JRGS News Archive Page 79
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 79 - Jun thru Aug 2015 -

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.

 Bill Hoskin (JRGS 1954-59) recalls his post-Ruskin career in South Africa...

After Ruskin Grammar, I attended Sir John Cass College in London, where I was awarded a BSc (Eng), and then worked at Decca Radar. Since then my involvement - not only in a work environment - has been in "light current" or, as some would say, Electronics.
   I emigrated to the Republic of South Africa, following my elder brother Mike, who is also a John Ruskin ex-student. My first job was as principal project engineer for a huge RSA/Namibia country-wide project that connected South Africa into the global wireless communication network. A German company, AEG/Telefunken, was the major contractor and, after a few years, I met and married a German girl - that was 44 years ago.
   We were living in Hout Bay at the time in a rented house. But, realizing that we had both planted our feet on South African soil, we built a house in the northern suburbs of Cape Town, in Durbanville. That was many years ago but, at the age of 40, I could not find employment in the Cape so we moved to Secunda some 100 kms west of Johannesburg, where I was employed by SASOL (they produce synthetic oil/fuel products on a massive scale) for 17 years before I/we retired back to our house in Durbanville; during those 17 years our housing bond was paid off by the rental we received.
   My interest have remained in electronics - but also in motorcycling. It might be remembered by some ex-Ruskiners that I was the first student to dare to park a motorcycle in the teacher's car park - when Mr. "Joe" Lowe told me that I couldn't do this I went to the next-door pub and they said "Go for it". The Surprise pub was frequented - in those days, at lunch time - by our teachers in saloon bar, and older students in the public bar!
   I first piloted a motorcycle at the age of 14. It was a 1949 BSA 125cc Bantam, returning from a outing to Brighton, with my dad sitting on the pillion seat behind me. He wore no helmet but insisted that I had both helmet and flying goggles on my head.

Today - A Quartet of Motorcycles
I now have in my garage/workshop four motorcycles. The oldest is a British-made 1929 Scott 500cc two-stroke twin. I purchased it because my dad always wanted to own one, but could never afford the high asking price of 25 pounds. No. 2 I purchased in 1982: a Japanese Yamaha 500cc - the so-called XT500; I chose it because in '82 the Brits had nothing to offer in South Africa. No. 3 is an Italian machine: a 1992 Ducati 860cc in a 90 deg V-twin - a very powerful machine; it's now getting some extra attention. No. 4 was delivered to me in June 2012: a 1989 BMW K75s 740cc, triple-cylinder as a straight swop for a steam car that I had constructed. The car is a good replica of a 1899 Stanley Steamer - perhaps the first successful vehicle to grace the roads of the UK and the USA. This machine is my first choice for a motorcycle ride - it truly is the smoothest - and quietest - model I have ridden. (Ever since I was a little boy I've been interested in steam-powered machines.)
   I am very pleased that I was able to use the Ruskin metalworking shop during my lunch hours. I had told my father that the shop was well equipped. But, as I was deemed to be future graduate by JL, I was therefore never officially allowed in the system to be involved in either of the wood/metal workshop. That said, my dad took a day off work after making an appointment with the metalwork teacher. (I have forgotten his name - shame on me.) The two men were equally qualified, and the master told my dad that he didn't go home for lunch and I would be welcome to use the metal workshop during his lunch time. And today my own workshop has a lathe version similar to that I learned to use under this man's guidance - as well as everything I need to make whatever I need!

Bill Hoskin, Durbanville, Cape Town, South Africa August 2015 Email

John Brigden (JRGS 1959-64) adds: I think the metalwork teacher at the time was Mr. Probert - he also took some of us for soccer on games afternoons. Woodwork was taught by Mr. Thomas. Like Bill Hoskin - and our webmaster, I think - I never got to enter either of these workshops at Ruskin. As a result, I can be quite dangerous.

Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) adds: John is correct; being in the U/academic stream from 3M onwards, I never was able to study metalwork or woodwork at JRGS. However, my father was an experienced toolmaker and encouraged me to tinker with saws, files and other implements from an early age, and always had pieces of wood around for my projects, including carts made from old pram wheels and the like, with easy access to his shed full of bolts and fasteners. Having carefully explained their intended use to me - and simultaneously instilling a sense of safe operation - he let me at it. Sure, I cut myself and smashed my thumb on more than one occasion, but the experience also gave me a healthy respect for artisans and the ability to perform basic car and household repairs. (He once explained that his father forbade him access to my grandfather's tools, simply because he was concerned that his son might try to saw through a nail, or the like, and ruin his good blades. While my dad wasn't unaware of the costs involved to replace such hardware, he seemed to reason that it was better for me to master their application and risk his tools, rather that raise a son who was ignorant of their use.)
   My father was also a major fan of motorcycles, initially because of austerity - petrol and motoring costs in general were high in the early Fifties when I was growing up in West Norwood and then New Addington - with motorcycles being the only affordable alternative. In addition to a solo Royal Enfield 350cc Bullet that he rode backwards and forwards between the housing estate and West Croydon, my father owned a Panther sidecar combination and then a very natty Sunbeam S8-powered combo. Eventually, our family could afford a Morris 8 car and then a Ford Zephyr estate, but he remained fond of two-wheeled transport throughout that period, helping me learn to ride safely on a Honda Benly 125cc motorbike that I purchased in 1966, the year after I left JRGS and was working as Chemistry Laboratory Technician under Mr. George Pearman. Happy Days!

John Brigden replies: I certainly envy our webmaster's training; I have difficulty putting anything together square or level and certainly not both, unless it has come from IKEA.
   Afraid I am unable to identify any others in the photos below [from the school trip to France in 1962]. I take comfort in someone saying recently that anyone who claims to remember the 'Sixties wasn't really there!


 Geoffrey Farmer (JRGS 1959-64) discovers the website & brings us up to date...

Geoffrey Farmer - 2013On leaving school I completed an apprenticeship with the GPO Long Distance Area - which later became BT International. In 1972 I moved to Cornwall, where I worked as an engineer at Goonhilly Downs Earth Station. In 1976 I moved to Hereford to work at the Madley Earth Station. I returned to London in 1982 to take up my first management post. I had several roles from buying and commissioning and installing equipment for satellite TV uplinks at the London Teleport to training and managing apprentices.
   In 1996, BT made me an offer that was too good to refuse and I accepted a voluntary redundancy package. After four years in the voluntary sector as a community transport coordinator, I took up full-time employment again with East Sussex County Council as a business support officer, teaching social workers how to use the County's social care data-base. I retired in 2012 and now live in Seaford, East Sussex.
   I married my wife Rosemary in April 1970, and we have three children plus four grandchildren. I spend much of my time reading, gardening and wood-turning. I also work with the National Coastwatch Institute as a volunteer watch-keeper; that's an NCI uniform I'm wearing in the image shown left. (Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.)
   Academically, I was a late starter. I obtained a City & Guilds Full Certificate (with endorsements) in Telecommunications in 1982 through distance learning, and a BA from the Open University in 2002.
   That's my potted life history and I would love to know what other Alumni have  been up to over the last 51 years since I left JRGS. I'm sure I met our webmaster at Mr. Maggs' retirement do, but I don't think I recognised him. (I do remember travelling home from school with Mel on the 130 bus. I got off at Gravel Hill while he continued on to New Addington.)
   My family lived on the Monks Hill Estate; my younger brother Peter - who started at Ruskin in 1961 - and I, plus several other boys from the estate, including Peter Wilson, Kenneth Love and Howard Main, would walk to the bus stop at the bottom of Gravel Hill. Some of us would buy a pack of five Dominos and share a cigarette along the way past Gilbert Scott Primary School and John Newnhan School (now John Ruskin College).
   I have many recollections of my schooldays at JR - I was nearly suspended twice - and most of them are happy; some I would like to forget. I remember popping Refreshers into bottles of Fling from the tuck-shop, sitting in a large circle in the playground waiting for the end of the world, and good times in the ACF.
   Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend this year's reunion due to family commitments. I'd love to keep in touch, and will write about my memories of the French trip when I have more time. Sorry, but I cannot identify any of the unknowns in my photos.

