Entries Tagged as 'Staff'

Rachel Kersey and Dr Kat Street join RLS Bump Club

I met Rachel in the shopping precinct in Buckingham, today. Actually, I walked past her as I didn’t recognise her under her smart, modern hairstyle. Once it clicked, I said, “Hello, how are you Rachel?” Rachel half turned, the better to display her bump and she told me that her first baby was due in about three weeks time in April. Once upon a time, the Kerseys: Mum, Dad, Rachel and her brother Robert lived in the house in which the Grimsdales now dwell down by the river Ouse.  We wish Rachel and baby all the best.

Today, I was chatting to an excellent RLS  ”Saturday” girl in Waitrose. She’s in Year 12 and studying  among other AS-levels, Chemistry and Biology. Naturally, I praised her for choosing a strong suite of science subjects at a school where science is taught brilliantly. She agreed she was at a fantastic school replete with wonderful pupils. I asked her who was her Chemistry teacher and she told me that it might have been the current Head of Chemistry, that intellectual giant of a teacher, Dr Kat Street, but the latter was away on maternity leave.    It’s good to hear that at least some of us chemists are ensuring that our genes are being passed on to secure the subject through the 21st century. I forgot to ask my contact whether Kat had graduated from  Bump Club, but, no doubt, someone will enlighten us. And now an update, via a Saturday assistant in Waitrose, Kat has had a baby girl – congratulations!

Do you remember Mr Bigwood? Janet Mackenzie Warren does!

The biology teacher from the 1960s whom  I remember best is Robert Bigwood – alias Bertie Bogweed -  a gentle giant of a man who was easily embarrassed by references to reproductive functions like the nuptial flight of bees.  I think he had done some wrestling in his time and he used to tell us he’d come down on us like a ton of bricks, but never carried through on his threats.

I seem to remember that Mr Bigwood left just before I joined RLS in the autumn of 1968. Thank you, Janet, for reminding us of another RLS character.ED

Joinville French Exchange Easter,1968 Maurice Tyler leads the charge

Joinville 1969 led by Maurice Tyler and Bernard [Biology) Shaw?

Joinville 1969 led by Maurice Tyler and Bernard [Biology) Shaw?

Left to right (text and image provided from our Canadian correspondent Janet [Mackenzie] Warren)
Gill Godwin, Pamela Easton, Janet Mackenzie, (don’t know who’s behind me and can’t remember the name of the lad next to him) Stephanie Miller, Lynne Mann , Maurice Tyler ( don’t know who’s behind him), Roberta Hamp, unknown at back, Toby Glaister ( [of Thornborough] who chucked horrible hard-boiled eggs from the train as it passed through stations on the way home and brought home a sign he had liberated that said Defense de pisser contre ce mur) Alison Deuchar, ?,  David Marcus with the scarf (once fancied by Janet!], ?,  Philip Watson, the name of the lad behind him is on the tip of my tongue, ? Stephen Barlow , ?sadly, died in a car accident in early1970s) and far right is Nigel Norman.
This should gladden Christopher Skinner’s heart as he did say he misses the  Pamela Easton and  the late  Lynne Mann. Lynne Mann had an really enviable figure – remember those were the days of Twiggy- and while all the boys craved her attention she was somewhat unkindly labelled M… Mann… by those same boys!

Ed comments: As Janet correctly identifies the picture was taken before departure by Paynes’ Coach to Joinville, in NE France, on the first Latin School Exchange with that town. The back-drop is the “Milk Factory” now the University of Buckingham’s Chandos Rd building, opposite the “old” entrance to Brookfield Drive.

Janet has added that the two girls behind and to each side of  Maurice were Sally Burton and Freya Jackson – two tall, very academic students who later studied French to A-level. She adds that one unnamed boy was called Alan Longland who lived on Moreton Rd. I reckon that I recognise him and that he’s a solicitor. He was a good rugger player, too. (We both agree, now, that it’s Alan Longland!)

Please help us to complete the picture of who was who, 44 years on! (Didn’t Janet do well?)

