Old Farnhamians' Association
Obituaries & Tributes

Bill Wallis (1947 – 1955)

Bill Wallis (1947 – 1955) was head boy in his final year and left FGS to go to Cambridge University, where he became a friend of Peter Cook. When Cook and the rest of the Beyond the Fringe team left to take their show to Broadway, Wallis took over Alan Bennett's roles in the West End production. Bill’s portrayal of a vicar in that show included an uncanny resemblance to the voice of the Rev Hedley Wilds, Rector of St Andrews’ Parish Church, Farnham at that time!

 

Bill later appeared on Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's famous TV series Not Only But Also, in which they all sang a silly song about Alan A'Dale. (It repeatedly went ‘Alan A’Dale, Alan A’Dale, this is the tale of, Alan A’Dale…’, but we never actually got to hear the tale of Alan A’Dale).

In 1969, he played Prime Minister Harold Wilson in Mrs. Wilson's Diary (1969), a stage show based on a regular feature in Cook's satirical magazine Private Eye. Bill also had several roles in Blackadder's various incarnations, notably as the revolting jailer Ploppy, son of Ploppy.… He later had a role in several series of Dangerfield, a BBC medical drama. Other notable roles were in Yes, Prime Minister (as a chain-smoking Sports Minister who is promoted to be Minister of Health) and The Avengers.

Bill has taken leading roles in rep at Newcastle and Leicester, enjoyed seasons with the National Theatre and the RSC, and in London performed at the Young Vic, Riverside and Old Vic. His film appearances include The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1997) and Splitting Heirs (1993).

Bill died on 6 September 2013 at his home in Bath.

Posted here Wednesday, 18 September, 2013

Obituary in The Guardian on 17 September 2013 – Click here

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Stanley Owen

This is a tribute to a much-loved Science teacher of FGS who died on 30 July 2012 at the age of 88.
A very sad aspect of this is that the writing of this tribute was almost the last act of his son Matthew
who tragically died on the day of Stanley’s funeral. Matthew’s own obituary is posted further below.

Stanley was born in Ashford Kent on the 14th July 1924 in the flat above his parents’ shop: the Chocolate Box sweet shop in the High Street.  He was the eldest of four children: brother to Mary, Deryck and Sylvia.

He attended Ashford Grammar School, and went on to Bristol University in 1942 having won a science bursary.  Meanwhile the war had started but his call-up was deferred until after his graduation.  He was a keen sportsman and a very good hockey player, playing in goal and representing Southern Universities and the West of England.  In those days hockey goalkeepers lacked much of the protection modern players enjoy – of which more anon.

In 1944 he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and after training at Portsmouth he was posted to Brisbane Port radio base in Australia as a radio officer.  Following VJ day he joined HMS Rams Head, sailing from Australia to Hong Kong and subsequently visiting Japan, including Hiroshima.

After coming home he returned to Bristol University to take an education diploma before doing his teaching practice at Kent College and getting his first job at Isleworth Grammar school. 

He met Faye at a party in Ashford where she first saw him doing a handstand balanced on two beer bottles – she asked him “does it hurt?” and he answered “not yet!”

Stanley and Faye were married on the 29th of December 1949 in Hythe.  Shortly before the wedding he lost one of his front teeth while playing hockey for Ashford.  He didn’t have time to go to a dentist before the ceremony so Faye said to him “whatever you do - don’t smile”.  Needless to say he couldn’t help but smile.

Following their marriage Stanley and Faye set up home in rented rooms in Heston, close to Isleworth.  During that time they nursed their nephew – “ME” (Rory) - through whooping cough. They moved back to a flat in Ashford in 1951 when Stanley got a job at Maidstone Grammar.  Howard was born there in 1952 and they moved to their first house in Maidstone in 1953.  Three years later they moved again, to Bristol where Stanley taught at Kingswood Grammar and where Matthew was born in 1957.  Yet again on the move, in 1960 Faye and Stanley moved to Farnham where Stanley taught at Farnham Grammar School, and where he was to spend another 52 very happy years with his family.

At Farnham Grammar School he was the Head of Science and contributed hugely to the life of the school, among other things leading one of the Houses (Harding), helping to run the combined cadet corps, arranging the lighting for school productions, and leading a school party on the Surrey Schools Cruise around the Mediterranean on the SS Nevasa – a converted troopship.  A party from the Girls’ Grammar School were also on the trip which may explain why at school assembly on the day the cruise departed the hymn chosen was  - “For Those in Peril on the Sea”!

He taught at Farnham Grammar School until joining the Associated Examining Board in 1974 as the head of education.   During this time he visited schools in Hong Kong and Malawi where the AEB ran large examination centres.  The AEB later became the Southern Examining Group and Stanley worked there, among other things, on the introduction of the GCSE. 

He retired in 1990 but remained busy in his retirement. Faye and Stanley enjoyed musicals and ballet and made fairly frequent trips to London, Southampton, Birmingham and Oxford.  Holidays became less frequent as the years went on but they both have fond memories of Devon, Cornwall and the Lake District.

He also enjoyed looking after his grandchildren Sam, Catherine and Amy of whom he was immensely proud.  They all enjoyed their many trips to the theatre with Granny and Grandpa and they were also regulars at school productions, carol services and Christmas and summer fairs.  Stanley was a skilful woodworker and the beautifully made dolls houses and stables he made for Catherine and Amy will last, until great grandchildren – no sign of them yet – are ready to enjoy them again.

Stanley was always in demand for his wisdom and experience, providing patient maths and science coaching for many of his friends’ children and running adult education classes at Farnham College.  John Noakes attended one of his beginner’s navigation evening classes.

Howard and Matthew have fond memories of family holidays in Devon and Cornwall and sailing on the river Dart in the Mirror dinghy that Stanley made with them, from a kit, in the garage in Heath Lane in Upper Hale.  And when at home, he sailed the boat with Howard and Matthew at Frensham for several years.

Faye has many happy memories of their 62 and a half years’ of marriage: celebrating Gold, Ruby and Diamond anniversaries.  Following their Ruby wedding in 1989they spent 3 days in May in Paris, enjoying lunch on a scorching hot day on a Bateau Mouche on the Seine.

Since January this year Stanley faced mounting health problems but bore them bravely and uncomplainingly.  He always had a smile for visitors and quite often a wink for the nurses.

Everyone who knew Stanley will miss him enormously but remember him for his kindness and generosity: a really lovely and loving husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother and friend.

Matthew Owen
Posted Monday, 17 September, 2012

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Matthew Owen

This is the tribute by Chris Fitch to Stanley Owen’s son, an old boy of the school,
who sadly died less than three weeks after his father, on 16 August, 2012

Matthew was born in Bristol on the 29th October 1957, the younger son of Faye and Stanley and brother of Howard. They moved to Farnham in 1960, where he lived for the last 52 years.

Matthew first went to school at Church House Preparatory School in Farnham and then later went on to Farnham Boy’s Grammar School.

I didn’t know Matthew at Church House but I know that one of his most enduring memories was when Farnham and his school were both flooded.

