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Chairman's Blog

george buntingRead news here from and about OWs that comes to me directly or on the grapevine. I will also draw attention to and comment on matters of interest. If you were at Wells, do send me snippets or tweets about what you or other OWs are doing to make this blog live, up to date and interesting!

You can add your responses and comments to my blog posts on our Facebook Group.

(Please note that throughout this site, OW years refer to the year the group left Year13 (Upper Sixth). Individuals may have left earlier)

George Bunting, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jacob Connock represents Welsh Universities

Jacob Connock

Congratulations to Jacob Connock (OW 2014) who was selected to play for the Welsh Universities hockey team in a Home Nations Tournament over the Easter break. He scored in the match against England which ended in a draw after penalty flicks.

Jake studies Sport and Exercise Science at Cardiff Metropolitan University and he now plays for Cardiff & Met Men's 1s which has only lost one out of 20 matches this season.

He has been an outstanding sportsman from the earliest age; from captaining U9 hockey at Wells through many teams to 2014 when he played for Team Bath Buccaneers which won the England Hockey U18 Boys Club Finals in which Jake scored 3 of the 4 winning goals.

He was a leader throughout his schooldays, from when he stage managed Hood & Co. in the Junior School with “a tight grip on all in a true theatre style: his word was law!”, through to captain of the cricket 1st XI, for whom he also designed new kit, in his last year at Wells.

A mention also for his brother Harry Connock (OW 2016) who was Head Boy and also a fine sportsman and of course for his mother Mrs Connock, a teacher at Wells and fondly remembered by generations of OWs.

Francesca Smith – aiming at a golden future

Francesca SmithEarlier this year I met Francesca Smith (OW 2012) who is an analyst in the legal investment banking team at Goldman Sachs. She tells me she is considering options in investment banking and in law.

After Wells, Francesca completed a history degree at Exeter where she also continued to play netball and was a student ambassador.

Francesca is warmly remembered as Head Girl at Wells, an academic achiever and a keen sportswoman. She rode for the school team and did well in chase, show jumping and dressage events. She was a 1st XI hockey player and swimmer. As Head Girl, she hosted a visit by Sophie, Countess of Wessex before which she admitted a little apprehension but soon found herself in comfortable conversation. She was also an NCO in the CCF, as was noticed by the Wells Journal…

Francesca Smith 2

We wish her every success!

Alistair Toop looks in from Australia

Alistair Toop

It’s always a great pleasure when OWs return to Wells and last week saw a visit from Alistair Toop (OW 1970) and Graham Fudge (OW 1969) both of whom I remember well.

When in his twenties Alistair married and went to live in Australia and in 1978 he began a career in the grocery industry. He built wide industry experience with multinational companies and in 1994 founded Newbridge & Associates, an independently owned company in Western Australia providing brokerage services to stores across the state.

Alastair and his wife Susan are keen explorers of the natural heritage of his adopted country. He is also Ride Master for the Joondalup Branch of the Ulysses Club, a social club for motorcyclists over the age of 40 which provides ways in which older motorcyclists can get together for companionship and mutual support.

Now that Alistair has retired from his company we hope we shall see more of him at reunions in the UK – perhaps for the big one in 2020?

Hannah Wood clicks on success

Hannah Wood

Congratulations to Hannah Wood (OW 2012) who has just been promoted to Senior Account Executive with digital marketing agency SearchStar. She tells me that she is “working in Bath on a vast array of client accounts all over the country.” This fast moving company helps clients manage their Pay Per Click buying to optimise conversion rates and provides a range of other services.

After Wells and A levels Hannah studied Marketing, Advertising and Communications at the University of Gloucestershire over four years including an internship at Nudge Digital and continuing to play the hockey she had enjoyed at Wells. She then went to Sparkol, creators of Tawe and VideoScribe, the instant video apps.

We were delighted to see Hannah at our London dinner and glad to hear that she keeps in touch with many Wells friends.

Peter Baines – President of the RFU

Peter Baines2

Wells was honoured with a visit from Peter Baines (OW 1959) who this year is President of the RFU after a lifetime of service to English rugby. Peter was founding chairman of St Alban’s Rugby Club which has a remarkably familiar team badge (see pic), based on the arms of the town.

