it was back in 1991 to put on a concert for the leavers on the eve of Speech Day, former Head Mr Jonathan Lee. Although, Jonathan will admit that he could not have done it without the tremendous support of Mr David Curtiss, teacher of music at Trent. David went onto produce and present the Strawberries & Wine concert, more recently known as simply ‘Strawberries’ until summer 2012, when he left the School. Sadly David could not attend the dinner but he was very much remembered by the guests.
This event saw the largest number of Old Tridents returning to Trent for an Annual Dinner for many years. A mix of young and slightly older, it was a real treat to have so many OTs together in one room. It was also a delight to welcome former teaching staff, OT parents, current staff and a number of current Year 13 students who were invited to attend the Dinner by the OT Society, giving them a flavour of what to expect from Society events.
Since 2013, Old Trident Tom Singleton has produced the School’s Strawberries concert and so it was obvious to the OT Society Committee that he was the person to call upon to help put this event together. Indeed, Tom was instrumental in ensuring that the OT Society’s Annual Dinner 2015 was a huge success, creating a fabulous musical production.
The evening began with a drinks reception, strawberries adorning glasses, giving the 175 guests the opportunity to catch up with one another and make new friends.
As guests were taking to their tables a video packed with humour played out across the Prince Obolensky’s new state of the art large screen, with ‘the Voice of the Balls’ Alan Dedicoat introducing the evening’s presenters, OT and Director of Operations at Trent, James Gregory and Tom Singleton.
James and Tom entered to rapturous applause which certainly set the tone for the evening.
Getting everyone in the mood to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Strawberries was another video, played as dinner was served, of The Strawberry Collective’s performance of ‘Greatest Day’, produced earlier in the year at a Nottingham recording studio. Over 20 Old Tridents took part in this project which resulted in a fantastic version of the Take That song.
Following a delicious three course meal of goats cheese starter, Mediterranean chicken main and of course Strawberry Panacotta dessert, the evening’s entertainment began.
No Strawberries celebration would be complete without the Trent College Swing Band who since its inception in 1991 have opened the show. Joining the Swing Band on stage to sing her version of ‘Summertime’, arranged by David Curtiss and performed at Strawberries 2009 was Ellie Shouls. Ellie need not have been nervous about getting up on stage in front of a packed audience as her performance was beautiful.
During a short interval, guests were asked to participate in a game of Heads & Tails, to win one of two prizes of Aviva Premiership rugby tickets, kindly donated by the Trent College Sports Department.
Next to take to the stage was the Reverend Tim Haggis. Having arrived wearing his dinner jacket and kilt, Tim had changed into costume complete with red bandana. During his time at Trent between 1994 and 2011, Tim had performed at every Strawberries concert with his guitar. Known as Jack Plug, each year he would be joined on stage by students, known as ‘the Inputs’. After sharing his memories of Strawberries and how much it meant to him and all the students who had performed over the years, Tim broke into song, the intro recognised immediately as Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’. Tim had the audience in the palm of his hand as they sang and clapped along.
Tim was swiftly followed on stage by former Trent College language teacher Alison Wright. Introducing Alison to the stage was James Gregory who shared with everyone his memories of having been taught by Alison, one of his favourite teachers during his time as a student at Trent.
A classical singer taught by her mother, a trained vocal coach, Alison sang at many of the Strawberries concerts. Now Head of Languages at The Royal Hospital School Ipswich, she performed a brilliant rendition of the Showboat classic ‘Just My Bill’ much to the delight of the Head’s table!
During a second interval, guests were invited to participate in another game of Heads & Tails. This time selected by having a ‘lucky ticket’ hidden at their place setting, guests were asked to take to the stage to be in with a chance of winning a Land Rover driving experience, donated by Stratstone Derby and two tickets donated by Old Trident Gemma Hardiker, to see the highly anticipated Disney production Aladdin which opens in the West End in June 2016. James and Tom kept the humour of the evening going as they chatted to the players of the game who included Old Tridents, current student, former parents and staff!
Finally, closing the show was the band Field Studies. Formed during their time as students at Trent College, Chris Bailey, Charlie Howarth, Andrew Harrison and Kasper Sandstrom recently performed at the Glastonbury Festival. The band are hugely popular amongst their Old Trident contemporaries and their performance went down a storm!
Rounding off the evening was another showing of the Strawberry Collective’s ‘Greatest Day’ video as guests slowly departed leaving strawberry balloons and bowls of strawberry candy in the wake of what has to have been one of the most successful OT Society Annual Dinners yet.
To view photographs taken at the event, please click here