I first met Matthew in November 1971 (over 40 years ago) when I joined the Grammar School as a “newcomer” – he was the person who, unprompted, “took me under his wing” and helped me make friends and become part of the School.

Matthew was very good academically at School and I know that he remembered his School days most as a very happy time when, as well as setting himself up for the world of work and being a grown up, he had fun and made lifelong friends. On the news of Matthew’s passing two friends from that time, who had not seen him since, commented - “even in those early days, over 40 years ago, we all knew Matthew as a calm gentleman”; “He was a truly great person and one of the nicest and kindest boys I have ever met”. These are words that ring as true today as they did then. He often spoke fondly of his school days and regularly attended the Old Farnhamian’s reunion dinners.

The school kindled Matthew’s love of sport – he represented the school at many sports including his favourites Hockey (like his father) and Rugby.

Feeling deprived of sport after leaving school he made good use of the newly built Farnham Sports Centre and won the Farnham Town Volleyball competition one year with a team of ex sixth-form friends. He also took up golf and I remember many summer holidays when we would play golf every afternoon and evening in Farnham Park, have a drink in the town and then play the first four holes again in pitch darkness before heading home across the park (something that he continued, in part, with Sam in later years). He was also very good at bar billiards a skill honed through years of practice at The Cricketers in Hale when our parents thought we were at each other’s houses helping each other with our homework and revising.

In 1977 he left home to attend Bishop Otter College, part of the University of Sussex in Chichester to do a teacher training degree, however, after the first term, he decided that teaching wasn’t for him and he swapped courses and studied English and Religious Studies. He loved university life, especially the rugby! He played full back, which, for the non-players among us, is the person who does all the kicking and hangs around at the back, which is why (according to Helen) he retained his good looks. Although he enjoyed playing I know that he enjoyed the social life even more, especially celebrating their wins and defeats at The Eastgate pub in Chichester. He was also responsible, as Entertainments Rep, for booking bands and building a bar in the student’s union (from which he was immediately banned). On returning from university he continued to play for Farnham Rugby Club until he got too old and found it would take the whole weekend to recover from a game.

After university he had various jobs ranging from part time work at a glue factory to a short stint as a hospital porter. One job he enjoyed was working for a company that decided whether to air Australian TV shows in Britain. On one occasion he voiced his opinion that Neighbours wouldn’t be very successful, and as you can imagine, he didn’t stay there much longer. He then worked for Westminster City Council before deciding to apply for the civil service. He passed the interview board and started working at the Ministry of Defence in 1982, moving to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2000 where he worked in the Workforce Planning Department.

Matthew kept work and home life quite separate, once he had stepped off the train he didn’t really want to talk about it. Helen and his family often joked that he was really a spy; but his excuse was that he had signed the Official Secrets Act. So it was so nice for the family to receive so many tributes from his work colleagues, saying how well liked and respected he was for his professionalism and expertise and that his modesty, good humour, kindness and calmness came shining through at work. These lovely tributes have given his family great comfort at this sad time.

On his return from university he asked Helen, who conveniently lived opposite, out for a drink which was soon followed by “but you will have to drive”. She should have known. Although Matthew was a member of a winning Lottery syndicate, meeting Helen (or his parents deciding to move in opposite) was undoubtedly the luckiest day of Matthew’s life. The romance blossomed and three years later in 1984 they married (a day I personally remember as Matthew’s best man). They moved into their first home in Holybourne where Sam was born four years later and in 1990 they moved to Wrecclesham and six months later Amy was born.

Matthew absolutely adored his children and was a fantastic dad. He threw himself into fatherhood in every way. As the children grew up he took an active part in their school life and hobbies. Both Helen and Matthew joined the PTA at the children’s’ school and became very active in helping to organise fetes and fairs, building adventure playgrounds and gardening. Helen and Matthew even dressed up as Punch and Judy when the school participated in the local carnival, guess which one Matthew was? Later on he became a parent governor and put his expertise in finance to good use. When Sam and Amy went to secondary school he would spend endless hours helping them with their homework.

When Sam became interested in football Matthew sacrificed his Sunday mornings driving to all corners of Surrey to watch Sam’s team lose pretty much every week. Thankfully they shared a love of Manchester United and got to enjoy a slightly better standard of football, going to many games all around the country.

He shared his love of music with the kids too. When Amy decided to take up the violin he would patiently help her to learn new tunes, in particular the unforgettable Memories from Cats. As they got older Sam and Amy would invite him to go to various gigs and festivals. They have both downloaded his hundred favourite tunes, so his music will live on. He even sent Amy and Charlotte a selection of motivational tunes to keep them going during the final months preparing for their degree show.

Amy inherited Matthew’s love of painting; he found it a great form of relaxation. He beamed with pride when he walked round Amy’s degree show and he wanted to purchase one of her final pieces if no one else bought it.

He was so proud that they had done so well at university, that Sam was enjoying living and working in London, and that Amy had found work in a local gallery but still found the time to continue with her painting.

Apart from his family Matthew had many other passions in life. I have already talked about his love of music. He had a large collection of guitars and a ukulele and would spend many hours strumming away. He had a great talent of being able to learn new tunes from just listening to them a few times. He would often entertain his friends at dinner parties by organising singalongs, with him on the guitar. He even wrote his own music and sent it off to a record company, but sadly was not successful.

His other main passion was bird watching, which Helen and he combined with their love of walking. They had both missed doing this over the last year or two.

His latest hobby was the vegetable garden that he and Helen built together. He got quite obsessed with it to the extent that he would go straight out to check on the vegetables when he returned home from work. He had even been known to play his guitar to them to encourage them to grow. He had been very frustrated lately that he had not been able to attend to them himself.

Matthew had such a thirst for knowledge, reading and crosswords. He could retain and remember so many facts which amazed us all at times. He certainly will be missed at quiz nights (who wouldn’t want Matthew as their first choice in their quiz team?). It was not just facts and figures – you could always depend on Matthew to provide you with sensible and dependable advice and help as a friend.

Finally, Helen and his family have received so many cards and letters that it is quite clear that everyone thought that Matthew was one of the good guys. We all have fond memories of him and there are too many words to express how we feel about him, he touched so many lives and was such a lovely, kind, caring, reliable, calm and modest man who will be missed deeply by us all and will live on in all of our memories and through his lasting legacy – his loving family.

Chris Fitch
Posted Monday, 17 September, 2012

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George Daniel Carroll

The son of an Assistant Fish Quay Master in North Shields, George Carroll won scholarships to high school and to university, where he completed a degree in Electrical Engineering.  As well as being academically gifted, he was a talented all-round sportsman and amateur actor.  George was taking a second degree in Mechanical Engineering in November 1939 when he volunteered for Army service. 

 Having passed out second in his Officer Training cohort, George joined the Royal Engineers and was posted to London as a bomb disposal officer in September 1940, serving through the Blitz.  In April 1941 he was posted to Malta to assume responsibility for Army bomb disposal for the whole of Malta and Gozo.  He worked alone with his section of 20 Other Ranks until January 1942, when in response to escalating Luftwaffe bombing a second BD officer and section were added to the establishment.  George continued through the height of the blitz on Malta, until peritonitis from a duodenal ulcer interrupted his service in April 1942.  After a period of convalescence, he returned to bomb disposal in London, where he continued to serve until ill health forced his early retirement from the Army in January 1944.

