Girls who enjoy a Roedean education make memories that last a lifetime. But students don’t have to stop making these memories when they leave the girls’ boarding school in Brighton. Alumnae — known as Old Roedeanians (OR) — keep their school community alive through the Old Roedeanians’ Association (ORA).
Any alumna who has attended Roedean School for at least two years can join the ORA, as can former staff that alumnae nominate. ORs volunteer to run the Association and plan events for alumnae across the years to enjoy.
A member of The Schools’ Alumni Association (AROPS), the ORA upholds the following aims:
- Keep the Lawrence sisters’ founding vision for Roedean alive.
- Uphold Roedean’s excellent reputation.
- Assist and support the girls’ boarding school.
- Provide a connection point between alumnae and the School.
- Support the OR Scholarship Fund.
- Host reunions and social events to cultivate alumnae friendship and support.
There are four main ways that ORs keep in touch.
Alumnae can access the Roedean Community Network, a dedicated website for ORs to keep up to date with School and OR news, book upcoming events, and connect with alumnae.
On the website, alumnae can also find the OR Business Directory, where they can advertise their businesses or find OR-owned businesses to support.
On top of this, alumnae can access a Virtual Bookshop on the website, where they can learn about OR authors, such as Tessa Dahl.
The Old Roedeanians’ Magazine — published in print — is a must-read for keeping up with ORA news. Alumnae can learn about news of friends, such as marriages, births, reunions, and obituaries. They can also contribute to the magazine themselves.
The ORA is active on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn:
- Alumnae post their news and notices in the ORA Facebook group. They also find details about upcoming events here.
- The ORA Instagram page is a great way to keep up with the latest OR news.
- The ORA LinkedIn group is an ideal place for alumnae to post about their business interests and experience, ask for support, post job and internship adverts, and request membership.
Attending OR events is another great way to keep in touch with alumnae. The ORA hosted two of its latest social events in April 2023. These events included a Heritage Projects Tour and a two-day event with afternoon tea and a netball match.
Headteacher Niamh Green and her daughter joined ORs to tour the ORA’s proposed conservation and restoration projects at Roedean.
During the tour of the girls’ boarding school, ORs explored:
- The sundial on the front terrace.
- The newly restored frieze in No. 3. Sylvia Lawrence, the sister of Roedean’s founders, painted this frieze.
- Friezes that are yet to be restored in No. 1 and No. 2.
ORs then gathered in the chapel to discuss the Battle of Jutland ensigns, including the No. 1 ensign given to Roedean when HMS Vernon vacated after World War II in 1945.
Sunny weather allowed the alumnae to visit the fountain in the cloisters garth. An OR donated the fountain to Roedean School in 1906. Although the fountain no longer functions, it would be possible to restore the original design and use the fountain today.
The alumnae walked down the familiar main corridor to reach the board inside the School’s main entrance. This board details the names of the original benefactors of the school buildings. These benefactors include:
- The Victorian painter George Frederic Watts, whose daughter attended Roedean.
- The Roget family, of which Peter Mark Roget created Roget’s Thesaurus, and Isabel Roget was a student at Roedean.
- The Dempster family, of which Edith Pretty oversaw the excavation of the Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo, a major discovery in British archaeology.
The ORs then moved on to the art studio, where one alumna admired her mother’s artwork — a panel of painted tiles — from 1935. These tiles have survived nearly 100 years and now need some restoration so they can last another 100.
The ORA plans to host more tours soon. All ORs are welcome to join these tours to learn about Roedean School’s historic artefacts and how the ORA will preserve them for all Roedeanians to enjoy. ORs may also donate to these projects.
Another ORA event saw alumnae who left Roedean between 1951 and 2022 enjoy the annual OR Afternoon Tea at the Oriental Club in London. As a member of the Oriental Club’s OC7 scheme, the ORA has a reduced membership at the clubhouse off Oxford Street.
Around 20 alumnae — spanning 70 years of Roedean history — gathered for the afternoon tea, which included finger sandwiches, pastries, scones, prosecco, and tea.
The alumnae discussed which teachers worked at Roedean during their school years. Many were surprised at how long some teaching staff have stayed at the girls’ boarding school. Two of the ORs also discussed the possibility of their daughters joining Roedean.
The next day, alumnae joined current students at Roedean for a netball match. The leavers team included players who left Roedean between 2016 and 2021. Although they had never played together before, they worked efficiently and won the match with a final score of 26-11. Current and past students cheered the teams on while the PE staff umpired.
The alumnae vs students netball match is one of many matches that ORs get involved in. Aside from competing in this annual netball match, alumnae can stay involved in Roedean sports by competing or partaking in the:
- Annual ORs vs The School hockey match at Roedean.
- Annual event for OR tennis players at the Roehampton Club, London. Players of all abilities and ages are welcome.
- Annual OR Golf Day. Golfers of all ages and abilities can attend this event at Windlesham Golf Club, Surrey.
- Silver Tassie, a women’s golf competition for alumnae of independent schools that are members of the Independent Schools Council. Roedean is one of the founding teams that launched the competition in 1961. The competition takes place at Berkshire Golf Club.
- Arrow Trophy Regatta. Sailors of any ability can join this team, which comprises alumnae from five continents who attended Roedean in four different decades. This team has taken part in the Arrow Trophy Regatta for five years. Alumni teams from 27 independent schools race against each other in the annual sailing event, which takes place in Cowes, the Isle of Wight.
- Women’s Open Keelboat Championships (WOKC). This is a new event for ORs who enjoy sailing.
Aside from the ORA, the Roedean Parents’ Guild also promotes the School community and raises funds that support its legacy and future. The Guild’s efforts benefit students and local and global charities.
Parents and staff make up the Roedean Parents’ Guild. Key staff in Roedean School’s senior team include Headteacher Niamh Green and, until recently, Head of School Talia Keller. Niamh Green oversees nearly 400 staff members and over 700 students.
Learn more about the Old Roedeanians’ Association.