JRGS News Archive Page 60
JRGS Alumni Society

Archived News/Activities

- Page 60 - Jan thru Feb 2010 -

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.

 Gordon Foster (JRGS 1964-70) recalls a physical altercation with Mr. Lowe...

I have only once before written to The Mill, but have read many an interesting article about my old school and its staff and pupils, thanks to the hard work put into the site by contributors and the webmaster over the past eight years.
   I was in the Upper Sixth during Mr. "Joe" Lowe’s final year as headmaster - or was it his penultimate year? - and once had the opportunity to punch him in the chest. Such callous youth, you may think, but the blow was at his own request. You could say "He asked for it, Guv," but he truly did!
   It followed a sports period when, because of bad weather, Mr. Graham (or was it Mr. Hasler?) made us exercise in The Gym - a rare treat itself as I seem to recall many a double-period spent running around the playing fields in Oaks Lane in weather so cold that you lost all feel your fingers and so felt nothing when the opposition smashed the wrong side of a lacrosse stick across your unprotected knuckles!
   Anyway, in The Gym we ran a race and I was so desperate to win (which I did) that I only stopped when I collided with the far wall. In protecting my face from a battering, I reached out with both hands and my right wrist was twisted. Mr. Lowe asked me to see him in the afternoon and put the wrist to the test by asking me to punch him in the shoulder. I tried to say that it was fine now but he was very persistent. So knowing I would never get the chance again, I threw my best punch. It caused him to take a step or two backwards and then announce that my ailment seemed to have recovered quite satisfactorily. Anyway, when I left school, "Joe" obviously thought it was safe for him to retire, too.
   My real reason for writing, however, is that I see that the webmaster will soon be taking a long-earned rest. While I regret that I simply cannot take over the role, I wanted to record my sincere thanks for the hundreds of hours he has spent giving thousands of Ruskin alumni such great entertainment. I do hope that someone will volunteer to take over the reins but I fear that you may be seen as such a hard act to follow, some potential webmasters might be put off. I only wish I had the time to provide the support needed to carry out the task but alas, it is not to be.
   These past eight years have been enormously interesting, thanks to our webmaster's good work; long may it continue under the new Captain.

Gordon Foster, Billericay, Essex. February 2010 Email


 Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) reports the sad death of John Henry Prevett OBE...

There are some years in the life of our school that were star bursts of talent. The cohorts entering John Ruskin school at the end of WW2 years of 1943-44 were amongst the most exceptional, and one of its brilliant but unassuming members, John Henry Prevett (JRGS 1943-50), has just died, on 30 January 2010 at his home in Surrey, aged 76.
   John was born on 6 April 1933 at Glynde, Sussex, son of Frank Prevett, a railway man, and Florence Wilson, married 1930 Sussex. He and his twin brother Peter attended John Ruskin GS from 1943 to 1950. They were contemporaries of alumni Frank Feates, Owen Everson, Terence Morris and the late Dudley Wolf. Whilst going on to great success in life, like many similar pupils from relatively modest backgrounds he did not forget his roots, as evidenced by his years of dedication to obtain compensation for Thalidomide victims, for his anti-apartheid work, and his involvement in local government.
   John was a very talented mathematician at school, but declined a place at university to study as an actuary. He is mentioned in several JRGS School magazines: March 1948, page 17 - poem; October 1948, page 05 - London General School Certificate success; April 1949, page 03 - poem; Autumn 1950, page 07 - entered actuarial profession on leaving school.
   John married Joy Goodchild in 1959 and had two children, all of whom survive him. He was awarded the OBE in 1974 and elected Mayor of the Borough of Reigate and Banstead, Surrey, in 1998-99. His funeral was held on Wednesday 17 February, 2010, at 12 noon at the United Reform Church, Shaw's Corner, Redhill, Surrey.
   Further information about his life can be obtained from the following sources. Guardian | Reigate & Banstead Borough Council | Mayors of Reigate & Banstead Borough.

John Henry Prevett - c1950
circa 1950 circa 2009 ©Guardian Media Group. All rights reserved.

Paul Graham, Iver, Bucks, February 2010 Email.

Terence Morris (JRGS 1942-50) adds: John Prevett OBE was a distinguished actuary who played a critical role in the long struggle to obtain compensation for the victims of the thalidomide disaster. The Guardian of 15 February carried a full-page obituary, and indicates what a crucial role John played in one of the worst medical disasters in recent history. He appears - along with his twin brother, Peter Prevett or "Percy" - in a photo above-left of the Upper VI in Summer 1950 that I sent The Mill some time ago. Click on the thumbnail to view a full-sized version.
   I knew John at JRGS since the Upper VI of 1949-50 was very small by today’s standards. His brother Percy was also in the Upper VI; other contemporaries include Peter Heath, Karl Smith and Tony Nye. Tony, who is now a senior member of the English Jesuits, spoke at John’s funeral.


 Peter Townsend (JRGS 1947-54) recalls life at the school in the Forties and Fifties...

