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.
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 Guangzhou and Shanghai. Alumni in St. John's University and Lingnan University had also set up 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.
World War II stopped the operation of St. Paul's abruptly. During the war, Principal Stewart, who was then a Major (later Colonel) of the Volunteers, and quite a few teachers and alumni took part in defending Hong Kong during the Japanese invasion. A number of them 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.
When the Japanese surrendered, St. Paul's merged with St. Paul's Girls's College to form the St. Paul's Co-educational College. However, alumni continued to organize activities and gatherings in the name of St. Paul'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 Alumni Association. Under Ho Ka-lau's leadership, the alumni body gained its momentum again.
Meanwhile, the Alumni also played an active role in re-establishing St. Paul's. Since the end of World War II, 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 owned a clubhouse at On Lan Street, Central in the 1960s.
It is a pity that the Association did not retain these assets and clubhouses, otherwise SPCAA might have become a wealthy organization!
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. Despite the expansion of secondary education in Hong Kong in recent years, the evening school still remains in operation and is a well known evening school on Hong Kong Island.
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.
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's 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 contribution 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 alumni members.
Recently, SPCAA continued to organize various types of welfare and recreational activities for its members, like annual ball or dinner, outings, visits (e.g. to HKUST, restricted areas of the New Airport), 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 Emerson
(now Mr. Alex Wong) each year.
Bishop's House, the campus of St. Paul's before 1941
No matter how SPCAA changes, the goal remains –
to foster our brotherhood and the close connection with St. Paul's, our Alma Mater.