On the advice of his doctors to take up an occupation he loved, George became an actor and achieved success in repertory and on the London stage.  He worked alongside Glynis Johns and was chosen by Noel Coward to act with Mary Martin in Pacific 1860.  However, by then George had met Betty, whom he wanted to marry.  Her father's approval was necessary and he stipulated a more secure profession.

 George began teaching at Farnham Grammar School in 1947 and left in 1954. On his departure, the following tribute was printed in The Farnhamian in December 1954:

 

 

He put down roots in the town by designing and building his own bungalow in Sheephouse, where he and Betty had three children.

 In 1957 the opportunity for advancement came with a position at a pioneering Secondary Modern School in Gillingham, Kent.  George became Head of Science at Upbury Manor, where he remained until his retirement in 1981.  He was highly respected by colleagues and his firm but consistent discipline combined with compassion and commitment to his pupils' development earned him their respect and obvious goodwill.  In 1977 George was concerned about the welfare of a school-leaver in his tutor group: after discussion with the family, he fostered the lad and Martin became an equal member of his family. 

Active in retirement, George lived by his teaching that boredom was not necessary - there is always something to do.  He volunteered at a local primary school to help children with reading, provided transport for people with disabilities, took up and excelled at golf, designed and installed wooden double-glazing throughout his house.  He was still tending the 200 foot garden until he was 90, when difficulties with balance and failing sight took hold. Despite increasing frailty he attended the weddings of all three grandchildren before his health failed and he passed peacefully away. 

George enjoyed his membership of the Old Farnhamians’ Association; although he was rarely able to attend meetings, he was always pleased to read the newsletters.  He retained lasting happy memories of his time at Farnham Grammar School, the experience of which convinced him that teaching was his vocation - to the benefit of thousands of pupils over many years.

Submitted by George’s daughter Susan Hudson
30 May 2012

Daily Telegraph Obituary 6 June 2012  - click here

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John Robert Edmunds OBE

John Robert Edmunds was born in Aldershot in 1939, just before the start of the Second World War. He enjoyed the close proximity to the Army at Aldershot and access to the Army Ranges for catapult practice. Think of ‘Just William’ and you have John as a boy, aided and abetted by his school friend Roger Ward.

He entered Farnham Grammar School in 1951 and joined Massingberd House. His sporting record shows that he ran regularly in the School Cross Country with mixed fortunes, but always in the first 20 runners home. He seemed to take no part in football, cricket, boxing or swimming, but in 1954 found his niche as a rifle shot. He was in his House team from December 1954 until he left the school in 1958 and for the final two years was School Rifle Shooting Captain. He was an active member of the Combined Cadet Force and became an NCO in 1957.

In 1956 he achieved passes in 7 subjects for the GCE (Ordinary Level), added Biology in 1957 and Physics and Chemistry in 1958. In total he passed 10 subjects at ‘O’ Level and Geography at ‘A’ Level. An excellent academic record!

During his teenage years he had several girl friends who allegedly he told his name was ‘Jim’, so that his sisters would not find out! He was a keen member of the local Young Farmers, where he acquired his first taste for agriculture.

On leaving Farnham Grammar School John started an HND in Agriculture at Harper Adams College and this involved his working on farms in Oxfordshire and Essex. He joined the National Advisory Service soon to become ADAS (part of the Ministry of Agriculture) in the sixties and remained in the service of the Government for the rest of his working life. He started his career in Leeds and thence to Beverley and back to Leeds before coming to Reading in 1983 to work at the Intervention Board. During his long career he made many friends who stayed close to him for the remainder of his life.

He married Margaret in 1966 and would have celebrated his Sapphire wedding anniversary in 2011. He has three sons Roger, Robert and Peter three daughters-in-law Sarah, Teresa and Rachel, and two grandchildren James and Amy who all loved him very much.

John was very dedicated to his work and was awarded the OBE in 1999 in recognition of his achievements. However, away from work he was quite a different person and definitely had a fun side. His favourite occupation was to sit on a sunny terrace with his friend Martin sipping wine or drinking beer and watching the world go by. This often took place in France and was accompanied by laughs and jokes.

John always had agriculture in his blood and during his retirement loved to get stuck in on Roger and Sarah’s small-holding at Gatehampton - nobody else “knew how to do it”  according to John. John was always willing to help anyone who needed it; in fact he asked that his epitaph be “he only tried to help”. John was always active right to the end; he enjoyed long bike rides in the Oxfordshire countryside accompanied by Margaret. He loved Inspector Morse books and had almost read all of them. The Bear Pub was his favourite in Oxford, but the place he loved the best was the Black Horse at Checkendon where he enjoyed visiting his special friends Martin and Margaret, the Landlord and Landlady, and their family.

John was suddenly taken from his family whilst in Brighton visiting family and he will be sadly missed. He was a very special and wise person who gave a lot of good advice to many people. It is difficult for his family to sum up an interesting and full life in just a few words but family and friends will have their own memories of him to keep. To sum it all up he was “the Best of British!”

Tribute submitted by Cyril Trust
Thursday, 14 April, 2011

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Peter Eric Larby

Peter was born in 1927. With his twin sister, Freda, he spent his early years in the family cottage, near the Frensham Ponds Hotel. Later the family moved to Churt and he attended the village school. He successfully passed the  entrance examination to the Farnham Grammar School.

At FGS, besides his academic studies, Peter was a fine all round sportsman. On the games field he excelled in soccer, cricket and athletics. In fact he held the 110 yards hurdle record for many years and ran for the Surrey Grammar Schools.

Following his time in the 6th form, he gained a place at St Mark and St John's College in Chelsea. However before he could take up his place he was called up for National Service and had to put his further studies on hold. He spent 3 years in the RAF, two and a half of them in Ceylon, (now Sri Lanka), where amongst other things, he of course, continued his sporting interests. He was selected to represent the RAF in the Far East area.

It was here that he met up with Michael Jacobs, who later was Best Man at Peter and Pearls' wedding, which was held here at St Thomas on the Bourne. Michael remembers Peter as a chap who knew exactly what he wanted, he knew he was going to teach and that Pearl was the person he was going to marry.

After the forces, he took up his place at "Marjons" college, gaining his B.Sc degree and teaching qualifications. He then returned to Surrey and did indeed marry Pearl in 1950.

Peter's first appointment was to Dorking Grammar School in 1951, where he taught Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and, of course Games. This meant moving to live at nearby Brockham. It was here that Robin and Susan were born. However, a few years later, he wanted to move back to Farnham because of his mother's illness.

It was then, at a chance meeting with his 'old' English master, that  Harold Beeken suggested that Peter might consider applying for a vacant mathematics position at FGS. Peter did, and he was appointed by George Baxter, to teach Mathematics and help with games. It is interesting to note that Donald Nicholson, also an old boy, was already on the staff of FGS. So in 1956, Peter and family returned to Farnham and moved to St Johns Road, where they lived for the next 37 years.

