History of St. Paul’s College Alumni Association (As at 16.04.2023)
The St. Paul's Alumni and the Alumni Association
An “Old Boys’ Union” of St. Paul’s College has been in existence since the 1920s, but the position was relatively dormant in its early years. On 26 March 1930, over a hundred old boys had a meeting at Kar Ping Restaurant with the Stewart brothers and all teaching staff.
There was a prolonged discussion on the benefits of formally establishing an “Old Pauline Union” and it was obvious at that meeting that the overwhelming majority, including the Stewart brothers, were in favour of this idea. Yan Shiu-fat was chosen as the provisional chairman at the meeting with 21 committee members elected.
SPCAA North China Famine Relief
Group Donation, 1921. (From SKH Archives)
There are little documents showing the development since then. However, historical papers available reveal that the “Old Boys Association” was growing steadily with branches in Canton (Guangzhou) and Shanghai. Alumni in St. John’s University and Lingnan University had also setup branches to maintain their ties with their Alma Mater.
It is worth noting that there was no formal name to the alumni body in the early years. Nevertheless, given the close relationship between the then Principal (E. G. Stewart), the teachers and the old boys, the linkage between St. Paul’s College and her past students remained strong, no matter how the alumni body called itself.
During the war
World War II stopped the operation of St. Paul’s abruptly. During the war, Principal Stewart, who was a Major of the Volunteers, and quite a few teachers and alumni took part in defending Hong Kong during the Japanese invasion. A number of the were killed and Principal Stewart was captured as a Prisoner of War. Alumni activities also went to a halt in Hong Kong.
During the war years, many alumni went to Macau in order to stay away from the brutal rule of the Japanese. Under the leadership of Wang Siu-wan, Chu Miu-chong, Leung Kit-tong and others, the Macau chapter of the Alumni Association was formed. The inauguration ceremony was held in Nam Wan and attended by senior Macau officials as well as the British Consul. Through this, communications among alumni continued even in the difficult years.
Bishop’s House, the campus of St. Paul’s before 1941.
When the Japanese surrendered, St. Paul’s merged with St. Paul’s Girls’ College to form the St. Paul’s Co-educational College. However, alumni continued to organize activities and gatherings in the name of St. Pau’s College. These include a special gathering to welcome former Principal Rev. A. D. Stewart and fellow alumni General Yue Shiu-ki returning to Hong Kong, as well as a Ball in 1948, in the name of St. Paul’s College Old Boys Union. Under Ho Ka-lau’s leadership, the alumni body gained its momentum again, and played an active role in re-establishing St. Paul’s.
Around 1950, the alumni body had formally made herself known as “St. Paul’s College Alumni Association” (SPCAA). In those days, the SPCAA Committee was full of famous names in the territory, like Tse Yu-chuen, Chung Sze-yuen, Ip Yeuk-lam, Chin Kwong-yan, Ma Yim-jeung, Yue Shiu-ki etc. Thanks to the work of these pioneers, there was considerable expansion in alumni activities. For instance, the Association purchased a flat at Electric Road, North Point in 1955, set up a swimming clubhouse at South Bay in 1949 and at Stanley in 1962, and rented a clubhouse at On Lan Street, Central in the 1960s.
SPCAA Site on On Lan Street, Central from 1953 to 1967.
The SPCAA was also very conscious about the education in Hong Kong in the early post-war years. The St. Paul’s Evening School was set up in the 1950s to offer opportunities for those in need to receive education. The evening school used to be extremely popular and for many years there were not enough space for those who wish to become a student. The right of management and operation of the evening school was subsequently returned to St. Paul’s College in the 1970s.
In 1962, the SPCAA had formed itself as a company limited by guarantee. 50 committee members are elected once every two years and in turn they will elect the office bearers.