A certain event earlier in my life had a large influence on my attitude to life. That event followed the high body temperatures of Scarlet Fever and the hallucinations I experienced as a result. I was duly deposited at the isolation hospital in Waddon during July 1943 when I was seven years old, for a period of six weeks. Events there had the effect of my being more introspective as a way of protection of myself. I began to think for myself.
   I was at Winterbourne Boys School, Thornton Heath. After release from the fever hospital I was shifted from the infant's school to the juniors and after an assessment I was placed into the third form, being a bit bright I suppose! So I had two years in the Junior school and then put into the 11-Plus.
   As the 11-Plus exam was nearing, we worked hard at a few practice lessons. The rule was that you had to be 10 years old by 31st January; well my birthday was 27th January. So I duly sat the exam early 1946, found that I was called for an interview held at The Tavistock School and later realised that the interviewer was Mr. Myers, who turned out to be my French teacher. The one question I answered that nobody else knew was that a mire is a bog!
   My parents never really thought I had gained entry to a grammar school, until the letter finally arrived with the news.
  The school outfitters were Hewitt's in Church Street, around the corner from Tamworth Road. My mother took me to school on the bus for a term in the morning and allowed me to get the bus home on my own. There was two-form entry: 1H (Miss Hickmot) and 1M (Mr. Manning).
   Having been ushered into the front school yard used by 1st, 2nd and 3rd formers, we new boys were dubbed "Brats". Those third formers were really rough and tough guys. There was some sort of shack in the far side of the yard with no padlock but the closure that the padlock fits into. Us "Brats" on the mid-morning break were grabbed and carried to this shack and imprisoned there, having had our nice new shiny shoes stamped on. There was a lot of muddy holes all over the yard where the surface of the tarmac was breaking up. The back yard was for the forms 4 and 5. It wasn’t long before the whole front yard was resurfaced and the yard was marked out with a tennis court and a high fence around the yard. About that time the start was made on building the Biology and Chemistry Labs in the rear playground, the remains of which served as a Staff car park
   I didn’t do very well in my first year. and never sat the end of year exams, as my father’s employer (WHS) had a fixed holiday period that the firm designated.
   In the early days in French we were given Emerson as the text book. Well, I opened up to the first page as I thought and saw all those funny letters that I never understood. Had real trouble, later to find that the first five lessons were printed in phonetic symbols and normal French text began a bit further on. So I was well behind in French. The only subject I seemed any good at was Science and the master was Mr. Whellock. Any demonstrations were set up in the classroom on the masters table. There was only one laboratory up on the third floor, then used by the more senior people.
   The next year was in 2P with Mr. "Puncher" Pearce. The only significant memory was interest in the removal of the tram track and the resurfacing of Tamworth Road. Strange now to think that the tracks have been re-laid!
   The arrangements for the two-period games session each week was at the sports ground, which was at Waddon, Duppas Hill, in a field next to that of Selhurst Grammar School. We were issued with bus tickets in the playground and then we went across the road to catch the trolleybus 654. The changing facilities were a tin shack with one cold tap that drained into an old galvanised bath, filthy bare wood floor. Atrocious! Many a time the football pitches were so wet and muddy it was difficult to keep on your feet, let alone kick the ball, but we had to have a really valid reason to dodge Games. A better option was to choose swimming at the baths in Scaresbrook Road. There was an open-air pool, which they said was heated, but just after Easter when the swimming became available it seemed really cold.
   In our year we had a student from Mombasa, Chantrakant Patel (better known as Charlie), who had come under the then Colonial Service with the intent to later study Medicine. He really didn’t like our climate after Kenya. I have never seen anyone look so cold, that in spite of his suntanned skin he was blue and shivered! He didn’t come swimming again unless we were in the indoor pool.
   Next year was 3P with Mr. Peacock - Geography; he succeeded Mr. Neave, who never taught me. We were getting to accept the moves around the school for different lessons. My class results improved and I remember coming 8th in the form and had real success in Art with Mr. Gee, coming second in form! He was provided with a separate studio which was on the way to Wandle Park. I still paint in watercolour!
   The new laboratories came into use.