Geoffrey Farmer, Seaford, East Sussex, August 2015 Email


 Grant Harrison (JRGS 1959-66) recalls a school trip to France in early Sixties...

I came across these photos sent to me by Geoff Farmer (JRGS 1959-64) some time ago. They relate to a trip to Louviers in northern France somewhere around 1962. We performed a number of excerpts from plays in the école there, which was our French exchange school, and also in Dieppe.
   The suave young man in the pre-Beatles, almost bouffant hair-do is me. I also recognise Michael "Jack" Horner (JRGS 1959-64) and possibly Roger Searle (JRGS 1959-66).
   Click on any image to view a larger version.

School Trip to France

From center: Grant Harrison (JRGS 1959-66); John George; unknown

School Trip to France

From left: unknown; unknown; unknown; Mick "Jack" Horner (JRGS 1959-64); a French schoolgirl;
Richard Hayward;
David Orange (in front); unknown; Howard Brierley (JRGS 1961- 67)??

School Trip to France

From left: Mick "Jack" Horner (JRGS 1959-64) ??; unknown; unknown

For many of us - me certainly - it was our first trip to France, or anywhere abroad. We arrived at Louviers station and were billeted out to various families. Roger Searle and I were together but our family was away. We were taken to another old rambling house for dinner with a large extended family of about 12-14 people and were immediately handed large glasses of weak red wine to drink with our meal, and such strange cheeses!
   We were then taken to our house but the family was still away. We went to bed on our own, woke up to hear noises downstairs, went to the bathroom, got dressed and I remember going tentatively down the stairs saying hello? bonjour?
   We performed excerpts from plays in the school. I played Eliza Doolittle in a scene from Pygmalion. At the end I had to stand up, say "not bloody likely!" and walk out. I don’t think the audience had a clue as to what was going on but they were very polite.
   On a trip to Paris we were surprised to see "L’Algerie est Francaise" daubed on many walls and police with sub-machine guns on street corners. It was the height of the OAS era. There was also a party of French girls on the coach who seemed very exotic to us English chaps; I think one of them is in the middle photo.
   We also went to Versailles but a group of us just hung around in a bar played table football!
   I would be fascinated if anyone else has any memories of this trip.

Grant Harrison, Tatterford, Norfolk, August 2015 Email

ML adds: Wasn't this the infamous occasion when "Mick" Horner supposedly delighted the French Dignities with his humble - and very brief - speech in schoolboy French: “Je suis content," or similar? I wasn't there; I just heard about it later at school.

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: I was there too – though not in these photos. The trip was a great success. It was June 1962. In Louviers we all stayed with different French families; quite an education. We also went to places in Paris, Normandy and Dieppe too. Mr. "Fred" Field and Mr. Robertshaw were the staff. There is a report on page 5 and page 6 of the July 1962 school magazine.
   I remember playing Mrs. Eynsford-Hill, Freddy's mother, in an except from Pygmalion, which got lots of laughs from the Louviers audience, though whether the comedy came from G B Shaw (intentionally) or the actors (unintentionally) none of were able to work out. John George (he played a camp Shylock in Merchant of Venice, and camp everything else at other times) with the short fair hair is to the right of Grant in the top photo. I don't see Roger Searle – where is he? He did go on the trip, as did Bob Hoffman (JRGS 1958-64).
   Apart from Louviers, I can't remember anything about our accommodation, except for a big dormitory building somewhere, which could have well been the Dieppe bunker. I recall that the Town Hall at Louviers was by far the best acting place as well.
   Didn't Grant have a part in Merchant of Venice too?
   Mike Horner's remark draws a blank with me, though it would be typical of him – a real joker.

