A Letter from the CHOBA Board – September 2018
Dear fellow Old Blues
Many of you will be painfully aware of the very challenging and upsetting events that have recently played out in the media regarding non-recent sexual abuse cases at CH. In light of these horrific stories, we, the CHOBA Board, would like to take the opportunity to let you know what we have been doing over recent months as these events have unfolded, as well as to clarify the role that the CHOBA Board plays on behalf of the Old Blue community.
We are a group of seven Old Blues who attended Horsham and Hertford from the 1970s to the 2000s. We volunteer as CHOBA Board members and our main role is to:
- support CHOBA staff on how best to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with the Old Blue community through activities such as Old Blues Day, reunions and newsletters.
- act as a channel of communication from the Old Blue community to the School.
This second function we fulfil principally through regular meetings not only with the CHOBA office, but also with the Headmaster and other CH executives, which afford us the opportunity to discuss current matters affecting the School and Old Blues. Through these meetings and other channels, the Board provides feedback from Old Blues, and ensures emerging concerns from the Old Blue community are considered, discussed, and any necessary actions taken. We also have a current member of the Council of Christ’s Hospital on the CHOBA Board, Bob Judson, who routinely updates the Council on CHOBA matters as well as ensuring the Board is informed of Council decisions, within the bounds of confidentiality.
Since the initial disclosures on the non-recent sexual abuse became public, it has been our primary concern to express to the School the views we have gauged from Old Blues, either personally or via social media and other channels, as well as our own personal horror at what has come to light. We have particularly stressed our views on the School’s communications with Old Blues to both the previous and current Headmaster, and believe there has been a marked improvement in the timeliness and nature of these as a result.
CHOBA is a membership organisation for Old Blues and former staff, and, given the heinous nature of the crimes recently exposed, in 2017 we implemented a suspension and expulsion policy. Any member charged with an offence against a child is written to and told of their suspension, banning them from any CHOBA-related activity including events and participation in CHOBA social media platforms. If convicted, this ban is made permanent with an expulsion. Since 2017 we have expelled six members under this policy, which also applies to any member whose existing conviction comes to our attention, and hope it continues, as far as it can, to protect Old Blues and their families, current students and the School.
In addition, we have been reassured by the actions the School has undertaken in their aim to minimise as far as is humanly possible, the chances of abuse happening again, as well as to help those who have suffered in the past. Please click here to read more about what the school has been doing in the letter that the Headmaster sent to the Old Blue community on July 5th 2018.
We would also like to take this opportunity to remind you that there is a dedicated CHOBA email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, where any questions or comments you have for the Board can be directed. It is our job to represent and communicate your opinions, feelings, concerns and suggestions, and it has been our experience so far that the School has listened and acted on concerns that the CHOBA Board has brought to its attention, so please do make use of this channel to get in touch about anything you’d like to share with the Board.
We, as the CHOBA Board, do our best to pick up on the areas both of interest and concern to the thousands of you out there in the Old Blue community, through personal contacts, CHOBA events, social media platforms, CHOBA sections and networking groups, amongst others, but we urge you not to forget to reach out to us directly too, via the email address above. This will allow us to present your ideas or defend your interests in what we hope can be an impactful manner. We are actively engaged with the School about any future plans and strategies that may affect our Old Blue community, and have made arrangements to be consulted earlier, and more fully, than ever, so we are in a good place to represent you, and look forward to continuing to do so.
Ralph Tait (ThA, ThB 86-93)
Daisy Swayne (BaA 90-97)
Louisa Lockwood (4s, BaA 81-88)
Chris Thomas (ThA, ThB, GrWest 94-01)
Bob Judson (MaB, ColB 73-80)
Anna Larkin (ColA 90-97)
Bridget West (7s, ColB 84-91)
Please find below the contact details provided by the School for anyone who was affected by abuse to come forward if they feel able to do so. A report can be made in a number of ways:
- The school’s dedicated email address – email@example.com – which is staffed by a small team of specialists who can respond to your concerns or pass them on to the relevant authorities. All approaches will be dealt with sympathetically and in complete confidence.
- Sussex police can be reached on 01273 470101.
- There are a number of organisations providing support for victims of child sexual abuse including NAPAC (the National Association of People Abused in Childhood) on 0808 801 0331 and the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.
- Finally you can write directly to the Headmaster at CH, Simon Reid at Headmaster’s Office, Christ’s Hospital, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 0LJ or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org