JRGS News Archive Page 74
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 74 - Sep 2013 thru Feb 2014 -

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.

 Grant Harrison (JRGS 1959-66) reports the sad death of alumnus Derek Smith...

The Late Derek SmithI have just heard of the tragic suicide of Derek Smith (JRGS 1959-65) - pictured right - who died on a Dorset beach on the 9th of December. Here is an online report posted four days later. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger image of Derek playing one of his "unusual" instruments.
   I hadn't been in touch with Derek in recent years but he was a particular friend of mine. We walked to school together for many years and went on holidays and to folk clubs together.
   He was an absolute "one off". He was a brilliant guitarist and, as "The Amazing Mr. Smith," entertained for decades in clubs around the country. His sense of humour was totally original and was one that only someone with an IQ of over 160 could possess. He could put you right out of your comfort zone as he was not averse to entertaining an impromptu pub audience at the drop of a hat.
   He would walk backwards from Croydon to watch the sunset or go in on a rainy day with an umbrella with just the spokes and walk up and down the high street. Crazy he was not; he got 95% in his A level Pure Maths mock but couldn't work out where he'd made a mistake.
  It's all on Google, including a short video of his act complete with condom bagpipes. Sad loss, dear friend.
Grant Harrison, Tatterford, Norfolk, February 2014 Email

ML adds: The online news item reads as follows:

The Amazing Mr. Smith dies - Musical comic found at foot of cliffs.

Eccentric musical comedian The Amazing Mr. Smith has been found dead on a Dorset beach.
   A talented guitarist, Derek Smith was known for his array of homemade musical contraptions such as the cardboard tube double bass, the musical shoelaces and the condom harp.
   His body was discovered at the foot of cliffs at West Bay on Sunday and an investigation into his death is being carried out. Police believe he fell more than 100ft to his death and are investigating whether it was an accident or suicide.
   An inquest has been opened and adjourned and heard that heard Mr. Smith, who was 65 and lived nearby in Bridport, died from multiple injuries.
   He played both comedy and folk clubs, and toured America five times, as well as appearing in shows in Holland, Germany, Norway and Jordan. A service to celebrate his life took place at Weymouth Crematorium in mid-December.

I recall that Derek secured three A-Levels in Chemistry, Zoology and Physics, and won an Advance Level Prize in Chemistry during the September 1965 Speech Day. He went on to secure a BSc degree in biochemistry with second-class honors from The University of Bristol in 1970, and became a biochemist at the Wellcome Foundation in Beckenham, Kent. He was married to Vivian (Viva) until her death in 2009; the couple had one daughter.
   The Bournemouth Echo
also published a news item about Derek's death on the beach below East Cliff on West Bay, just south of Bridport, Dorset, and the subsequent inquest.
   His long-time friend John Fleming also wrote an interesting blog about Derek's career, and his recent dental surgeries.

John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Very sad news. Derek was a funny and serious chap at the same time. His wit and wisdom kept many of us amused in the long hours of battling the likes of Mr. Rees and Mr. Cornwell, two teachers diametrically opposed in their behaviour but united in their desire to torture us in Latin lessons. He knew how to get the "best" out of the latter and was adept at remembering some of the funny expressions used by Mr. Cornwell. So much so that he kept a record of them, ably assisted by the likes of Grant Harrison and Paul Graham.
   Derek was one of the first ex-pupils to pen something for The Mill and was good enough to share some of those yellings. This afternoon was a sad one thinking of his death but it turned to laughter, watching him on YouTube and re-reading Mr. Cornwell's sayings.

Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) adds: I'll really shocked. Derek was a great guy and I can only echo all that Grant has said. I'm glad I took the opportunity to see him and speak to him after a Windsor gig - the first time for nearly 40 years.
   It was 2nd of March, 2002, at the Windsor Arts Centre, near where I live; my late wife Julie and I went together. There were a lot of over-serious folkies there and - in Derek's words - "a few drunken tossers" but he kept up his routine in spite of some indifference from the audience. It was a mix of brilliant and sensitive guitar playing and hilarious acts, including the famous condom bagpipes.
   His act reminded me of the late, lamented Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, but just Derek! We laughed like drains. I bought some CDs afterwards which I treasure, and Julie and I chatted to him in the interval.

Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) adds: On 20 February, The Bournemouth Echo reported that an inquest had recorded an open verdict regarding the death of Derek Smith. The inquest heard that Derek had a history of depression and had been suffering severe pain following dental surgery. The assistant coroner for Dorset, Stephen Nicholls, said: "Having looked at the evidence in this case, I am going to return an open verdict because I am not satisfied on the evidence I have before me that Mr. Smith intended to take his own life." Derek's daughter Rosie said she would be making further enquiries as to why no evidence was presented about the drugs prescribed to her father, including one with known links to suicide.


 Russell Ead (JRGS 1959-66) celebrated his 66th Birthday in mid-January...

