Letter from the President

“THIS TOO SHALL PASS…”

The above line is my constant companion as I try and navigate 2020.

Dear Exies,

Hope you and your families are all safe and contained.

My previous letter sharing the vision, we as a Committee had for this year, has lost its way in redundancy. However, as Welhamites we are endeavouring to forge new paths and set new goals for ourselves.

The WGAA is proud of all its “WELHAM WARRIORS”, girls spanning generations, as doctors, and frontline workers who are out there fighting the fight, so that we may live to see brighter days. They are an inspiration to all of us.

Many of us have been confined to our homes, some alone and far from loved ones, some embroiled in the thick of our hearths. We have all had to conjure up our compulsory Home Science classes from School. The chefs and natural cooks have held us spellbound on our social media groups as they churn out one marvel after another. However it is the exie who dreaded cooking who is surprising us the most as she scours the internet looking for easy recipes. I unfortunately fall in the second group. But who can compete with School Food?

On a more serious note let me update you on what we are envisaging for the coming year.

Sadly the events we had planned for the year 2020 stand cancelled for the moment.

Founders in October for ex-Welhamites, specially the Jubilee batches, will have to be reinvented as per the new norm. School has proposed, as of now, that Founders may be a closed affair with just the girls, if they can make it back by then. However, we will keep you updated as the situation evolves.

The WECARE initiative of the WGAA has been going strong as we have extended support to the Aasara Trust in Dehradun. In addition to providing education for underprivileged children, we have been providing meals for their families, as most of them belong to migrant worker communities in Dehradun.

We at the WGAA are always available for any suggestions and feedback.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my team for all their selfless work.

Hema Bhadwar Mehra – I think all Welhamites know her. We are proud to have her as our representative on the Board. Her commitment to School has been an inspiration for many of us.

Renee Chandola – Without her there is no WGAA. Thank you for guiding us and always being a sounding board, as well as my editor.

Anjali Sapra – Thank you for putting the systems in place and always being there to ensure accountability. Anjali is now spearheading our new initiative to provide education for some of our class IV employees in School.

Shruti Lakhanpal Tandon - A Welham Warrior herself, and the driving force behind our WECARE initiative. She also coordinates support to ex staff, as well as our initiatives with the Aasara Trust. Thank you for your singlehanded devotion that enables us as an Association to live up to our motto in School.

Natasha Varma - Currently our Vice President and in charge of coordinating all our efforts. Thank you for always asking the hard questions and helping steer the Committee forward.

Devyani Vasudev - Our Treasurer, harassed by all of us, coordinates our accounts and liaison with the banks and accountants. Thank you Devyani for patiently maintaining all our books.

Diya Walia – Our Secretary, and the person in charge of ensuring that our batches are registered and ensuring a smooth coordination with all their queries. Thank you for your untiring patience.

Parbeen Kaur - My senior who just has to look at me to remind me what it means to be a Welhamite. Without any hesitation she is the spirit of Welham even when you are outside School. Thank you Parbeen for coordinating the memorabilia for what seems an aeon.

Arshiya Takkar – The young blood who infuses us with energy and readies us for the new generation. Arshiya handles our communications. Thank you for dragging us into the new century.

I would like to use this opportunity to introduce our newest Executive Committee members, Disha Chopra and Anjana Shastri. Many of you have already interacted with them as they put together a rocking decades party (in better times), they are our new events coordinators who are waiting with bated breaths to start the party.

As they wait, they are busy creating content for our social media platforms as well as coordinating with School to create webinars for the girls to interact with notable exies.

We are also joined by two more exies on our team, Savleen Thadani and Aiman Sabri, who will be helping Parbeen create interesting memorabilia for the future.

Natasha Sinha also joins our team and will be creating a more cohesive and interactive platform for our mentorship programme.

Look forward to seeing all of you soon.

Warm Regards
Shivani Anand
WGAA President

History of Welham

Our milestones, brick by brick, from then to now.

