JRGS News Archive Page 82
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 82 - Dec 2015 thru Jun 2016 -

JRGS Alumni Society


Lack of space prevents our including the following items on the main News Page, but here are some interesting
events/comments from the past several months.

 Anne Smith (JRHS/JRC teacher/principal 1970-99) reports on MBE award ...

Sally Obertell MBE

John Ruskin College staff member and marketing director Sally Obertell (pictured left) has been awarded an MBE for her services to education in this year’s Birthday Honours List. She has worked for the London Borough of Croydon for 38 years. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.
   Following 12 years at Sylvan High School - now Harris Crystal Palace - where she had been an English and Drama teacher, Head of Department and Head of Year, Sally arrived at John Ruskin in 1990. She was part-time for two years, alongside another part-time job-shared post as Drama Adviser for London Borough of Croydon, going into primary schools and training teachers in how to embed drama into their teaching.
   In 1992, Sally became a full-time member of JRC staff, and is now completing her 26th year at the college. In that time she has held the following posts:
   ● Teacher of A-Level English Literature and GCSE English;
   ● Course Leader for CSE Drama;
   ● Student Coordinator organising extra-curricular and other social activities, especially the Student Council;
   ● Student Services Manager for one year;
   ● Marketing and Events Manager – the title changed to Marketing Manager, but Sally still organises events; and is currently
   ● Director of Marketing, Relationships and Communications.
In the initial letter from Cabinet Office, Sally was instructed not to tell anyone about the honour except her press officer – not hard as that is within her current remit at the college!
   The college is very proud of Sally and the dedication she has always brought to her job, whatever her role at the time.
   John Ruskin College has been a specialist in vocational education for several years and has now increased its curriculum offer to include Apprenticeships, A-Level pathways as well as Direct Entry for 14- to 16-year olds. The College's mission is to respond to the employability needs of local learners, businesses and the community by providing outstanding inclusive educational programmes.
  Such honours are published at New Year and on the Queen’s official birthday in June. More than a thousand people were recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2016, including Sally Ann Obertell, who was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire "for services to Education."

Anne Smith, Croydon, Surrey, June 2016 Email


 Peter Hurn (JRGS 1967-73) reports on a recent reunion of the Class of '67...

FA Cup Final - May 2016

From left: Tony Brandon (1967-71); Martin Burch (1967-73); Richard Bayes with his dad Rod Bayes (1967-73); Barry Chappell (1967-73); Peter Hurn (1967-73); and Dave Johnston (1967-73). (The photo was taken by Martin's son, Luke Burch.)
he Class of '67 reached their 60th birthdays during the football season - apart from Dave Johnston, who’s just a lad and doesn’t get there 'til August - so from an early stage plans were afoot for a timely reunion at Selhurst Park and a nearby boozer and curry house.
   However, the sad news of the passing of our classmate Richard Inman (JRGS 1967-73) set us back on our heels for a bit, and so eventually a date of Saturday 23rd April was pencilled in: Crystal Palace v Everton. Strike me down! Palace embarked on a very rare Cup run and Premier league and Championship giants were duly dispatched. So, after a bit of haggling for tickets, the reunion was re-arranged for the semi-final on the same weekend, Sunday 24th April, at Wembley v Watford.
   For one reason or another, and quite possibly the seven or eight pints that slipped down rather too easily at the “Crock of Gold” public house, if expensively @ £5.60/pint(!), we all clean forgot to take a photo. After the thumping victory, some of us headed home to Stratford-on-Avon, Berkhamsted or High Wycombe, but the locals enjoyed a rather nice and hard-earned curry. (“The Paradise” near Victoria – highly recommended.)
   And so we all embarked on the ticket trail for the second Cup Final in our history against Manchester United, and we succeeded, albeit scattered around the stadium. Saturday 21st May and this time “The Green Man” public house at Wembley - bedecked wall-to-wall in splendid football photographs - hosted our reunion. There we are all gathered - and upright - in the bar before we headed off to the stadium and, so we could soak up the atmosphere, only four or five pints went down and, at just £4 a throw, we were all quids-in!
   Sadly, Chris Mann (JRGS 1967-73) was absent in the Lake District, in a bar somewhere I’d have thought, standing up, as is his wont.
   As we all know, the day didn’t have a very happy ending and, due to the crazy kick-off time (and result!) no chance of a post-match Ruby. But the Ruskin friendship advances into its 50th year – and thus another get-together is sure to arise in 2017, if not before.
   But who knows where? Selhurst Park? The Oval? Wembley Stadium? A Saga Holidays coach trip? Time will tell – watch this space.
   Regarding the outcome of the recent FA Cup Final at Wembley, it was our big chance to beat Man Utd and win something. But we blew it, allowing MU to dictate play and their best players the room to perform. I don’t understand why. United were poor and have been all season; we’re not the only team to stand back and let them play – hence their fifth-place finish. There was too much respect shown.