Russell Ead's 66th Birthday - January 2014

Denise Ead writes: "This image of Russell and me was taken on Sunday, 19th of January, during a family meal; his party hat was by Kiera, our granddaughter.

   "On Saturday - his actual birthday - Russell went to watch Manchester City beat Cardiff City 4-2, and then for a Chinese meal." The following week Manchester City also beat Watford 4-2.

Russell Ead

"This is an image of Russell taken in Dubai," Denise continues, "during a sunshine week away; he was a bit low after losing his Mum last September."
   Russell adds: "I have now fully retired and I am keeping busy with the grandchildren  - Jack almost 11 and Kiera six. Our daughter Rachael and husband Barry, Jack and Kiera are moving in with us as they have sold their house and not yet found one to buy.
   "Our son Phil and wife Kelly are off to Australia in five week's time and are having their first baby at the end of April, so Denise and I will be visiting them. We are sorry Phil is going but we wish them well.
   "Mum's house is now sold and I won't be going back to Croydon; they were happy days.
   "Being 66 has come around quickly! But no more birthdays."

As The Alumni will recall, Russell attended JRGS from 1959 to 1966, after which he studied medicine at Manchester University and qualified in 1971. He then undertook postgraduate training in Salford and Leeds and, in 1979, was appointed consultant dermatologist in Manchester and Salford. He married Denise in 1974; they have two children and two grandchildren. He still supports Manchester City.

  Finally, Denise has developed a website to offer help for children attending schools in Uganda. "I have received some lovely comments from Canada and the USA, and would like to share our resources and raise awareness with as many people as possible.
   "The website is targeted at young children and mainly for use in the UK, although other countries also seem to like it. Our goal is to find people to pass it on to anyone that would enjoy it. The Media Gallery is rather nice."

ML adds: Denise has just sent me this image of Russell in his jogging gear:

Russell Ead - 2014

Russell Ead, Marple, Stockport, Cheshire, February 2014 Email.


 Dave Anderson (JRGS 1964-71) discovers two videos about The Windmill...

A belated Happy New Year to The Alumni from a very wet (saturated) Hampshire. So much rain and it's not stopping anytime soon!
   I was trawling YouTube and searched "Shirley Windmill". It came up with a couple of very good results.
  One wrongly spelt "Shirely Windmill" is an aerial film of high quality. You will view The Mill and the area from an angle not seen before. It's very well done and when it pans out you can see the Oaks Road playing fields, the Sydenham (Crystal Palace) escarpment and the Mini-Manhattan of Central Croydon. All set to great music by Sting.
   Here are some examples; click on any thumbnail to view a larger version; and here to view a PDF file.

The Shilrey Windmill - aerial views

The Shilrey Windmill - aerial views

The Shilrey Windmill - aerial views

The Shilrey Windmill - aerial views

The Shilrey Windmill - aerial views

   I wonder how did the photographer get these shots? A hot-air balloon, or maybe a drone?
   There's also a Guided Tour of the Windmill, which is of interest if - like me - you have never been inside.
   On YouTube one thing usually leads to another and if you look at the other entries you will spot Sundown Over West Wickham(!). Bizarre I know, but there you are!
   I hope you all find this of interest. Best regards to all JRGS Alumni.

David Anderson, Southampton, Hants, February 2014 Email.


 Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) shares images from his recent wedding to Jane...

Paul and Jane Graham's wedding - August 2013

In August, Jane Paterson and I were married during a family gathering near our home in Iver, Buckinghamshire.

Both the wedding and reception were held at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club, Denham.

Click on any thumbnail
to view a larger version.

Paul and Jane Graham's wedding - August 2013
Besides The River Colne.


Jane and Paul with the latter's
grown children, Neil and Claire.

Paul and Jane Graham's wedding - August 2013 Paul and Jane Graham's wedding - August 2013 Paul and Jane Graham's wedding - August 2013

Arriving in a Riley convertible...

... that dates from 1936.

Cutting the cakes.

Paul Graham, Iver, Bucks, December 2013 Email.


  Anne Smith (JRHS/JRC teacher/principal 1970-99) reads Ofsted Report on College...

John Ruskin College Ofstead Report - November 2013A recent report from Ofsted - the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, which inspects and regulates services that care for children and young people - was favourably disposed to John Ruskin College. (By the way, I am now the College's Vice-Chair and Safeguarding Governor.)
   According to the new more rigorous Ofsted inspections, there are only three colleges in the country that are outstanding - and Ruskin is one of them! I feel a glow of pride in all that has been done, and the way the young people have responded.
   Click on the thumbnail shown right to view a large image.

   The 12-page report lists several attributes, including:

● The college’s overall success rates have improved rapidly and are significantly higher than the national average for similar colleges.

● Learners make good, and often excellent, progress from mostly low starting points.

