Spring in California

USA- Kearsney College Old Boys Times

The Greyhound in the mist on Campus

Proud of our Past, Focused on the Future

Dear <<First Name>>

Greetings to all of the USA-KCOB’s and we hope that 2016 has been a successful one so far; in Southern California we are still waiting for the promised El Niño rains while suffering through our worst drought since the start of record-keeping.

As I write this today (June 13), my thoughts and my heartfelt sympathies, and I’m sure those of all of our old boys here, are with the victims and families of those massacred in Orlando on Saturday June 12. Whatever each of our personal feelings are about the LGBT movement, there is no excuse for this horror to be visited upon anyone, regardless of their persuasion.

This is the fourth issue of our newsletter and when it goes out at the beginning of July, we will be a year old; our first issue went out in July 2015. The main goal of our newsletter is to strengthen the virtual connection between old boys in the USA, to highlight one of our USA based old boys in each issue, to recognise old boys who contribute to our bursary fund and to keep you in touch with happenings at our old school. We sincerely hope that you find it to be interesting and informative and we welcome your suggestions for articles. Don’t be shy—we want to hear from you! We also want to keep you up to date about the USA-KCOB Centenary Bursary Fund.

An appeal from the Editor

I have Good News, and bad news. The Good News is that we are just $13,500 (R200,000) from being able to award our first USA-KCOB Centenary Bursary; the bad news is that unless more old boys are willing to step up to support this bursary effort, we won’t be able to award a bursary to a deserving student, starting in 2017. To me that seems like dropping out of a marathon at 25 miles, after months and months of training! If 27 old boys would donate $500 each (or more if you can) we’d reach this goal with ease and Kearsney could immediately start to identify the first USA-KCOB Centenary Bursary student. It would only be a partial bursary at this time, but many excellent students aren’t able to attend Kearsney just because they are short of a few thousand Rand, and the school has already awarded all available, and limited, bursary funds. As I suggested in an earlier volume of the Times, the price of a cup of coffee 5 days a week adds up to more than $1000/year. Surely there are old boys living and working in the USA to whom donating the price of a daily cup of coffee would not be a financial hardship? When I think of all that I gained by attending Kearsney— and yes, I was a bursary student—I cannot imagine not giving back now that I am able to do so. Many of us go back for our class reunions, showing our strong connection to our school; why not make that donation before your next visit. When you walk around the grounds, and the students greet you and your wife/partner with ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’, you can quietly smile and think‘I made it possible for one of these boys to be here’. It is truly an uplifting feeling.

If you need some inspiration, look at the Class of 2015 who established a class bursary before they graduated. When asked “why this incredibly selfless act of generosity by ones so young?” the Class of 2015 said “Kearsney has given us so much and we wanted to give back, we wanted to be the change that we hope to see in the world, which we displayed in our actions, from our donating to victims of xenophobia and singing out against racism and being the first class to start a class fund whilst still in school”. Robbie Polkinghorne and Jabulani Nyathi the head boy and deputy head boy of the class of 2015 added: “The reason why we decided, as a class, to start a bursary fund is because we realized how much of a privilege it was to be a part of Kearsney and felt that this was certainly a gift to share with another deserving boy in the future. We as a class wanted to give something to the school which would last for years to come and make a significant difference to Kearsney and in someone's life. Our goal was to build a legacy and give others the same life changing experience that each of us had at Kearsney College.” 

Please don’t read this appeal and think ‘this is not for me, someone else will do it’. It is for you! It is for all of us who attended Kearsney and are where we are now because of that privilege.

Class of 2015 at the 2016 Founders Weekend

As usual we include a ‘Connections’ (catch-up) section in each issue with your News & Views. We invite you to send any personal or KC-related information that you would like included in the next issue to Athena Fisher at: or Such news might include job promotions, relocations, “hatched/matched and dispatched”, recent arrivals (or departures) of Old Boys in the USA, information that you might want our USA Old Boys to know, or perhaps a photo of KCOBs meeting up in the USA. Your ideas and contributions are most welcome.
Carpe Diem!