At Wells Peter was Head Chorister and trained in classical clarinet and played piano, but his real musical love was traditional jazz as player and singer in the East Liberty Stompers - I think Peter still has the recording that the band went to Bristol to cut onto wax. He had also a spectacular sports record with (of course) the 1st XV where he ‘excelled at full back’ with ‘accurate touch kicking’ and also 1st XI cricket and hockey, athletics and swimming. Peter was also Cpl in ACF and an academic prizewinner, in fact a classic Wells all rounder.

After Wells he went to St John’s, Cambridge to read law (and play in the Vieux Carré jazz band) and he then practiced as a solicitor for most of his life in St Albans where he still lives with his wife Sue.

He has been at the top of rugby as an RFU Management Board member for over 10 years and has been Chairman of the Finance and Funding, and Governance Standing Committees and then Vice-President. He was also a founder trustee of the Injured Players Foundation and chaired the RFU for Women Integration Task Group, helping to ensure a smooth integration of the women’s game with the RFU. He is currently Chairman of the Agents Review Board.

We hope we may tempt him back to Wells again soon – he would certainly enjoy today's jazz (and maybe even the rugby).


Quilter memories and honours

Quilter sisters

I was so sorry a long planned trip caused me to miss the dedication of the Quilter Hall at Wells in memory of Alan Quilter, Headmaster 1964-1986. Among the guests were Carol Passemard (née Quilter), Tricia Broxup (née Quilter, OW 1973) and Lizzie Crumlish (née Quilter, OW 1978), all of whom we regarded from afar when I was at Wells (then almost entirely a boys’ school). Alan Quilter was the architect and primary creator of the specialist music scheme which is the foundation of what the school is today. Wells has recently launched the Quilter Family Bursary Appeal in honour of his and Sheila’s memory.

After Wells, Lizzie trained as a primary school teacher at Exeter University, specialising in Art & English. She has held a number of teaching posts and then gravitated to the software industry where she worked for Aldus Europe (now Adobe), as European Trainer. She is now with Draco, a property management company where she has responsibility for the back office processes including IT, administration, accounts and “all the jobs no one else wants to do.”

For much of her married life with husband David, Lizzie was an army wife but now they have more time together and have developed a business building traditional Bespoke Shepherds Huts. They are also of course parents to Clementine Crumlish (OW 2010) and Georgia Crumlish (OW 2011).

We are hoping we shall see more of Lizzie in the future.

With Mark McGeoch in Singapore

Mark McGeoch

Just back from the Far East and in Singapore I happily met Mark McGeoch (OW 1974) who lives in the wonderful city. My photo shows me and Mrs Chairman next to Jessica and her partner Mark.

Mark has had Singapore connections for over ten years and for the last five has been based there full time as Director (Global Construction Practice) with Navigant, the US specialised expert services firm. He provides expert advice in major construction disputes across a region in which, as we saw ourselves, concrete is being poured ever faster and higher.

Mark and Jessica met over Mandarin tuition and they guided us round the menu of an excellent local restaurant. The only setback was the high price of alcohol in the abstemious Republic; Mark advised that the best way to forget about this is to have another beer, so we did and a fine evening was had by all.

Lieut R V Knight killed 12 March 1917

Sub Lt Ronald Knight


The Wells Journal of 16th March 1917 records the death of Sub-Lieutenant Ron Knight RN (OW 1912) on 12th March. He was buried three days later leaving a young widow and baby daughter:



It is with deep regret that we record the death of Flight Sub-Lieut. R. V. Knight, of Milton, who was killed in a flying accident in Lincolnshire on Monday. The receipt of the sad news cast a gloom over the city, where he was known to everyone and highly respected. It appears that he was up in the air about 11 a.m. on Monday, and when at a height of 200 feet his engine stopped with the result that the machine nose-dived to earth and was wrecked. Death was instantaneous.