Peter Hurn, Wallington, May 2016 Email


 David Bush (JRGS 1959-64) asks about the fate of our former school organ ...

JRGS Organ - 1991What happened to the organ - pictured right - when the school on Upper Shirley Road was pulled down in 1991? Click on the thumbnail to view a larger image.

   I was at JRGS from 1959 to 1964 and I have fond memories of Mr. "Fred" Field really giving the organ a good workout after assembly. It was Mr. "Spike" Hancock's pride and joy, and he did not appreciate rock and roll being played on it!

David Bush, Wilmslow, Cheshire, May 2016 Email

ML replies: In 2009 Anne Smith (JRGS/JRHS teacher & principal 1970-99) provided an analysis of the former school organ's fate, while in 2003 Nick Goy (JRGS 1963-70) investigated the provenance of the organ, which was built by Bishop & Son, London. As Anne wrote: "Our first thought, naturally, was to take the organ with us. It had not been used much since Dr. James had left, subsequent music teachers not being keyboard specialists; however, it was ours and some pupils used it," More

Peter Hurn (JRGS 1967-73) adds: As far as I know, the organ was smashed to pieces when they knocked the school down.

Steve Cattle (JRGS 1963-68) adds: I have an abiding memory of "Doc" James playing Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale" at the first assembly of (circa) 1967.

Mike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55) adds: I was very interested to read Anne Smith's 2009 account of the fate of the organ and the bonus it turned out to be in the end. (A large insurance payout used to set up IT.) I have memories of the organ being built during my last year at the school in 1955, and also of playing it a few times - probably not very well - before I left.


 Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) corresponds with Mr. Chaundy's son Keith ...

Recently, I received an email from Keith Chaundy, who had located my appreciation of his father, Mr. Leonard Walter "Sam" Chaundy, MA, MSc, which was published on The Mill website in September 2006.

   As he writes: I was much interested to read the biography of my father in JRGNEWS page 34, which was sent to me by my son, who teaches at the Oratory School, Woodcote - their bar manager is a former JRGS pupil!
   I can provide more detail of my father’s education. My grandmother attended the Primitive Baptist Chapel on Knights Hill, West Norwood, - I think they lived in Dassett Road from 1904. Dad went to the local elementary school as a small boy and subsequently to St. Josephs College, Upper Norwood, a Catholic Grammar School. It is reported that my grandmother visited the Reverent Father to ask for entry to the School on the basis of "having nothing to do with the RC Church"! The kind man accepted my father on that basis.
   Subsequently, my father went to Queen Mary College, Mile End, travelling every day as a day boy, as it were - that show how things were in the early Twenties. He took an MSc in Physics with Upper Second Class honors - in those days the LCC funded students living at home in toto, provided they committed to school mastering.
   He then taught at Brigg Grammar School in Lincolnshire, before moving to Archbishop Tenison Grammar School at Kennington Oval and marrying my mother. When Tenisons was evacuated to Reading School in the early years of war, we remained there until Dad took a job at West Bridgeford Grammar School in Nottingham; we stayed there until 1945 when we returned to Thornton Heath to the house in Maryland Road my parents had bought when they married.
   On a broader front, the Chaundy Family - interesting that my grandfather and his eldest son also were wood engravers, both of them working in Fleet Street - are of Huguenot descent, two brothers leaving the town of Chauney, 50 miles NE of Paris and arriving in Ascot Under Wychwood in Oxfordshire during the early 1500s. One brother died in 1548; the Churchyard there is full of Chaundys.
   I don’t suppose that this will be of interest beyond yourself, who obviously researched fairly thoroughly into "Sam's" life. It was very nice of you to be so diligent; I certainly was unaware of some of the dates you reported.
   As to my family's connection to Crystal Palace Football Club, my Aunt Dorothy married Robert Moyes, who became a director of CPFC in the Thirties, briefly becoming manager in the curtailed seasons of 1939 and 1940. In their wisdom, the FA found Moyes guilty of paying players 9/- [45 pence] rather than 7/6d [27.5 pence] and was banned from any further Administrative roles or directorships of professional football clubs. The letter advising same was signed by AS Rous, Secretary - subsequently Sir. Stanley etc.
   Inevitably, we also have the odd black sheep, as proven by the branch of the family in Australia!