Michael Hall (Gillingham 1953)
(310) 702-1636 – LA, California
Editor: The USA-KCOB Times
Chairman: USA-KCOB Centenary Bursary Fund

Athena Fisher: Foundation Coordinator
Joy Mills-Hackmann: Foundation Director, co-Editor
Grant du Plooy: USA KCOB Branch Chair


USA-KCOB Centenary Bursary Fund

This is an invitation to you to Seize the Day! You can get involved and find out more about how to give from the USA by clicking here

Meet Grant Du Plooy (Pembroke 1978)

I am a born and bred Natal boy—although my mother was born in what was then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. I have two older half siblings and two younger half siblings, but I’m an only child; my wife figured out that I’m an eldest child, a youngest child, a middle child and an only child—I think I hit all of the possibilities! My parents still live in South Africa, so I return to Cape Town each year to visit them for three weeks in November/December.

Growing up, I attended Clifton Prep School in Durban as a day scholar, prior to attending Kearsney. I was not a particularly sporty student, although I played a bit of social squash and tennis, and was moderately involved in swimming and athletics. Looking back on those years, I guess I was a pretty social student, enjoying the various clubs available at that time.
After matriculating from Kearsney, I worked for a year in the hotel industry in South Africa— which is what I saw as my career path at that time. I then applied to university in America— and was accepted to Cornell University, which has the best hospitality school in the country. For various reasons—not the least of which was the crushingly cold winters in upstate New York-- I decided to attend the State University of New York at Delhi in the beautiful Catskill mountains (also nicknamed ‘Little Cornell’) after which I progressed to Florida International University in Miami for my B.Sc. After graduating and working briefly in the hotel industry in Florida, I returned to South Africa and continued in the hotel industry for roughly the next 5 years. I was drawn back to the USA where I saw good prospects as well as a culture I enjoyed, and settled in San Francisco, still in hospitality. Exactly a week after arriving the city experienced the big 7.1 magnitude earthquake (on October 17, 1989), which killed 63 people and damaged a thousand buildings; not the most encouraging welcome to my future home! 

During my time at Kearsney, there seemed to me to be a focus on producing the ‘leaders of tomorrow’, and that focus, in addition to the Carpe Diem philosophy, played an influential role, which I believe allowed me to make, perhaps with less of a fear of change, fairly significant life and career changes, which have so far worked out for the best. 

Contemplating my future—and this is where my Kearsney education stood me in good stead—I decided to make a change and consulted a career coach, who recommended that I would do very well in the tech industry. I got the first job that I applied for which involved recruiting mainly software engineers into various tech firms. In 1999 I started my own company—Tolfrey Group—focused on helping early-stage tech start-up companies to build their engineering teams. 

In 2000 I met my future wife, Soon Len, who works in the same industry as I do, and we married in 2007.

In addition to my business, I enjoy sailing, and until early this year I owned a mid-size yacht on San Francisco Bay. I recently received my captain’s license, sailing around the San Juan Islands near Seattle, which got my ‘sailing juices’ flowing again! I’m not sure where this is going to lead…but maybe to another yacht? 

I have been the KCOBC-USA Regional Chair since 2002. This has been an interesting as well as a frustrating experience, as due to the vast distances between members and cost of travel, accommodation etc., we have not been able to generate sufficient interest or commitment in organising a reunion. But we are on track for one later this year! I maintain a virtual KCOBC-USA group on Facebook, where everyone has the opportunity to connect and communicate. We currently have 50 members (or 51 if we include Joy) and I encourage all US-based old boys to join this closed group to keep up with fellow old boys in the USA, and to arrange to meet when traveling around the country. To join, just type ‘KCOBC-USA’ into Facebook’s search window and the group will appear and you can request to join. If you have any qualms about joining Facebook, remember, you only need to provide the bare minimum of information you feel comfortable sharing to gain access. We look forward to seeing you there!

Grant du Plooy sailing in the San Juan Islands

Kearsney Striders Dunlop Half Marathon and 10km Walk

We thank Gavin Bester (Pembroke 1967), Stephen Owen and Mike Stencil for digging deep into their memories to provide this article.