Educated at the Wells Cathedral Grammar School, the late Lieutenant R. V. Knight, who was 23 years of age, proceeded to Bedford Grammar School. At the outbreak of war he was at Guy’s Hospital, and without hesitation offered his services to his country. After training at Bisley he proceeded to France early in May, 1915, to fill a vacancy in the commissioned ranks of the 8th Batt. of the City of London Post Office Rifles. During six months’ service in France he fought in the battles of Festubert and Loos. Leaving the front on Friday, November 12th, 1915, after having been in the trenches for a fortnight, he came home to England, and on the following Wednesday, November 17th, was married at St. Cuthbert’s Church to Miss Gwendoline Dawkes, eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. F. Dawkes, of Sunnyside, Portway, the officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the 259th Co. of the A.S.C., then stationed in Wells, forming a guard of honour after the ceremony. The late Lieut. Knight did not return to France, but was offered and accepted a position in a London Cyclist Corps, a section of which he commanded for some time prior to joining the Royal Naval Air Service. In this branch of the service he made rapid strides, and obtained his pilot’s certificate in a remarkably short space of time. For some months past he has been one of the assistant instructors at an East Coast flying school.

Ron., as he was affectionately known to his many friends, was well-known in athletic circles, his splendid physique standing him in good stead in the many branches of sport in which he excelled. At Bedford Grammar School he was captain of the Rugby XV., and at the outbreak of war was captain of the Wells Rugby Club. As a three-quarter he was always dangerous, his fine turn of speed enabling him to score many tries, whilst as a place kick he had few equals. His prowess in this branch of sport was known far outside the city, for he held Somerset and east Midland County caps, and would without a doubt have figured in an England XV. after the war, having already been chosen as a reserve in an international match before the outbreak of hostilities. At Association football he played a good forward game, and in swimming was an expert. The city and country is the poorer by the death of a true sportsman, who, no matter what treatment he received, always played a clean and sporting game, and who by a genial and upright character drew around him a host of true and devoted friends.

The sympathies of citizens are extended to the young widow, who is left with a daughter a few months old, and his bereaved parents.

The funeral took place yeaterday (Thursday) afternoon, and was marked with the greatest sympathy and grief. The first part of the burial service was held at St Cuthbert’s Church, where the body had reposed overnight. The Vicar (Preb. Farrer) conducted the service which was fully choral, assisted by the Rev. J.L. Williams. Members of the Wells Detachment of the Somerset Volunteer Regiment attended as bearers, and provided a firing party, while a number of wounded soldiers were also present. Deceased’s Corps was represented by a brother officer and personal friend, Lieut. Black, and amongst those also following in the procession to the Cemetary where the interment took place, were Col. A. Thrale Perkins, CB., Capt. A. J. Mayer, Capt. Knowles, M.C., Capt. C. Hinks, M.C., Lieut. Haydon; and Lieuts. R. G. Harris and W. J. Brown.

Small poppy2


We will remember them


Lizzie Robertson on the move

Lizzie Robertson

A warm thank you to Lizzie Robertson (OW 2012), a specialist musician at Wells, for news of her progress both in her medical career and on her cycle (not forgetting her oboe!). Lizzie writes;

“When I left Wells I moved to Cardiff to begin medical school. It’s been a busy five years – and I am currently taking a year out of medicine to undertake a Public and Global Health degree. I have continued to play oboe in the symphony orchestra and have become a keen cyclist. I’ve also done lots of travelling and adventuring to Asia, Africa and Europe. On graduating as a doctor next year I hope to become a paediatrician, hopefully training in Cambridge!”

Terry Thomas – animated comedian

Terry Thomas

At our recent reunion I am pleased to hear news of Terry Thomas (OW 2012) who is a visual effects specialist with a taste for comedy. After Wells, Terry went to Bath university for a degree in Natural Sciences and then then stayed to do an MSc in Computer Science, studying visual effects and computer graphics. At Bath he founded the Comedy Writing, Improvisation & Performance Society and he tells us he is “keeping up with performing musical comedy and sketches, making animations and all the while looking for a proper programming job for VFX and films in London.”

Terry developed his interest in animation at Wells …

... and gained the interest of a stop-motion software company for his Red Bull Canimation entry

Since then his Polar Where? won a Best Animation Prize at the Rouen Short Film Festival 2014 and among many projects he has completed a music video 5476 Miles for the Nigel Thomas album Travelling Man.

Terry is also a guitarist and has played acoustic sets at local festivals – truly an all-round creative!

Freya Evans - not without drama

Freya Evans

Our five-years-on celebration season continues this week with Freya Evans (OW 2012). Freya was a memorable musician at Wells but from an early age revealed a ‘dramatic personality’ and it was the stage rather than the concert hall that called her when she left Wells. Telling the school she was taking a gap year she went to London to become an actress.