Paul Graham, Iver, Bucks, April 2016 Email

Paul Graham adds: Keith's father was one of the most respected teachers at JR. The additional detail he provided is fascinating; I will find a way to incorporate it into the original article on The Mill.
   Maybe Keith would be interested in writing an article about what he know personally of John Ruskin Grammar School, and also what his father thought of the changes to the school, and education in Croydon in the years leading up to his retirement. The Mill website is open to all students, staff, their families, and anybody with an interest in the school.
   I’d also like to think that Keith's father will be cheering on Crystal Palace next month at Wembley in the FA Cup Final against Manchester United, as shown right.

John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) adds: This correspondence is a timely reminder that people are still discovering The Mill website and enjoying what they find. (Hard to believe that Paul's excellent piece on Mr. Chaundy was written a decade ago!)
   Mr. Chaundy didn't teach me but he was always struck me as a decent man who warranted respect for his temperate nature.
   In searching for the site of the primitive church mentioned above, I came across the following on the Norwood Society website, and first published in 1978:
   "Opposite the club is Norwood Bus Garage and the LTE now has parliamentary powers to enlarge it. The first stage was the demolition of the Rosemary Branch pub and the Sylglas warehouse at the corner of Rothschild Street, which itself was a converted primitive Methodist chapel. The Rosemary Branch pub sign was a barge on a canal - I could never see the connection and presumably never will now! The cleared site is to be used as a car park for LTE staff until the new garage works start in about 1981. Rothschild Street itself was built about 1900 across the site of the Huguenot almshouses."
   Another connection with the Huguenots!
   I was curious about this church, travelling quite often on the 468 bus to Croydon. Which, coincidentally, is the bus that passes Selhurst Park. I'll be back at Wembley next month - happy days!

Derek Falkner (JRGS 1954-61) adds: I am trying to remember whether Mr. Chaundy was part of the Army Cadet Force, and whether the phrase “Sam, Sam, pick up thee musket!” was associated with him. Perhaps someone who was actually in the ACF has the answer?

Bob Wane (JRGS 1945-53) adds: Mr. Chaundy was well known in the sixth form for using his fountain pen as a "magnet" to demonstrate Maxwell's laws, as I recollect. Ah, happy days.
   Indeed, when King George VI died [on 6 February, 1952, aged 56], we were in our "den" up on the top floor in the physics lab. Mr. Chaundy was very emotional and came across as very much a royalist.

