Old boy Darren pays us a visit

Darren Normand and Mr Dale Jackson at the new outdoor chess board

Darren Normand (Tsessebe 1988) popped in to see us during the week, and to take a look at the projects at the school that the Australian chapter of the Jeppe Old Boys have contributed to.

The latest one is the outdoor chessboard in the triangle at the bottom of Boarders Walk, and before that they helped with the refurbishment of the main gate and the 125th Anniversary paved mosaic badge outside the Memorial Hall.

“There are 216 Jeppe old boys that we know of in Australia and about 32 of them contribute to our fund-raising efforts,” he explained. “In the last five years we have raised close to a quarter million Rand and our aim is to get to one million.”

Darren comes from a solid Jeppe family his father is the legendary “Grazer” Norman and his brother played 1st team and Craven Week In 1988. “My six years at Jeppe was the happiest time of my life,” he said. “I was way too small physically to cope with my first year here, so I repeated grade 8, and from then things were great.”

He is in Joburg this week to play in the annual “Boet’s Tour” golf tournament. It’s a gathering of old boys and it’s in its 22nd year now. “They guys come from all over the country. I come out from Aus and Matthew Bull has come from the States to play in it.”

It’s that ongoing camaraderie that makes Jeppe special, he says, and it’s the reason why the old boys are prepared to work to raise funds for the school.

After taking a walk around the school, Darren was amazed at all the physical changes. “You see something new everywhere, but the feeling remains the same. You walk through the gate and all those old emotions come flooding back,” he said. “Mr Dale Jackson is clearly doing a great job and the boys are still as welcoming and polite as they have ever been.

“The multi-cultural nature of the school is something that happened after I left, but it is clearly working a Jeppe is stronger for it.”

Darren will be going back to Australia on Sunday with some good impressions and memories, and a wish list of projects from the school.

“We have a five-man committee and we will look at it and decide which ones we will support,” he said. “I find it’s better to ask people to contribute to something you can see and touch once it’s completed, rather than to just donate money.”

The spirit of Jeppe is something that can’t be touched, though, and experiencing it again was the best part of his trip, he said.