OLD GIRLS' ASSOCIATION

The Old Girls’ Association came into being in December 1930, when a class of Matric girls, then called IV a’s, decided that they wanted some social link after leaving school. Elizabeth McDougall became the first Chairlady and Myrle Simkins the first Secretary and together they held the first A.G.M. in the school library on May 10th, 1931.

Today the Old Girls’ Association at St John’s D.S.G. has well over 1,500 active members! Mrs Terri Chubb (Matric 1989) heads up the Old Girls’ Association with Mrs Heather Evans (Matric 1988) supporting her as Secretary.

As a school, we are very proud of our Old Girls and consider them to be one of our greatest assets. We are proud of the mark they have made in the business, society and home front and know that even today they still embrace the school’s motto of LABORARE EST ORARE, which means ‘to work is to pray’, in all that they have achieved.

So, if you attended St John’s D.S.G. for one year or for thirteen years, we consider you an Old Girl.

Please keep us updated with your news, from getting married and having a baby to becoming the first person on Mars – we want to know. You can send us your news, or even an old school friend’s news. We encourage our Old Girls to visit the school at any time, even if you are back from abroad for a short period of time, we love visitors.

If you haven’t yet joined the Old Girls’ Association, or if you would like to check that we have your details on record, please email oldgirls@stjohnsdsg.com. You can also contact us via our Old Girls’ Facebook Page. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Old Girls’ News (2017)

Aimée MacGougan (née Savage – 2008) I moved to the Gold Coast (Australia) with my family at the beginning of 2009 and completed my Bachelor of Psychology with Honours in 2013. After a year of doing Disability Support Work, I moved to Melbourne to complete my Master of Psychology (Clinical Neuropsychology). I’m currently applying for work that allows me to commence the two-year registrar program and become endorsed as a Clinical Neuropsychologist. In April this year, I married my husband, Jack MacGougan, who is originally from New Zealand. I was lucky enough to have two of my SJS classmates as my wonderful bridesmaids – Tanja Cunningham (née Williams) and Liska Schramm – who live in Australia too.

Alexandra Smit-Stachowski (1987) I am a Social Marketing Manager at Regenesys Business School and have a 21 year old activist daughter. I spent 11 years in Germany, but returned in 2014 for love and because South Africa is “home”. I am a BEC member of the local ANC branch.

Andrea Logan (née Louw – 2000) I am married to Scott and live in Hillcrest (KZN) with my two precious sons, Kent (2.5 years) and Jake (2 months).  I left the corporate world in 2013, after working as a Quantitative Geneticist for 7 years, and subsequently worked as a private Mathematics tutor for a few years. Am now at home full-time with my boys.

Barbara Taylor (née Renyard – 1980) Gary and I left Zimbabwe in April 2017 to settle in Lymington in the UK. We both work for Executives in Africa, who provide senior personnel for corporates who have African offices. Our eldest son, Jack, lives and works in Sydney, Australia and our youngest, Dean, lives and works in Vilancoulos, Mozambique. My stepdaughter lives in Johannesburg and she has two children, so Gary is a grandfather and me a grandmother by default.

Candice Vurovecz (2000) I live and work in Hilton (KZN). I work as a PA, Bookkeeper and Manageress, but am a qualified Fine Artist, with a MAFA Degree from UKZN, so I do private commissions on the side and work on my own artworks too, which I absolutely love doing. I have a son Joshua (6) who is just the most precious soul. He will be going to Grade 1 next year, so we are very excited about BIG school! I am also an aunty to Daniel (2) who is just the cutest grub ever and his sister, Everly, is due around Christmas this year, so very exciting times ahead for this old gal!

Chloe Kilgour (2011) I have been living in South Korea and teaching English to elementary school children, until November 2017, after which I will be doing some traveling in Asia before heading back to South Africa. So sad my gap year has come to an end! I will be starting my articles of clerkship as a Candidate Attorney at Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg in January 2018.

Christina Freeman (née Bull – 1983) I was only at St John’s D.S.G. from 1972 – 1975 (I left after Std. 2 at the end of ’75), but my short time there left a huge positive impression on me. I learnt a great work ethic, made wonderful friends, developed a passion for reading, ballet and music – still with me today – and was only sad I could not stay longer. I was in the same year as Louise Grantham and Ros Coltman, but my family moved to England in 1976, where we still live. I have two grown up children and work at our local Primary School in the beautiful Cotswolds. The real news is that of my Mum, a Class 1 teacher at St John’s D.S.G. until 1974… Mrs Bull. Mum retired in 1997 and, like me, she has many fond memories of the school. She has beaten cancer four times and remains strong and happy, enjoying spending time with her grandchildren and her friends. We would love to hear from anyone who might remember her. She can remember just about all the children she taught at St John’s D.S.G.!