On a personal note, I will always remember Peter and Pearls' kindness and welcome to Farnham when I joined the staff of the Grammar School in 1964. This was indeed a great help and support for a young master settling in.

In the classroom Peter was a very effective and successful teacher, whether teaching Pythagoras to form two - or Calculus in the 6th form. Outside the classroom, on the games field, he soon became master in charge of the 1st XI soccer team that had much success over the years. He also played cricket for Farnham in the Park for many seasons. At school many enjoyable Thursday evenings were spent playing cricket for the Masters' XI. The opening batting partnership of Larby and Foster was formidable indeed.

When he stopped playing cricket, it was onto golf, bowls and then sketching and painting. However when he wasn't standing in front of a blackboard or on the games field he was never happier than in his garden – potting up, planting, weeding and mowing the lawn. Much time was spent in his beloved greenhouse.

Peter preferred and enjoyed teaching the whole age range from the first to the sixth form. So in 1973, not long after FGS became a 6th Form College, he moved to Eggars Grammar School as head of mathematics. He retired in 1990. Retirement saw him spending even more time in his garden — Peter and Pearl now having moved to Vicarage Hill. When he was not gardening he would often wander off on a walk — sometimes, I understand more than 20 miles. In winter, on a Saturday, he was often to be found with Susan watching the Saints play football at the Dell in Southampton.

Peter was a man of many talents and interests. He led a very full and rewarding life. Kind and generous, he was a quiet gentleman. He will be remembered with genuine affection by us all.

(This is the tribute that was delivered at the
 funeral on 2nd October 2008 by Peter’s friend
 and fellow staff member Hugh Batchelor)

Posted 24 October, 2008

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Charles W Rees CBE, FRS

 

One of our most eminent old boys died on 21 September 2006.

Charles W Rees (1939 – 1944) was born in Egypt in 1927 and educated at FGS. After three years as a laboratory technician at the RAE in Farnborough, he went to University College of Southampton (later the University of Southampton) where he graduated in 1950. He took his PhD there with Professor N B Chapman and then spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow with Professor A Albert at the Australian National University – then in the Euston Road, London. He was then appointed Assistant Lecturer at Birkbeck College, London in 1955 (moving in at the bottom as Professor Derek Barton moved out at the top to take up the Regius Chair in Glasgow). After two years at Birkbeck, Charles moved to King’s College London where he spent eight years as Lecturer and Reader. He collaborated for several years with Professor D H Hey on various aspects of heterocyclic chemistry. He was appointed to his first Chair at the University of Leicester in 1965, and four years later moved to Liverpool as Professor of Organic Chemistry, and in 1977 he succeeded George Kenner there as Heath Harrison Professor of Organic Chemistry. In 1978 he was appointed Hofmann Professor of Organic Chemistry at Imperial College London (thus following Sir Derek Barton for a second time) and remained there until his retirement in 1993. He still works at Imperial College as Emeritus Professor.

Charles was the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Tilden Lecturer in 1974 and Pedler Lecturer in 1984 and received the (first) RSC Award in Heterocyclic Chemistry in 1980 and the International Award in Heterocyclic Chemistry in 1995. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974. He was awarded an Honorary DSc by the University of  Leicester in 1994, a CBE in the New Years Honours List in 1995, the Fellowship of King’s College London in 1999, and an Honorary DSc by the University of Sunderland in 2000.

Charles served the chemical community in many ways: he was the President of the Royal Society of Chemistry from July 1992 for two years. He served on its Council and many Boards and Committees at various times; he was Chairman of the Publication and Information Board for four years. He was President of the Perkin (Organic) Division of the RSC, and President of the Chemistry Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. In addition, he co-edited three major reference works: Comprehensive Heterocyclic Chemistry I & II, and Comprehensive Organic Functional Group Transformations.

(adapted with permission from a tribute to Prof Rees published in Arkivoc.)

 

Tributes

 

Royal Society of Chemistry

Imperial College London

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Gordon Webberley

Gordon Webberley died on the 27th May 2006 after a year-long illness. He started at FGS in September 1941, as a member of Morley House of which he eventually became House Captain. Gordon took his General School Certificate in 1946 (with distinctions in English and Mathematics) and his Higher School Certificate in 1948 (Physics, Chemistry, Applied & Pure Mathematics) which was the same year he became School Captain. During his time at school he participated in swimming, athletics, boxing and rifle shooting and was the first holder of the Waverley Cup for .303 rifle shooting. A member of the school choir and orchestra, he also became Vice-Chairman of the Debating Society and the Vice-Editor of the school magazine. He won various reading prizes and the George Sturt Prize.

He was a keen member of the Combined Cadet Force and became a Lance Corporal, then Sergeant and finally CSM. He fully entered into practically all aspects of life at Farnham Grammar School.

He was an active member of the 3rd Farnham Scouts, going on camps most years, including the Jamboree in Sweden in 1947. With other FGS boys he took part in many Gang Shows.

Gordon joined the Royal Artillery for his National Service where he was selected for Mons OCTU and passed out as a Second Lieutenant. He saw service in Germany as well as the UK. With a family background of military service it was hardly surprising that he had an interest in military history, particularly WW1 & WW2.

On completion of 2 years National Service he took and passed the H.M. Customs and Excise Officer Grade exam in May 1951. His work took him to various parts of the UK, including Birmingham, London, Southampton and Glasgow, attaining the position of Principal. His final position was Controller of Office Services at New Kings Beam and Dorset Houses retiring in 1990.

Throughout his working life, Gordon was an enthusiastic and talented potter having started at Farnham School of Art in 1961. He exhibited regularly at Farnham Art Society and was a committee member until 1984, in the last 7 years serving as Vice-Chairman. At this time his work took him Scotland. On returning to England in 1987 he settled in Bromley but still managed to get to Farnham most Friday evenings for pottery at WSCAD and more recently at West Street Potters in Wrecclesham, while he still continued to exhibit with FAS. In addition to ceramics, he also exhibited paintings and etchings until 2005. Other interests included a great love of Bonsai trees, which he had been growing for over 35 years, an enjoyment of good food and wine, plus Egyptology, taking a Diploma in Egyptology at London University.

Brian Webberley
25 July, 2006

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Squadron Leader Alan Fordham

Alan Fordham died on 12th October, 2005 aged 80 years. He came to FGS in 1962, initially to teach French and command the CCF with the rank of Major. Later, he was appointed Dean of the Sixth Form. When FGS gave way to Farnham College in 1973, Alan stayed until he retired in 1984. Here is a report of his career compiled by Cyril Trust:

Alan was born on 24th March 1925. He joined the RAF from the Oxford University Air Squadron in 1943. He trained in Canada, flew in Australia and the Pacific, and was a member of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. After the war he returned to Christ Church, Oxford to complete his MA Degree in Medieval and Modern Languages, and he was granted a permanent commission in the RAF in 1951. Following a variety of flying, command, and staff appointments, he retired from the RAF with the rank of Squadron Leader and joined the Farnham Grammar School.

