JRGS Alumni Society - Reginald Whellock, 1914-2015
JRGS Alumni Society

A Tribute: Reginald Whellock

   8 Sep 1914 - 4 Sept 2015

JRGS Alumni Society


Mel Lambert (1959-65) reports: Reginald Whellock - 1914-2015It is with a heavy heart that I relate news of the sad death of former biology master Reginald Baldwin Whellock, BSc, MA, CBiol, FSB (JRGS Teacher 1946-56) - pictured right - just one day before the recent Fifth Annual Ruskin Reunion, and a few days shy of his 101st birthday. This image secured at the 2012 Reunion is courtesy of Frazer Ashford (JRGS 1962-69). Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.
Mr. Whellock died in the early morning of Friday September 4 at the Hall Grange Methodist care home in Shirley Church Road, not far from the former JRGS site on Upper Shirley Road. However, his daughter Pauline Whellock was able to attend the reunion on the following day, despite suffering a cut head and a bruised hand in a recent fall.
   As reunion co-organiser Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958-65) reports: "I had arranged to pick up Pauline on her return from France and, although shaken by her accident, she spent Friday at my home [on Upper Shirley Road]. Her brother John arrived from the USA on Sunday, the day after the reunion.
   "Reg had been active on 3rd of September, completing seven laps of the garden path at the care home while using his wheelie frame. On the morning of Friday the 4th, he was walking along the path again and collapsed. This was witnessed by the gardener, who applied resuscitation but, sadly, in vain.
   "Pauline was in France and John in USA, both having previously booked to travel to the UK for Reg’s 101st birthday on 8th September. She spoke to him on phone on the 3rd and he sounded fine. While travelling in London Pauline fell, breaking a bone in her hand, injuring her temple and sustaining a black eye. Nonetheless, she bravely attended the reunion, hand in plaster, arm in sling and presented Mohammed Ramzan, Ruskin College Principal, with the Alumni Society cup and a cheque by way of initial donation to the bursary being set up by Mohammed to fund IT for a worthy student.
   "Further monies were donated during the reunion and will be forwarded in due course. Pauline was warmly received, enjoyed the reunion and spoke at length to several attendees.
   "John Whellock will be attending to funeral arrangements; I will update The Alumni with subsequent news. My wife Anne took Pauline Whellock to St. George’s Hospital for a follow-up to the Mayday Hospital visit during the early hours of Saturday 5th of September; more details will follow."
   During the 2012 Ruskin Reunion, Reginald Whellock showed attendees a signed card of congratulations from The Queen for his 70th wedding anniversary - his late wife Doreen passed in 2013 - with cuttings from a then-recent article in the Croydon Advertiser. He also recited a poem on old age, though himself seemingly immune to its effects, and told guests of the royalties he received from his text books, one of which supported his children through university despite being rejected by David Attenborough. As the oldest male ex-teacher at the 2012 Reunion, Mr. Whellock received a bottle of wine.

Early History in Croydon and South London
As Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) reported to The Mill in 2010, Reginald B. Whellock was born in September 1914 in Croydon, Surrey, the son of Harry Samuel Whellock, shipping clerk and engineer, born 2 May 1882, in Bermondsey, south London. His mother was Minnie Charlotte née Baldwin, born 12 January 1886 in East Malling, Kent, and later a housemaid in Upper Norwood, Lambeth, South London. His parents married in Bromley in 1913. His paternal grandfather was Henry Whellock; many of his direct Whellock ancestors were River Thames lightermen.
   Mr. Whellock lived at Cranbrook Road, Thornton Heath. As a child he attended Ingram Elementary School, Thornton Heath, and then Selhurst School from 1926 to 1932, before obtaining a BSc at University College, London. In 1936 he was appointed as biology teacher at King James VI Grammar School, Knaresborough, Yorkshire, and, aside from WW2 service in the Royal Navy from 1940 to 1945, taught there until 1946.
   He married Doreen T. Kitching in Knaresborough, Yorkshire, in 1942; the couple had two children: Pauline M. Whellock (now Sandeman), born 1946 in Knaresborough, Yorkshire; and John G. Whellock, born 1947 in Croydon.
   Mr. Whellock joined John Ruskin School in September 1946, as Head of Biology, living in Shirley, and later in Sanderstead. He also ran the Film Society. He is mentioned in two issues of the JRGS school magazine: March 1947 (page 2) and December 1956 (page 7).

   Brian Thorogood (JRGS 1951-56) remembered Mr. Whellock dressing in a dark grey two-piece suit with his teaching gown worn on top. "As well as being the senior Biology Teacher he was also our fifth-form master," Brian stated. "I must say that I had a good mutual relationship with him, mainly due to the fact that I came top in the mock Biology O -Level exam. Also, I had always learnt by visual appreciation, the 'symbol' being prominent in my own intelligence. Mr. Whellock had published his own course book for use in O- and A-Level examinations, and I was able to grasp the fundamentals of the subject by assessing his excellent diagrams. Many years later I was able to purchase a second-hand copy in an antiquarian bookshop in Colchester.
   "A few boys who excelled in biology were encouraged by Mr. Whellock to make applications to the Wellcome Laboratories for a career. I am grateful to Mr. Whellock as I certainly matured under his direction during fifth-year studies. Sadly, he left JRGS at the same time as myself, in July 1956."