Class of 2002 “Skinner” | Close friends become sisters-in-laws.

  • Jade Jahnig married Erica Boettiger’s brother (Edu Boettiger)
  • Tessa Heenan married Jade Jahnig’s brother (Dylan Jahnig)
  • Kirsty Bowles married Jenna Heath’s brother (Guy Heath)
  • Jenna Heath married Nikki Wichmann’s 2nd cousin (Dwain Wichmann)

Diana Fitzsimons (née Bircher – 1962) I am living in the wonderful retirement village of Amber Lee in Howick. I have seven beautiful grandchildren in the UK and South Africa. I’m starting to think about our class’ 60th Reunion, which falls in 2022, which is also the school’s 125th!

Diane Oldfield (née Doherty – 1983) I am married to Robin and farm outside Pietermaritzburg. My daughters, Amy and Tara, are both Old Girls’ and study in Pretoria.

Di Witherspoon (née Camp – 1959) I still love St John’s D.S.G. very much and often get news through Ross Payne (Transport Manager). I have lived and worked in many different towns and cities since leaving school. I taught for 40 years until retiring at 65. Not what I thought my life would be at all! I live at Woodgrove in Pietermaritzburg and have done so for almost 10 years now. There are quite a few Old Girls and ex teachers from St John’s D.S.G. also living here, as well as Mrs Lorraine Raab who planted all the indigenous trees on the school campus.

Frances Raptopulos (née Simpson – 2001) I have been living in New Jersey, USA, for 11 years. I married my husband Alex, who was born in Turkey but is Greek, after two months of meeting and we have been married for 11 years. We have three children Teo (4), Zoe (3) and Leo (1). I stay at home with them now, but before that was a Montessori Preschool Teacher and a Licensed Practical Nurse.

Gemma Stegan (née Cholwill – 2008) I have been married to Brad for four wonderful years and blessed with a precious child, Eli, who is 15 months old already. I am a partner and teacher at a Montessori Preschool in Hilton. I have the happiest life and still in contact with many of my SJS friends.

Genée’ Kilgour (née Liebenberg – 1987) I enjoyed celebrating our 30th school reunion in May. It was a weekend together with very special SJS friends. I live at the beach and still have two daughters currently at St John’s D.S.G., Cameron in Grade 11 and Payton in Grade 9.

Glynnis Duckworth (née Peattie – 1980) I have lived in the KZN Midlands for the past 20 years and have farmed for all that time, with livestock and hay. I now have a property brokering company in the Midlands specialising in agricultural and residential properties. I believe that our balanced school environment at St John’s D.S.G. continues to play a significant role in my life every day.

Hayley Dawson (née Schoeman – 2005) I recently got married and am living in Auckland, New Zealand. I work as Programme Coordinator. 

Heather Evans (née Lipsett – 1988) I am still loving the school/work life of St John’s D.S.G.  My son, Luke, has spent the last 6 months as a Chef on a yacht in Italy and am looking forward to seeing him at the end of the year. My daughter, Sarah, grew her precious family to include my gorgeous little granddaughter, Harley. I am now the proud “NéeNée” of two cherubs who I am privileged to spend time with almost every day.

Janine Cochrane (née Smith – 2000) I am married to Melvyn and have a two year old son, Michael, with a daughter due early December. I am currently self-employed and work at 5 old age residences in Pietermaritzburg.

Jenna Jane van Tonder (née Brown – 2006) I got married to my husband, Sean and completed a Bachelor of Business Science at UCT, all in 2010. We moved to Brisbane, Australia in 2011 and have subsequently lived in a few different cities as my husband works in the Mining Industry. We have embraced the adventure and have loved exploring new parts of the world. We have a delightfully busy 2.5yr old son, Jude Wilder, and are expecting our second boy in December. I am a Property Developer and full-time mum. I always appreciate all that St John’s D.S.G. did to set me up for my future.

Jess Hart (2002) I am currently unemployed with no hubby and no kids! I spent four years living and travelling abroad through Asia and South America. I have completed numerous “bucket list” adventures, like climbing up mountains and volcanoes, hot air ballooning over temples, diving in tropical waters, getting wonderfully lost and meeting amazing people from all walks of life. I am now back in South Africa to try and stay in one place long enough to make a home of my own and explore more of Africa. I have a Bachelor in Social Science, a Chef Diploma and a TEFL Certificate that I used to help fund my travels. 