Reg Howard – Memories of his times at RGS, High Wycombe

ED writes :

Whilst googling RLS, I came upon references to the early teacher career of Reg Howard on a site devoted to the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe. That site had used some of “our” material, so I’m delighted to reciprocate and put our readers in touch with earlier facets of Reg’s career.

Reg Howard BA 1924-1987 RIP
Royal Grammar School teacher of English and Boarding House master 1945-1955

Reg had been brought up in Scotland, and had received a 1st class Honours degree in English from the University of Leeds at the end of the Second World War. His first post was at RGS to teach English Language and Literature from 1945 to 1955. In 1946 he became Assistant Housemaster at School House to help Headmaster E R Tucker [ the father of RLS's Patricia [PE, Magistrate, farmer's wife] Morgan]  control some 46 boys in residence. Ashford & Howard wrote in their school history, “The boarder usually got the blame for any damage which seems to have been done out of hours”.

[c.f. RLS : How many times was housemaster, Ed Grimsdale, "carpetted" on a Monday morning  by the Head of PE at RLS following a weekend of illicit boarder activity  across the fields & gymnasia of RLS?]
A vigorous scout troop had been formed during the war, and was later successfully continued by Reg, as Scoutmaster of the RGS Boarder’s, 25th High Wycombe Troop. “While showing a certain amused detachment in his own matter, he sacrificed a great deal of his time in running summer camps for them.” (Ashford & Howard)

[What a good phrase for Reg "a certain amused detached in his own matter".ED]

A former boarder wrote, “Mr Howard I remember was of a genial disposition who kept control in a relaxed manner. He was always helpful and went out of his way to ensure his boys were happy and balanced. I liked him very much and thought he was very young to be in such a position. Yet he could be serious and caring as well as relaxed. My overall feelings are that I felt happy under his tutorship and guidance.” Other pupils wrote, “I remember his contempt for our schoolboy humour, but always with a twinkle in his eye.” “Reg enthusiastically led us on holiday bicycle tours, one ranging to Lands End, returning along the Cornwall, Devon and southern coastal route.”

Reg left RGS in 1955 to teach in Istanbul for two years. There Reg developed into a fine cook, and thereafter he loved to entertain his guests with fine dining. Capped by a small cup of intensely strong Turkish coffee with the consistency of river mud, as many of his colleagues reported!

Reg was truly “a scholar and a gentleman”, and has been greatly missed by all those who had the good fortune to know him.

(Ron Wynands RGS 1944-50) adds when Reg Howard, (’Uncle Reg’ to us junior pupils), left RGS to teach abroad, I completely lost touch. Serendipity then took a hand when I recently googled RGS and was surprised that RLS also came up. The Royal Latin School website, to which I am much indebted, helped to fill in his later years. I am also indebted to former 1940s pupils and boarders for my second paragraph.  Reg was a kindly and respected teacher, who joined in our-out-of-hours social evenings in Hazlemere Hall; lemonade, cakes & lots of loud 78 rpm records. I hope I have done him justice.

And Tudor Olsen, another pupil of Reg’s at RGS has this memory I left school in October 1954 mainly due to the fact that my father “ jumped ship” & my mother was not able to support me any longer. Reg was the only master in the school who knew that fact & he got me into the RGS Scout Group prior to this,  knowing of my problem – I was the only day boy in the Troop. In 1955 I did my 2 years in the RAF. I moved back to Hughenden in 1957 and thence to a flat in High Wycombe in 1958 while preparing to emigrate to New Zealand.  In 1959. I moved into my sister in law’s house for a few days prior to my departure.

On the 19th May 1959 as we left, there was Reg Howard at the gate!

How the hell he knew where I was nearly 5 years on is still a mystery, but he came to High Wycombe Station & saw me off & I can still “ see” his face to this day. He was a really good guy.

Caretakers and Baldocks and of lives that criss-cross

The world is large and the diaspora of Old Latins means that their density in any one place is low.

