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ALUMNI > Alumni News > Meet our Pate's Society Chair, Simon Cook

Meet our Pate's Society Chair, Simon Cook

As part of the Development & Alumni Committee, current sixth form student Devon Ricketts interviewed Simon and found out about his motivations for supporting his school and the alumni community.
30 Mar 2021
United Kingdom
Alumni News
Official sixth form photo
Official sixth form photo

Last term, I had the privilege of speaking to Simon - the Chair of the Pate’s Society - about his role as Chair and his experiences attending Pate’s in the 1980s. Having been a member of the alumni society for over seven years, Simon is a valuable member of the school community and an alumnus. He is now Chair of the Pate’s Society working alongside a small committee of diligent volunteers who run social events like the Annual Lunch, Summer Garden Party and various reunions, and who also look after our school archives. Coming of age during the merger of Cheltenham Grammar School and Pate’s Grammar School for Girls, Simon also discussed the cultural change the school undertook, as well as how it has changed since he left.

Q: What does your role as the Chair of the Pate’s Society entail?

A: “I think, really trying to get the message out there and letting current and past pupils know what we do is key. As a society we want to bring our alumni community together and keep their relationship with Pate’s alive. For me it is certainly an opportunity to give something back to my school. I’m very lucky to have a strong committee of alumni who work very hard. But my role [as Chair] is raising the profile of the alumni society and using the connections I have.”

Q: What sort of activities do you get involved with for the Pate’s Society and how do you balance this with a professional career?

A: “We have regular Committee meetings, an AGM and the Annual Lunch. We introduced a Summer Garden Party a few years ago, and we've also been involved for a number of years with the school’s careers evening. We’re able to use our connections to support the school with other ad hoc careers events where alumni can host a talk or make a presentation during assembly or IAG. I’m fortunate that I’m a partner so they are very understanding and it seemed part of my role at Willans to give back to the community. I joined Willans after joining the Pate’s Society and they had no issues with me carrying on. Also, I can use the resources here at Willans to help out in my role. It’s not as demanding as you’d think.”

Q: What is your favourite part of being Chair?

A: “I really enjoy the Garden Party - we’ve only hosted two so far but the first one was fantastic, the weather was lovely and we used the marquee as it was just after cricket week. A lot of people attended and it really went down well. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t quite as good the second time round. We’re hoping to host another one as soon as it’s possible.”

Q: What are the perks of joining the Pate’s Society?

A: “There are plenty of reasons to join us as a member! You’ll always feel connected with your school community when receiving our termly e-newsletters, the Patesian magazine - an exciting publication full of alumni stories and school news - and on top of this the opportunity to purchase discounted tickets for events such as our Annual Lunch, Garden Party and year group reunions. The benefits members receive are great but for me, I feel that membership of the Pate’s Society is not just simply “what I get out of it” it’s a way of allowing me to give something back to my school as a thank you.”

Q: How have you overcome the difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: “Last year we felt it was appropriate to postpone our usual social events and we moved the AGM to an online forum – but this actually worked really well! I think the challenges we’ve faced aren’t too much different to those faced by other organisations. Everyone has to be flexible, adaptable and creative. Our termly e-newsletters and regular posts on the Pate’s Alumni Facebook page kept the Pate’s community feeling connected!”

Q: Let’s take it back in time to the 1980s when you were at Pate’s. What was the school like back then?

A: “I joined in September 1980 in the now demolished building. It had these vinyl carpets so if you scuffed your shoes you’d get an electric shock! It was a strange building indeed. I was there when the schools merged in September 1986. It was a shock to us all really, it just changed the whole dynamic.”

Q: What A-levels did you take?

A: “English, History and French.”

Q: What has changed about Pate’s since you left?

A: “It’s a lot bigger and I would probably struggle to get through the entrance exam now! I think the academic standards are perhaps a lot higher, a much tougher place to get into. However, it still seems a very happy place to learn and you have teachers who are prepared to go the extra mile. So in that respect it probably hasn’t changed that much, I think Pate’s has just built upon its strengths.”

If you’d like to find out more about the Pate’s Society and how you can join use this link:

https://www.patesgs.org/alumni/the-pates-society

 

 

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