SPCAA Magazine 1963-64
Over the years, the Alumni Association has been very active in helping the school on various fronts. When old boys and the school management tried to re-establish St. Paul’s at Bonham Road, a College Rehabilitation Committee was set up to help Principal Stewart; the Wong Ming-him Hall was constructed in 1954 with the donations from many alumni, Mr. C. P. Wong in particular; when St. Paul’s planned to expand and rebuild the school buildings in the 1960s, a fund raising campaign cum charity ball was organized on 19 October 1961 under Tse Yu Chuen’s able leadership; when the school was celebrating the 120th Anniversary in 1971, SPCAA offered a lot of help and set up the Stewart Brothers’ Scholarship for students in St. Paul’s; in the 1970s, the Alumni Association and the Tse Yu Chuen family also donated generously towards the construction of the school swimming pool. In fact, many prominent alumni and their families also made a lot of contributions to their Alma Mater. The family of Dr. Wu Ting-fang had contributed significantly to the extension of St. Paul’s during the Tit Kong years; the Tse Yu-chuen family had also contributed a lot to the school development since 1960s. Other alumni also respond positively to fund-raising appeals made by their Alma Mater, not to mention the scholarships donated by SPCAA and St. Paul’s, there is an exceptionally large number of alumni served in the College Council, which is an unorthodox but healthy phenomenon, as stipulated the St, Paul’s College Council Incorporation Ordinance.
SPCAA Incorporated Document, 1962.
SPCAA continued to organize various types of welfare and recreational activities for its members, like annual ball or dinner, outings, visits, horseracing gatherings, sport activities etc. At the monthly meetings, a tradition has also been established to invite famous alumni or teachers of St. Paul’s to give us talks and share their insight with us. Over the years, many famous names like Lau Siu-kai, Ching Cheong, Kwok Ka-keung, Lo Wing-lok, Cheng Kai-ming, Patrick Lau, Lee Ngok etc. have come to exchange frank views with other fellow alumni.
The Association has also been maintaining close connections with our Alma Mater. Since 1990, an annual “Principal’s Cup” basketball match between alumni and teachers/students has been organized for students, teachers and alumni to have fun together in December each year. The Principal also has an annual meeting cum lunch with the committee members of SPCAA. SPCAA members also take part in various anniversary celebration activities and speech days of the Alma Mater. The Association also generously sponsored the publication of the magazine “News from St. Paul’s”, edited by Mr. G. C. Emerson (later Mr. Alex Wong) each year.
SPCAA Annual Ball 1991
Moving towards 21st Century, SPCAA has further improved itself to fit the modern times. A webpage has been set up to facilitate communications among alumni members. A part-time staff has also been employed to handle routine administrative affairs.
In the 160th and 165th Anniversary Celebration of the College, the Alumni Association actively involved, and organized a variety of events including Anniversary Celebration Dinner at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The Alumni Association has paid a lot of effort in connecting students and alumni by organizing different activities, including Mentorship Programme, Alumni Ball, Summer Concerts, Watermelon Cup, The Chairman’s Cup, Fund-Raising Dinner, Quarterly Dinners, Winter Olympics cum Thanksgiving Dinner and local visits etc.
SPCAA Quarterly Dinner, 2019
2020 and beyond
During the difficult times of COVID-19, the Alumni Association continues to serve the school by organizing online virtual events to replace face-to-face activities like mentorship programme and mass Chinese New Year greetings in order to facilitate communications and connections within the St. Paul’s community. The Alumni Association actively involved in the 170th Anniversary Celebration of the College, like participating in the Kick-off Ceremony. After the pandemic, SPCAA immediately resumes normal events like organizing Spring Dinner at School Hall and preparing the large-scale 170th Anniversary Celebration Dinner to be held at the Grand Hall, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. No matter how SPCAA changes, it remains to support the College’s development and strengthen relationships within the St. Paul’s community.
SPCAA supports St. Paul’s College 170th Anniversary Heritage Exhibition held at Central Market, April 2023.
Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Archives
Mr. Anthony Cheung (1998)
Mr. Sam Chiu (1997)
St. Paul’s College
St. Paul’s College Alumni Association
St. Paul’s College Digital Archives System