The Kearsney Striders Running Club was formed in 2000, and in 2002 the club committee decided to organize a half marathon and 16Km walk, which would run through some of our beautiful campus. The initial organizing committee was formed of individuals without any race organizing experience! It was only at registration that morning in 2002, that we realized the size and pulling power of our vision as about 600 runners and walkers had arrived to tackle the half marathon and 16 km walk. It was only the dedication of the founding committee, stepping up to multiple challenges, each providing their own skills, that the first race day—Sunday 23rd February, 2002—was the success that it turned out to be, and has continued to be for the past 15 years. The Kearsney Striders Half Marathon has firmly established itself as one of the most popular road races on the KZN running calendar, with over 1700 runners participating in the 2016 race. This tough course was designed by Dave Cato, a member of staff and Housemaster of Haley House, and a useful long distance runner himself. After running for 5km through the beautiful Kearsney campus the entrants run part of the Comrades route along Old Main Road before climbing up to the Alverstone Tower and then descending into the lush green Assagay Valley, exiting out via the infamous Heidi’s Hill, to return to the finish on the beautiful fields of the College. Sonya Laxton, one of South Africa’s leading long distance runners, rated the course as “one of the most challenging runs I have experienced”.

The 70 minute barrier was not broken for 6 years, until Elmore Sibanda (Boxer AC) cracked it with the impressive time of 69min. 48secs. in 2008—a record that still stands. Likewise, the ladies race was won that year by Carey-Ann Cave in the record time of 85 min. 12 secs. The current women’s record was set in 2010 by Jenna Challenor (Boxer AC) in 84 min. 37 secs. Gavin writes ‘one of the most anxious moments that I have experienced, occurred during the 2009 race which had just started when I received a call from Steve Owen telling me that the Chapel Gate, where the runners would re-enter the campus, was still locked; the lead runners would be there in 10 minutes, with 600 runners close behind! Disaster loomed! Fortunately we were able to alert two fellow helpers, Don Bentley and Rory Manning, who were in close proximity and were able to lift the gate off its’ hinges just as the lead runners approached the Chapel. It must have been Divine intervention!’

Gavin adds, ‘I must mention that this race would never have reached the success it enjoys without the selfless hard work of over 140 helpers who year after year offer their services to ensure another successful race. There are too many of these for me to mention in this article, but I cannot go without mentioning the efforts of the Founding Chairman Rod de Villiers, and the Past Chairman of many years, Steve Owen. The present race director, Mike Stencil and his committee have continued to keep our race as one of the most popular and well organized in the province, and a great training run for the Comrades Marathon’. 

The Kearsney Striders are indebted to Dunlop, who were the principal sponsors for 6 years of the races’ existence and have provided staff to assist in many facets of the race. More recently we have been sponsored by a number of Spar shops in the area. Our race is now a half marathon and 10km run/walk. We encourage the boys of Kearsney to participate by having a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Kearsney boy home for the 10km run, each of whom receives a cash prize, and a medal if they are in the first 500 finishers. So many people have put massive time and effort into this race for nothing more than the love of road running and to assist their fellow runner. Long may it continue!

The start of the 2016 Kearsney Striders Half Marathon

The Headmaster and his two daughters Nicky and Kelly completing the 21km

Two members of the Kearsney Striders running the 2016 half marathon

The Route with the infamous 5 km long Heidi’s Hill

School News

Kearsney boys cheering Comrades runners as they pass the school gates. This year’s winner was South African David Gatebe who beat the record and completed the 90km with a time of 05:18:12 .

Comrades Marathon 29 May 2016

Highlights from Founders

On Friday 4 June 2016 the new Centenary Centre was opened. The building houses the mathematics classrooms as well as a large room which facilitates the writing of exams, exhibitions as well as full grade discussions on a subject. Dr Graeme Shuker was our honoured guest who opened the centre

Dr Graeme Shuker  (Finningley 1948) unveiled the opening of the New Centenary Centre

Founders Weekend

Chapel Service

The Guest Speaker at the Founders Chapel Service, Mr David Levin (Pembroke 1966), past Headmaster of the City of London School, provided a humorous take on encouraging the boys to think internationally for the future. He congratulated them on their outstanding successes and reminded them to seize every opportunity available to them.

David Levin (Pembroke 1966)

At the Survivor Assembly (from Left to Right): Rob Lloyd (Gillingham 1968,  Kearsney Trustee and Chairman), Gavin Bester (Pembroke 1967), Ian Gilbertson (Finningley 1966), Iain Robertson (Gillingham 1966), John Martindale (Finningley 1966), Brian Low (Unknown 1966) and David Hind (Pembroke 1966).