Grant Harrison replies: Yes, I was Lorenzo in the Merchant of Venice. He’s the person who runs off with Shylock’s daughter Jessica. There’s a long speech about music towards the end of the play.
   Vaughan Williams uses the whole speech in his Serenade to Music which, being in a choral society, I sing from time to time. It brings back amazing memories saying (singing) those words again.

ML adds: Talking of John George - who played Shylock in the school production of Merchant of Venice - back in 2007 Maurice Whitfield (JRGS 1959-66) reported bumping into him on a tube train at Earl’s Court, sometime in the early Eighties. "What a fantastic character!" Maurice recalled. "[John] said he was editor of Art International, or similar.
   "John was the one who inspired a craze for camp in the sixth form (Round the Horne was on the radio in those days), much to the annoyance and frustration of Mr. 'Joe' Lowe.
   "'Gentlemen, it has come to my attention that homosexuality, yes, homosexuality, has become rampant, I say RAMPANT, in the sixth form!' [the headmaster] pronounced in an assembly once, with John George camping it up like a demented Kenneth Williams at the massive school organ, which he played brilliantly.
   "'Ooh, hark at her!' the sixth form responded as one! Any news of John from anybody?"

Michael "Jack" Horner (JRGS 1959-64) adds: It was my first attempt to amuse/entice a French mademoiselle, with a "nil point" outcome that was to be repeated many times afterwards (and not only with French women).
   The loss of face with the lady was compounded when I was indeed forced by my host to make that speech in French. I am staggered that anyone still remembers it (and word for word) although I guess four words spoken v e r y s l o w l y probably isn’t that hard to recall - I sure do.
   With regard to the theatricals, the audience were indeed polite - almost to the point of appearing enthralled. I suspect they had been briefed to applaud at regular intervals, since their clapping never once fitted with the scene, the line or the plot. Perhaps not surprising, given certain members of the cast ad libbed ad nauseum - Shakespeare as it had never been performed. My abiding memory is a damp stain on my green tights - stifling my laughter was one thing, but holding back nature was just too much. At the end I bowed with my hands just below waist level, and exited stage right with my back to the audience.
   Several years ago I went back to Louviers and traced the house where I had been billeted. The old chap who owned it was a character - and I think "something" in the local Council, which likely led to his demand for me to speak at the official reception. He’d departed - both Louviers and the Earth - but people did remember him. I didn’t pursue whether anyone remembered our troupe, in case someone did!

Clifford Cummins  (JRGS 1956-62) adds: In the second photo down, the lad between the French schoolgirl and David Orange is Richard Hayward and then, on the far right, is - I think - Howard Brierley. Howard was about the same age as my cousin who was at Ruskin - Colin Bunn, now Ashworth - so about 1961-67).
   Bob Hoffmann was slightly younger than me, so about 1958-64; I knew him through the school plays for which I did scene painting, etc.
   I remember John George turning up in a black cab and making sure he made a grand appearance at the front entrance to the school (strictly forbidden!). Mr. "Joe" Lowe was not amused. Talking of Bob Hoffmann, I met up with him about 10 years ago; he was spending his time between England and Cyprus when we met.


 Sarah Smith (ex-Archbishop Tenison 1969-1976) recalls former Ruskin teachers...

