Appointment of Raymond Ackerman (1948S) as Patron of the OD Union
Members of the Old Diocesan Union were invited to attend a Special General Meeting at the Mitre, on Tuesday 6 November 2018 starting from 18h00 called for the purpose of approving the Committee's resolution to appoint Mr Raymond Ackerman to the office of Patron.
The office was vacated upon the retirement of Mr Michael Watermeyer at the 2018 AGM. The Committee nominated Raymond to fill this role.
The word Patron is derived from the Latin pater, meaning ‘father’. A brief overview of Raymond's distinguished career will paint a picture of leadership, generosity and humility that affirms the Committee’s nomination of Raymond as the Patron.
In the history of Bishops, "RD Ackerman" first appears in the April 1945 DC Magazine, under the heading Salvete. Michael Watermeyer is congratulated on being appointed a prefect in Ogilvie House. The same magazine highlights the Bishops Centenary Fund, the need for buildings, and an endowment fund for the College.
In April 1949, in the Centenary edition of the magazine, "RD Ackerman" appears under Valete. To celebrate the centenary, the lettering on the cover is rendered in red. RD Ackerman receives a prize for coming second in the Louis Esselen Afrikaans Speech competition. The Night School outreach program notes that since ‘Apartheid’ was given full publicity, attendance dropped.
In between his Salvete and Valete, Raymond featured in the magazine often. From the Night School, Astronomical - , Foreign Affairs - , Democritus Societies, Ten Club, Cadet Corps, Cross Country, Cricket , Rugby, and School House Prefect, to name but a few of the more noteworthy mentions.
In 2000 Raymond was acknowledged for his services and contribution to the ODU and Bishops, when he was appointed as a Vice-President of the Union. In 2014 he took office as President.
Since then Raymond has taken a very active interest in the day-to-day activities of the ODU. His mentorship has guided various Chairman, his leadership has strengthened the Committee, and his passion has inspired current pupils and ODs alike. Raymond’s dedication to Bishops has been exemplified by his incredible contribution to The Bishops Trust at its re-launch in 2016. Wendy and Raymond’s contribution is certainly a highlight of the school’s 169 year history, and is cemented in perpetuity in the Raymond Ackerman Centre.
I asked previous chairmen who have worked with Raymond to share their thoughts. Brian Robertson had this to say: It is said that tough times don’t last but tough people do. My committee and I saw living evidence of this in Raymond as President. The more difficult the situation, the more we drew comfort in the knowledge that we could rely on the invaluable insight, experience, and knowledge of a man who had faced down some of the most feared, notorious individuals in South African history. We figured if Raymond could tell President Vorster that he could shout all he wanted but he would open Clovelly to all races, and do so; we could, and did manage our particular challenges. Balanced with that anchor-like resilience is the most extraordinary vision to tackle the future with optimism and hope. When you are in the presence of good men, they remind you of just how good they are. When you are in the presence of a great man you walk away feeling great. Raymond is a great man, I was honoured to have worked with him.
Bruce Jack said this: There are many things I miss about the Chairmanship of the ODU, but none more so than my monthly one-on-one meetings with Raymond. This is not just because Bishops is so central to both our lives, but because I learnt so much more about myself from those interactions. Each meeting was a mini mentorship session. This is because while Raymond gets the big picture in a heartbeat, he has the extraordinary ability to construct in intricate detail that big picture from many different perspectives, often through the eyes of others. It would not be too much to call this a gift. In my experience it is certainly unique and to me, hugely inspirational.
As for me, my interactions with Raymond have been a lesson in patience, fortitude and respect. Before each Committee meeting, I receive a telephone call from Raymond. "Are you prepared for the meeting?" "Yes, Raymond". "I hope you take my advice and present the financials in an accessible format. It makes it easier for the non-financial guys to follow the meeting". "Good idea". "What you may want to consider, is that you meet with the Secretary, the Treasurer and the finance guys, before the Committee meeting, to ensure that the numbers are solid. It makes it easier to present, and it'll save time". "Thanks, I'll do that." "Is there anything you need from me? What can I do to help?".
Raymond asks what he can do to help. Raymond's character on the rugby field is described in the 1948 DC Magazine, "Ackerman converted", and "Ackerman relieved the pressure". By all accounts, these words could have been uttered yesterday. Raymond's service to the Old Diocesan Union deserves nothing less than your approval of his appointment as the Patron of the Union.
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