The Class of 1966 were welcomed by Lorne Maclaine (Finningley 1963) into the Survivor circle as they celebrated their 50th reunion at the Survivor Lunch and the Founders black tie dinner

The Black Tie Event

We were so pleased to have the class year groups of 1951, 1956, 1961, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 as well as many others join us throughout the weekend’s festivities. There were 330 men at the black-tie dinner on Friday evening, many of whom travelled from far and wide.  The fantastic MC was Doug Carmody (Gillingham 1993 and current parent) who conducted proceedings with a great deal of humour, and was awarded the KCOB Presidents award for his outstanding service and loyalty to the Old Boys by starting the KCOB Rugby Fund which supports two bursaries for talented Rugby Players.

Doug Carmody (Gillingham 1993)

Members of the class of 1996, obviously enjoying the festivities!

Back Row: Ryan Baker (Gillingham 1996), Mark Charlesworth (Pembroke 1996), Vlad Vidas (Gillingham 1996), Mark Nelson (Gillingham 1996) William Smith (Pembroke 1996), Rowan Leibbrandt (Pembroke 1996), Steven Rautenbach(Gillingham 1996)  Damian Hourquebie (Pembroke 1996) Andre Van Rooyen (Gillingham 1996), Andrew Mullins (Pembroke 1996), Wayne Voogt (Pembroke 1996) and Dale Parker (Pembroke 1996)

Front Row: Standing John Hunter (Finningley 1996); Seated Fabio Crabbia (Gillingham 1996) Scott Hastie (Finningley 1996), Guy Picken(Pembroke 1996) Doug Comrie (Pemrboke1996)

Members of the class of 1981. Nick Cawood (Gillingham 1981), Dave Thiselton (Finningley 1981), Pete Gibson(Finningley 1981) , Jean-Claude Koenig (Finningley 1981), Dave Beath (Finningley 1981) and Iain Meaker (Gillingham 1987)

Members of the class of 1956 celebrating their 60th reunion. From Left to Right:   John Inge (Gillingham 1956), Barry Chambers (Pembroke 1956), Ron Timm (Finningley 1956), Digby Benporath (Gillingham 1956), Bruce Hulett (Gillingham 1956), Patrick Russel (Gillingham 1956) Seated: Derryck Black (Gillingham 1956).

The 88th KCOB AGM

At the Old Boys AGM, Old Boy and USA-KCOB Times Editor Professor Michael Hall (Gillingham 1953) was acknowledged for his years of Kearsney support and benefaction by the KCOB with an Honorary Life Vice President of the KCOB Award.

Michael Hall and his wife Jill Hall.

And the weekend ended off on a high note with the One stripe beating Hilton College 20-8.

Greg van Noordwyk(Pembroke G12) and Ritchie Cameron (Sheffield G12) 1st Team against Hilton

KCOB’s and their loved ones watching the Rugby game against Hilton on Saturday

Your News & Views


USA and Canada KCOB Reunion


All old boys who are on Kearsneys’ e-mail list will have received information regarding the reunion that Grant and Michael are arranging for later this year. We hope that we will have a robust response. Once we see how many people would be interested in attending such an event, we’ll make a decision about whether to go ahead, and will notify you by the end of this month. If any old boys did not receive this information, please click on this link to see what is in the works.


Connection Section


It’s gratifying to see our USA Old Boys making time to catch up with each other. If you have any stories and photos like this please remember to send them to Athena at:

Sean Coetzee (Finningley 2003) and Michael Hall (Gillingam1953) at a tasting of South African wines arranged by Sean who is regional manager of Cape Classics, importers of South African and French wines. 

Sean Coetzee (Finningley 2003) and David Emanuel (Pembroke 1996) on a trail run in the Hills above San Francisco

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Finally, we leave you with this this wonderful performance of the Kearsney Choir singing Baba Yetu, a Swahili adaptation of Our Father.

Message sent by the Kearsney Foundation 
Joy Mills-Hackmann (Director), Athena Fisher (Foundation Coordinator), Kerry-Lynn McMaster (Secretary) | Tel: +27(0)31 765 9600 / 28 / 27 / 50  | Fax: 086 511 0594

Kearsney College Old Main Road, Botha’s Hill, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa 3660

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