A short history of the Old Girls’ Association as written by Beverley Parkinson:
Miss Isobel MacDonald, the College’s first Principal, provided the impetus for a meeting of 40 past students of St Cuthbert’s College in 1917, at which the Old Girls’ Association was formed.
The Association’s primary aims were, and still are, to keep Old Girls in touch with one another and maintain their interest in the College. Mt Eden College Old Girls were eligible to belong to this Association from 1946, when their numbers were dwindling.
Since 1918, the College has kept open house every year on the Saturday nearest St Cuthbert’s Day, 20 March, when Old Girls can attend the Annual General Meeting and look over the College. The traditional church service, previously held in St David’s Church, is now held in the Old Girls’ Chapel prior to the AGM.
Charity work was always part of the Association’s activities – war work, a wide range of community work and reading to and visiting blind people and elderly ex-staff members. Now with most committee members working and more money having to be raised to fund the scholarships, the direction has moved. The Old Girls’ Association sent two delegates to the National Council of Women, until 2007, where they actively took part in writing and presenting submissions to local and central government and select committees on issues affecting women – equality, health, housing, education, environment and social welfare. This represented a shift in the type of community work the Old Girls’ Association undertook. In October 1998, Barbara Glenie became the first St Cuthbert’s Old Girl to be elected National President of NCW.
Regular pages in College Ties helps keep Old Girls up to date with news. Originally this began as an Old Girls newsletter which was published two or three times a year, but since has been transformed into a whole school publication. This is an excellent way of keeping up-to-date with the amazing variety of activities our Old Girls undertake.
The Old Girls have held an annual dance since the early 1920s. This turned into the Debutante Ball for some decades and is now the Graduation Ball, held for school leavers from Year 13 in December. In 1994, the Association decided to hold reunions for year groups. A dinner and cocktail party provide everyone with the opportunity to meet with her contemporaries every 10 years.
The Waikato Old Girls established a branch in 1933, followed by branches in Northland, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Canterbury and Sydney. Some branches hold regular reunions, a favourite being the annual contest between the Auckland and Waikato golfing enthusiasts for the Purple Cow Trophy.
Fund raising is an important role of the Association. Over the years it has helped financially towards the swimming pools, the pavilion, Clouston Hall, the libraries, the big Diamond Jubilee building project, the Chapel and a cabin at Kahunui. For the 75th Jubilee, the Association gave the College a section in Market Road. Today the Association funds annually five scholarships for study at the College and the Violet Wood Advanced Study Grant for postgraduate study. Art works, including works by Virginia King and Terry Stringer have been donated to the College to add interest to the learning environment. These contributions to the College are valued enormously by the Trust Board.
Miss MacDonald’s statement all those years ago, epitomises the sentiments and sense of ownership of all St Cuthbert’s Old Girls.
“For the future of the school, its stability and its continuity, nothing can be more important than that is shall be firmly rooted in the affection of all its children, who loved it, and made it not only what it is, but what it shall be.”