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News > Passing of friends > Tribute to John Charlton (1954G)

Tribute to John Charlton (1954G)

Alan Ramsay (1960F) writes a few words for John.
The gracious tributes to the special role that John Charlton played in the life of Bishops were accurate but for missing two attributes that I and many others had the privilege of experiencing.
The first was his role as director of the Bishops Development Appeal in 1984, a fund-raising campaign with a target of R3 000 000 (approximately R48 000 000 in 2020).   John, who took a year off from teaching and whose networking skills were legendary, was the mastermind behind the organisation of the fund-raising activities, notably in respect of the identification of potential donors, tracking their whereabouts, organising events and recording their response to requests.   He was supported by three secretaries, one being the long-serving Eileen Shean, in respect of the administration and paperwork (no computers or email in those days).
I had the privilege of being roped in as chairman of the Western Cape campaign, targeting donors whose contributions were likely to be up to R5 000. Peter Mayhew handled “general gifts”, namely anything over R5 000, and Andrew Ovenstone and his team approached the few who were targeted to donate very large sums.  
Being “chairman” in my case actually required me to play the role of a sales manager, with John as “marketing manager”, doing all the background work. Reporting to me through about 12 team leaders, I had over 100 “salesmen” or fundraisers, namely members of the Bishops community divided into teams of, say, schoolmasters, older OD’, younger ODs, parents and others. For a period of six weeks or more, there were Monday-evening team meetings in the old gym when names of potential donors were selected, targets set, contacts planned and successes or otherwise reported. John and I would then retire to his office, analyse the performance, produce a weekly newsletter with the results, team by team, along with advice and guidance on how to raise the money, usually over a glass or two of whisky.
The next morning, one of the secretaries would type and print the newsletters, get them to the post office and, almost without fail, they would be delivered by the postman to the fundraisers the next day!
Our Western Cape target of R1 000 000 was achieved on time and, to our chagrin, the campaign chairman, the late John Newman, namely the father of the current Bishops Trust chairman, Jan, asked us to find another million, which we did!   It was a wonderful learning experience for all involved, notably enjoying the enthusiasm, expertise and determination of not just John Newman but also principal John Peake who had spelt out the school’s needs of the time and who proved an equally effective fundraiser, locally and overseas. Among others who played an active role was the director of the trust, former SA ambassador John Selfe.
But the core reason for the success of the campaign was the administrative job that John carried out – I have spent my whole career both in marketing and working with marketing executives: John rates as one of the very best.
John’s second attribute:   his ability to organise parties with a very wide circle of friends. They were just so memorable!
Alam T Ramsay (1960F)


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