Adding to the Sixth Form
Around this time there seemed to be imports of boys to the Sixth Form from other schools in the area, probably because Mr. "Joe" Lowe was very keen to improve the school's status in the district. The Dramatic Society also took off with quite fascinating quality productions, including  The Importance of Being Earnest and Midsummer Night’s Dream, in particular. For the first, I was recruited to be a programme provider and stood at the back of the hall throughout. Most of the audience comprised the families of the performers and staff. There was little opportunity for anybody else to get a ticket.
   The School Dinner Department comprised three ladies. The Chief Cook was Mrs. Newton and the kitchen was an old converted classroom. The aroma of the cooking often pervaded the school. The dinner was in two sittings, and was taken in the lower hall - the gymnasium - so that there was no Gym after the mid-morning break to allow the installation of benches and tables. (And, likewise, no Gym after the lunch break.)
   There was also a table especially for the staff to dine, a master on duty with a prefect sat at the end of each rank of three tables. I remember some horse play when the desserts were dished up in the kitchen were brought to the end of the tables on a trolley and the plates were passed along the table by the boys. Some got passed with vigour and the semolina sloshed off the plates much to the deep concern of the kitchen staff and Mr. Lowe. Following this occurrence, meals were then served up in the room where we lined up by table to get served.
   We were allowed out at lunchtime! Some would have lunch and then go to a bakery and get cream buns to supplement and eat as we played Chess. I wonder how many remember the tuck-shop across the road on the corner of Frith Road and Tamworth Road, where we would spend our sweet-ration coupons and sometimes get a fizzy drink for a penny on hot days?
   Then Mr. Lowe issued an edict that we weren't to eat in the street and the school cap was always to be worn even by the sixth formers. There was a chap who had an enormous quiff that he hated to squash so he held his cap on with his sister's hair pin!
   Also, at his time we were all enjoying one third of a pint of milk during the mid-morning break, suitably supervised by a Prefect.
   I think it was in the third form that we were asked as to what ambitions we had for our possible careers. At this time, the fourth Forms we were split into science and arts streams. I was put into the science stream in Form 4E with Mr. Evans. I really liked this teacher; he credited you with some intelligence, was also the form's Maths teacher. Mr. Evens was really good at teaching his subject. He left the school to take up a lectureship at Battersea Polytechnic (later to evolve into Brunel University).
   At this time we were regularly visiting the science labs for our lessons with Mr. Chaundy for Physics, being in what I termed the attic on the third floor, Mr. Whellock in the Biology lab and Mr. "Percy" Pearman in the larger chemistry lab built in the rear playground.
   Mr. Chaundy often used to pick me up in his new Austin A40 that he waited six months for; he used to live in my road, Norbury Avenue, down at what we called the posh end. He later moved to Caroline Road. He always dropped me off in the road - Drayton Road - at the back of the school so that nobody saw.
   He caught two of us smoking one day and later told us of the connection of smoking to lung cancer, a subject suppressed by the government of the day as it would have caused a severe loss of revenue to the Exchequer.
   The Science Form never had any free periods in the curriculum so we were very rarely able to use the school library, normally a place of peace and studious quiet. The library was often occupied by people on the Arts side as they had more free periods and although they weren’t supposed to, did their set home work. Occasionally, staff members used to inspect the work being done in the library.

The Detention System
At this point I recall the Detention System. The Detention Book was kept in the Headmaster's Office and if you were given a Detention you were kept in the school after 4.00pm for, I think, 30 minutes in charge of a duty master.
   Then there was the Prefects Court, held once a week after school, whence accused pupils were called to answer the various charges held against them. I never appeared here but there were stories from those who had attended of being given 100 lines. If you failed to provide the penalty it automatically was a Detention.
   I only got a few detentions during my wildest moments in 4th year and just sat and wasted the time. This, of course made you late home to the questions of mother and if I told the truth for the lateness, I promptly got another berating from her. I soon learnt to concoct some other reason for my being late home!
   I think, too, that around this time the School Certificate was revised into the GCE and we learnt that the pass mark was set just at 50% of the possible marks in that subject. There was no "distinction" as in the previous School Certificate, which meant that if you were good at a subject you could relax a bit because you knew you would get the pass OK. A big criticism of the system as set up at the time; it killed the ambition to get the honour of a Distinction.
   I don’t have many memories of the Fifth Form, the Master in charge of us was Mr. "Smithy" Smith. Although he was feared by some, he was always very fair to me.
   Also, at this time I learned that, together with a few others in the year we would be too young to sit the GCE, you had to have had your 16th birthday. So our select group were put into the Lower Sixth Younger, and we had the little room at the back of the upper hall as our form room, and Mr. Fisher came to do the Register every morning and generally looked after us. We had to keep our O-Level subjects "on the boil" while we still continued with the A-Level subjects. There were some days when we were able to attend a few lectures to help. My O-Level subjects were pruned down to Maths, French and English Language. It was a shame that I was made to ignore Geography, which was a favourite subject of mine.
JRGS Prefects - circa1953   At A-Level I studied Physics, Chemistry, Botany and Zoology together with extra Maths for one period with the A-Level maths group, just try to help out with the Physical Chemistry and the Maths in the Physics. But soon the group had covered so much more ground during the week that we were lost and the idea was abandoned.
   Show left is an image of the JRGS Prefects, circa 1953. Front row - from left: Paddon, Me, Maurice Davidov, Mr. Lowe, Baker, Don Downer, unknown; Back row - from left: Bignell, unknown, Burnett, Willoughby, unknown, unknown. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.
   This meant that a lot of the Physical Chemistry in the exam paper would be beyond the Biologists, and we would have to memorise all the Inorganic in the syllabus - quite a trial. Mr. Pearman used to hand out his own view of each element and what we had to know. All on duplicated sets of papers.
   One day in my last year at the school I was given a salt to analyse (Qualitative Analysis) and at the same time I had come across a Swedish Kroner with a silver content. So I set about dissolving it in acid and the nickel produced a lovely green solution. Whereupon, Mr. Pearson turned up and lJRGS in construction - 1954ooked at this flask of solution very puzzled. Scratched his head at this stage and walked down the lab. The salt I was given to analyse would never have led to such a green solution; it was only later when my results turned out to be OK that he had to pose the question in front of all my fellows. I had to admit what I was doing and had to tell of my whole process to obtain pure precipitated silver. This silver was later transformed into a silver badge of the Medical School at UCH.
  A Sixth Former in his last year fabricated a quantity of explosive in the Chemistry Lab - magnesium tri-iodide, a very unstable chemical - and placed some under the lino on the lectern upon which Mr. Lowe stood to speak to conduct Assembly at the end of term. As he stood on the lectern we heard the explosive fire as just his weight was enough to detonate it. Caused a rumpus!! Purple vapour of the iodine came out from under. No damage though.
   Shown right is an image of the new JRGS site in Shirley, which was opened the year after I left the school.