All the more delight then when chance brings us together and separate lives fuse again for an instant.  It must be almost 15 years since the Baldock boys: James, Sam, & George   first hit the Latin School running when they were brought by their Mum, Jacquie [Chemistry, now Deputy Headteacher] for a summer holiday tour before James joined year 7.   Ron (caretaker) Hodges still remembers that occasion. I wonder if they do?  Ron , you will remember, had a natural friendly disposition towards pupils and he set the lads a challenge, “Come on let’s race to the tennis courts and back for 10p,  George & myself against you two older lads. Off we go…” Well, the Baldock boys have always been “fit” and it wasn’t long before Sam & James won and looked for their reward. Ron replied, “I only said let’s race, I didn’t mention anything about winning!” No doubt, our crestfallen “heroes” were rewarded and Ron lives to tell the tale – and now that he’s slowed by a heart condition, thinking of fitter times brings a smile to his face.

Old Latins will know that , eventually, “academic but sporty” James was joined by “athletic and academic” Sam & George at RLS, possibly the first time in RLS’s long history that a teacher has been joined by three of his / her children in school, together. Sam [Bristol City] and George [MK Dons] have majored since  in football whilst James has become a doctor and he’s on his way to becoming a G.P. – recently he’s been seen at Victoria House Surgery in Bicester… and … well, read on.

Now for an interlude. Ron Hodges, David Chambers ( a more recent caretaker, Andy Cooper and myself have been visiting David [caretaker] Knibbs in Milton Keynes Hospital. He was there for chest and heart problems but in a strange twist of fate, fell whilst taking a stroll during a visit by Ron Hodges and shattered his hip.  Lucky, I suppose that he was in hospital and emergency repairs followed immediately but David, of course, now faces a longer recovery period.  I’m glad to be able to tell you that, after a spell in Buckingham’s  marvellous little hospital, David is back home with his wife, Elizabeth,  just a few doors down from Jenny [Old Latin, Lab Technician Governor] and Jeff [O.L.] Green. Incidentally, opposite the Knibbs lives  Mike Neville ( retired Science teacher and the father of Peter Neville of “Jimmy’s” Hospital in Leeds). I mention Mike Neville because he’s been very helpful to Elizabeth & David during David’s convalescence. End of interlude!

More recently, Ron was back in MK Hospital – in accident and emergency ferrying a neighbour. “Hello, Mr Hodges,” came the cheerful call across the unit. Yes, it was our Dr James Baldock, doing a spell  in A+E.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a former pupil, a teacher, or a member of the support staff,  being fondly  remembered by an Old Latin brings feelings of warmth, security, & of  having made a difference to lives in a world that may be wide but where you’re never that far from a friendly face.

Stephen Kay alias Sigmund a.k.a Sigi

Four movements towards you

A room piled high
With books and old money
Other men’s poems, a flower
Reflecting coming comforts of you
Shining straw haired
Glowing like a honeysuckle
On a summer’s night

Run through the dew of cloud-flecked days
And I will run to you
Bare your teeth to the lonely moon
And we will laugh the night to morning
And rise in love like the sun in splendour

Cry with the rain for dead butterflies
But feed the tenderest moments
From hiding under tattered umbrellas
Of spattered-leaf trees
Breast high amidst the perfumes of rain
And perhaps of love

I had not forgotten
Nor did I quite despair
I could stick no sign upon the door
But merely wait
And rise with unknown joy
At your return
And ask
“Please stay”

Stephen Kay alias Sigi or Sigmund c. 1968

When I first arrived in Buckingham, I suppose it was the autumn of 1968, I joined a conservative, traditional grammar school in a an “ancient and loyal borough”. Little had changed in aeons and the swinging sixties were far away, well, six miles down the road in Winslow. Winslow seemed far more cutting edge both artistically and politically. One of the subjects that filled my timetable was “General Studies” for the sixth form. It was meant to add breadth to our students, to make them a little more rounded as individuals – to scatter the spice of science on those of an artistic bent and to humanise those regarded as limited by laws, proofs and mere numbers. As taught by a gauche teacher fresh from Uni. I doubt if it achieved its aim but it worked in reverse, giving the teacher a greater insight into the minds of the next generation.