As The Alumni may know from the website, several ex-John Ruskin teachers joined Archbishop Tenison's Grammar School in Croydon after their time at JRGS.
   Mr. Colin Chambers, who taught English at JRGS from 1967 until the mid-Seventies, retained his nickname "Chunky" at Tenison's, and taught there in the 1970s and 1980s. His daughter is Clare Chambers, the award-winning novelist; Clare now teaches at Tenison's (correct as of 2014).
   Mr. Norman Cresswell, who taught History and Mathematics at JRGS for many years, had the nickname of "Noddy" while Headmaster at Tenison's. (Possibly because he nodded his head a la Enid Blyton's Noddy, and rocked his whole body when excited.)
   Mr. Edward Powe taught English and Drama at JRGS during the Fifties and Sixties; his real first name was Edwin, but teacher colleagues called him "Ted". Possibly because of his constantly furrowed brow a la chimpanzee - or possibly because he tended to stomp around the classroom when in a rage a la chimpanzee - he had the nickname of "Chimp".
   Below are two scanned images of the inside and outside of the dust jacket from Mr. Powe's book Masterpiece And Other Plays by E. S. Powe, printed in 1968. I bought the book from eBay - and there are always copies available for £3 or less. In fact, there is one for sale today for £2.71 from 'revival books'.
   The inner dust jacket states the plays were written for the pupils of Archbishop Tenison's School and John Ruskin School, Croydon. Click on either image to view a larger version.

Ted Powe - "Masterpiece"

Ted Powe - "Masterpiece"

Just in case it isn't fully legible, I have typed here the complete inner sleeve dust-jacket notes. (Incidentally, the book's front cover photo was taken at JRGS.)

MASTERPIECE And Other Plays - This volume contains nine plays for schools (age group 10-14 plus)

The author’s aim has been to provide the “larger” themes of adult drama in forms acceptable to the “in-betweens” (the junior and middle form pupils of Secondary Schools). The dialogue presents the young players with all the used forms of dramatic language and many various theatrical “devices”. These are therefore plays of transition. The literary folk-tale has here displaced the fairy-tale of the Primary School play. The “around the world” theme of the series allows for variety of stage movement and for correlation of drama with social studies or literature to be established. Most of these plays have parts for about half a form. The remainder can be used as an alternative cast or in crowd scenes or as an audience. Since the original productions, these plays have been successfully “in the round”
   These plays have also proved very successful as classroom drama material.
   The author teaches English and Drama (and is a specialist speech and drama teacher) in several schools under The London Borough of Croydon Education Authority. These plays were written for the pupils of Archbishops Tenison’s School and the John Ruskin Grammar School, Croydon, and the photographs appearing in the cloth bound volume were taken during rehearsals at these two schools.

“Good plays, enthusiastically produced can only result in the first rate performance of this. Mr. Powe and his splendid cast must be fully aware”. Croydon Advertiser reviewing EVE’S OTHER CHILDREN and MASTERPIECE.

“No other presentation I saw had the piquancy and novelty of what the Archbishop Tenison’s School called ‘a dramatic exercise’ and which turned out to be three delightful playlets”. Croydon Advertiser reviewing LOS VECINOS, WHAT MEN LIVE BY and THE GENTLE RAIN.

Photograph: PITY THE SINNER OF A LESSER LAND at the John Ruskin Grammar School, Croydon (Boys).

   The book also contains black and white photos of Ruskin and Tenison pupils performing four of the plays, as shown below with the cover illustration; click on any thumbnail to view a larger version.

Front cover illustration

Front cover illustration of Masterpiece And Other Plays by former JRGS teacher E. S. Powe, printed in 1968,
and showing a performance of "Pity The Sinner of a Lesser Land" at the school on Upper Shirley Road.

"What Men Live By"

"The Gentle Rain"

Cast of "What Men Live By" performing at
 Archbishop Tenison's Grammar School.

Cast of "The Gentle Rain" performing at
 Archbishop Tenison's Grammar School.

"Eve's Other Children"

"The Devil's Journeyman"

Cast of "Eve's Other Children" performing
at John Ruskin Grammar School.

Cast of "The Devil's Journeyman" performing
at Archbishop Tenison's Grammar School.