Applying for Medical School
I had many difficulties in applying for a place at a Medical School. They all seemed to have different dates that their application forms had to be sent in together with two passport photos. Some schools rejected the application out of hand as they never recognised JRGS as any worth. With the result that National Service was upon me and, although I had the required A-Levels, I couldn’t get a place to study Medicine, I received the call-up papers to join the RAF.
   At this stage I was quite desperate and went to see Mr. Lowe to discuss the situation.
He asked me if I would consider doing Dentistry, and sent me away to consider the prospect. I went to Croydon Public Library, found out as much as I could in a few hours, and returned to Joe Lowe with the phone numbers of London Dental Schools.
   Well, he phoned the first, which was University College Hospital Dental School to learn that someone had failed their A-Level and a place was available. The conversation was held in front of me and to this day I am still indebted to him for the glowing reference he gave me that day.
   UCH agreed to see me the next day in the Dean’s office in University Street, interviewed by the Hospital Secretary, General Burke, in the absence of the Dean himself. I was to be in the Medical School foyer on 4th October, 1954, to begin the course. I told him I had already received my call-up papers, to which he replied that I was to forget them and that he would deal with it.
   So here I am: a retired General Dental Practitioner. I do remember that another fellow ahead of me named Scivier was the first to go to dental school from Ruskin (Guy's, I think) and practiced somewhere in Surrey. I only saw this from the Dental Register.
    I have lived in Hatch End since 1968, having settled in general dental practice in Uxbridge in 1963, married for the second time 1968, and had a boy and a girl who are both married with two children each.

Peter Townsend, Hatch End, Pinner, Middlesex, February 2009 Email.

Mike Beaumont (JRGS 1955-60) adds: That's an interesting story from Peter Townsend. Mine is similar, but I was five years later than Peter, and perhaps not quite so bright!
   I was also at Winterbourne, moved up two classes in the junior school over a few weeks and was also in the Waddon Isolation Hospital for an extended period with scarlet fever.
   I am sorry that I cannot offer to help as webmaster of The Mill. After 40 years essentially in administration that is the last thing I need in retirement; I spend most of my time touring and exploring and catching up on those things I missed through not being bright enough for sixth form and Uni! There must be someone who would be more adept with the technology! I do hope that someone comes forward because it really is a great record for us alumni of JRGS.

Mike Winterbourne Girls SchoolEtheridge (JRGS 1963-65) adds: I found Peter Townsend's article very interesting and have attached a photograph - shown left - of Winterbourne Girls School taken in the 1940s during theMr. Etheridge with Dr. Desco Salute a Soldier week. My twin sisters are pictured somewhere in the photo. I assume Peter was at the boys school at about the same time and may remember the event?
   From what I can read of the notices on the walls of the school hall they appear to have collected £2, presumably towards a wounded soldier fund?
   Peter's mention of scarlet fever reminded me of my twin brother (also name Peter) being taken by ambulance to Waddon Isolation Hospital with scarlet fever having not been warned in advance that he was going ,a situation he found quite traumatic.
   The other photograph attached - shown right - is of (right-to-left) my father, a bacteriologist, and a Doctor Desco outside Waddon hospital where they both worked. The picture was taken in the 1920s, but they may well have treated Peter Townsend during his visit to the hospital?
Click on either thumbnail to view a larger image.

Peter Townsend replies: I am afraid I first must tell of the day two land mines fell in the infants school playground. We arrived for school to find the fire brigade squirting away the debris from around the crater where the bomb had fallen and the south side of the building was caved in. In spite of this the school carried on with tarpaulins hanging down and us kids playing - "I got a letter from my love and on the way I dropped it... It wasn’t you... you... you - It was never me!"
   I am afraid the contact with the girls was verboten in those days, I can only recall one event when we boys were allowed downstairs in the girls school at Winterbourne was to watch a display of country dancing. I recall being entranced as the girls had such wonderful motions and dresses as they danced. I only remember the names of two girls: Barbara Brown and Sheila Sleep. There was another named Kate, who lived in Winterbourne Road. Kate had two long plats that we boys used as reins, She would enjoy the trip but yelled loudly when we pulled to heavily on her plaits. Poor girl!
   Barbara Brown lived in Melfort Road, and her Dad had a well known sire rabbit and he was deeply involved in the local Rabbit Society. I went to her Christmas party and was amazed to see a Christmas Tree with real candles all over alight. A real fire risk! We often used to visit his notorious buck with an innocent Doe of ours. Remember that, Post War, the keeping of rabbits was a way of supplementing the protein uptake of us kids with some meat. At one time we had 25 hutches in our garden in Thornton Heath and a few chickens laying eggs. Weekends involved forays to find suitable vegetation for them to eat and I used to have two bags on either handlebars on the way home. I have never been able to interest my wife with Sunday Lunch with baked rabbit with all the vegs that we used to enjoy.
   Vegetation on the whole was widespread as there was no mowing anywhere, and sometimes you could hide in long grass just across the road from your house.
   I now have a sudden vision of Mr. Carter giving us swimming lessons, just balancing on a stool on our tummys to practise the strokes of breast stroke (all done by numbers) in the school hall after school as the local swimming pool was about to reopen and we were to be given the opportunity to go for swimming lessons at Thornton Heath baths. Having more or less grasped the strokes in the school hall, Mr. Carter then strung a hoop about me and shouted to say do the swim as he had told me as he dragged me across the pool on this tow rope. It took some time before I could swim properly. I also, recall how Mr Carter held the class behind one day as nobody knew their 6 times table and he wouldn’t let us go home until 6x9 = 54.
   Further, I can only add that the isolation in the hospital at Waddon was, I agree, truly traumatic. I look at my grandson now, who is just coming up to his eighth birthday and imagine my own situation at that age! Thank goodness antibiotics have changed all that! A dose of penicillin killed off the Beta-haemolyticus Streptococcus bacterium so easily.