Career after John Ruskin Grammar School
Mr. Whellock left JRGS at the end of the summer term in 1956 to join Wandsworth Comprehensive School, London, as Head of Science, and was later appointed head teacher of the McEntee Technical High School in Walthamstow, London. In September 1967, he was appointed head teacher of the Greenshaw Comprehensive School, Sutton, London, and retired in 1979. He is listed in Who's Who in Education.
   Mr. Whellock also had a career as examiner and writer of biology textbooks. A fascinating interview appears within a ZIP file accessible from the Old Croydonians' Association/OCA website. (Our thanks once again to Steve Palmer, former student at Selhurst Grammar School, and now webmaster for TheOld.Croydonians.org.uk, for permission to link to the file.)
   Mr. Whellock is pictured left at last July's  annual reunion of OCA, the official website of past pupils and staff of Selhurst Grammar Schools for Boys and Girls, in addition to Selhurst High School. Reginald Whellock attended the school from 1926 to 1932. (Image by OCA's Valerie Heathorn.)
   In May 2012 Mr. Whellock recalled the following career achievements:

• His successful textbook General Biology, based on his teaching notes, and published by Harrap in January 1955.

• Examiner : London University. Advance Level Zoology and Biology.

• Cambridge University. Chief Examiner for 15 years.

• Oxford & Cambridge. Visiting examiner for Practical Biology and Zoology.

• Dept of Education. Committee member checking marking standards of eight exam boards for AL Science Papers.

• He ran courses in Biology for Cambridge in India, Uganda, Kenya, Malaysia.

• Head of McEntee Technical High School, Walthamstow, 1963-67

• Head Master who created Sutton's first Comprehensive School, Greenshaw High School, 1967-79, in competition with six Grammar Schools.

   He was also chairman of the Croydon Branch of the Incorporated Association of Assistant Masters; during 1960 the London County Council (LCC) appointed him as Assessor to the Education Committee of the London Zoo.
   In September 2014, Tony Childs (JRGS 1947-53) reported on the occasion of Mr. Whellock's hundredth birthday, and that he was moving from Sutton into the Methodist Care home in Shirley. A large family gathering was also planned to celebrate his birthday on the Isle of Wight.
   During his time at the Tamworth Road location, Mr. Whellock shared a prefab in the back playground as the site of a laboratory with Mr. George "Percy" Pearman (JRCS 1936-69), and eventually had the opportunity to plan and design the new laboratories for the Upper Shirley Road buildings, which eventually were occupied in the Spring of 1955. "The architect designed the Biology Department and the garden and the pond all around my requirements," Mr. Whellock recalled, "whereas in Tamworth Road I was in a pre-fab."

Richard "Tom" Thomas (JRGS 1957–64) reports: The funeral of Reginald “Reg” Baldwin Whellock, well known and much admired former teacher at John Ruskin from 1946 to 1956, took place on Wednesday 16th September 2015 at 12.30pm at Sanderstead United Reformed Church, Sanderstead Hill, near Croydon. The Reverend Bryn Thomas officiated and some 250 mourners were present.
   Tributes included those paid by Marlar Lawrence, Chaplain to Hall Grange Methodist Care Home, where Reg spent his latter days, painting water colours and interacting with the other residents; Brian Self, a Selhurst School Alumnus, read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, better known to many in the form of Pete Seeger’s song of the late 1950s, "Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)"; Charlotte, Reg’s grand-daughter spoke sensitively about her grandfather; Pauline and John remembered their father’s ever-enquiring mind and love of imparting knowledge, especially about plants and nature.
   Tony Childs (JRGS 1947-53) and Ian Macdonald spoke jointly in their capacity as John Ruskin Alumni. Ian first related how, on his first unannounced visit, Reg turned up after the 2010 Ruskin Reunion closing time, at The Surprise public house, asking if he was too late. Ian described this as a "Lonnie Donegan Moment", to which he was tempted to reply “No; jump up on the cart”. (The mainly elderly mourners at Reg’s funeral understood the allusion.)
   Ian continued, stating how Reg was delighted to see that four of his old pupils were still present at that Reunion, despite his late arrival. At the next Ruskin Reunion in 2011, which he attended with his wife, Doreen, Reg spoke at length of his ties with Croydon, through attendance at Ingram Elementary School then Selhurst School from 1926-32, prior to reading for his biology degree. Reg continued by recounting that during the war, whilst in Greenland on HMS Chitral, he was transferred to HMS Hood with five others. On arrival, they were informed that there was no space aboard and his party had to disembark. Three weeks later, HMS Hood sank with near total loss of life. But for that lack of space, none would be present at this 2015 funeral service. Reg joined John Ruskin in 1946.
   Tony continued the Ruskin recollections by speaking warmly of being a pupil of Reg. Tony recalled that Reg encouraged and persuaded him to take up medical studies at Cambridge or to study biology, regarding which Reg had advised that the latter might have meant visiting swamps to collect specimens. Unsurprisingly, Tony chose the former.
   Ian concluded by praising Pauline for attending the 2015 Ruskin Reunion just a day after her Dad died and when she had fallen in London, breaking her hand. He thanked the family for them both being invited to address the congregation.
   A truly splendid buffet was provided in the adjacent church hall, as can be seen from the following images. Click on any thumbnail to view a larger version.

Reginald Whellock Funeral Service - 16 September, 2015 Reginald Whellock Funeral Service - 16 September, 2015 Reginald Whellock Funeral Service - 16 September, 2015
Exterior of the Church, taken in falling rain; it was raining for virtually all of the time from before the funeral until after the follow-up gathering for refreshments. Reverend Bryn Thomas, who lead the funeral service, flanked by Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958-65) on the left, and Tony Childs (JRGS 1947-53) on the right. Front row, from leftJohn Whellock, Pauline Sandeman, Pauline’s daughter Charlotte and Anne Macdonald. Back row, from left: Tony Childs, Richard "Tom" Thomas and Ian Macdonald.


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