JRGS News Archive Page 86
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 86 - Jan thru Feb 2018 -

JRGS Alumni Society


 Richard “Tom” Thomas (JRGS 1957-64) reveals plans for next JRGS Lunch...

Co-organizer Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958-65) and I are planning an informal John Ruskin Alumnus Lunch for the end of the coming summer. Within a week or two, we will advise you all of the date for that lunch. The reason we did not organise any event for 2017 is simple: I have been ill since late 2016, but am much better now.
Aggressive prostate cancer developed in the summer or autumn of 2016, but symptoms did not become apparent until February 2017. The nature of the illness was identified from various tests that also showed prostate cancer cells had spread to my bones, but not to any other vital organs. At that time, I had to commence long-term sick leave. A new dual treatment of six cycles of chemotherapy and on-going hormone therapy has had an excellent effect. Now I am largely recovered from the numerous side effects that arose during the chemotherapy, although fatigue is still hanging on.
Early in January, I decided I would retire without returning to work; my day of retirement was Friday, 19 January. The decision to retire was down to my recovery from some side-effects taking longer than I had expected, and to my remaining time being limited, to a degree. I am now 72. My career has extended across 50 years, excluding my studies for my first and second degrees. That is pretty good, even though I had planned to work to 75. I now have the benefit of being able to spend more time with my family … yet without having to have had a career as a corrupt politician! In addition, I can devote more time to my hobbies.
   I wish all Alumni a belated Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Richard "Tom" Thomas, Shrewsbury, Shropshire. February 2018 Email

Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) adds: As The Alumni may be aware 2020 - the planned date for our next major JRGS Reunion - marks the Centenary Anniversary of our school's founding at Scarbrook Road, together with the 85th Anniversary of the move to Tamworth Road, the 75th Anniversary of the school achieving Grammar School status, and the 65th Anniversary of its move to the Upper Shirley Road site.


 John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) reports on a BBC TV show with Roger Hall...

A recent episode of BBC One's Antiques Road Show programme featured our old classmate Roger Hall (JRGS 1959-66) and his oyster-farming project in Porlock, Somerset.  The show, with host Charlie Ross, was shown on 28 December; you can view a five-minute clip here.

On the fourth leg of its Road Trip with Charlie Ross and James Braxton, Antiques Road Show presented a Somerset special from Glastonbury to Frome by way of Exmoor, including a taste of Roger's Porlock Bay oysters.

John Byford, Camberwell, London, January 2018 Email

Roger Hall adds: The BBC Antiques Road Trip is the latest of a few TV videos that we have been fortunate enough to have had broadcast. Rural West Somerset is a socially deprived area with few employment opportunities. In Porlock Vale, we have started a community business growing and selling oysters both to provide a small amount of direct employment and to raise the tourist profile of the area. So "free" national publicity like this is perfect. You can find out more about us - and see more embarrassing TV clips - at our website.


 Bob Aldridge (JRGS 1951-56) finds himself in a vintage school photograph...

In the photo shown above of a maths lesson - with an absent Mr. Charles "Smithy" Smith? - that was provided in 2004 by Mike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55) and referenced by Roger Fuller (JRGS 1951-56), I think maybe it was me at the front of the classroom next to Les Peagam (JRGS 1951-56), in the centre of the image directly opposite Mike Marsh at the blackboard. The boy behind me is Colin Neale – a star footballer and cricketer – and very clever too. The schoolboy standing at the window was, I think, called “Ginger,” for obvious reasons.
   "If the picture was taken during spring term 1955 then it is a Fourth year group, since I left after the Fifth at end of school year 1956," Roger Fuller recalls. "I remember that I sat at a desk by window; standing in front of window in front of me is unknown [maybe Ginger - ML]; standing by window nearest to blackboard is Mick Hoskins; at back of class middle row is Richard Carter; in front and to his right is - maybe - Neil; at the rear of the class on the right is Terry Sewell (back of his head only); closest to Mike Marsh at front is Vic Bivand; between Vic and Sewell - and only just in picture - is Mick Denning. Mick Hoskins and Terry Sewell were the best sprinters of their year and Vic the best soccer player."
   Unfortunately, I do not have a very clear memory of my classmates but, after reading the comments and seeing the photos, it certainly awakens the memory and removes some of the cobwebs! The Mill is a great website!
©1955 Keystone Press Agency (Fleet Street), reference 10753-12.

Bob Aldridge, Neuvic d'Ussel, Correze, France; January 2018 Email

Mike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55) adds: You could well be right, Bob. Surprising what one turns up years later. I went on to become a schoolteacher and probably, at some stage, teaching things about circles, diameters, arcs and the like!

Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958-65) adds:Could the ginger-haired pupil be Dave Larter, a star mathematician?