 Peter Townsend (JRGS 1947-54) uncovers a 1955 School Speech Day programme...

I recently came across a copy of a 1955 Speech Day programme that might be of interest to The Alumni. I had hoped it was the one occasion I remember, being the visit of His Grace The Archbishop of Canterbury (who crowned The Queen). The Bishop of Croydon (Bardsley I think his name was) had told him about our unique school, but it was Ritchie Calder, science editor of The Science Chronicle who then came as guest of honor.
   Being a Member of the Rotary club of Uxbridge, I was fascinated to see on that programme there was an Award from the local Rotary Club. Most Rotary Club prizes are to recognise those pupils who may not be academically astute but who have developed in a way that produces benefit to mankind. At the time I never knew about Rotary.

Speech Day Programme

Speech Day Program - February 1955

Speech Day Program - February 1955

Speech Day Program - February 1955

Speech Day Program - February 1955

Speech Day Program - February 1955

Speech Day Program - February 1955

Speech Day Program - February 1955

1955 Speech Day - Cuthbert Bardsley   Click on either thumbnail to view a larger image, or here to view a combined PDF file.

Peter Townsend, Hatch End, Pinner, Middlesex, February 2009 Email.

Mike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55) adds: Oh dear! That was the year of my ignominy when I only achieved one O-Level, in maths! But, nevertheless, I did manage the Senior Handicraft Prize, even if they spelled my name incorrectly.
   By the way, Cuthbert Bardsley was the Bishop's full name - see my attached photo, shown right, which almost certainly was from that same 1955 School Speech Day.
Click on the thumbnail to view a larger image.


 Bryan Burchett (JRCS 1941-46) recalls regalia of original Old Boys' Association...

    Regalia of original Old Boys' Association     Regalia of original Old Boys' Association


Further to the plea from Bob Wane (JRGS 1945-53) for news of former schoolmates, there are still many of the Tamworth Road Mob in circulation; Roy Seager, David Prockter, John Salkeld, Jack Worsfold - all having a lively time approaching "octogenarianship" and available to re-organize the world.
   But, to the point, something we have a problem doing. I attach a couple of photographs showing  the regalia of the original John Ruskin Old Boys' Association (JROBA) - what a magical name! The main items were (left-to-right) a woollen scarf(155 cm x 25 cm); a tie (again, red and gold stripes on a black ground); a blazer badge on a black ground with red centre panel with gold features and outline worked in gold wire (which is shown in greater detail in the right-hand image); there was a striped blazer carrying red and gold stripes on a black ground. We knew how to dress in those days! -50
   All items were available from our old friend Mr. Hewitt in Church Street. The scarf proved to be of excellent material and is this very day warding off the sub-zero weather - not bad going after 60 years!
   Click on either thumbnail to view a larger image.

Bryan Burchett, Beckenham, Kent. February 2010 Email

Mike Marsh (JRGS 1949-55) adds: I attach a picture below-left of yours truly wearing a blazer with the JROBA badge taken probably in 1961. I also saw the name of Jack Worsfold in Bryan's entry above. Now, I know a Jack Worsfold quite well, as we were in the Rover Scouts together in the Fifties, if it is the same chap. I have mailed him to enquire since I did not realise that he was a JR Student too. I have met Jack annually for several years now when we go to the Rover Scout reunion which for the last three years has been at the Surprise.
   I attach a picture of him below-right taken last year. I'll let you know when I hear from him if he is one and the same as he who Bryan Burchett knows. Click on either thumbnail to view a larger image.
JROBA outfit - April 1961 Jack Worsfold

Mike Marsh - pictured (probably) in April 1961

Jack Worsfold

An Update: I recently received the following reply from Jack Worsfold; all this time and I never knew he had been to that school! I must have met him first in 1955 or '56, when I moved up to the 31st Croydon Rover Scouts - having been in the 29th Croydon Senior Scouts and Scouts until then -  but I was only to be with the Crew until I joined the RAF in early 1957. By the time I came home in 1959 the Rover Crew had disbanded and so I joined the 29th Croydon up on the Shirley Road associated with St John's church - the 31st Crew were associated with St George's. So I lost touch with Jack until the first time I went to a 31st Crew Reunion in 2003 where I met him (and the others) again; the passage of 46 years had left their mark on everybody! 'Nuff said!