Keith Chaundy adds: I omitted to mention that during the war my father undertook a Masters of Arts degree in Education at Reading University extramurally. He also was in a retained occupation and so was unable to join the forces. I think he would have liked to go into the education or intelligence corps - he had colleagues who did - but his headmaster wouldn't release him and, as a result, somewhat coloured his views of headmasters in general!
   As to writing an article on my Dad's views, it is now over 40 yrs since I last spoke to him. But I can tell The Mill that he thought his career spanned the "high noon," as it were, of the grammar school and its subsequent demise.
   He bewailed the difficulty in finding people to teach physics. When he went to Tenisons in the Thirties he was one of 100 applicants; when he sought replacements at JR in the Fifties and Sixties you were lucky to get a reply!
   He hadn't a lot of time for education departments in his day, but I expect Paul knows more than I do about that. Was the new JR building opened in the late Fifties and closed 35 years later?
   What really impressed me about recent articles on The Mill is the extraordinary number of JR alumni who achieved academic distinction. I know that Dad was tremendously pleased when Cambridge awards and places were obtained.
   I'm not quite sure what "Central Schools" were - presumably, secondary schools with no sixth form? So to set up as a grammar school, create a sixth form and produce Cambridge entrants in a dozen years or so was some achievement.
   He would have been appalled, however, at keeping the un-academic at school past 14, believing it wasted everyone's time. And, by the same token, that the expansion of the university system produced worthless qualifications, with subsequent disappointment suffered when young people find out they've been sold a pup. Something he didn't live to see.
   Anyway I'm obviously very pleased that so many of you all thought so highly of him.

John Byford adds: I imagine that "Sam" was a nickname picked up earlier in his career as a teacher.

Paul Graham adds: I don’t remember Mr. Chaundy in uniform during my time at the school. And, yes, the JR school at Shirley opened in 1955; it was closed and demolished in the very early 1990s. Houses were built in its place - Postmill Close - but the old Windmill remains. The name transferred to the former John Newnham School site in nearby Selsdon, which became a sixth-form college. I think Keith is correct about Central Schools, but I'm not sure.

Bob Wane adds: Reading through these contributions about Mr. Chaundy, no one seems to recollect that he drew up the school timetable, for every subject and every form, every year on a very large piece of paper. It appeared to be a challenging task, which he undertook towards the end of the summer term with no computers to help!

Anne Smith (JRHS/JRC teacher/principal 1970-99) adds: Central Schools were poised between grammar and elementary schools. They took pupils from the elementary schools to stay on at school until they were 16, and to follow a mainly business-related curriculum with attendant O-Levels or OLs.
   With regard to Mr. Chaundy's view of less-academic students, which was typical of his time, John Ruskin's most obviously successful "non-academic" pupil came to us with two OLs (or GCSEs; I can't remember which) and studied GNVQ level 1 in Health and Social Care. He moved to level 2, which was equivalent to five GCSEs, the next year and, the year after, enrolled for level 3, which was equivalent to two Advanced-levels. With this qualification he was accepted to read sociology at university and went on to take an MA in Theology and become a clergyman. Or he could have left school at 16!


 Terry Weight (JRGS 1959-65) reports on a reunion with three school chums ...

Peter Baron (JRGS 1959-66), Anthony Charles (JRGS 1959-66), Brian Dyer (JRGS 1959-66) and myself met in January in London for what is fast becoming our annual reunion. A photo is attached; click on the thumbnail to access a larger version. And click here for Bryan Dyer's report from our 2013 gathering.
   We never have any trouble wondering what to talk about and the time goes very quickly. This year Brian brought the 1960 school photo, his two Maths O-level papers from 1966, and a school magazine from the early Sixties.
   The maths paper looked very hard - so we did not spend much time on that - but we had great fun poring over the photo. It was good to pick out all the people we knew from our year - we all started at the school in 1959 - but the teachers provided some difficult memory tests and we did find a few other ‘notables,’ including Roy Hodgson (JRGS 1958-65). The magazine also provided a few good snippets to revive our memories.
   Peter is still working – running his bookshop in Suffolk - while Brian works part-time setting language exams for foreigners learning English, Tony is retired but still sits as a magistrate, and I am also retired but significantly involved in running the golf club in Kington. Roll on the next get together!

Terry Weight, Herefordshire, March 2016 Email


 Tony Robinson (JRGS 1946-51) recalls school life in the late-Forties ...