Here he taught Modern Languages, commanded the Combined Cadet Force, and in 1968 became Dean of the Sixth Form. He became the first of the senior tutors appointed to this position when Farnham College was established in 1973. Despite increasing administrative duties, he continued to teach Spanish, English, Mathematics, Astronomy, and Meteorology. He was also a member of the Associating Examining Standing Advisory Committee on Navigation subjects.

Posted, 02 November, 2005

 

There are also reminiscences of Alan Fordham published on the Members’ News page of the
 Web-Members' Section.

GEORGE BAXTER MBE

Click here
to go to the special page celebrating the life of George Baxter.

SQUADRON LEADER SIDNEY WILTSHIRE, GC

Sidney Wiltshire (1921 to 1926) was one of the school’s most distinguished old boys, though there can be few of his contemporaries still alive to recall him. The Daily Telegraph has given permission for our website to reproduce the following obituary that was printed on 30th September, 2003:

Squadron Leader Sidney Wiltshire, who died yesterday aged 93, won the Empire Gallantry Medal, later exchanged for the George Cross, for rescuing his flying instructor from a burning plane.

On October 21 1929 Pilot Officer Wiltshire was flying an aircraft under instruction with the No 2 Flying Training School in Lincolnshire. The plane crashed on landing at Temple Bruer landing ground, near Sleaford, and immediately caught fire.

After extricating himself from the machine, Wiltshire found that his instructor, Flying Officer H E Power, was trapped by his foot in the wreckage.

Although under no illusions about the risk he ran, Wiltshire went back into the flames to drag his companion clear, but was badly burnt on his face and neck.

Both officers were flown to Cranwell Hospital; the aeroplane was completely burnt out.

The citation declared: “Power would undoubtedly have lost his life but for the prompt and courageous action taken by his pupil.” Wiltshire was invested with the Empire Gallantry Medal by King George V at Buckingham Palace on March 4 1930.

Fourteen years later, he was re-invested with the George Cross by the Governor-General of New Zealand, Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Cyril Newall, at Government House, Wellington.

One of eight children born to the founder of a company which supplied bicycles, and later repaired motors, at Farnham, Surrey, Sidney Noel Wiltshire was born on December 12 1909. He was educated at Farnham Grammar School, where he boxed and played cricket.

Then, at the age of 20, he followed the example of his two elder brothers and joined the Royal Air Force on a short service commission. Four months later Pilot Officer Wiltshire won the Empire Gallantry Medal. In December 1930 Wiltshire was promoted Flying Officer and served with No 4, Army Co-Operation Squadron at Farnborough. On completion of his service, he transferred to the RAF Reserve of Officers.

It was difficult to obtain employment in England as a commercial pilot, so Wiltshire followed his brother Bill to the South Pacific to work for a short period for a gold-prospecting company on the construction of a jungle airfield in Papua. When this project was abandoned, he joined North Queensland Airways as a pilot before moving to Guinea Airways, which used New Guinea landing strips cleared by the natives.

In September 1938, Wiltshire went to New Zealand where he joined Union Airways (later New Zealand National Airways Corporation and now Air New Zealand). He was working for Cook Strait Airways, based at Nelson, when war was declared, and like other pilots in the reserves, found himself posted to the regular list.

He was appointed to a temporary commission in the Royal New Zealand Air Force with the rank of Flight Lieutenant, and posted to the Air Observers’ School at Ohakeal; his brother Bill joined the RAAF while brother Norman, who remained at home, was in the RAF.

In January 1941, Wiltshire was posted to No 2 Squadron, based at Nelson. He then moved to Wigram as Officer Commanding Signals Flight and the following year he was promoted to Squadron Leader.

He attended a course of the Royal Australian School of Army Co-operation in Canberra, returning to take up an appointment as Commanding Officer of the Royal New Zealand Air Force station at Milson, near Palmerston North. In May 1943, Wiltshire attended a 16-week course at the Army Staff College, Palmerston North, before being appointed Commanding Officer of Seagrove Station on the Manukau Harbour, where No 25 Squadron was being formed.

In September, he moved to Delta Station, near Blenheim, as Officer Commanding Elementary Ground Training School. In January 1944, he was posted to Wellington, where he was stationed at Rongotai.

Wiltshire was now aged 34, and had logged some 5,300 flying hours. Realising that there was little prospect of employment matching his experience, he approached the RAF, and was offered duties with Transport Command, provided that he reverted to his reserve rank of Flying Officer and left New Zealand.

He served with the RAF until December 1945, when he returned to New Zealand and rejoined Union Airways. In 1952, on finishing flying duties, he became the passenger services manager for National Airways Corporation for about 18 months. Wiltshire first worked in the antiques business, then was employed by Hutchinson Motors in Christchurch for some years before retiring in December 1978 to Waikanae, outside Wellington, where he built a house called Touchdown.

In 1960 and 1972, he attended the reunions of the Victoria and George Cross association, on the first occasion as the sole living holder of the GC in New Zealand.

A tall, good-looking man with a quiet sense of humour, he spent the last years of his life in Hunterville, on the North Island, where he enjoyed playing golf and was looked after by his wife’s niece.

Wiltshire married, in 1940, Mrs Gretchen Guy (nee von Dadelszen), who predeceased him.

Posted 12 October, 2003

DR J. DUDLEY BACKHURST

8 February, 2003

Dudley Backhurst (1943 – 1951), who died 27th January 2003, was born on 2nd December, 1932, in West Street in Farnham.  He moved from there to Keep Cottage at Farnham Castle, then in 1937 to 10, Guildford Road.  In 1939, he started at East Street School, then in 1943 gained a scholarship to Farnham Grammar School.    He was successful academically, on the sports field and in the swimming pool. In his final year, he was School Captain. He gained a Surrey Major Scholarship and took a BSc in Special Chemistry at University College, London.  He gained a PhD in Physical Organic Chemistry then spent two years at Kings College, Newcastle, doing radiation chemistry as a research associate from Harwell.  In 1959 he went to Southampton to work in the new laboratories of BAT where he stayed till 1983, when he became a secretary to the Tobacco Advisory Council.  He remained there till he retired in 1989. While at BAT he was active with the sports and social club and became vice-chairman.  He was founder member of the badminton and squash sections. He also played tennis up until October last year. 

In 1958 he married Sylvia.  This was a very happy marriage of 44 years, and they never threw anything at one another!  They had two children, - Merilyn and Graham, who now live in Sydney and Nursling respectively.  The arrival of John and Merilyn from Sydney recently with baby grand-daughter Laura, brought great happiness to Dudley.

Since retirement, Dudley has spent many happy hours with the Hampshire Woodcarvers.  He was president of the Old Farnhamians’ Association for three years and organised the Southampton lunch for more than 30 years. He was trustee of the Farnhamian 400 Trust for nearly ten years.  For nearly ten years he was chairman of the BAT Retirement Fellowship which organised the social side of events for BAT retired employees in Southampton. 

Dudley was committed, thorough and meticulous in his approach.  He was a man of integrity and a source of great dependence to his friends and family.  His cheerful character and admirable demeanour made his company a delight.  His opinion was always valued for its logic and impartiality and would always be formed without a selfish thought.  Dudley commanded respect for his knowledge, generosity, dedication and precision, characteristics to which he attached far more importance than materialism or pretence. 