Bernard Maguire (JRGS 1951-59) adds: I remember all the names mentioned, including the soccer team where I played beside Vic Bivand. Years ago I had a card from Brian "Bones" Thorogood (JRGS 1951-56), who was living in the Isles of Scotland but, unfortunately, I lost the contact details. I started at Tamworth Road and then moved with the school to Shirley; I now live a stone's throw from The Windmill.
   When we got to the Sixth Form I joined up with several chaps who joined JRGS from other schools for A-Level science. I am still in regular contact with Graham Davidson, who lies in Stratford-upon-Avon. We often saw Mr. Charles Smith in Croydon and, for a while, I befriended Mr. Roddy Whellock when he was in a residential home here until his death [in September 2015, aged 100, at Hall Grange Methodist care home,  Shirley].
   Brilliant memories. Thank you.


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) updates the story of a downed WWII air crew...

Back in 2011, Roger Adcock (JRGS 1963-68) wrote about the wartime death of Flight Lieutenant William Leonard Powell (JRCS 1933-38), aged 22. Powell headed the seven-man crew of JB701, an Avro Lancaster bomber from 49 Squadron that was shot down over northern France on July 29th, 1944, after bombing operations at Stuttgart. Germany.
   A couple of weeks ago, The Mill received an update on the story from Janet Marsden, who had issued a press release in early August 2004 about a memorial service in France to commemorate the bomber crew. As Janet reports: "The nephew of William Powell has been found: he is Adrian Powell, who now lives in Margate. We have exchanged a couple of emails and Adrian sent me some pictures of a visit he has made with his daughter and granddaughter to the memorial at St Martin-sur-Oreuse Cemetery, Yonne, France. In addition, Susan Franklin, the daughter of the navigator, Flying Officer Geoffrey Edward Franklin, got in touch with me four years ago from Perth, Australia. The result was that she and her son, also named Geoff, who now lives in Canada, made the trip over to France to see her father's grave for the first time. She was only a baby when he died and her mother never re-married."
   In addition to Powell and Franklin, the other five crew members of JB701 were Flight Engineer, Sergeant John Frederick West; Air Bomber, Flying Officer Albert Stanley Cole; Air Gunner, Sergeant George Edward Kirkpatrick; Wireless Operator, Flight Sergeant Donald Carl Stephens; and Air Gunner, Sergeant Thomas Moore.

Geoffrey Edward Franklin Clockwise from top-left: Pilot Officer Geoffrey Edward Franklin; Air Gunner Sergeant Thomas Moore; Pilot, Flight Lieutenant William Leonard Powell; and Air Gunner Sergeant George Edward Kirkpatrick
The memorial grave in France, dated 29.07.1944 Signatures of crew members

Geoffrey Edward Franklin in 1942

Geoffrey Franklin and his wife, Berta, in 1939

"I never give up hope that other relatives will be traced," Janet adds. "By the way, the new International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln will be officially opened on April 12th next year? There is a large, lottery-funded project ongoing to digitally preserve records of Bomber Command personnel. If anyone has nay documents pertaining to JRGS old boys that were in bomber command, the centre would be thrilled to have them at its website."

Janet also received the following email from Susan Franklin:

Thank you so much for sharing your original research in such an open way. You must have spent a great deal of time and effort to trace your own father's startling adventure, and it is a generous gesture to allow all that research to be freely available. Thank you also for the photographs, the links and the copy of the article. Thank you too for the help you gave in trying to trace the remnants of our family. But in fact it is a very small family (as far as I know), and Geoffrey - apart from marrying my mother in Lampeter (or just outside it) - to my knowledge never did more than visit Wales. I am very sorry that I did not hear about the ceremony in 2004, as my husband and I would certainly have attended. I am now a widow.
   The story goes like this. My grandfather, also Geoffrey Edward Franklin, was a Church of Wales clergyman, and he and my grandmother lived in Derry Ormond Rectory, three miles outside Lampeter. Grandpa had three small rural livings. My mother, Berta, completed her training to be a physiotherapist at Kings College London, and then went to work at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. She met my father; the photo here show them together in 1939. They were married from the Rectory by my grandfather in March 1941, and a photo shows that Geoffrey's father was also in attendance, but not his mother. They returned to Birmingham to set up house.
   Geoffrey appears to have been sent to Navigator School in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. After his death my mother - Berta - continued to work at the Queen Elizabeth until I was born (at the hospital). Berta and I then appear to have been put up by the matron of the hospital - Miss McNair - when we were discharged. This leads me to believe that by this time both Geoffrey's father and mother had both died, otherwise we would have gone to their home, I would have thought. This explanation could also account for the fact that the War Graves Commission had recorded Geoffrey's home town as Lampeter. (Since there was no contact, and indeed no mention made of his family when I was growing up, I can only suppose that my paternal grandparents had already died.)
   Earlier Berta and I went to live with my grandparents at the Rectory, which now, in my heart of hearts, I call home. My mother resumed work, I guess, in about 1947 at the hospital in Swansea, and as a four year old I went to live with her there and attended a local school. She subsequently worked at the Brine Baths in Droitwich, Worcestershire, and later on at a private practice in Monmouth. All my school holidays were spent at the Rectory up until the time my grandparents died. Berta joined me in Canada in 1971, and from 1975 to 1991 became an adventurous traveler, living alone in a camper caravan first of all in Europe for five years, and the following 10 years in North America, returning to our home in Canada in the warmer months. She agreed to retire from her nomadic life in 1991 and from then on lived with her husband John, Geoff and me.
   What a lot of old history! It's funny that one rarely condenses a life into a paragraph, especially from such an angle, and new thoughts have occurred to me. I can suppose we lived for a portion of our early lives in the same vicinity.
   I have been in Perth for the past 17 years, after 25 years in Canada and three years in Tanzania, East Africa