She trained with the Fourth Monkey Theatre Company on their one year programme with workshops in clowning, Shakespeare, voice, movement, circus skills and stage combat with influential practitioners from all over the UK. She recalls “a turbulent few years that included bed bugs, homelessness, cockroaches and a landlord that watched me sleep.”

But Freya is now establishing her reputation and got good reviews for playing a fairy godmother Jane Austen “with bubbly charisma” in a pantomime based on Pride and Prejudice at the Cockpit Theatre, London.

“Now” she says, “hopefully the dark times are over. I am currently performing Olivia in Twelfth Night and Bushy in Richard II with Clatterhouse Theatre Company at the Drayton Arms Theatre in London"

Olivia says:

Fate, show thy force: ourselves we do not owe;
What is decreed must be, and be this so.

... but it seems to us that Freya is taking charge of her destiny and we wish her the very best of it.

Tobi Seymour – back from the Bagels

Tobi Seymour

Lovely to hear news of many OWs at our London dinner; first mention goes to Tobi Seymour (OW 2012) who is developing his career as an artist. Tobi says;

“After Wells I did an Art Foundation in Leeds and then a BA in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art. Finishing that I packed my bags and headed off to America to seek fame and fortune. After a lot of musing, an exhibition No More Bagels in Los Angeles and an election, I find myself back home continuing to make work and hoping to do so for as long as possible”

Last year he also had an exhibition Colourspace in Bristol and became involved in Slippers, which aims to help aspiring artists exhibit their work including by means of an app. Cars have also featured in Tobi’s life. He is remembered at Wells for his huge Land Rover and he later staged performance art Carmonica Harmonicar in C Major which involved fixing six harmonicas to his red MX5 and creating music as he drove through Cheddar Gorge. Sadly the MX5 has since had to go but we wish Tobi all the best for his future art – and motoring.

Lydia Gosnell – Beware the Spider!

Lydia Gosnell

How nice this week to hear from Lydia Gosnell (OW 2009) with exciting news of her music, including Palisander, her recorder quartet with upcoming concerts at St John’s, Smith Square and a CD launch Beware the Spider! on 16th February 2017.

At Wells, Lydia joined the school's first trip to Guangzhou, China, where she learnt Chinese bamboo flute and gourd pipe. She recently gave a performance and talk about these at the Horniman Museum for the charity Live Music Now. Nine years later she is still in touch with her Chinese flute teacher and will see him perform in London in the summer.

After Wells, Lydia went to the Guildhall and gained a distinction in her Master's degree as a recorder player and historical flautist. In 2012 she performed in the London Olympics Opening and Closing Ceremonies, primarily as a drummer! Since graduating, Palisander has been her main focus, as well as teaching, which she loves.

She says “I'm still in touch with my Wells friends and we'll be meeting for tea and cake in a couple of weeks.”

Simon Baggs on Australia Day

Simon Baggs Copy

In honour of Australia Day yesterday, a mention of our most active antipodean, Simon Baggs (OW 1973). Simon is CEO and owner of Lateral Events, an energetic Sydney company that creates public, corporate and signature events across the continent. Lateral was set up in 1996 and has had a number of memorable coups; e.g. this year they have persuaded Sir David Attenborough to do another tour of Australia and a first of New Zealand.

Simon was an international traveller from an early age and has had Australian connections since his twenties. I see he has always manged to be at the heart of things. We shall be celebrating this year the dedication of the concert hall at Wells in honour of Alan Quilter and find in the 1965 school photograph that a third person is front and centre…

AKQ 1965

A mention also for his brother Stephen Baggs (OW 1970), a good friend of mine at Wells (and also for previous members of the family who were at the school earlier in the C20th).

Simon has organised many events for OWs in Sydney and we send him and all our Australian OWs our very best wishes for more happy reunions.

Richard Stowers in Washington, DC

Richard StowersUS flagAs the whole world looks towards the US capital today I naturally get in touch with Richard Stowers (OW 2008), a Wellensian living within walking distance of the landmark event. Richard, a US citizen, came to Wells to round off an international education at one of the oldest schools in the UK before going on to the second oldest university in America, The College of William and Mary for a BA in Pre-Medical Studies and French. He followed this with a Master of Public Health at Tulane University in New Orleans. He is now a Performance Associate at Privia Health which works to achieve value for money in health care.