Jack Worsfold (JRGS 1943-48) adds: Yes, it is indeed myself who is referred to in Bryan Burchett's short epistle on the JRGS website. Bryan and I have been good friends for many years although I didn't really know of him whilst at school, except that on one brief occasion when he was demoted to my class for some sort of "indiscretion". I remember at the time it was all rather amusing. I attended Ruskin from 1943 to1948 when, for the major part, we had the great Mr. McLeod as head master. It all changed when Mr. Lowe took over! Just a point of interest our two lads also are old Ruskinites.
   It was good to hear from Mike; and, to answer his query, the last drop of snow has virtually gone, but it did cause a few problems during the last few days. Roll on Spring!


 Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) reports the sad death of Sixties alumnus Mark Haseler...

I recently had drawn to my attention the tragic death of ex-JRGS alumnus Mark Edward Haseler (JRGS 1969-76) aged 39 in a mountaineering accident on 22 July, 1997, close to the summit of Aiguille Bionassy, near Mont Blanc in the French Alps. A colleague, Clare Kempster, also of the Rockhoppers Climbing Club, died with him.
   Mark was born on 11 October, 1957, in Croydon to Ernest and Margery Haseler of Shirley and had two older brothers, Tony and Geoff. Mark was a pupil of John Ruskin GS from 1969, completing A-Levels there before obtaining a degree in Biochemistry at Bristol University and a job at University College Hospital in London. After a second degree in Computer Science he worked at the Middlesex Hospital at lived at West Dulwich, south London.
   Included below are three articles from the Croydon Advertiser issue dated 25 July, 1997.
Contributions would be welcomed from Mark’s ex-colleagues at school in the 1970s, or from those still at the school in 1997 who remember the incident.
   Click on any thumbnail to view a full-sized image. ©Croydon Advertiser. All rights reserved.

Croydon Advertiser - 25 July, 1997 Croydon Advertiser - 25 July, 1997 Croydon Advertiser - 25 July, 1997

Paul Graham, Iver, Bucks, January 2010 Email.


 Stuart Smith (JRGS 1957-63) delivers a moving tribute to Bob Phillis...

Bob Phillis - -©2011 Guardian Media Group. All rights reservedThe following is A Tribute at the Thanksgiving Service for the life of Sir Robert Phillis (JRGS 1957-64) that I delivered on 20 January, 2010. [more]

Jean, Martin, Ben, Tim and your families:
Robert/Bob – I have always known him as Robert even though everyone else has known him as Bob!
   As you know, I met Robert on the playground of John Ruskin Grammar School in Croydon on our arrival at the school, 53 years ago.
   Someone once said: “you cannot control the length of your life, but you can control its breadth, depth and height”. And, for the next few minutes, I shall attempt to illustrate that Robert did just that with his life.
   There were seven ages to this man, he touched seven decades and I would suggest that Bob the man had seven threads that ran through the seven ages:

   ● Family man

   ● Friendly man

   ● Business man

   ● Caring/community man

   ● Sportsman

   ● History man

   ● Travelling man

And I shall pick up on these threads as I go through the ages and, of course, some of these threads have been picked up already by Ben, Tim and Mike.

First Age
He was born on 3 December 1945 to Trudy and Frank and was the middle son of three brothers – Dave the elder, Mick the younger.
   The family fell on hard times and moved to New Addington, a large Council estate on the south eastern edge of Croydon.
   He went to Castle Hill Primary School. He was a clever little boy and passed his 11+ and went to John Ruskin.

