A Garden Party to Remember - Commemorating 25 Years of BIS-A Garden Party to Remember - Commemorating 25 Years of BIS-Selected photo (8)
Chantal Gamble
16 February, 2023

A Garden Party to Remember: Commemorating 25 Years of BIS HCMC

A Garden Party to Remember - Commemorating 25 Years of BIS-A Garden Party to Remember - Commemorating 25 Years of BIS-MicrosoftTeamsimage 3711zon
There’s no better way to celebrate 25 years of the British International School than with a quintessentially British garden party. On Saturday 11th February 2023, the Junior campus was adorned with bunting and lanterns while guests sat under tents on picnic tables and blankets. With tea-based cocktails, scones and sandwiches, live music from our talented musicians and a soundtrack from 1997 the event was a celebration of everything British, without the British weather!
Around a thousand guests joined us for this remarkable event in BIS history, including our Co-Founders Maurice Nguyen and Rosie Ngo with their daughter and inspiration for the school Jenny. 
Looking closely at the decorations and mascots, you will have seen familiar patterns from our school uniform. 25th-anniversary teacup keepsakes with the upcycled uniform mascots were given out so guests could take home a part of BIS history. These intricate lions and saolas, that form our school crest, were crafted by hand through a partnership between our upcycling club and a group empowering marginalised women of HCMC. While blanket, cushion and bunting designs were thoughtfully designed by our parent-teacher group upcycling team to provide sustainable and personalised decorations for our party. 
A number of special guests from the Nord Anglia Education (NAE) Executive Committee also joined us; the CEO Mr Andrew Fitzmaurice, the Regional Director of South East Asia, the Middle East and India and our Former Principal Mr Shaun Williams, as well as the Chair of the Nord Anglia Education Advisory Board Lord David Puttnam. Along with our own Principal and Senior Leadership Team, we also welcomed former leadership and current heads of BIS Hanoi, BVIS HCMC and BVIS Hanoi, Mr Richard Vaughan, Mr Simon Higham and Mr Paul Holyome, respectively. Guests from the British Consulate, the British Chamber of Commerce and the People’s Committee of Thu Duc City also joined to celebrate the momentous occasion. But most importantly, we welcomed our world-class teachers, support staff, parents and community partners, the essence of our BIS community. 

Entering through gate A, guests wandered through our history walkway lined with photographs of years past on their way to the main field. 




Throughout the party, our guests were treated to exceptional performances by our masterful student musicians. BIS HCMC was honoured to have a Year 13 student Jessie compose a piece especially for the event for her IB Diploma, titled “BIS 25th Anniversary Fanfare”. Jessie conducted a group of 25 student musicians on Horn, Trumpet, Trombone, Percussion, Piano and Violin and it was a grand success, starting the party on a high. Performances throughout the night were outstanding and a testament to the phenomenal skills and professionalism of our student musicians. 


Our treasured Principal Mr Anthony Rowlands kicked off the event with his own journey at BIS, beginning in 2012 when he was appointed founding Principal of BIS Hanoi and now at BIS HCMC since 2017. “I was very lucky that Maurice, Rosie and Shaun Williams appointed me to that position because the last 10 years in Vietnam have been the happiest professional time of my life, so a sincere thank you for that opportunity.”


We also heard from Lord David Puttnam, Chair of the Nord Anglia Education Advisory Board a former member of the House of Lords, former president of UNICEF and BAFTA award-winning film producer. Lord Puttnam recalled some of his first memories of Vietnam over 21 years ago and throughout his speech revered the country and its hardworking people, stating that “the potential of this country is staggering, 100 million people with energy, excitement and the future ahead of them. Anything is possible… my plea is that given everything that Maurice and Rosie have created, we need to hold that vision. The young people being educated at this school will be this nation’s future. Rosie and Maurice, my warmest congratulations to you on what you have achieved, what you will achieve and the impact of what you will achieve on this country as a whole.”