Towards the end of his life, Dudley was comfortable and content - he died with Sylvia at his side - Sylvia, who cared for him with such devotion during his illness. Dudley will be sadly missed by friends and family - he was a much-loved father, husband and grandfather. 

Tribute delivered by Rev Sally Kerson at Dudley’s funeral on 6th February, 2003 in Southampton.

DR ROGER DOWNHAM BSc PhD MICE

20 December, 2001

Roger Downham (1955 - 1962) died earlier this year from complications that developed following a road accident.

Roger was born and raised in Farnham and lived his childhood in Roman Way. He had his primary education at East Street School and went to FGS in 1955. Roger was a relaxed, jovial and extremely bright pupil with a keen sense of humour and good all-round ability. He played in goal for the school football team, kept wicket in the cricket and won the swimming cup three times.

His career was marked by professional success. He left school to study Civil Engineering at Leeds University and gained his BSc in 1966. At the end of the course, his professor, who was to move to Aston University, invited Roger to continue his studies at Aston. It was here that he obtained his PhD.

After his studies, Roger joined IDC Construction, rising to be Managing Director and a director of the main board. He had responsibility for many major projects, including the construction in 1980 of the prestigious Cambridge University Press ‘Edinburgh Building’. He met the Duke of Edinburgh during the opening of these premises.

After a spell of three years working for IDC in Belgium and two years with Sainsburys as Construction Manager, Roger worked for the Midland Bank in a similar role. During this period he was the Treasurer of the British Council of Offices and an external examiner for Coventry and Oxford Brookes Universities. He retired in 1998, continuing to live at his home in Stratford-upon-Avon, and fulfilled a life-long ambition of buying a large motorcycle. Tragically, this was the indirect cause of his premature death on 8th September.

Roger leaves his partner, Sue Main, and 14 year-old son Alexander.

GEOFF CRAWTE

7th September, 2001

Geoff Crawte died on 6th February 2001 after a short illness, aged 56. Geoff was born in Farnham and lived his childhood at the family home in Alfred Road, very close to the school. He went to West Street Boys' School for his primary education and then to FGS from 1955 to 1961. Geoff was in the school choir, sang in the choir of St Thomas on the Bourne and was an excellent swimmer, winning the Senior Swimming Cup.

From school, he joined the National Westminster Bank and two years later moved to the Electricity Board, where he worked for the rest of his career, rising to be a Quality Analyst in Portsmouth.

When Geoff was taken ill in 1994, he was told that his condition was serious and required an operation. He underwent major surgery and a long period of recuperation. Following this experience, Geoff retired to Honiton in Devon and resolved he would try to help others facing similar challenges, particularly young people. He devoted much of his time during the following 6 years to this task and was a great source of strength and reassurance to many people facing major surgery.

Geoff's work has recently been recognised by the East Devon Special Needs Action Group, where Geoff worked with many youngsters. The Geoff Crawte Friendship Award has been established to recognise the contribution of those who carry out similar work helping others.

Geoff married Carol in 1965 and they had two sons and a daughter.

JACK GWILLIM

29th August, 2001

 JACK GWILLIM, who has died aged 91, was a character actor who appeared in the West End and on Broadway in a career which spanned half a century on stage and screen. Tall and slim, and with a powerful voice, Gwillim excelled at portraying figures of authority. On screen, he played various types of potentate - majestic, military, civic and clerical - with roles ranging from Poseidon in Clash of the Titans (1981) to George VI in Sink the Bismarck! (1960). He was also a respected exponent of the classics on stage, especially during the last decade of the Old Vic Company. The son of a regimental sergeant-major, Jack Gwillim was born at Canterbury on December 15 1909. Educated at Farnham Grammar School, he joined the Royal Navy at 17 and was posted to the training ship Iron Duke. As an all-round track and field athlete, Gwillim played rugby for the Navy and, while stationed in the Mediterranean, became undefeated heavyweight boxing champion of both the Army and Navy.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Gwillim was a serving officer in Hong Kong and China. In 1946 he was invalided out of the Navy as a commander, having been the youngest of that rank at the time of his promotion.

After testing for a wireless announcer's job, a BBC producer who recalled his amateur acting in the Navy suggested he became a professional actor. Gwillim took his advice and spent two years at the Central School of Speech and Drama. This was followed by three seasons, from 1950, with Anthony Quayle's Stratford Memorial Theatre Company.

Apart from various minor roles, Gwillim played Macduff to Ralph Richardson's Macbeth as directed by Gielgud. He then toured with the company to Australia, before returning to the West End in Peter Brook's production of Fry's The Dark Is Light Enough (Aldwych, 1954).

In 1955 Gwillim joined the Old Vic Company when it was led by Paul Rogers, John Neville and Richard Burton. His roles included Casca in Julius Caesar, Banquo in Macbeth, Kent in King Lear, the Duke of Exeter in Henry V, Brabantio in Othello, Hector in Troilus and Cressida, Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet, Claudius in Hamlet, and the Duke of Buckingham in Henry VIII - which completed Michael Benthall's five-year plan to stage all Shakespeare's plays.

The critic Kenneth Tynan praised Gwillim's portrayal of Claudius as "an iron-headed general at the awkward age - slightly ashamed of having fallen in love - an original conception, of which Coral Browne's maternally voluptuous queen makes splendid sense". Tynan described both John Neville, who played Hamlet, and Gwillim as being like Donne's "grim eight-foot-high iron-bound serving man" and "robber barons of childhood nightmares come dragonishly to life."

Back in the West End, Gwillim appeared in The Right Honourable Gentleman (Her Majesty's, 1964); Shaw's You Never Can Tell, with Ralph Richardson as William the Waiter (Haymarket, 1966); Maugham's The Sacred Flame (Duke of York's); and as Antonio in The Merchant of Venice (Haymarket, both 1967) with Richardson in the role of Shylock.

Among Gwillim's American stage appearances were in A Man For All Seasons (1965-66); Maugham's The Constant Wife (1975); as Col. Pickering in Rex Harrison's revival of My Fair Lady (1981); O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh and in Rattigan's Cause Celebre. His last Broadway performance was in 1988, as Duncan opposite Christopher Plummer and Glenda Jackson in Macbeth.

Among Gwillim's screen credits were as Brigadier Ames in North West Frontier (1959); King Aeetes in Jason and the Argonauts (1963); Air Commodore Watling in the television series A for Andromeda (1961); and General Sir Harold Alexander in Patton (1969). Gwillim's final stage appearance was in On Borrowed Time in which two of his children, his son-in-law, two grandchildren and their dog appeared.

Of more than 50 film and television credits, among Gwillim's most recent were Discoverers (1993); Reason for Living: The Jill Ireland Story (1991); The Monster Squad (1987); and Anthony and Cleopatra (1983). He made guest appearances in Remington Steele (1982), Gabriel's Fire (1990), and Conan (1998). Gwillim gave his final performance, aged 90, as Jonah in Blue Shark Hash (2000).

Jack Gwillim married firstly, in 1943, Peggy Bollard. She died in 1958. They had a son and a daughter. He married secondly, in 1969, Olivia Selby, who survives him. They had a son.