The Wellensian records a sixth form theatre trip to London which Richard fondly remembers. The group set out to show him the sites but discovered he knew them better than they did! So it was decided to settle for a box of Krispy Kremes (after all, it was Thanksgiving Day) and a visit to Harrods. He is also remembered as a very useful 1st XI soccer player.

Richard had his own big event last year when he inaugurated his marriage to Alix whom he met at W&M where she was studying art history. About today he says “A few months ago my wife and I thought it would be very exciting to walk to the inauguration but instead are headed north for the weekend as the "Make America Great Again" hats roll in...”

We send them both our very best wishes and hope that we shall keep in touch.

Au revoir to Annie Green

Annie Green

Today we say a fond au revoir to Annie Green (née Jones OW 2009) as she leaves her post as Head of Development at Wells for a promotion to Development Manager at OpenUp Music, a Bristol-based charity that empowers young disabled musicians to build inclusive youth orchestras.

Annie leaves behind an impressive track record at Wells. She returned to the school in 2010 to work in the Concerts Department and then moved to the Foundation as Campaign Fundraiser one year later, before being promoted to Development Associate and then Head of the department in September 2015. She has led work on Cedars Hall fundraising and most recently devised and launched the innovative Give a Gifted Child a Chance campaign for bursaries. She spoke movingly at the launch event about how an anonymous donor came to her rescue at Wells to fund a bursary place for her for sixth form.

Annie is also a notable musician. She was a chorister and recalls growing up singing round the piano at home with her dad Andy Jones (OW 1972). She was a member of Wells' chapel and chamber choirs and gained a distinction in the ABRSM Singing Diploma. She was a member of The Wellensian Consort which was crowned Choir of the Year in 2010. Annie is also a noted big band soloist and singer/songwriter and in the same year released her debut album Fabulous Reject.

The Wellensian records that Annie once “stood in at the last minute to save the day” for Haversham House in the Bigney Cup, and her willingness to jump in has been a key to her success. We wish her well for the future.

James Voysey recalls Wells dramas

James Voysey Xmas 2017 drinks

At a recent Wellensian social I was pleased to meet James Voysey (OW 2014) because my time at Wells overlapped with his father Andy Voysey (OW 1975). After a gap year, James started at Plymouth University where he is studying geology.

As a David Rowley protégé he has prospects of joining the ranks of some of the highest paid OWs. Last summer he worked as a qualified NPLQ lifeguard at a sports centre near home, but this year he is seeking an interesting earth sciences summer vacation job to widen his horizons.

He had early success in his subject and at Wells was part of team that retained the National Schools Geology Challenge for a second year. He was also a first team cricket and rugby player. He raised money (including taking part in a tough mudder) during a year for the Wells-supported Balanta Music Academy in Seirra Leone and then went out with the Wells group and taught drama to children who had never seen anything quite like this before.

We look forward to hearing more of his progress!

Ralf Ayling-Miller

Ralf Ayling-Miller

News of Ralf Ayling-Miller (OW 2012) who has completed his studies at Birmingham Conservatoire and is now a freelance musician. One of his first appointments has been as organist at St Mark’s Parish Church, Bromley where my brother James Bunting (OW 1972) sings in the choir.

He will be playing at St Paul’s and Peterborough Cathedrals when the Bromley choir sing there in 2017 and at a cathedral (yet to be announced) in 2018 when they take a four day residency which they do in alternate years. Ralf has also been accompanying adult and school choirs in the Bromley area.

At Wells, Ralf studied organ under the cathedral organist, Matthew Owens, was Open Organ Scholar at St John’s Glastonbury and also played organ at Wells, Salisbury, Hereford and Exeter Cathedrals when accompanying the choir on tour. At the Conservatoire he studied under Henry Fairs and was Senior Organ Scholar at St Peter’s Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton.

Ralf will be accepting new engagements in 2017 and we wish him well.

Light in a dark world

Wells Cathedral candlelit

Thousands of candles light the Cathedral for the traditional carol services.

