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From the Head - Headmaster's Newsletter 26 October 2019

Dear friends of Hilton,


I am currently travelling to Old Boys’ Chapters in the USA, Canada and the UK. It is a privilege to connect with people across the globe who hold our college dear. It is difficult to single out any particular Old Hiltonian as each attendee at these events makes a personal sacrifice to be there, however, I need to mention a few people.

Firstly, Mrs Amanda Pistorius, our Database Coordinator, is essential in our keeping in touch with as many Old Hiltonians as we can locate. This aspect of the work ‘behind the scenes’ is the glue that makes the network work.

Mr David Meachin who resides in St Petersburg, Florida, is from the Class of 1956 and he has been the energy behind the US Chapter for a number of years; continuing to help facilitate the annual golfing event and the dinner in NYC. David chooses to make this contribution both in kind and in means as a direct response to his recognition of what his education at Hilton enabled him to achieve in his later life. David was the recipient of a scholarship to attend Hilton and was then afforded a further scholarship for tertiary studies. 

Why these facts are important is that they demonstrate the spirit of giving that David has embraced and embodied in his further service to Hilton, without any compulsion. It is this spirit of generosity that I so wish all Hiltonians would embrace and master. 

Mr Damian Farrell (Class of 1978) has held the baton of organiser of Old Hiltonian events in the USA for the past few years. Damian has worked tirelessly to fly the Hiltonian flag and grow the network of Old Hiltonians in the USA in direct response to his conviction that Hilton gave him an extraordinary start in life and his gratefulness for this is palpable in his giving of his time, energy and resource to further the USA Old Boys’ Chapter. 

Mr Mark Hancock (Class of 1987) established the Los Angeles Chapter and this is the second year we have met. Mark’s enthusiasm for providing a place for Old Hiltonians in the Bay Area to connect is welcomed and applauded - I am hopeful that this Chapter will grow in number in the future and that we can learn from the wonderful experiences those who have travelled and worked abroad can give us.

Mr Hugh Snyder (Class of 1953) has been especially generous with his time and money from his home in Toronto, Canada over a number of years. He has chosen to remain involved with Hilton, also in recognition for what he was afforded in his education and in his belief that Hilton remains a beacon of excellence and of hope in our country and on our continent. He, together with Mr. Simon Fish and Mr Andrew Harrington continue to ensure our ties to Old Hiltonians in Canada are strong.

Mr Andrew Richmond (Class of 1997) and Mr Simon Ellis (Class of 2009) have coordinated a terrific gathering of Old Hiltonians in London this year, with approximately one hundred attendees. The positive energy a group of Old Hiltonians bring to a gathering in a foreign country is palpable and makes one feel especially proud of being but a small part of a much greater story. 

These people, in North America and the UK, along with the many others who continue to attend the various events and find it within themselves to make contributions in kind and in material ways, are outstanding role models for all of us to emulate. 

The spirit of generosity is perhaps the most sought-after attitude we need as South Africans at this time. A spirit of generosity which will ensure we can be more inclusive as a nation; become more capable to find and contribute to the solutions we so require; and embrace the promise of prosperity for all through the practise of developing and harnessing a generous spirit. 

Watching men of substance give of themselves and of their means to the ongoing cultivation of relationships forged whilst at Hilton is appealing. I am often reminded of the strength of the bond between school and boy, and among those who share the unique gift of having attended Hilton College. 

I was recently asked by a Grade 11 boy as to my vision for Hilton outside of the fairly obvious and rudimentary excellent results in academics, sport and cultural pursuits; my response was the following: I hope for our young men leaving Hilton, after a five year experience, to be able to exhibit humility in all that they do and to adopt this attitude as an over-arching philosophy for living. This, alongside a spirit of generosity to permeate all that one puts one’s hand to, would be two of the greatest indicators of success in my book. 

A success driven culture can all too easily become a self-centred culture if it is not deliberately channelled towards achievement that requires a civic responsibility towards others. We must be aware of this trap in our celebration of excellence such that tomorrow’s leaders will afford us a more humane world to inhabit. 

As many of our sons come from privilege it is incumbent upon us to teach the tenants of good stewardship of resources alongside the skill set required to create meaningful and profitable work for oneself and for others. 

I am greatly encouraged by those whom I meet at these events, passionate Hiltonians who are reminiscent of their positive experiences whilst at Hilton and most importantly, greatly optimistic of the part they play in their various walks of life wherever they now find themselves. This joie de vivre is an infectious attitude that seems to drive many Old Hiltonians and it is inspiring to see. 

I often tell our current Hiltonians that they become a part of something much greater than themselves, in being enrolled at Hilton; these visits to Old Hiltonian Chapters around the world underline this fact.

George Harris


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