Finally, a colleague spotted Mr. Powe around 15 years ago working as a volunteer at Nymans Gardens, a National Trust property in West Sussex. He had a quick chat with Mr. Powe and got the famous "furrowed brow" look when trying to place him!
   BTW: Archbishop Tenison's School is a mixed-sex school founded in 1714 for "10 poor boys and 10 poor girls of the Parish of Croydon". Hence 2014 marked its 300th anniversary, culminating in a festival at the school on the 3rd of May.

Sarah Smith, Bournemouth, Dorset, August 2015

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: I don't recall ever being taught by Mr. Powe, although he may have done. Also, I was never in any of his drama productions, only Mr. Field's and Mr. Crowe's. I think Mr. Powe started producing junior school drama later at JRGS.
   All I have been able to glean about him is: Edwin S. Powe LRAM, born 1925 in Edmonton, London, the son of Edwin Powe and Florence M. L. E. Spencer (who married in 1916). He married in 1954, in Holborn, London, to Renee Hilda Goodstein (1921-1986); he joined JR before December 1958, leaving after 1969 to teach at Archbishop Tenison's School in Croydon. He remarried in 1989 in Eastbourne, Sussex, to Monica I. Kennedy-Smith, and was living in the Haywards Heath, Sussex, area circa 2012.

ML adds: Mr. Powe's LRAM stands for Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music, a professional diploma that formerly was open to both internal students of the Royal Academy of Music and external candidates in voice, keyboard and orchestral instruments and guitar, as well as conducting and other musical disciplines. More

   Although it may not have been on a regular basis, I remember Mr. Powe teaching us English in maybe 2C or 3M; he was a very dapper gentleman, with immaculate handwriting. (His “Qs” looked like curly "2s", which was proper, I think.)


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) recalls a prominent painting in a school corridor...

During a recent Google search I came across an image of a painting reproduction that used to hang in one of the school corridors at the Upper Shirley Road site; it was either next to Room 1 - Mr. Charles "Smuts" Smith's form room - or on the floor above, adjacent, I recall, to Mr. David "Rhino" Rees' home room.
   Entitled The Ambassadors, it was painted in 1533 by Hans Holbein the Younger, and currently hangs in the National Gallery, London. Memorialising two wealthy, educated and powerful young men, the painting shows on the left Jean de Dinteville, aged 29, who was French ambassador to England in 1533, with his friend, Georges de Selve, aged 25, Bishop of Lavaur, who acted on several occasions as ambassador to the Emperor, the Venetian Republic and the Holy See. Click on the image to view a larger version.
   Does any Alumnus recall this or any of the other paintings that were hung around the former school premises? Or maybe a break-in that occurred at the school during the early Sixties, following which several fifth formers were expelled for damaging various property, including the splashing of silver paint over several of these paintings?
   I vaguely remember arriving at the school one morning to be told that the local police were investigating the vandalism incident. Silver paint was very much in evidence for a while after the break-in; word around the school, I recall, was that several fifth formers had masterminded the break-in with other, non-Ruskin teenagers. Do these recollections stir any memories?

"The Ambassadors" by Hans Holbein the Younger

According to Wikipedia, "As well as being a double portrait, the painting contains a still life of several meticulously rendered objects, the meaning of which is the cause of much debate. It also incorporates a much-cited example of anamorphosis in painting." Some scholars have suggested that the painting "contains overtones of religious strife. The conflicts between secular and religious authorities are here represented by Jean Detail from "The Ambassadors" by Hans Holbein the Youngerde Dinteville, a landowner, and Georges de Selve, the Bishop of Lavaur. The commonly accepted symbol of discord, a lute with a broken string, is included next to a hymnbook in Martin Luther's translation, suggesting strife between scholars and the clergy."
   The anamorphic skull - shown right - "is meant to be a visual puzzle, as the viewer must approach the painting nearly from high on the right side, or low on the left side, to see the form as an accurate rendering of a human skull. While the skull is evidently intended as a vanitas or memento mori, it is unclear why Holbein gave it such prominence in this painting. "Christ of St John on the Cross" by Salvador Dali (1951)One possibility is that this painting represents three levels: the heavens (as portrayed by the astrolabe and other objects on the upper shelf), the living world (as evidenced by books and a musical instrument on the lower shelf), and death (signified by the skull). It has also been hypothesized that the painting is meant to hang in a stairwell, so that persons walking up the stairs and passing the painting on their left would be startled by the appearance of the skull."