School Cricket Team - 1945 I have just seen the photograph of the 1945 Cricket Team at the end of Mr. Smith's profile, and shown above. I believe that the chap in the centre of the back row - the one with all the hair - might be Bob Burton, who also won the Victor Ludorum. Click in the image to vie an annotated page.
   I seem to remember two other masters who were at the school when I joined in 1946. Mr. Vincent was the music master before Mr. Hancock, who joined the school in April 1947. There was also Mr. Mortimer, who taught Latin. He seemed very much the academic, and not really cut out to be a teacher.
   Does anybody remember that the art class moved to a church hall - a large shed, really - on the edge of Wandle Park during my time at the school from 1946 until 1951?
   My brother, Gerald Robinson, also attended the school when it was in Scarbrook Road; he was more than eight years older then me. He could remember Mr. "Wally" Cracknell and Mr. Pearman and, I think, Mr. "Gerry" Myers [who left the school in the spring of 1951 after 26 years on staff to become headmaster of the newly opened John Newnham Secondary School, Selsdon]. Mr. Pearman continually compared me to my brother who was, apparently, a model pupil.

Tony Robinson, March 2016 Email.

Karl W. Smith (JRGS 1946-51) adds: Tony Robinson's note is interesting because clearly we were at JRGS concurrently. The photograph of the cricket team shows CES exactly as I remember him. Some while back I recall reading his autobiographical notes describing himself as apparently having a dual personality - I particularly liked his words "somewhere to the left of Attila the Hun!".
   If I may expand Tony's note a little, Mr. V. J. Gee taught art at that time, in the school hall on the first floor of the Tamworth Road premises. He had a small room nearby as his art store/hideaway. By the time I reached the sixth form it had become the Prefects' Room, taking over from the lower-sixth room next to the Headmaster's study and accessed through Vera Garwood's (school secretary) office.
   Mr. J. D. Mortimer also taught me Latin. I found that I got on very well with the way he handled a subject that, in the fourth form, I got good marks. While at JRGS he was writing a book called "An Anthology of the Home Counties". It's still to be found on eBay and Amazon. I borrowed a copy from the library once but, sadly, found it as dry as dust. The cover is shown right; click in the thumbnail to view a larger version.
   He didn't stay long and his role was taken (for my fifth-form year) by a Welshman named Mr. Powlesland who, given my start in secondary education in Wales during the war, might have been better teaching Welsh! Sorry, but the result of the change was that I failed School Cert Latin!


 Roger Adcock (JRGS 1963-68) uncovers a newspaper cutting from 1992...

I found this cutting shown left in my home office papers while having a recent turn out. The article about completion of the Sixth Form College in Selsdon was published by my company in its Spring 1992 magazine. I guess there must be more in Croydon Advertiser as the newspaper was there; I will have a look.
   Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.
   I worked for Mansell in Croydon for 25 years, finally leaving as Group MD. In late 1991/Spring 1992 we had a big contract to create the Sixth Form College in Selsdon on/after demolition of our old school in Shirley. I see the construction cost was £7m ins 1991 prices, so that's probably £25m at today's costs.
   We held a big hand-over in early 1992 and this, among others, is one of the photos taken. We had a cake made - quite why a builder bakes a cake I don't know!
   Oh, look! It's Anne Smith (JRHS/JRC teacher/principal 1970-99), then the new principal of John Ruskin College, to whom I handed over the keys. (Yes, her name is misspelled in the article.) At the time, Anne did not know that I was an ex-JRGS pupil; there were more important issues! Andrew Pelling, then chair of the Croydon Education Committee, went on to be a Croydon MP.
   This may be of passing interest that a JRGS 'erk hands over. Former JRGS/JRC schoolmaster John Rowlands (JRGS/JRC teacher 1966-2009) also was there, but I was one of his school failures.

Roger Adcock, Oxted, Surrey, December 2015 Email

Anne Smith (JRHS/JRC teacher/principal 1970-99) adds: I didn't know that the cake/college was from an ex JRGS! If I had known, Roger would have been in the photograph too, for continuity! The big handover was in 1992. Little did any of us know at the time that, in March 1993, the Sixth Form College was to be taken away from the council, to become incorporated - i.e. independent! It was very hard on Croydon Council, since many other councils saved money as soon as they knew of incorporation, and spent not another penny on their colleges. However, it was too late for Croydon, which had already done so in style.
   But with 90% of the students currently living within five miles of the college, the college is serving the purpose Croydon had in mind when the council built it.


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