Jessi Mostogl (née Lawrence – 2006) I, together with my family, moved to Tasmania, Australia soon after I finished Matric in 2006. I studied a Bachelor of Performing Arts and then a Masters in Teaching. Between that, I got married to a wonderful Aussie, Adam. I taught Primary School for a few years before having our son, Timothy John, in 2015. My husband and I now run a business; Illuminate Education, that specialises in teaching entrepreneurship in an intensive 5-day challenge. We are also excitedly expecting Baby No. 2 next month, gender a surprise! Out life is a bit of a whirlwind, as Adam is a leader in small business start-ups and entrepreneurship, running a co-work space in Launceston, Tasmania and was named Tasmania’s Young Australian of the year for 2015. He was also one of 24 people around the world chosen for a State sponsored study tour through the USA. I’m so grateful for all that SJS taught me and all the passion and strength it gave me! I miss it every day! 

Jessi Pletts (née Bird – 2004) I am currently living in Melbourne, Australia with my husband Troy and our gorgeous baby girl, Alba. She was born in December 2016.  Who knows… maybe she will end up at St John’s D.S.G. one day! 

Julie Anthony (née Collings –  1999) I studied PR as well as make-up artistry in Cape Town. I worked as a make-up artist for a few years before moving to London, and returned to South Africa (Durban) in 2009. In 2012, I was diagnosed with kidney failure and embarked on my natural kidney health journey for the next three years. I married my husband, Jason Anthony, in 2015 and went on the most beautiful honeymoon to Bali. Upon return, my kidneys gave in and I had to start dialysis three times a week. In November, 2016, I received the gift of life from a very special friend, who donated one of her kidneys to me. It has been 10 months since the transplant and I am living a full, beautiful life in Umhlanga, Durban. I work with my husband in our family business, Efficient Microbes Probiotics, as the Marketing Manager. We are planning to start a family soon.

Kathleen Lumby (née Fitzsimons) I am married and living just outside Bristol, England. I have a son, Cameron, (18) and daughter, Jocelyn (16). I am currently enjoying being at home and have involved myself with a local cancer centre, Penny Brohn.

Kelly Jacobs (née Steedman – 2008) I recently got married and have just moved to the UAE as a teacher.

Leanne Long (née van de Leeu – 1981) I’ve been living, for the last 18 years, in Bedford, a small market town, in England. My husband Tim works with special needs children and I lead strategic projects at World Vision, the international poverty relief charity. My older daughter Kate just returned from a gap year travelling the world (America, India, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and of course lovely South Africa and ‘Maritzburg). She is now at Durham University studying Politics and playing the tuba in a number of orchestras and bands. Amy, our younger daughter is at a local college, training to be an instructor in Outdoor Adventure – canoeing, rock climbing, hiking… although not such fun in chilly damp England! I’m also doing a part time Masters Degree in Strategy, Leadership and Change at Bristol University – I am ridiculously excited to get student discount in pubs! Tim continues to run marathons and comes out for the Comrades every year. So we give thanks to God for many many blessings!

Lisa Gagiano (née Fitzsimons – 2002) I spent a gap year in the UK before doing my MSc at Rhodes University. I then moved to Cape Town, where I met my husband. We got married in 2012 before immigrating to the UK in 2013. We live in Frome (near Bath) and have a wonderful 21 month-old daughter, Isabella. I currently work for a medical device company. We love spending time travelling. I still look back on my time at SJS with such fond memories!

Louise Chennells (1992) After 16 years working in investment banking in the UK, I returned to South Africa a few years ago. I was lucky enough to spend time working for an NGO in the Public Health sector on my return, which was a welcome break from the world of finance – it was amazing to be part of a movement that increased access to health care, especially in rural parts of the country. Some amazing adventures in that time including one, three years ago, that shocked me and my friends and family when I decided to cycle across Uganda with a tent and some basic provisions. I met my partner two years ago and we have just had a gorgeous little boy in January. I am loving being a mum, better late than never! I am back working in the financial services now in Johannesburg. I thank my lucky stars that I had the good fortune of being in the class of 1992 at SJS – I love and rely on my friends from school every day.  Pictured – A few of us could not wait for our 30-year reunion so we went for our 25th. We went to find Taryn and Kim O’Connor’s bench, now in the Principal’s garden. We sat there and reminisced about our dear friends lost so early in life. What a special day.

Louise Kelmanson (née Hedges – 2003) After graduating with BEcon (Hons) at Rhodes University in 2007, I moved to London where I worked as a Foreign Tax Analyst for the Union Bank of Switzerland. Giles and I were married in 2011 and moved to Kenya where we were involved in setting up a company. We are now back in South Africa and living in the Midlands with our two boys, James (4) and Charlie Jo (2). I was awarded my PGCE (Senior Phase and Further Education & Training) cum laude in 2015 and begin a new role as a Maths and Accounting teacher at St Anne’s in 2018.

Margaret Renée Taylor (née Hamilton – 1968) I am still Matron of Mothwa Haven in Durban and have three grandchildren.

Michelle Lubbe (née Peddle – 2001) I am living in Somerset West and teaching Science at Rhenish Girls’ High School. I had our second child in May this year, beautiful Isabella, little sister to Josh, who turned three in August!