Reprinted, with permission, from the Daily Telegraph, 29th August, 2001

PAUL FRENCH

Saturday, 23 June, 2001

 One of the unsung influential figures in the recent history of Farnham died peacefully on June 5.

Paul Wilfred French (70) was the first principal of Farnham College.   He was appointed to Farnham Grammar School, as its last headmaster in April 1971, with the task of merging it with Farnham Girls Grammar School and creating an Open Access Sixth Form College.   The first one in Surrey. The mood in Farnham for the new venture was tinged with scepticism rather than enthusiasm.

Paul French arrived with an impressive track record.   A Cambridge mathematician with a later acquired Masters degree in Computing Studies, he had taught previously at Maidstone Grammar School, Dulwich College and the Cavendish School, Hemel Hempstead.   As a Surrey man he was almost coming home.

He was brought up in Haslemere and attended Godalming Grammar School where he met his future wife, Dorothy.  His intense dedication to the task facing him ensured that the Grammar School pupils did not lose out as they worked their way through the college, and equally that the girls and staff of Farnham Girls Grammar School were placated for the move from a modern building to a much older one and its attendant huts.

Superimposed on the endeavours was the creation of an open access Sixth Form College - a totally  new concept in much of the country and certainly in Surrey.

With a great deal of hard work and determination Paul French oversaw successfully the creation of the new institution.   Farnham College became the Mecca for visitors from other developing Sixth Form Colleges both in Surrey and elsewhere.   The blueprint was widely copied.

His computing skills ensured that the college enjoyed a computerised administrative system that was in the forefront of what was possible in the 1970s.

Above all Paul French was a man of educational vision.   He saw clearly the excitement of the challenge of the new Sixth Form.

He understood the importance of inner motivation of the student.   Whilst in no way under-estimating the importance of examination success and paper qualifications he realised that education was much more than these.

He was concerned about unexaminable factors - maturity of judgement, sense of humour, self control, a sense of values, purpose and integrity.  With these in mind he felt the tutor-student relationship to be of great significance.

His door was always open to staff and students.  He was at his most relaxed in philosophical discussion, which he enjoyed greatly.

He was determined not to be solely an administrator and taught mathematics and general studies throughout his time at the college.   He always encouraged people to think about what they were doing.

In the 1980 he set up termly meetings with staff and governors to discuss various aspects of the college's life and philosophy. 

By the late 1980s it was clear that under the local management of schools, the compulsory devolution of most financial management away from LEA to staff and governing bodies did not appeal to Paul French and he chose to retire - a little early - at Easter 1990.

He left behind a flourishing college which had laid to rest the fears of the early 1970s about the benefits of re-organisation.

His successors were able to build on the firm foundations which they had inherited.

In his retirement Paul French, essentially a private man, continued to make music, play tennis and to teach mathematics - his real love.   In recent years he was dogged by ill health.

He leaves his wife Dorothy, his four children, Sally, Rachel, Helen and James, and 12 grandchildren.

A thanksgiving service will be held on Sunday 24 June at 3pm in St Andrew's Parish Church.

(taken from the Farnham Herald, Friday, 22 June, 2001)

Personal Tribute to Paul French by Ian Sargeant

I didn't really know Paul during his professional life, but I came to know him quite well when we returned to live in Farnham in 1992. He was our church organist at Farnham Methodist Church, a position I had held in the 1960s before leaving to work abroad. We became good friends and started playing tennis every Wednesday. He played with great application and the victories were evenly shared between us over the years we played. It was our joke that we were the most exclusive tennis club in the world - The Old Farnhamian Methodist Organists' Tennis Club.

Paul was a slightly reserved and very thoughtful man, with great compassion. It was self-evident that he was very clever, but I know from our conversations that he also had a great capacity to explain complex ideas with simple clarity - the stamp of a born teacher. He had a good sense of humour and was generous by nature.

Paul will be greatly missed by members of the OFA, people in Farnham Methodist Church and also very much by the sole surviving member of our tennis club.

Ian Sargeant

NORMAN PATRICK

27 April, 2001

 Norman Patrick, who died on 20 April 2001 in Frimley Park Hospital, was an old boy of the school who distinguished himself in sport. He  was born in 1914 in East Street, Farnham and attended FGS for 10 years, leaving in 1931. He was an outstanding sportsman at school, playing in the first XI for both cricket and football, being the front-runner for the school cross-country team and a keen boxer. After leaving school, he turned to tennis, winning the Farnham championship seven times. He married his mixed doubles partner, Joan Horne, in 1937.

Norman was called up at the beginning of the second world war and joined the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers as a second lieutenant. He continued his sporting activities and, on one occasion, faced Jack Petersen, British and Empire Heavyweight Champion in the boxing ring. He played tennis at Wimbledon, once playing on the Centre Court. During this time, he became a great friend of the Arsenal captain Joe Mercer, which started his long association and passion for the Highbury club.

After the war, Norman returned to Farnham to resume work in the family business. Always a keen horse rider, he became a member of the local pony club and took over as the Area Controller after some years. Many people will also remember him as the percussionist in the Farnham Amateur Operatic Society's orchestra during many years.

Norman leaves his widow Joan, two sons and a daughter plus nine grandchildren.

Based on an article in the Farnham Herald

LESLIE  LORD

January, 2001

Leslie Lord, who left the School in 1925, passed away in January 2001 at the age of 92, having lived in Farnham for all of his life. Leslie was born in 1903 and claimed the distinction of being the only person born in the council offices in South Street. His father was appointed the first care-taker of the newly-built Farnham Urban District Council offices, into which the council moved from its rented boardroom in the Corn Exchange in 1902, and the family occupied the flat over the adjoining fire station.

 

He first went to school at St.Polycarp's in Bear Lane and then moved on to the Grammar School at the age of eleven. He enjoyed a variety of sports at the School and played for the First XI at Football and was the captain of the Second XI Cricket team. He also boxed very successfully for Childe House. He took an active part in the cadet Force and by the time he left the School he was a sergeant.

 

He first worked for Swain & Jones for a short time and then moved to Mardon & Ball and then to Tarrants, who were both local building companies. During the second World War he was sent to East Africa to form batteries of African troops, then he took a commission and moved to India. The end of the war prevented him moving on to Burma. Les returned to Tarrants, now taken over by Parkinson's, and worked there until he was 65 years of age.

 

Les never married, but took part in many local activities. He played cricket for the Nelson Arms and in younger days played snooker at the Farnham Institute. He was a long-time member of the Conservative Club and was twice elected captain of Farnham Brightwells Bowling Club.

 

In his obituary in the 'Farnham Herald' it stated that Leslie Lord had a great sense of fun, and will be remembered for his kindness, courtesy and good humour and his talent for friendship.

REDVERS GODSLAND

For many years DUDLEY BACKHURST  regularly visited the Isle of Wight to see our oldest living Old Boy, REDVERS GODSLAND (1908-16) and it is appropriate  that he should write his obituary now that Redvers has passed away in the latter part of the year 2000.