On a cold winter’s day in February 1957, 10 young girls assembled to start their boarding school experience at Welham Girls High School in Dehra Dun. This was how an incredible journey began, that would take our School from its humble beginnings to the incredible institution that it has become today.

Founded by Miss HS Oliphant, Founder-Principal of Welham Boys Preparatory School and our first Principal Miss Grace Mary Linnell, the School began to function from the residence and gardens of Nasreen, the iconic building at No 12 Circular Road, that every Welhamite, old and new, will always recognise and associate with as ‘School’. Another property at No 19, Municipal Road was taken for the Principal’s residence and School office. No 17, next to No 19, was taken later and housed the Junior School. Founders Day programmes were held in the back verandah of No 19 and the audience sat in the garden. Gradually, over the years, this small campus has grown and developed into today’s Welham Girls School, credited with being the best residential school for girls over the last few years. During Miss Linnell’s tenure classes were held in No 19 and a small barrack like building in No 12, which was then demolished, and the current double-storey classroom building went up in its place. While it was being built the BIs and AIIIs trudged back and forth from a rented house where their dorms were located. Next to the new classroom building was a long single-storey low set of rooms which had the playroom, the games master’s office, 2 tiny rooms for piano classes and the tuck room at the back, scene of many a raid. Along the back wall new dorms were built with rooms for the HMs. The Junior School remained in No 17. The tiny games field in front of the classroom building, which has now been cemented over, somehow managed to cope with many an enthusiastic hockey player and Welham girls were the backbone of the U.P. State Hockey Team. Baseball batters tried to hit the ball into the windows of the biology lab on the first floor and some even succeeded, much to the staff’s dismay. Chose a subject and somehow Miss Linnell, from the then small town of Dehra Dun, found someone to teach it, be it elocution, French, shorthand, typing or classical western music appreciation. The dining room, a low, single storey, long room also became an auditorium when a stage was built at one end.

Stepping into Miss Linnell’s shoes was Miss Saroj Srivastava, the English teacher, who took on the daunting task of taking the School out of the ‘red’ into a healthy financial status, which she succeeded in doing, supported by her Board of Governors, trusting donors and understanding parents. It was during her tenure as Principal that the first Alumni daughter joined School. Concentrating on getting School’s finances into a healthy condition was the highlight of Miss Srivastava’s term and she will always be remembered for this. During her term No 6 was taken for dorms. Some of the lovely fountains and garden area in No 12 gave way to Miss Linnell’s grave and the prayer platform, but the peacock throne and summerhouse remained. Land purchased by Miss Linnell, for which she came under fire from the Board for spending too much money, had lain unused, and Miss Srivastava finally attempted to use this for games when plans to consolidate a campus were made.

It was then up to Mrs Shanti Varma, a parent and former member of the Board of Governors, who took over from her, to begin the process of acquiring more land and developing buildings. It started with the School’s current auditorium, so aptly dedicated to and named after her in 2017. Her tenure began during troubled times and efforts to shift the School, from the Dalanwala campus to a larger area, had not succeeded. Land near Haridwar had been purchased but was considered unsafe from a security point of view and land on the Chakrata Road had issues with adequate water supplies. If we had shifted, a proposal to turn No 12 into a girls’ college had also been considered, as the idea of giving up our beloved Nasreen was unthinkable. The decision then was to remain in Dalanwala and try to buy properties around No 12, taking the dream of a consolidated campus forward. No 17 was sold and Narauli House purchased for dorms while the older ones were refurbished; the Home Science lab building came up on the tennis courts next to the original entrance and the playroom building and long jump pit gave way to another block with labs, the library and the art room. Sadly, the trees along No 12’s original grand avenue entrance, directly opposite No 6, had to be cut down because they were old and diseased. The entrance then changed to its current corner gate, donated by an alumnus.  A house towards the rear of the School was purchased for the Bursar and hospital, which later shifted across the road to another property. A corridor of land giving, easy access from No 12 to the Games field was bought as well as another property adjacent to the field for tennis courts and other sports facilities.