One of the students who passed through my lessons was Stephen Kay. For me, it was a bit like meeting a leader of a sect with his followers. Stephen was tall, bright and culturally aware. His aliases promulgated that : SIGMUND ( to the wider world) or SIGI (with his disciples and acolytes). Have a look, below, at the faded cover of a little volume of poems that was published by his near contemporary, the late John Close. Revolution was afoot on John’sCAXTON PRESS”. Note the precocious quotation from Ezra Pound (an author unknown, I fear, in Buckingham) and the shy dedication to Basil Bunting, a modernist poet who had started to become a name only after the 1966 publication of Briggflats.

Then what? After RLS, Stephen Kay disappeared from our view, over our horizon. Some say that he found work with an Opera company, others are less sure. Are there Old Latins who remained in touch with our  Sigi, the guru of Young Winslow? Where is he now? Please tell!


More on the Evans Clan : David, Jennifer & Philip

It was lovely, last month,  to catch up with (Professor) David Evans forty years on and, of course, we chatted about his brother and sister: Jennifer and Philip.

Philip’s progress in recent years has been away from the seemingly inevitable exposure that the internet affords to so many. So much so, that one or two correspondents have enquired of me about his health. Well, David confirms that Philip married , had children, and that Philip took the major role in bringing them up whilst his partner carried on her career. The children now being older, Philip is back  in the world of work teaching science (Physics?) in Herefordshire.

Jennifer’s career post-RLS has been in the public eye because of her vital work in Africa. She, too, married, but her partner was the older of the pair and he has  retired. He remains active bringing up the couple’s children. Jennifer and her family  has moved to Wales where she is close to Mrs Evans (snr) who lives happily in sheltered accommodation. Jennifer works in paediatrics at  the Children’s Hospital in Cardiff. I’m appending an excerpt from a blurb on a lecture that Jennifer gave 2-3 years ago that gives a flavour of her work in Africa:

Developing sustainable clinical research in Africa


Pop Watkins Lecture 14 May 2010 at the Welsh Paediatric Society Spring Meeting

Jennifer Evans
Department of General Paediatrics, Children’s Hospital for Wales

This lecture was a very personal account of 10 years experience working as a Paediatrician in Ghana, West Africa.  Having trained in paediatrics and paediatric infectious diseases and having held a long-held intention to work in Africa, the opportunity came in 1997 to take up a position as a lecturer in paediatrics at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana.

It was suggested to me to go to Ghana by Professor Eldryd Parry, well known to clinicians both in Wales and in Africa.  The organization he founded, The Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET), has supported the development of health partnerships between UK institutions and their counterparts in the developing world for over 20 years and KNUST was one of those involved.  The first year was spent as a consultant paediatrician teaching both undergraduates and postgraduates in the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi (KATH).  Initially my responsibilities were for clinical work and teaching but it became clear that this was a perfect basis for developing clinical research.  The opportunity was there to understand what diseases were prevalent but also only by working in such a situation could one come to terms with how the health care system worked and what the problems were that local workers faced.  At that time, there were two senior paediatricians who had done postgraduate training abroad but no graduates from the local medical school had successfully completed the West African postgraduate training programmes in paediatrics.  I am happy to say that ten years on the number of locally trained specialists is more than twenty.  Junior doctors working on the wards in those days are now the principal investigators of major research programmes.

"Elementary, my dear Watson."

"Elementary, my dear Watson."

Three elementary questions for you:

1. Who is wearing the tie?

2. Is the tie Chinese or British?

3. What organisation awarded the tie?

Three Chemists of RLS

The Grim Reaper, the Fireworks Man and the Road-mender

The Grim reaper, the Road-mender and the Firework-maker snapped in one of the "new" labs by Jo Ballantine.

More on this story, later.  A time there was when the eldest chemist set up methane explosions before breakfast with gas produced in-house by  the school’s cow pat anaerobic digester and  the Professor, now at  Beijing University, produced white phosphorus at home in Winslow under an atmosphere of nitrogen in his handy, onesie retort.

