The Association has concluded a system of memorials with the School which has a practical benefit to the School and a spiritual one for the family of the Association Member.
The Association is offering Members the chance to dedicate a new tree at the School as a Memorial to a passed Member.
The aim is to make the event as memorable as possible and the size of the facility means that the family can invite many friends and associates in complete confidence, so we have devised a package which gives the family privacy and allows them to enjoy the surroundings, while the School is free to function normally.
Gather in the main front entrance to the School and when the party is together, move to a brief dedication ceremony next to a newly planted tree along the driveway to the School. It is not planned to make this religious, but individual families can tailor to their needs. We would recommend a couple of people making brief statements and then inviting guests to say a few words before photographs of family and friends laying soil around the base of the tree.
This is followed by tea in the school (initially in the Old Library) at which a page in the Association’s Remembrance Book will be opened.
The Remembrance book will feature a double sided resume of the Member’s life with a photograph all to the family’s requirement.
The package costs £500 for a party up to 20 people. Larger parties can be accommodated by agreement.
Please contact the Honorary Secretary to discuss further.
It was a cold and blustery afternoon on June 13th 2013, when 22 friends and family of Kevin Frank Acreman, (Athens 1968-1975), gathered at the school to dedicate a tree in his memory. As reported in the Association’s 2012 magazine Kevin passed away in 2011, aged 54, after a valiant battle with a rare type of lung cancer. It was decided that a Tree Dedication was the most suitable option for donating funds to the school in memory of Kevin, from his wife Allison and the Acreman Family.
Allison started the proceedings by introducing everyone, including how each of them knew Kevin, some of the paths by which were surprisingly obscure. I was the first guest speaker invited to recall past times with Kevin, and somewhat relieved that my San Diego flight and dash from Heathrow allowed me to arrive on time! I was delighted to be able to bring laughter to the crowd by recounting adventures from Kevin’s school days and beyond. However one of the stories that caused the most amusement was by our second speaker and friend Mark Garius. He recalled the dinner to celebrate his 21st birthday, when Kevin, on demonstrating the “correct” way to drink a shot of flaming Sambuca, set his own moustache on fire.
Each guest was then invited to place a shovel of earth at the base of the tree. The outdoor portion of the ceremony concluded with everyone singing along to the Monty Python version of “Always look on the bright side of life”, Kevin’s favorite song.
The assembled crowd was then invited to take a respite from the wind and reconvene in the school’s staff room (old library) for a wonderful spread of tea, coffee, sandwiches and cake. There were eight Old Southendians in attendance including Kevin’s father, Jeff Acreman; brother, Paul Acreman and school friends Mark Garius, Andrew Laderman and Paul Lecorgne. Other old boys present included friends Erny Obrart and Lawrence Laderman and association representative, Clive Shiret who kindly helped so much with the arrangements.
We then moved on to Priory Park to toast Kevin’s bench and then to the Cricketers Pub, much changed but fondly remembered as an old drinking haunt. We ended with a splendid dinner at the Westcliff Hotel.
Everyone agreed that the ceremony was a very fitting tribute to Kevin and an uplifting celebration of his life. I would encourage anyone looking for a suitable recognition for an old boy who is no longer with us, to consider a tree dedication and help donate much needed funds to the school. It is also the perfect opportunity for family and scattered friends to come together and have a jolly good catch up and reminisce about old times.
I know we certainly did.