Mrs Jyotsna Brar, alumnus and then Principal of another school succeeded Mrs Varma. During her tenure the School changed quite dramatically. The grounds and buildings were spruced up. The interiors of Nasreen were restored to their former glory with fireplaces, woodwork and tiles being highlighted. Dorms were all shifted out to the other buildings. The building facings were changed to have the same appearance. The Principal’s Office was shifted to No 12. The old building in No 6 was demolished to make way for the swimming pool and the corner property next to it, opposite No 12, was purchased for a variety of activities. Alumni generously donated the current hospital and the old hospital turned into staff quarters. An office block came up in No 19 to accommodate office staff. More refurbishment and renovation were undertaken. Water harvesting began, the School got its own tube well water supply Donations from alumni helped in improvements to both building and facilities with each anniversary batch doing their bit to help, specially with an underground passage to link No 12 to the property across the road.

With the very recent change of Principal from Mrs Brar to Mrs Padmini Sambasivam comes more development. A shooting range has been added to sports facilities. The Tadpole tuck shop has been enlarged to make practice areas for Kathak and Bharat Natayam dancers during rainy days or for girls to just chill. The underground passage has been completed and leakage in dorms fixed. More floors are planned for staff quarters and music room and gym facilities are to be improved.

And so, from these humble beginnings to today, through years of trials and tribulations, shifting, adjusting and making do with what there is, from crowded dorms to captains’ rooms and ‘dungeon’ bathrooms to running hot water, through two wars and rationing, epidemics of chicken pox and measles, changes in exam systems and digitisation have come the most amazing alumni a School could ask for. From politics to public service; art and architecture to advertising and adventure travel; media and medicine have come athletes, doctors, dancers, yoga experts, filmmakers and documentary producers, actors and housewives, corporates and authors, poets and lawyers; carers of refugees, challenged children, the disabled and homeless animals; experts in international affairs and economists; distinguished eminent citizens, media personalities and famous artists. Scratch the surface of a profession or a field of interest and you’ll be sure to find a Welhamite, living up to the intrinsic values these courageous and far-sighted women have inculcated in us, nurturing and mentoring, while keeping in mind the prayer of our English Founder-Principal, Miss GM Linnell: “Make us chose the harder right instead of the easier wrong”; setting us our focus in no uncertain terms, while inspiring us to enlightened humanity with our motto Arth Shanti Phala Vidya

Welham Girls Alumni Association

It took 50 years and many sporadic attempts by many hardworking alumni over the years to actually get today’s formal Welham Girls Alumni Association registered. Like the history of a School that started with a few thousand rupees and 10 girls, the WGAA too started with a handful of committed ex students, who came together over the years in fits and starts to get things off the ground, encouraged by Mrs Shanti Verma, who in time would become Principal.

By 2005 it was becoming evident to all of us that it was essential to have the Welham Alumni Association become a formal body. Welham was fast heading into its Golden Jubilee year in 2007 and there was still no formal Alumni Association!

An informal meeting of what is the core group today, met at Mrs. Jyotsna Brar’s home over a cup of tea to discuss the 50th year of Welham and from that informal discussion emerged the serious process of putting into place today’s formal Welham Girls Alumni Association.

An Executive Committee was formed, comprising of members from 16 to 60 years of age! A memorandum of Articles was formulated, outlining the aims and objectives of the fraternity. It was registered and we were granted 80 G certification, which enables us to offer tax exemption to anyone contributing towards the School and Alumni projects through the WGAA.

The WGAA was formally set up in 2005. It was established not only with the usual objective of alumni societies, which is to bring together ex-students and promote interaction between them, but with the aspiration to support the School in various projects, provide succor to the larger Welham community of staff members and caregivers and give back to society through socially responsible initiatives.

It has since grown in strength under a committed and enterprising leadership with remarkable women at the helm. Asha Chaudhri who headed the Alumni before the formalization of the WGAA as a society, Sujata Kulshreshtha, the first President of the WGAA, Parbeen Kaur, Hema Mehra and Anjali Bansal Sapra have all, with vision and purpose, consolidated and strengthened the Association into the cohesive organization that it is today.

