The dedicated service of Brentwood School stalwart Colin Finch (OB 1947-53), whose relationship with the school spans almost 75 years, has been recognised with the naming of one of the campus’ flagship buildings.
The Sixth Form Centre classroom block, part of the Otway building, has been named the Finch Building in recognition of Colin’s ‘abiding love for, and commitment to Brentwood School, and to the pupils it serves.’
Unveiling a specially-inscribed slate plaque at the naming ceremony on 19th June, an emotional Colin was clearly moved by the occasion, commenting that he was honoured and deeply grateful to be considered worthy of having the classroom block named in his honour.
Colin was joined by his wife, Susan, a small number of close family and friends, Headmaster Michael Bond and members of the School’s Governing Body and Senior Leadership Team for the official unveiling which was followed by a small reception.
Chairman of Governors, Sir Michael Snyder (OB 1961-68), said: “Colin’s time as chairman was a tour de force and it was about much more than providing new and excellent buildings and facilities for students, significant though that was.”
Turning to Colin he continued: “It was about your enthusiasm and drive and commitment, dedication and vision and above all your unfailing courtesy and charm and consideration for others.”
Colin’s long association with the School started as a pupil back in 1947 when he attended Brentwood for six years before enjoying an eminent and successful career as a chartered surveyor.
Sir Michael said the naming of the classroom block recognised, more permanently, Colin’s commitment, contribution and achievement as a governor and in particular as Chairman of Governors.
Colin joined the governing body in November 1984 when his property management expertise was quickly put to good use and he became the leading light in the School’s property management committee. After time spent as a member of the Governor’s Executive Committee, and as the Vice Chairman of Governors, he was elected Chairman in January 1997.
Sir Michael explained: “This was the start of nearly two decades of outstanding dedication that saw amongst very many other things the new Preparatory School buildings, a new Sixth Form Centre, 400-seat Wessex Auditorium, the introduction of IB and a much greater emphasis on Bursary awards, to say nothing of the Bean and Cunliffe development.
“Underpinning all of this has been Colin’s abiding love for, and commitment to Brentwood School, and to the pupils it serves. He and Susan have been prolific and regular attenders at plays and concerts and other school events.”
In the wider school community, Colin also played a significant role in the running of the Society of Old Brentwoods, both as chairman of the general committee, and as president in 1985. Over his 20-year chairmanship, Colin ‘inspired respect, admiration and affection and his wise counsel and advice helped steer the course of the School.’
Colin said he was completely surprised and genuinely overwhelmed to learn he was to be honoured in such a way. “I am honoured and deeply grateful to be considered worthy of having this classroom block named in my name. Of all the wonderful developments and projects we have been fortunate to build, in my opinion the Sixth Form Centre has been the most important and exciting for me.”
It took five years to design and complete the build and Colin said: “It’s testimony to the quality of the design and construction that the project was judged to be a stunning addition to the townscape. It won an award for its distinctive brickwork and also a national RIBA Award that commented ‘the three buildings celebrate the spirit of education unfolding as a sequence of spaces for learning, socialising and gathering’.
“When the Sixth Form Centre opened, my abiding memory is still of the students’ and teaching staff’s happy smiling faces everywhere as we toured the buildings. Thank you very much indeed for this tribute, I am conscious of the fact that whilst my name is on the building, I was privileged to be chairman of a super board of governors.
“Finally, I would like to thank my wife Susan for her constant support and forbearance during my years as a governor. She enabled me to derive so much pleasure and pride and such is the extent of Susan’s tolerance that when I mentioned this to her recently she reminded me that I even attended a governors’ meeting on my daughter’s 21st birthday! The fact that we reach our Diamond Wedding anniversary this year, I am a very fortunate husband indeed.”