The final inspirational speech came from the Co-Founder of BIS, Mr Maurice Nguyen who made his entrance to Whitney Houston's Step by Step, a song that he explains “reflects some of the history of the school, step by step, block by block, bit by bit, we didn't build all of these campuses at once, it was step by step, it was brick by brick.” Maurice relayed some of the development of the school’s facilities over the last 25 years, which you can read more about here.


Before the school's conception in 1997, Maurice had returned to his birthplace and was running a law consulting company in Vietnam, in partnership with his good friend Fraser White. Around that same time, he met his wife Rosie, and a few years later they welcomed their daughter Jenny in 1995. 

“Very rapidly she became a very active toddler and Rosie and I being very busy business people, we had to find her a preschool of quality but we couldn’t find anything. It’s not like Thao Dien today where every corner you have a preschool, back then there was nothing. Coincidentally when I went to Hanoi to meet my friend Fraser, he said Maurice I just invested in a preschool in Hanoi for my children. So I rushed back to Ho Chi Minh City, talked to Rosie and I said listen, put aside whatever we are doing, let’s focus on this small project. Let’s open a small preschool for Jenny, so that’s what we did.”


Maurice’s speech gave an overview of the history of the school’s beginnings but with a strong emphasis on the people who have made the school what it is today including the remarkable Principals and Heads, our colleagues from NAE, our world-class teachers and support staff and of course the parents. “One by one over the years they have contributed to what BIS is today, a thriving school, a happy school, where 2400 or so children, day in and day out, come into school and are taught by outstanding teachers.”


Maurice took the time to call out some special guests at the party, some of the parents who sent their children to Tiny Tots preschool and the first Primary Campus at BIS decades ago when it all began. It was a joy to see how connected they still felt to the school and how proud they were to be a part of the history of this remarkable educational establishment and what it has achieved today, 25 years later. We also paid tribute to three staff members who have been with BIS since the very beginning; Maurice, Rosie and Jenny presented Mr Sang, now Head Guard at the EYI campus, Ms Dat, Resources Staff, and Ms Thuy, Purchasing Manager with flowers and special gifts commemorating their time at the school. 



Beyond these noteworthy staff members, there are countless more who have given decades of their lives to our school and we celebrate the impact that they have made on every BIS student. These longstanding members of our community are a testament to the working culture and community spirit of our school. Our teachers and staff have exceptional opportunities for professional development and growth. 

These opportunities have multiplied innumerably since BIS joined Nord Anglia Education in 2015. “When Andrew Fitzmaurice convinced me and Rosie to join our schools with Nord Anglia, our teachers have had access to expertise, and knowledge from thousands of teachers and experts throughout their network of around 80 schools”. Not to mention the opportunities that NAE provide our students; a chance to be a part of a global community of over 80 schools worldwide and collaborations with MIT, UNICEF and Julliard.


Maurice Nguyen (Co-Founder) with former Principals Shaun Williams and Alun Thomas, and current Principal Anthony Rowlands 


Maurice played tribute to some of the former Principals of the school, including Marjorie Hunt, Alun Thomas and Shaun Williams.


“Shaun put the school on the map in terms of educational excellence, not only was he able to hire good heads and good teachers for BIS but he was also leading the development of three other schools in Vietnam for us.


Celebrating our current Principal’s achievement for leading the school successfully through recent unprecedented times, Maurice commended Mr Anthony Rowlands on his dedication to providing “the best online education” for the students of BIS. 




Amongst the many parents of BIS students, there were some who had attended BIS themselves many years ago, including Ms Hanh who graduated from BIS in 2009 and is now part of our parent community 14 years later. Previously she described being back to BIS as a mother as “both surreal and emotional”. After 25 years it’s exciting to see the legacy of BIS through the many families that have walked our halls, and the impact our school will have on students for years to come.

We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who contributed to this extraordinary celebration and every person in our BIS community who has bit by bit, step by step made BIS HCMC what it is today; the leading international school in Vietnam, where anything is possible.