Second Age
His second age began.
   John Ruskin was a very ordinary grammar school in a new building with an old windmill; and a school that had an enormous effect on our lives. The school decided to fast track a number of boys by accelerating their education and leapfrogging their second year altogether; and so Bob, Mike and I ended up in the same form, Class 3U (the “U” standing for University, as the school, up until then, had had few, if any, university entrants). We took our “O” -Levels at 15 and Bob got 10 of them, including art – the only boy to do so.
   By then, he had already developed a love for history, and all things military as you heard earlier from Ben, and this proved useful as Mr. Murray, our history teacher, one week before the “O”-Level exam discovered that the syllabus he had been teaching to, was wrong; it had been revised and he had omitted great chunks, including WW1, but Robert had already studied it by himself and so he got the history prize!
   And throughout his life, and whenever he went travelling (as he has done with quite a few of us here today), he always seemed to know as much, if not more, than the City guides about their own history (and, of course, could not resist demonstrating this)…recently, when we were in Pompeii, he engaged the guide in a detailed debate about the respective roles of “Pliny the elder” and his nephew, “Pliny the younger”, in chronicling the events around Vesuvius!
   But … because of those family circumstances, and very sadly for him, he had to leave school at 15, joining Samuel Stevens in Upper Norwood and served his printing apprenticeship as a colour retoucher, whilst also studying for his “A”-Levels at night school; and in co-operation with his union, SLADE, won the unique Thomas Foreman scholarship for practising printers, to read industrial economics at the University of Nottingham. I said in co-operation with his union, “SLADE”, because one of his union friends recalls a shop steward asking him in tones of disbelief: “Why would he give up such a good job, waste his time at university, and then go into management? Managers don’t run anything in the print”. Well, I think he made the right choice, don’t you?
   Coincidentally, as he left school at 15, he met Jean Derham at a party in Thornton Heath and, being at work earning money, very suavely took them on their first date to the local Chinese! They were quite the young couple, even had something called a car, a 1935 Morris 104, in which we used to go camping, to the Norfolk Broads and Caister Holiday Camp (we were really quite wild in those days!). Jean reminded me the other day that she had passed her driving test first and Robert was quite infra dig that, for some time after as they drove around, the L plates applied to him, and not to her!
   Towards the end of this Second Age, his leadership qualities were coming through; Bob was already Chairman of the apprentices’ chapel at work and my father, a local police officer who had founded the Venturers’ Youth Club in Addington, made Bob his first Youth Club chairman, at which he excelled, of course.
   At the end of his second year at Nottingham, during which time he would proudly proclaim that he was a dependent relative living off his wife’s earnings (to which Jean’s recent response was that she looked on it as a long-term investment that paid off), and in the Summer of 1966, Jean and he were married at St Mary’s Church Addington, with Mike as his best man; and Robert acquired a mother-in-law, affectionately known by him (and eventually everyone else) as “Trouble”... another sign of his underlying mischief.
   Their honeymoon in Porth, Cornwall, had to be cut short and they left on a Thursday because he knew that they had to get back home to have the TV repaired on the Friday so that they (he?) could watch England in the World Cup Final on the Saturday!

Third Age
And so into the Third Age, and he did have a great love and appetite for sport, all sport…
   He loved football (Crystal Palace – “Eagles” – was his team, revelling in the many moments of success we have had over the years – well, there have been a couple!) and rugby; he played basketball for school and university. He ran, he cycled, he rowed in the Henley 4s and he skied passionately.
   And later on, when at GMG, he was the driving force behind their sponsorship of the Manchester Commonwealth Games (and its community legacy), and his knowledgeable introductions of the competitors prior to each session were greatly appreciated by his guests and the athletes alike.
   And, of course, golf which Tim has talked about!
   But, this Third Age was all about being the foundation decade for his family life and business career.
   He had graduated from Nottingham with first-class honours and, after brief spells with Thompson Regional Newspapers and British Printing Corporation, he went into academia for a few years, lecturing in industrial relations at Edinburgh University and being a visiting Fellow at the University of Nairobi.
   Martin, Ben and Tim were born. The family moved to Star Cottage and then to the Old Vicarage here in Wargrave and this village quickly became, and still is, the family home with many, many friends, the boys’ schools close by and many, many happy years in the wonderful old house that Robert loved so much.

Fourth Age
The next three ages of Bob, in his 30s, 40s and 50s, I am going to take together because these were the engine room of his life; his career and extra curricular achievements were enormous and throughout this time his family grew up.
   His Memorial Service later in the year will catalogue his career but, to understand and appreciate the man today, something has to be said.
   He had a spectacular career in broadcasting and the media…he worked in both the commercial and public sectors…he was both operational and strategic…he managed both change and consensus…he shunned personal publicity. He was not a conventional thinker and had formidable intellectual prowess that he never flaunted. After his university career he went to:

   ● Sun Printers - Personnel Director then MD

   ● TV Times - MD

   ● Central TV - MD at 36 years old, backed the production of “Spitting Image”

   ● ITN - Chief Executive, keeping the bongs of Big Ben on the News at 10

   ● Carlton Comms - Group MD

   ● BBC - Deputy Director General/Head of World Service/Chief Executive BBC Worldwide

   ● GMG - Chief Executive until his illness

   ● All3Media - Chief Executive until now

I can do no better than to quote from two of his colleagues:
   Liz Forgan (Chairman of the Scott Trust) wrote: “No-one thought of him as a media mogul – his style was so wrong for it. But that’s what he was. In a sector where modesty is not a common fault, he stood out as warm-hearted and self-effacing, with a talent for friendship; he put his management skills to work on media organisations that married a drive for profit with a wider cultural remit.”
   Lord Putnam wrote very movingly: “He may well have been the most thoroughly decent human being ever to have graced the media world. He was in every respect “a people person” in a business in which people and the quality of their relationships began to matter less and less.”
   I can add nothing to that.
   What I can add is prompted by a remark made to Jean by one of her friends who, having read all the obituaries etc, said…”but is this the man we know?” Yes it is!!
   He was a wonderful social animal, kind, charming, never dull, humourous; there was the fun, the meals, the drinks, the parties, the friends – you wanted to be in his company. But on occasions he had his moments, not always the easiest man, sometimes provocative, sometimes determined, sometimes even a little late, sometimes a little obstinate – such as the occasion when with all our boys we were playing cricket in the garden, he was clearly LBW but he refused to walk, just standing there looking very dour with that hurt, slightly frowned, puckered lip look of his, with our boys wondering whether this was the correct behaviour for the man who sort of ran the BBC!