● Learners develop a positive attitude to learning. They are consistently punctual for lessons, attendance rates are high and behaviour is consistently very good.

● Teaching, learning and assessment are excellent. Teachers focus well on the needs of individual learners and are highly effective in motivating them to achieve their potential.

● The development of learners’ knowledge and skills is outstanding as reflected in the high quality of their written work, well developed practical skills, their competent use of specialist vocabulary and ability to work independently.

● Support and guidance are excellent and are valued by learners who consequently make good, and often excellent, progress.

● The promotion of equality and diversity is highly effective, resulting in an inclusive learning environment which supports individual learners’ needs exceptionally well. Achievements gaps have been eliminated.

● The effectiveness of leadership and management is outstanding at all levels and has transformed the college, providing excellent opportunities for learners to achieve.

● The Principal and senior leaders maintain a constant focus on improving the quality of teaching and learning. Curriculum managers and teachers work together very well and are highly proactive in finding solutions to bring about improvements.

● Quality assurance arrangements are rigorous and performance management is highly effective in raising standards.

● The Principal and managers actively seek the views of learners to inform developments and regularly involve learners in decision making.

   In terms of possible improvements, the report suggests further developing learners’ skills in English and mathematics, and ensuring that learners gain qualifications, as well as continuing to share good practice to ensure that the quality of teaching, learning and assessment is consistently of a high standard and meets the needs of all learners on all programmes. Finally, the report suggests developing links with employers to maximise opportunities for learning and for developing learners’ employability skills.

   Overall, the College's effectiveness of leadership and management is described as "Outstanding."

   John Ruskin College, located in the former John Newnham Selective School's premises in Selsdon, Surrey, is a sixth-form college that offers only vocational programmes, with approximately 760 full-time and 157 part-time learners; the current  principal/CEO is Tim Eyton-Jones. So if any alumni are local employers, and would like to find out more about the college and what they may be able to do in partnership, do contact the principal.

Anne Smith, Croydon, Surrey November 2013 Email


 Graham Browne (JRGS 1955-58) recalls school life & teachers in the late-Fifties...

I recently stumbled across the web site and was delighted to see the pictures of the masters. (I was at JR from 1955 to 1958.)
   I was particularly pleased to see that Mr. Murray was so popular – a very nice man. And nice to read about Mr. Sharrock as well, another of my favourites.
   Mr. Smith frightened the life out of the lot of us. On one occasion he’d taken us swimming and I’d got some new trunks with a sort of metal buckle which somehow got jammed and I couldn’t get them off. I was absolutely terrified of telling Mr. Smith, but it had to be done. He got me free with a pen knife, while tears of laughter rolled down his face. A trivial tale no doubt, but for me the experience of a lifetime. Glad he almost made it to 100 though!
   Pity there’s not much about Mr. Laws, who taught me Latin and Greek. I’d have been interested to know what happened to him.
   I have a very vivid memory of Mr. Tryon, who never taught me, but there was an afternoon when whoever was supposed to be teaching us didn’t turn up. Hearing the racket, Mr. Tryon came in and decided to sort us out. He just sat on the desk at the front and talked to us entirely in French for the half hour. Strangely we appeared to understand every word and it was rivetingly interesting. I was impressed then and remain impressed nearly 60 years later. I remember that part of what he said was about the folly of dropping coins from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
   Another teacher who doesn’t get much of a mention is Mr. S. E. Murray (PE), who couldn’t stand me at all. In his eyes I was the weedy one who couldn’t do anything, and he hated it when it turned out that I was a pretty good runner:
   “Where’s that boy Browne? Coming in last I expect!”
   “I’m here, Sir. I got here first, Sir.”
   “Well, next time we stop I expect you to be bringing in the stragglers.”
   This conversation would be repeated at every stop during the cross-country run.
   I also got beaten up with table-tennis bat for swinging on the trapeze when he wasn’t looking.
   When my parents moved to Sidcup in 1958 I transferred to Chislehurst & Sidcup Grammar School, and on from there to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where I read Mathematics. I’ve ended up as a cryptographer and am currently working for Secure Electrans. I suspect that this is my last job as I’m getting fairly ancient.

Graham Browne, Cranage, Cheshire, November 2013 Email

ML adds: Maybe Neville Graham, who trained at Loughborough College, and joined JRGS in September 1957 from St. Aidan's Grammar School, Sunderland, was Mr. S.E. Murray's replacement as PE teacher?


 Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958-65) updates plans for a JRGS Reunion later this month...

Further to a recent news item on The Mill about renovations to The Surprise pub on Upper Shirley Road, which has now opened as a fish & chips restaurant, I am willing to co-ordinate a small reunion there on Saturday, 28th of September. My wife and I live down the road from The Surprise, and so are easy to reach.
   Please let me know directly by email if you wish to attend.

Ian Macdonald, Shirley, Surrey, September 2013 Email


A full list of archived News/Events Pages can be found here.

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