These days,  Professor David Evans works to protect the world’s roads from degradation due to sunlight whilst young Chris George illumines the world and his wife with his fireworks. Meanwhile, Ed reminisces that two hundred years ago, Thomas Scott ran an Academy in Gawcott Parsonage where the boys performed chemical experiments in their bedrooms after lights-out.

Plus ça change plus la Chemie, c’est la même chose.

Ooh, I wish I could write that in Chinese!

All three look confidently forward to the brave new world of science at RLS after  its 600 Campaign has  successfully raised  the seed-corn £5m needed to fund a state of the art Discovery Centre.   ED

Do take a peep at www.rls600.com


Please click to enlarge

Please click to enlarge

Back Row: Jim Faulkner, George March, Bill Theobald, Derek Lillistone, John Fulton, David Stopps
Front Row: Anne (née Bull) Wagland, Dorothy (née Johnson) Shaw, Miss Merritt, Mary (née Bonner) Castle, Barbara Aris.
Dorothy Shaw has contacted me with the following information, and Rita (née Shaw) March, who married Polonius has recently added more:

My daughter, Diana,  and I viewed the RLS website with interest and some amusement. Two of the names you want for photo of the school play in the 1951 are Barbara Aris, who is seated, and standing at the back, dressed as Hamlet is H.W. (Bill ) Theobald, but I cannot remember the name of the lad, dressed as Polonius with Father Christmas beard (that’s been solved by Rita (née Shaw) March). All the cast signed my script except him! I will ask Mary next time I see her.

The entire action of this comedy (1939 by Philip King, who went on to write the popular  farce See How They Run) takes place in the living room at Hill Top Farm, the home of the Weatherheads, in the village of Upper  Netherwick.

Act I 8-30 p.m. some time in April.

Act II 10-0 a.m. the next morning.

Act III 5-0 p.m. the same evening.

Cast (Can you identify players with their parts?)

(In order of appearance)

Mary Weatherhead

Robert Weatherhead

Rev. Simon Peters   Derek Lillistone (his brother, Brian, became a real Vicar)

Ezra Weatherhead

P. C. James Hawkins

Emma Weatherhead

The Stranger

Wyndham Johns

Madeleine Lees

Mrs. Peters

Produced by Miss Merritt

Dorothy Shaw adds that she does have photos of the first RLS production of a Gilbert and Sullivan Opera, Pirates of Penzance, which had to take place in the Town Hall because the stage in the school hall was unsuitable.   Brynmor Evan , assisted by Enoch Archer, were the producers.
Well – Dorothy has confirmed Mr Archer’s forename, too. ED
Miss Merritt lived with her parents in a house on London Road that backs onto the old school. Jimmy Faulkner married Phyllis and they became close friends of Reg. Howard, Head of English in the 60s & 70s. I think that the Faulkners lived in Dadford.

Rita March remembers that about 5 years later, the Inter-house drama competition was inaugurated by Mrs Dorothy Downer, wife of Mr Downer, proprietor of the chemist shop and pharmacy in West Street. Dorothy Downer became a well-liked Governor of the Latin School and retained her interest in Drama and Music throughout her tenure.

The Chemists' Shop shot by Pharmacist, Helen Walker, in 1965

The Chemists' Shop shot by Pharmacist, Helen Walker, in 1965

News from Rita (née Shaw) March who lives in Hants

Rita_march_1953I certainly know Roger [Wagland]. He and I were classmates, but also were Head Boy and Head Girl at the Buckingham Primary School in 1949, but I doubt if Roger remembers that!   He and I were also involved in the same Gilbert & Sullivan productions at RLS, but Roger was in the Science 6th, and I in the Arts. He was ace at Sports whereas I only scraped into the hockey team, so our paths didn’t cross a lot.  He might remember a naughty end to a cross-country event when the “tellers” – us girls – and the runners finished up in the New Inn for cider.  I don’t [think that]  I thanked him for his generosity or returned the favour! [ It’s not too late, Rita!] He must remember ‘52 or ‘53, when the senior boys’ annual run ended with the entire 5th and 6th meeting at the [railway]  station to progress in formation along Chandos Road at a steady trot. Mr Embleton was not amused. (Though I rather think our much loved Bill (a.k.a. Enoch, i /c Geography) Archer was).

