It's been exactly a week since I attended a simple dinner at the Old Frees' Association premises in Northam Road, George Town to kick off the awareness campaign among the Old Frees for the Penang Free School's bicentennial in 2016. The old school was founded on 21 Oct 1816 by the Reverend Robert Sparke Hutchings, which will make my Alma Mater exactly 200 years old in 2016.
So there I was at the OFA last Friday to join in the get-together. Naturally, the hall was full and while we were half eager to hear of the kick-off plans, we were also rather eager to sail into the food. Penangites, Penangites, don't we ever learn to keep to the time? But first, before we even started the evening, we observed a one-minute silence for JMB (Mike) Hughes who passed away last month. Hughes, who was 94 years old when he died in his native England, was a much respected former headmaster. He never owned any airs around him throughout his stint in the school. He was the headmaster until 1963.
There were only two main speakers that night of the get-together but sorry, I can't say that I paid any attention to what the OFA president, Dr Ong Hean Tee, was saying. Too immersed with my eating and chatting with old friends around the table. But I definitely listened to Abdul Rafique Karim's turn. He's presently the chairman of the school's Board of Governors, so he should have both his ears to the grounds where the bicentennial preparations are concerned.
So what's in store during this lead-up period? Only two main projects were mentioned presently but I'm sure there'll be more to come as 2016 creeps nearer.
Rafique also announced that a Bicentennial scholarship fund will be set up to provide some financial assistance to needy students for their tertiary education. This will be something in line with the present Sesquicentenary scholarship fund that the OFA is managing for the same objective.