The Purpose of the WGAA

The Alumni body has in addition, contributed generously to School development projects as well. The effort has been coordinated by the WGAA and the funds successfully utilised for the Kitchen Upgrade, Library Renovations, an Ambulance, contributions to the new Hospital, the Swimming Pool and more recently a Mac Computer, Music room upgrade, new Toilets in the Games Field etc.

In addition WeCare was started in 2007 with the launch of the Coffee Table Book I HAVE WINGS, the sole purpose of which was to raise funds to help those in need, support retired teachers and class IV staff as required, as well as to put together the History of the School in its full recorded form.

We are currently supporting 40 girls at Aasaraa Trust Dehradun from January 2018 through the One for One initiative of WeCare.

We hope to keep the spirit of Service to the School and to those who helped us continue to soar!

WGAA Achievements

Swimming Pool
Swimming Pool

  

Kitchen Upgrade
Kitchen Upgrade

  

Contribution to New Hospital
Contribution to New Hospital

  

Miss Linnell's Bust
Miss Linnell's Bust

   

Library Renovation
Library Renovation

  

School Ambulance
School Ambulance

  

The WGAA Committee 2019-2024

President

Shivani Narain Anand
1992

Vice President

Natasha Kumar Verma
1993

Treasurer

Devyani Vasudev Vohra
1998

Secretary

Diya Walia
1990

Communications

Arshiya Takkar
2009

WeCare

Shruti Lakhanpal Tandon
1983

Legal & Guidance

Renee Sen Chandola
1965

Memorabilia

Anjali Bansal Sapra
1986

Memorabilia

Parbeen Kaur
1989

Networking

Hema Mehra
1971

Past Committees

First Committee

President: Asha Khanna Chaudhri – 1962

Vice President: Arti Bharat Singh Walia – 1963

Secretary: Renee Sen Chandola – 1965

Treasurer:  Anita Puri Vij – 1961

Members

Deepak Gurbax Singh Chopra - 1962

Mridula Kumari Singh - 1965

Radhika Puri – 1966

Ratnamala Kohli Kapur – 1981

2005-2009

President: Sujata Verma Kulshreshtha - 1979

Vice President: Navpreet Sukarchakia Atwal - 1981

Treasurer: Sarita Bhandari Nangia - 1979

Members

Arti Bharat Singh Walia - 1963

Seeta Lall Natrajan - 1970

Manju Tomar Singh Bawa - 1976

Kalindi Kumar Harnal - 1980

Parbeen Kaur - 1988

Ritu Sapra Sikand - 1985

Jaiinder Kaur - 1985

Sabina Thakran Sharma - 1985

Harsimran Kaur - 2005

2009-2011

President: Parbeen Kaur -1988

Vice President: Jaiinder Kaur - 1985

Networking: Ritu Sapra Sikand - 1985

Treasurer: Sarita Bhandari Nangia - 1979

WeCare: Sujata Kulshreshtha - 1979

Members

Geeta Johar Nanda - 1964

Renee Sen Chandola - 1965

Seeta Lall Natrajan - 1970

Hema Badhwar Mehra - 1971

Rashmini Puri - 1972

Jyotsana Dev Dutt - 1973

Rubina Rangar - 1983

Madhvi Khandelwal - 1985

Mandira Mathur - 1986

Devyani Vasudev - 1998

Disha Chopra - 2000

Harsimran Kaur - 2005

Harleen Kaur - 2007

Mallika Johar - 2008

2011-2015

President: Hema Badhwar Mehra - 1971

Vice President: Anjali Bansal Sapra - 1985

Secretary: Shivani Narain Anand - 1992

Treasurer: Renee Sen Chandola - 1965 

Memorabilia: Parbeen Kaur - 1988

Events: Sabina Thakran Sharma - 1985

Communications: Manvi Sinha Dhillon - 1992

WeCare: Sujata Kulshreshtha - 1979

Want to volunteer and help the WGAA?

MAIL US AT welhamgirlsalumniregistry@gmail.com
Interested in helping out?