Fifth Age
In parallel with Robert’s business and family lives, he found time for a host of extra curricular and community activities and, again, I am sure that these will be explored more fully at a later date, but to remind you of the flavour:
   1. Fellow, Chairman, President of the Royal Television Society
   2. A Vice-President of the European Broadcasting Union
   3. Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
   Lots of Honorary degrees including:
   4. Honorary Professor at Stirling University where he had been an external examiner in the Media Management Masters Programme for 4 years
   5. City Fellow at Hughes Hall, Cambridge University
   6. A trustee of the National Teachers’ Awards – he was dedicated to the priorities of education and young people throughout this business life – GMG’s “Tools for Schools” programme involving the distribution of IT equipment was a good example.
   7. At the request of Tony Blair, he chaired the Independent Review of Government Communications
   8. His “Cancerbackup” charity
   9. … and loads more!

Sixth Age
And so, at the end of his Sixth Age after all of this he received a Knighthood from the Queen in her 2004 Birthday Honours; he was so proud of this and of the public recognition, so richly, richly deserved.

Seventh Age
And so to the final Age of this extraordinary man, the Seventh Age, prematurely brought short.
   He had acquired 3 delightful daughters-in-law, Julie, Bettina and Shannon, and now 5 grandchildren arrived: Zoe, Olivia, Sebastian, Alistair and, most recently as Ben said, Max.
   But, he continued to do lots of things, including one significant new one; our sportsman helped us enormously in the world of tennis, joining as one of our first 2 independent directors on the Board of the Lawn Tennis Association and joining the Committee of Management of the Championships at Wimbledon. It was wonderful for me as a lifelong friend to more fully appreciate his business acumen and work alongside him in tennis, as he contributed to our recent very significant changes to the governance and structure of the game, adding particular value to our commercial programme. And, at Wimbledon, where the poem “If” sits above the entrance to Centre Court, and in the Royal Box, he seemed to know everyone and was a marvellous ambassador for the Championships, despite his growing illness which, as we all know, he fought so bravely.
   Despite his illness, he continued to travel with Jean, to the Galapagos Islands, and with Mike and Fiona, to the Beijing Olympics, and very recently with Mike and Hazel, up the Rhine, and in October, Jean, Marilyn, Robert and I went to Positano on the Amalfi Coast, despite the busy daily schedule that he had set, we did have plenty of time to reflect. He recalled his most memorable holiday as being one of those that Tim mentioned, the family white water rafting trip in Canada. Also, he said that the four most important things in his life had been:

Meeting Jean

   ● The birth of his sons

   ● His first-class honours degree

   ● His Knighthood


   ● Family man

   ● Friendly man

   ● Business man

   ● Caring/community man

   ● Sportsman

   ● History man

   ● Travelling man

... has reached the end of his seventh age.
   But back to John Ruskin and, if Robert is listening to this right now, he is probably expecting Mike and I to burst into the school song, as we used any opportunity to do so…”when the light of truth is fading, and the torch of faith burns low…” but no, instead in an 1870 lecture Ruskin said: “Life without industry is guilt, and industry without art is brutality.”
   Bob led a very industrious life and one that was vividly coloured by his art.
   We are all so proud of him and to have known him.
   The world of broadcasting and media will miss him.
   We his friends will miss him.
   The family, his brothers and your families, his sons, Martin, Ben and Tim and your families will miss him.
   And above all Jean, you will miss him. You are so proud of him, and you should be proud of yourself, as Bob was of you, because you have been the anchor to this extraordinary man and his extra-ordinary life.
  Robert, Bob – thank you.

Stuart Smith, London, January 2010.

Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) adds: On May 13, a tribute to Bob Phillis was held at St Martin's in the Fields church in central London. A report appeared in The Guardian. His family and hundreds of former friends and colleagues heard BBC director general Mark Thompson praise his time as deputy director general: "He had integrity, honesty and courage … he embodied all that was best about our industry." John Hardie, chief executive of ITN, highlighted Bob's role in saving ITN from financial trouble, while Carolyn McCall, Guardian Media Group chief executive, said that The Guardian had a great deal to thank him for.


 Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) reports the sad death of Forties alumnus Dudley Wolf...

Dudley Wolf - 2007Yesterday I heard the news that Dudley Wolf (JRGS 1943-48) passed away on October 9, 2008, after a battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife, Patricia, and his two daughters, Louise and Vanessa.
   His daughter Louise C. Adamson, currently living in SanClick here to download a larger image Francisco, writes: "I was just admiring my father's beautiful watercolor sketch of the Windmill House - shown right - which was featured in the April 2003 newsletter, and which sparked a long and interesting exchange about wartime Croydon.

   "There was also a reference back to page 8 of the March 1948 school magazine that mentioned the 'Progress of the Sciences' mural that he had painted at the original Scarbrook site. It was praised in the article as being both 'well-executed and witty'.
   "I think that the same could be said of just about everything my father did. He was an exceptionally talented and creative man as well as a wonderfully thoughtful and loving father and husband. We all miss him very much."

   Alumni might also like to re-read Dudley's comments on the British Bulldog game and University Applications.
   He also supplied The Mill with a copy of the March 1947 school magazine, which includes two of his elegant woodcuts on page 6 and page 20.

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA January 2010 Email


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