Natasha Darne Driescher (2008) – St John’s D.S.G helped me to realize my love of science and I have just completed my PhD studies in Physiology.

Nicole Allen (2010) Not much news from my side except that I had a gorgeous little baby boy in November last year. His name is Logan Anthony Strydom.

Paula Owen (née Munro – 1996) I immigrated to Canada 7 days after I matriculated in 1996, have been married for nine years and have two gorgeous children, Ava (7) and Jonah (4). I am a professional photographer and have, since immigrating, lived in Uganda, Australia, Canada, Namibia and back in South Africa for a few years. My husband, Geoff and I have our own NGO doing water projects in Uganda. We go there yearly. I believe my foundations at SJS led me to have an open mind, a kind heart and see possibilities.

Robyn Kirkby (née Frederick – 1974) And so it begins! Lindsay (2006) and Julia (2007) are both getting married in 2018! Nikki (2012) is currently doing her B. Com Accounts Honours.

Sandy Grace Fortmann (née Russell – 1999) – I am currently living in Kokstad, married to Heinrich (a dairy farmer). We have two daughters Tessa (8) and Emma (5).

Sarah Corlett (née Seggie – 1999) – I am living and working as a Remedial teacher in Cape Town. I have two daughters, Olivia (9) and Tessa (7).

Sarah Cox (née Doxey – 1985) – After matriculating in 1985, I married Greg Barnard in 1991. Sadly, he died in 1994. I then married my husband, Dave Cox in 1996 and emigrated to the UK in 1998, but after a holiday to Australia in 2004 decided to rather emigrate there. We are now living in a semi-rural suburb in Melbourne, Australia, with our two (now adult) children. We now also have a grandson, where does the time go?! The last time I was in South Africa was four years ago to visit my sister, Gail, who still lives in Westville, KZN. I keep up with SJS news via Facebook and just love to see how the school has grown.

Sarah Evans (2009) – I am currently a stay-at-home mom with my 2 beautiful children, Levi who turned three in August and Harley who was born in January. Loving motherhood!

Susanne Brown-Kydd (née Eweg – 1957) – My daughter, Lorraine Curry, needs our prayers as she has recently undergone a brain operation. My other daughter, Rosanne Harrison (née Brown), is in Toronto, Canada and has five daughters. My granddaughter, Jenni Claire Laister (Brown-Curry), is still living in the UK with two offspring – Olivia and Zoe.

Tamara McArthur (1996) – I am living on the South Coast and have a stunning Scuba Dive Centre, we are currently expanding to open a guesthouse in December, located in Umkomaas. No kids yet, but loving the man in my life and am blissfully happy.

Tanya Holley (née Meyer – 2004) I matriculated in 2004. I initially studied OT at UCT, but then changed to a teaching degree at Embury College in Durban. I completed my BEd degree in 2010. In 2011, I started my honours in Inclusive Education while doing an internship at New Hanover Prep. I started teaching Grade R at New Hanover Pre-Primary in 2012 and got engaged and married to my husband, Andrew Holley. We had our first baby boy in November, 2014, Rhys Holley, and have just had a daughter, Anna Holley, in September, 2017. I am currently a stay-at-home mum on our farm in Wartburg. I hope to return to teaching or remedial when the kids are older. I am so excited that I will be sending Anna to SJS one day. The most amazing school I have ever been to.

Tarryn Patel (née Kirkwood – 2003) – I qualified as a Foundation Phase teacher from Stellenbosch University in 2008. I immediately moved to Bahrain, where I worked in two schools and was promoted to Head Teacher of the Infant school. I had my son Caleb in September, 2015, then decided to take a ‘family focused work break’. My husband, Sandeep, got a job in Dubai and we moved over in February this year. We are now eagerly awaiting the arrival of our second baby in November; gender is a surprise!

Terry O’Grady (née Ward – 1991) I am married and living in Whangarei, New Zealand. I have 13-year-old twins who have just started Year 9 and High School. I am in the final few weeks of my (my middle-aged panic attack) degree in Social Work. I’m hoping to find a way of blending my dance and drama experience into social work in dealing with children and trauma.

Tessa Wendy Button (2010) I am living in Wesbrook Beach (between Ballito and Umdloti). I am a qualified Therapeutic Reflexologist working in Durban area, and then in Kokstad just once a month.

Yvonne Beacom (née Long – 1985) I have been living in Dublin for 10 years. I am married with two kids, a daughter (22) and a son (21). I am a qualified Preschool teacher, Carer and Administrator and enjoy running mini-marathons with all the lovely Dublin mountains surrounding me, which is so relaxing and peaceful.

We always love hearing from our Old Girls, please send us your news! You can email Mrs Heather Evans on oldgirls@stjohnsdsg.com.