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Chapter 5: FP Centres at Home and Abroad

Membership of the various Sections of the Club is, of necessity, confined to members living in and around Aberdeen. FPs living elsewhere have combined in various areas to form Centres, for which the Club Constitution makes specific provision. At the present time there are four Centres in the U.K. The oldest of these, the London Centre, was formed in 1908, revived in 1918, and has flourished ever since. An interesting history of the Centre appeared in the 1984 Magazine on the occasion of the Centre’s 75th Anniversary. A Centre was founded at Glasgow in 1930, catering for members there and in the West of Scotland. It was in abeyance for several years in the ‘60s and ‘70s but, thanks to the zeal and determination of Basil Emslie (1929-35) and Andrew McLaren (1926-39), it was re-formed in 1983 and is once more in a healthy state. The Edinburgh Centre was formed in 1932 and has had a continuous and largely successful existence ever since. One of the founding members, and its first President in 1932 and 1933, was Lord Alness (1884-85). He was followed by another member of the Scottish Bench, Lord Mackay (1882-91), (one of the 145 original members of the Club) who occupied the Chair of the Centre until 1947. Before TV dictated the dates and times of Rugby Internationals, the Annual Dinner of the Centre was on the evening before one of the home Internationals at Murrayfield, and a large contingent of FPs from Aberdeen was usually in attendance. In 1947 the fourth U.K. Centre was formed, in Yorkshire. This has always been the smallest of the Centres, but its members are no less enthusiastic. Their annual Dinners are renowned for their informal atmosphere and for the traditional "Birse tea" which is dispensed at the close of the evening, sending members away with a warm glow!

Overseas, FPs are to be found in most parts of the world, and pre-1939 there were large numbers of FPs in the Far East. In Shanghai there was a regular gathering of up to twenty FPs for an Annual Dinner. From one of these Dinners came the proposal which resulted in the presentation of the Shanghai Clock to the School in 1928. In 1937 there were plans for a China Centre which were approved in the following year, but the disturbed state of that country prevented the Centre from ever coming into being. In Singapore, similar meetings of FPs in 1938 and 1939 led to the presentation to the School of the Malaya Clock which adorned first the Hall and latterly the Library of the School, but which, sadly, was one of the treasures lost in the fire of 1986. In the post-1945 years the Malayan Centre continued to flourish, with regular Dinners in either Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, until reduced numbers brought about its demise. The Bengal Centre (later to become the Bengal & Assam Centre) was established in 1939, and continued in existence for several years until there, too, a lack of members in the area led to its closure. From FPs in that Centre came the Bengal Lectern, presented to the School in 1946. A proposal to set up a Centre in Salisbury in the mid-1950s was approved by the Club Executive but, this time as a result of the disturbed state of affairs in the former Rhodesia, the plans came to nothing. In 1993, as the Club celebrated its Centenary, FPs in Canada established a Centre which has since flourished. Annual Reunion Weekends, noted for the enthusiasm of those attending, are held alternately in the East and West of the country. Donations from Canadian FPs have funded the new clock for the refurbished Rubislaw Pavilion and two magnificent chairs for the School hall.

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