Reflections on the Toronto Alumni Reception

Monday, August 27, 2018 - By: Robert Dixon, Ellis ’94

This year’s Toronto Alumni Reception on the evening of June 4th hosted over 40 Old Brentonians. The healthy attendance was a reflection of two things: 1) the sheer number of Old Brentonians that call Toronto home and 2) the fact that John Allpress and Bud Patel were present. Adding to the special flavour of the evening was John’s pending retirement after 38 years at Brentwood. It’s no exaggeration to say that John dedicated his life to the school and all of us present felt lucky to be able to thank him personally.

The private room at Bymark Restaurant that evening had been elegantly decorated with several visual displays of the school’s physical evolution to date, including the latest designs for the new Foote Athletic Centre which opens September 22. Everyone present marveled at the changes to the campus over the years. When addressing the gathering, however, John spoke of the essence of the School’s success being the nurturing of people and ‘teams’ at all levels of the Brentwood organization rather than its beautiful facilities. Everyone has played a role and everyone deserves recognition.

John quipped that as he was in his own “graduation year” he would break with his past reluctance to speak about fundraising at social events and instead address the subject. He added that he’d never mentioned fundraising before because he didn’t want to jeopardize the special relationships the School had built over the years. John’s message was that it’s difficult to feel like one’s modest contribution could ever do justice to the debt of gratitude one feels for a school like Brentwood. Therefore, people have a natural aversion to “giving” for fear that their gift may come across as insulting. Not true! Showing solidarity through adding one’s name to the list of donors is what’s important. Brentwood's new monthly donation initiative which suggests that Old Brentonians “give their grad year” has been catching on and will hopefully continue to do so.

At these social events it’s thrilling to meet Old Brentonians from all generations and I’m always struck by the passion they have for the School. On this occasion, I met a fellow former Brentwood Rugby Captain, David Duke, Privett ‘82. Following a quick introduction, David and I bonded through our shared experience playing rugby for and touring with Nick Prowse. Unbeknownst to David, Nick had often used David’s feats as 1st XV Captain in the early 80’s to inspire my young Colts team in the early 90’s. Those stories certainly had an impact on me as a youngster. That I could recount (as someone David met for the first time over drinks in Toronto 2018) stories of his years at Brentwood 37 years after he graduated was pretty illustrative of the power of the traditions that keep us together across generations. De Manu in Manum!

Living within all Old Brentonians are the stories and relationships formed from our time at the School. These stories and relationships are part of who we are as people, so it’s no surprise to me why these nights that re-connect us to the past are so special. 

Until next year!

Robert Dixon, Ellis ’94

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