We wish a Very Happy Christmas and a peaceful 2017 to all members of our Wellensian family in or from nearly a quarter of all the countries in the world. We do hope to see you at a reunion next year!

PHOTO: Jason Bryant/ SWNS.com

Please vote for Ghislaine Reece-Trapp!

Ghislaine Reece-Trapp

Christmas is coming and the BBC R3 Carol competition is upon us. You have an opportunity to vote (by 5pm on 21st Dec) for the beautiful carol from Ghislaine Reece-Trapp (OW 2010) who is one of six finalists. If she wins her carol will be played throughout the Christmas weekend.

A choral singer from an early age, Ghislaine began playing organ when she was 12. She was a specialist musician at Wells and she then went to Guildford cathedral for a year. Three years as Organ Scholar at Christ Church, Oxford followed and international performance including in Beijing. She was then Director of Music at All Saints, Oxford and gained her FRCO this year. She is now an academic music teacher at Eltham College in London where she lives . She has been nominated to the Fellowship of the Worshipful Company Of Musicians. Wells laid the foundations for the diverse musical career that Ghislaine has forged for herself.

At Wells Ghislaine was Captain of Edwards House and has happy memories of an “exciting, outrageous and hilarious year. Mamma Mia sing-along nights and High School Musical celebrations” were “an excuse for many melodramatic dances around the Common Room (Shrewsbury boys included!), whilst ensuring vocal perfection for the performance of our House Hymn.” We hope her latest composition will be a great success.

A social with Elliot Launn

2016-12-08 19.18.45

A fun evening last might at our well attended London Social including a drink and a chat with Elliot Launn (OW 2010). Elliot is an accomplished pianist, an accompaniment fellow at the RCM and a freelance musician.

After specialist music at Wells, Elliot graduated on Tuba and Piano from the Royal College of Music in 2014. He has recently performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Sinfonia

However his biggest event this year has been his marriage to Ailsa in August, when many OWs assembled to celebrate this happy occasion.

Elliot’s musical skills extend beyond classical piano. He has been known to play bass guitar and is one of the stars of Baubles & Warbles “which brings you a concert of christmas music, opera, musical theatre, audience participation and LAUGHTER!”

Harriet Wiltshire returns to Wells

Harriet Wiltshire 2

Another welcome this week, this time to cellist Harriet Wiltshire (OW 1997) who has returned to Wells to teach cello. Harriet studied with Ioan Davies at Wells and then with Raphael Wallfisch and Susan Shephard at the Guildhall where she received a distinction.

Harriet has happy memories of Haversham, for example when her house won the Bigny Cup in a “fantastic and funny production of HMS Pinafore”. House sport was less successful, the hockey team losing not only all their games one year but also two front teeth.

She was principal cellist with Southbank Sinfonia and plays with the London Philharmonic and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. She has performed on several live broadcasts. Including Radio 3’s In Tune.

Harriet also teaches cello at Faulkner House School in London and coaches sections of the National Children’s Chamber Orchestra and South West Youth orchestra. Her son is also a future OW, being currently a chorister in the cathedral choir.

Bienvenue à Blandine Jacquet

Blandine Jacquet

Je suis heureux de voir que Blandine Jacquet (OW 2016) a rejoint notre groupe sur Facebook. Blandine a étudié l'orgue à Wells et a été responsable de l'accompagnement musical lors de la traditionnelle sortie des élèves de Terminale de Wells Cathedral School par les grandes portes occidentales de la cathédrale le dernier jour de l'année avec Always look on the bright side of life.

Avant d'arriver à Wells Blandine, forte de ses influences et de son héritage américains, français et japonais, était choriste à la Cathédrale Américaine de Paris. Cette expérience lui a donné sa perspicacité dans la tradition Anglicanne qui a été salutaire dans sa pratique musicale. Elle étudie maintenant au Conservatoire de Toulouse. Elle a été nommée élève d'organe à Queens' College, Cambridge et elle accéda à l'université étudier les sciences naturelles l'année prochaine.

Quand à Wells elle acomplit le mélange classique de la musique et de la science et a étudié la physique et la chimie. Ses amis de Plumptre pour son Skyping tard dans la nuit autour du monde se rappelle également tendrement la.

Nous espérons qu'elle restera en contact toujours avec nous aussi!