To break off from Rita’s memories for a moment, I’ve received this response to her Cross-Country memories from Geoff Kirk who ran in the infamous formation race:

It was definitely in 1952, as I left school in April 1952.  The ‘course’ for the race at that time started at the school gates in Chandos Road – up Chandos Road to the Station – down Station Road – under the railway Bridge and then turn left up Lenborough Road –  right to the top and then round the big field in Lenborough Grounds and then return along the same route.

A large group of us who were not quite so good as the first few, gathered at the station and decided to run down Chandos Road to the finish line in a straight line abreast across the road.   We got about half-way down when George saw what was ‘going on’  and as Rita says – he was not amused.   He ran up the road to meet us – with arms flailing and shouting “Make a race of it – make a race of it!!” George didn’t see the funny side of it at all.   We broke up in chaos and did ‘make a race of it’.

I’ll certainly try to find time to send you the photos – very busy with University of the 3rd Age, at present.  Mrs Capel would be pleased to know that I’m currently running a Writing for Pleasure group.  Some of my short stories do hark back to Buckingham.

George March on Day 1 at RLS in September of '45 or '46

George March on Day 1 at RLS in September of '45 or '46

My husband was George March, 1946(?) to 1953, Class Prefect, National Service (RAF), Bristol University, M. Ed Aston University, Birmingham. He taught Maths, and became Deputy Principal of Barton Peveril Sixth Form College, Eastleigh, Hants, 1975- 1990.  Sadly George died in 1990 shortly after taking early retirement.  My contemporaries would know me as Rita Shaw, but they would remember George as well. Is the Latin School still the dating agency it was then?  [ Ed blushes as he remembers the Wedding Suite in Brookfield.]

[I had asked Rita whether she possessed a music copy of Margaret Rose’s original School Song – as the school doesn’t possess a copy of it , so that its present Director of Music, Rob Tucker has expertly crafted a tune tune for the old words. ED]

Rita has replied:

I’ll jot down what I can remember of the tune of the School Song. If anyone can contact Eileen Joel as was, she sang a solo verse and might fill in some blanks, and would Roger have the chaps’ part in his head?  I don’t have the technology to hum it to you!

On a personal note, I taught Junior music, then Infants, lost count of the number of choirs and Operatic  Socs., a couple of them professional but as part of an amateur chorus. Re  Verdi 200th anniversary, I’m a second soprano – used to be alto- with the Southampton Phil[harmonic Choir] in  Winchester Cathedral, giving my all on April 27th, 2013 in the Verdi Requiem, without the score. [I] wish Bryn Evans could see me now!  I was telling my grandchildren at Christmas about the seminal moment at my first ever school assembly, when Mr Allitt played the introductory bars to hymn no. 576 and the whole school burst into “Lord behold us - – -”; Wow!…that phalanx of  [young] men’s voices carrying from behind us little girls.

Lord, behold us with Thy blessing
Once again assembled here;

Onward be our footsteps pressing
In Thy love, and faith, and fear;
Still protect us, still protect us
By Thy presence ever near.

For Thy mercy we adore Thee,
For this rest upon our way;
Lord, again we bow before Thee,
Speed our labors day by day;
Mind and spirit, mind and spirit
With Thy choicest gifts array.

Keep the spell of home affection
Still alive in every heart;
May its power, with mild direction,
Draw our love from self apart,
Till Thy children, till Thy children
Feel that Thou their Father art.

Break temptation’s fatal power,
Shielding all with guardian care,
Safe in every careless hour,
Safe from sloth and sensual snare;
Thou, our Saviour, Thou,our Saviour
Still our failing strength repair.