Redvers Godsland was born in Middlesex in October 1901, but lived with an aunt in Aldershot. He started at Farnham Grammar school in 1908 and as his birthday was in October he was probably not quite seven years old. As one of the youngest boys in the school he was one of 'Miss Williams Little Darlings'. The school in Morley Road had not long been opened and he travelled by train each day from Aldershot. He had a cousin at the school who also attended when it was still situated in West Street.

Later on in his school life he became a boarder and even stayed at the school by himself during the half-term holidays. He was be-friended by Dr. Brown and his family and at Southampton Dinners Redvers and RAYMOND BROWN (1909-18)  would recall those days together. His father, a regular soldier, was killed during the First World War and the news to him by the Rev. Samuel Priestley, By the age of about thirteen both parents had died and the school took on the role of surrogate parent. It is probably because of this that he developed such a love for the school. One of his happiest memories was the time he joined the school Cadet Force. He left school in 1916 when he was fourteen years old to work on the Bramshill estate. Later he joined the army and during the Second World War spent much of his time in India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

He married in 1932 and he and his wife ran a newsagents at East Cowes until they retired in 1967. The residents of Osborne House were valued customers. It was whilst he was living in East Cowes that I first met him , at the inaugural Southampton Dinner in 1962 and he continued to attend until 1973. We then lost contact until 1992 when I visited him and his wife at their home in Northwood just outside West Cowes. They were enjoying a long and happy retirement and had taken up bowls. Redvers had always been keen on cricket and became president of the East Cowes Cricket Club.

I persuaded him to attend the Southampton Lunch in 1993 and 1994 and he enjoyed the occasions immensely. He had a great love of the school and with the passage of a great many years viewed everything with good humour. He maintained his impish ways and would sometimes telephone me to relate something new he had recalled. I visited Redvers a few days before he died when he was fast approaching his 99th birthday. We all hoped he would reach his century- but it was not to be . He had enjoyed a long and eventful life . With his death the Association has lost its last link with the early days of the school at Morley Road. It has also lost a chivalrous, gentle man. Our sympathies go to his widow , Clarissa, who still lives on the Isle of Wight, and to his son and daughter.

 

GROUP CAPTAIN CEDRIC MASTERMAN OBE DFC

17th May, 2000

The death of this Old Boy was reported in the 'Daily Telegraph' on 17th May 2000 and it told the story of an extremely brave man. He played a part in the ill-fated Norwegian Campaign of 1940 when he was sent to Norway to locate sites for makeshift airfields and whilst there came under heavy attack from the Luftwaffe. He stated that' The machine-gunning was wicked, and amid bomb blasts and the stream of bullets I prayed as I have never prayed before.' He was finally evacuated by sea and awarded the OBE. Cedric joined the RAF in 1935 flying as a Hawker Audax biplane pilot and was soon posted to the West Frontier of India where he flew on counter-insurgency operations to frustrate the troublesome Waziri tribesmen. He returned home in 1939 and then flew Lysanders, and whilst with 225 Squadron had his 'Norwegian Adventure'.

Afterwards he re-joined his squadron, then moved on to flying Hurricanes and in October 1941 took command of No.72 Squadron flying Spitfires in the celebrated Biggin Hill Wing. He lead his fighters over France with great success and in 1942 became Biggin Hill's Wing Commander before moving to Malta, where he doubled as No 2 on the fighter staff and ADC to Lord Gort VC, the island's Governor. With the situation worsening he returned to flying and in two weeks his squadron shot down 16 enemy aircraft, he increased his own total to 6 and led his men shooting up aircraft on the ground , damaging enemy shipping, attacking trains, petrol dumps and road columns. For this bravery he received his immediate DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross).

Having rested for much of 1943 as Wing Commander Training in Kenya he resumed operations in the Mediterranean with No 203 ground reconnaissance and light bomber squadron before moving to India for coastal patrols and convoy escort duties. Here he came to the attention of Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten and served on his staff in Delhi and Burma.

Cedric returned home in May 1945 and after a spell at Transport Command he went to Commonwealth Air Forces HQ at Iwakuni, Japan. Later he served on the Intelligence staff during the Malayan emergency. His final posting in 1955 was as Air Attache in Prague. In 1958 he returned to civilian life and worked in the City of London until retiring in 1974. He married his wife Cynthia in 1940 and they had one son.

Cedric Audley Masterman was born on September 25th 1914 and he boarded at the Grammar School from 1925 until 1928 and was a member of School House. Results show that he was a good athlete and in 1928 he was Class 5 Boxing Champion and a member of the successful School House Rifle Shooting Team. He went to University College School in London and in 1932 joined Godsell & Co. a firm of foreign exchange brokers in the City before joining the RAF. He is remembered by Sylvia Morgan, who referred us to this obituary of an exceptional Old Boy.

MIKE FOSTER

Mike Foster, who was an English master at Farnham Grammar School for over thirty years, died in February 2000. Coming to the school in 1949 he was one of the last teachers to join that excellent staff assembled by F.A. Morgan. He eventually succeeded the legendary Harold Beeken as Head of English for the Grammar School and remained at Morley Road when the changeover to a Sixth Form College began in 1973. Mike finally retired in 1982.

Mike (or 'Mac' as he was often known to his pupils) was born at Kirton in Lincolnshire and was educated at the village school, followed by Boston Grammar School and finally St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. Before starting his career, he entered the Royal Air Force and, after training on Magister Trainers, Tiger Moths and Oxfords, converted to Wellington and Halifax bombers. He began his operational experience in July 1943 piloting four attacks on Hamburg, and went on a 'tour' of 33 operations for which he was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross).

During his early years at the Grammar School he began the modern school library and, with limited funds, he visited Foyles in London to purchase the first books. He introduced play reading at the school and this became a regular gathering. To improve these readings he asked Dorothy Inman, Headmistress of Farnham Girls Grammar School, if she would allow some of her pupils to take part - this request was refused!

Mike successfully combined with Alan Fluck to present music and poetry evenings and also produced 'The Browning Version' at the Church House in Farnham, with most of the furniture for the set coming from the Foster household. In 1960, he combined with Alan Fluck to write and produce 'The Coolibah Tree', with the lead taken by a renowned pupil, Terry Hughes, who later produced 'The Two Ronnies' for BBC and 'The Golden Girls' for American audiences. For many years Mike edited 'The Farnhamian' magazine at the school.

During retirement Mike took a correspondence course in journalism and began to write many articles, including holiday experiences that he and his wife Ann shared as they travelled the world in their camper van. He became interested in 'benchends' and 'misericords', in fact in any wood carvings in churches and cathedrals, and had several articles published in magazines. For a time he was 'Jim Clifford' who added humorous comment to the Frank Scribe page in the local 'Surrey and Hants News', and he had humorous short verses included in 'The Sunday Times' for several years.

Over the years Mike Foster played both football and cricket locally, the latter for Farnham C.C. and several other local teams. He lived with Ann for over forty seven years close to Morley Road and they had four children, with one boy attending the Grammar School. Mike suffered a stroke in recent years but still had a daily walk and was always in good spirits.


To download a file of Obituaries printed in The Farnhamian 2002 Edition, click here

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