The Wesley College Old Boys’ Union was founded at an informal meeting in Trinity College in February, 1901. Thirteen old boys were present with Rev. William Crawford in the chair. Later in the year about a hundred old boys and their guests attended the inaugural dinner in the College Dining Hall. The OBU lapsed during the First World War.
The annual dinners, which had been interrupted by the War, were resumed in 1927, and the OBU was formally refounded in April 1929. Seventy-seven were present at the inaugural dinner in the Royal Hibernian Hotel in March 1930.
The Old Girls’ Union was founded at a general meeting in the College in January 1930. During the first year Dramatic, Physical Culture and Rambling Clubs were formed. The opening social in the Large Schoolroom of the College consisted of competitions, musical items and supper. The summer reunion took the form of a Garden Party in Tullamaine when the members enjoyed clock-golf, croquet, table tennis and tea.
The OBU had been inactive during the mid-1930s until it was revived under the enthusiastic leadership of Jack Lawson. News magazines were published from 1937 to 1938; and annual dinner, golf and tennis outings, cricket and badminton matches against the College were organised. From 1937 occasional dances took place in the Metropole Ballroom in conjunction with the OGU. A Northern Ireland Branch and a London Branch were formed in partnership with the OGU.
In 1934 the OGU established a Bursary Fund to assist in the education of a child of an old boy or an old girl in need.
To help with the celebration of the centenary of the College in 1945, the OGU published a Centenary Magazine and formed an Old Girls’ choir with Mr William Watson as conductor, which flourished for some years.
In 1946 Mr. Eric Massey presented a chain of office for the President to the OBU and in 1947 Mrs. Nora Browne presented a President’s chain of office to the OGU.
Both the OBU and the OGU grew in numbers and founded new Branches from the 1940s to the mid-1960s. From 1954 there was a Junior Branch with a committee drawn from both Unions which organised a full programme of joint activities, which appealed to recent school leavers. In 1955 both Unions joined to celebrate the silver jubilee of the founding of the Unions with a Dinner in the Royal Hibernian Hotel.
The OGU promoted an annual programme of Dinner, Shrove Tuesday pancake party, golf competition and tennis tournament. Other events were also organised to raise funds for the Bursary Fund and later the Benevolent Fund, which was set up in 1969 to assist members in difficult circumstances with a once-off grant. In 1962 the Union celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the admission of girls to the College in 1911/12 with a fork supper in the new recreation hall in Epworth, a tour of the College Buildings and a special service in the Chapel.
The OBU organised an annual dinner, quarterly lunches, golf competition, and it supported a Bursary Fund. In 1957 it was responsible for the erection in the Chapel of a War Memorial plaque bearing the names of old boys who were killed on active service in the Second World War.
In 1968 the OBU recorded that the Junior Branch had been disbanded owing to a lack of interest amongst old boys who had recently left school.
In 1971 the OBU set up a trust to provide a music scholarship for the most promising music pupil in the College. The Bursary Fund was maintained. The OGU continued to support their Bursary and Benevolent Funds, and both Unions played major roles in raising money for the College Development Fund.
In 1985/86 the two Unions set up a committee to explore the possibility of an amalgamation of the Unions. During the presidencies of Hilda (Tennant) MacShane and Vivian Good a sub-committee drafted a Constitution for a Past Pupils’ Union which was considered at the subsequent OBU and OGU Annual General Meetings. On 30 June, 1988 the AGMs of both Unions adopted the new Constitution. The two Unions immediately met together and inaugurated the Past Pupils’ Union with Hilda MacShane and Campbell Heather as joint Presidents. A beautiful chain of office for the President of the PPU was designed by Mr Douglas Bennett, a past pupil.
Under the auspices of the PPU, trustees continue to manage the OBU Bursary Fund and Music Scholarship Fund and the OGU Bursary Fund and Benevolent Fund. The PPU has also established its own Bursary and Benevolent Funds. In 1995 under the terms of the Will of Doreen McDonnell the sum of £250,000 was made available to the Trustees of the PPU as capital to establish additional bursaries. In 2000 eighteen pupils in the College were beneficiaries of these funds.
The PPU continues to organise a full programme of social events, the most popular being the annual golf outing and the London Reunion lunch. From time to time other functions are arranged to raise funds for the Bursary and Benevolent Funds or to support the College Development Fund.
|YEAR||OLD BOYS’ UNION||OLD GIRLS’ UNION|
|1988||H. C. Heather||Mrs. H. MacShane|
|1987||T.H.V. Good||Mrs. H. MacShane|
|1986||T.H.V. Good||Mrs. B. Syms|
|1985||M.E.J. Craven||Mrs. B. Syms|
|1984||T.G. Livingston||Mrs. M. Spencer|
|1983||H. Vard||Mrs. M. Spencer|
|1982||B. Fitzgerald||Mrs. B. Livingston|
|1981||W.C. Willoughby||Mrs. B. Livingston|
|1980||D. McCullagh||Mrs. S. Bell|
|1979||A. Cronhelm||Mrs. S. Bell|
|1978||G.C. Travers||Miss D. Pennefather|
|1977||Rev. G.G. Myles||Miss D. Pennefather|
|1976||R.J. Grier||Mrs. J. Hart|
|1975||W.G. Kirkpatrick||Mrs. J. Hart|
|1974||T.A. Beatty||Mrs. K.M. Fitzgerald|
|1973||J.H. Boate||Mrs. K.M. Fitzgerald|
|1972||Col. H.J. Johnston||Miss D.A.H. Lindsay|
|1971||D.C. Fitzpatrick||Miss D.A.H. Lindsay|
|1970||J.J. McConnell||Mrs. J.F. Halliday|
|1969||Rev. E.A. Carry||Mrs. J.F. Halliday|
|1968||A.D. Miller||Mrs. C.R. Kelly|
|1967||G.W. McConnell||Mrs. C.R. Kelly|
|1966||W.E. Pickering||Mrs. M.C. Thompson|
|1965||Ben Horan||Mrs. W. Campbell|
|1963||C.E. Polden||Mrs. R.S.W. Baker|
|1961||F.W. Olhausen||Mrs. N.McHugh|
|1959||Rev. J.L. Cairns||Mrs. E.K. Mackenna|
|1957||S.H. Polden||Mrs. T.H.T. Cross|
|1956||Col. B.E. Gentleman|
|1955||J.R. Lawson||Mrs. E.A. Whitaker|
|1953||J.S. Pickering||Mrs. H.L. Doak|
|1950||C.T. Attwooll||Mrs. A. Kingston|
|1948||Dr. W. E. Cooke||Mrs. W.H. Brown|
|1947||Rev. Dr. T.J. Irwin|
|1946||E.W. Massey||Miss N. Alexander|
|1942||Canon E.H.F. Campbell|
|1936 – 37||G.E. Robertson|
|1931 – 35||W.R. Burgess|
|1930||R. W. Booth|