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA; January 2018 Email


 Ben Crabb reports the sad death of his partner Cliff Cummins (JRGS 1956-62)...

I am very sorry to inform The Mill of the sad passing of Clifford Royle Cummins (JRGS 1956-62), who was my civil-partner. He died in September after suffering a massive heart attack whilst on holiday in Italy.
   I am aware that he was a member of this website and also contributed regularly. Cliff was very close with various old school friends, and very proud of his time at John Ruskin. He held very dear the friends he made there. Not everyone has such fond memories of their school days and so he was very lucky - as it sounds many of the Alumni were - to have had such happy times at school.
   I attach a recent photo of Cliff "in his element," taken outside in the garden room, which housed a huge model railway layout he had just been working on, probably waiting for me to get him a drink, with our cat, Bagel, by his side.

Regarding Cliff's death, it was a dreadful shock. We were on holiday in Sicily, having a wonderful time. Cliff was feeling absolutely fine, better than he had in a long while. People commented how well he had looked in recent months, not that he had looked ill or anything before - he was just getting fitter from being more active than in recent years; doing more walking, eating more healthily etc. On the morning of the 22nd September I awoke to witness him having a massive heart attack. I did all I could but it was, of course, such a dreadful, shocking and traumatic moment. For him, it was very quick and, despite my efforts, I'm sure he had gone within minutes of the attack. I stayed in Sicily until I could get him home - which was a complete nightmare due to the dreadful insurance company "staysure" and their cronies).
   We were basically the perfect couple - hardly ever argued and only became more and more happy as time went on. Having been together for nearly 15 years, all we loved the most was spending time in each others' company. So I'm kind of at a loss at the moment, really, but have had the most wonderful support from my family. And in all our 40+ holidays together, the hotel where he passed away in was the first family-run B&B we'd ever stayed in. So, of all the places for him to go, of all the hundreds of hotels and places we have stayed, it was one which was run by the most loving, caring family you could ever wish to meet, who took me in to their family and did such unbelievable things for me. I think that is quite strange, and quite beautiful in a way; he looked out for me until the very end.
   Thanks again for being so kind.

Ben Crabb, Oxted, Surrey; January 2015 Email

 Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: I wasn’t an exact contemporary of Cliff Cummins at JRGS, but I got to know him at a couple of JRGS reunions and at the memorial service to a much loved member of staff, Mr. Alan Murray. I always enjoyed his company and will miss him. I’m attaching a couple of photos from 2005 taken at the Murray Memorial Service.
   I am pictured on the left in the upper image; the lower image shows Mr. Ian Butterworth (left), Mr. Anthony Hasler, Michael Noakes, Cliff Cummins, Mr. Charles Smith and Mr. Martin Nunn.

I remember that Cliff was a close or exact contemporary of Ralph May (now better known as Ralph McTell).

John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Like Paul and our webmaster, I wasn't a contemporary of Cliff - he was three years older than us - but I remember him as an outgoing chap, keen on sports. He was at the 1991 Reunion and we spoke briefly. Many years later he was the source of many photographs that have appeared on The Mill website and this is one from that reunion, with attendees demonstrating agility on the parallel beam: John Carter (left), Ken McSteen, Cliff Cummins, Peter Maguire, unknown, Stuart Smith and Bob Hawkins.

Please accept my sincere condolences, Ben. This must be a very difficult time for you.

Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-66) adds: It is sad news about Clifford Cummings. Although I was not at JRGS when he was there, I do remember Cliff when he worked for Croydon Council. Just a couple of years ago my friend and former JRGS pupil David Guscott (JRGS 1963-65) also died of a heart attack. Anyone who knew David - pictured below - will probably remember that he was an excellent sportsman who played cricket for Surrey Schools and also football, I think. Just like Cliff, David was keen on model railways and won awards for his layouts, which included the area in Germany he visited as a bank manager, as can be seen from these photographs:

David and his wife Iris would attend and demonstrate their model railway layouts at most of the model railway shows, including those at Ruskin College and around the country. He was booked for up to 30 shows each year and had been featured in the Continental Modeller magazine. These photographs were taken at a college in Erith.
   On the day that David died, Iris phoned to give me the bad news. It would seem that he had just completed another layout that he hoped to show. He had felt unwell after breakfast and just went to sit in his living room at his Petersfield home where he sadly died.


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