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA, July 2015 Email

Cliff Cummins (JRGS 1956-62) adds: I do not recall the Holbein painting and I don't recall the silver-paint vandalism, so that must have happened after June 1962, when I left Ruskin.

   I do though remember a painting situated outside the prefect's room - or was it the sixth-form common room? - of Christ on the Cross; I think it was this one shown right by Salvador Dali (Christ of St John on the Cross, painted in 1951.) Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.
   The other paintings I remember were of previous headmasters William Field and Arthur McLeod, which hung in the Foyer.

Anne Smith (JRHS/JRC teacher/principal 1970-99) adds: Certainly the Holbein painting was not there when I joined the school in 1970, after the vandalism episode.


 Nigel Ellis (JRGS 1968-1970) discovers the website and recalls Sixties teachers...

I moved from John Newnham Secondary School to John Ruskin for “A” levels in 1968 and, apart from writing one or two stories about the future of The Mill while a reporter on the Croydon Advertiser, finding this website is my first contact with the school since I walked out the gate for the last time one sunny day in July 1970. All summer days were sunny back then, if I remember rightly!
   I suppose family, work and the fact I have lived in Lancashire for 30 years have something to do with my lack of contact. It is fascinating to see names and faces on the website from all those years ago. Like many others, I count myself fortunate to have been taught by Mr. Alan Murray, a truly remarkable man. I am sure that my settling in to a new school so easily had much to do with starting in his class – Lower 6th Arts 3. Then I was lucky enough to be taught medieval history by him and have contact with him through the 15 Society and the History Society. But I think the thing I remember most was his smile – even when he could see some fatal flaw in what we proposed!
   Mr. Rees – not the rather fearsome Latin teacher – taught us Roman history for a year before leaving for pastures new [
at Colchester Royal Grammar School]. I think it was Mr. Robertson who steered us through the second year. Mr. Rowlands must have been from the same mould as Mr. Murray to receive an award from the Queen on the recommendation of his students. Mr. Rowlands got me through Economics, a subject I had never heard of until Mr. Cracknell said it would be ideal for me about an hour after I arrived at the school. (I seem to remember that Mr. Rowlands and Mr. Suckling made a formidable opening bowling partnership for the staff cricket team.)
   English was in the hands of Mr. Chambers in the Lower Sixth and Mr. Cracknell in the Upper Sixth – very different in style, but they did the trick.
   After Ruskin it was on to 11 terrific years on the Croydon Advertiser before three years as a GLC press officer. When Maggie Thatcher decided she did not like the GLC I moved to the MoD, working for Ken Livingstone on the Friday and a Major General in Preston on the Monday! That took me to a six-month secondment to the Falkland Islands, before joining the Government’s regional press office in Manchester, where I stayed for more than 20 years.
   Our PM, Mr. Cameron, gave me early retirement a few years ago so now, to coin a phrase, I can spend more time with my family. Giving more time to my wife, who put up with much over the years and with my four brilliant grandsons. I have had terrific jobs, met extraordinary people, not like proper work at all, and no doubt what I learnt at Ruskin - particularly from teachers like Mr. Murray and Mr. Rowlands - played its part in helping me though the fun and not so fun times. I hope to be at the reunion in September, to catch up with former Ruskin pupils and have a look at my other old school!

Nigel Ellis, Preston, Lancashire, June 2015 Email


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