JRGS News Archive Page 57
JRGS Alumni Society

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- Page 57 - September 2009 -

JRGS Alumni Society


  Anne Smith (JRHS/JRC teacher/principal 1970-99) celebrates John Rowlands' career...

1967 1981

Last Friday night, 23rd October, there was a farewell party at the Chateau (formerly the Chateau Napoleon) for John Rowlands, who retired from John Ruskin in July 2009 after 43 years service! About 60 colleagues, friends and family met for dinner, with speeches between courses, and excitement was high as we caught up with those we had not seen for a long time as well as celebrating John's great service to Ruskin - not only in quantity but also in quality. Typical but exceptional was the contribution made by Barbara Room who, until her retirement, ran the Library, and who interrupted a holiday in Crete to come to the dinner - she returned to Crete soon afterwards!
   John was Head of Economics, Head of Sixth Form, Head of the Faculty of Economics, Business Studies and Mathematics, Assistant Principal with a number of responsibilities. When it was necessary to develop the Business Studies courses in the college, John became a Business Studies teacher too, and was assiduous in learning and presenting these new courses; later he added Accounting to his repertoire. He had himself a scholarly mind and a love of study.

An illustrious teaching career
First and foremost, however, John was a teacher, and his primary loyalty was always to the students. He was an excellent teacher, always prepared to spend time with those who needed extra explanation. He was respected by all his students for his dedication, and his concern for their progress sometimes, it appeared, exceeded their own. For years John would come into school/college in the Easter holiday and the half-term holiday before the examinations to hold revision sessions; and his anxiety for students to do themselves justice in their applications for university almost amounted to an obsession.
   So as well as being remembered for his teaching, John is remembered for his example in service to others, high personal integrity, punctuality and sheer unremitting hard work. For these qualities he is respected by students and colleagues alike. Even when one disagreed with him one recognised his passion for his job and even forgave him for the finger which he wagged in one’s face to emphasise his point.
   I was watching the Teachers’ Awards on television recently and thinking that John surely deserved a Lifetime Achievement award. He had worked at John Ruskin for his entire career; for more than 40 years he had taught Economics as the main and favourite part of his responsibilities, serving four head teachers/principals at the Grammar School for boys, the 14-18 mixed Comprehensive High School, and the ever-changing Sixth Form College. Indeed, he is even now serving under his fifth head as he was summoned back to cover for a maternity leave.
   Surely John must be the school's longest serving teacher in any of its guises. If he ever manages to leave John Ruskin it will truly be the end of an era; not for nothing are his initials JR too!

Anne Smith, Croydon, Surrey November 2009 Email

Paul Johnson (JRGS 1966-73) adds: I'm sure I remember John Rowlands joining the school, but he was my form master for two years - 3R and 4R; 1969/70 and 1970/71, I reckon - quite unusual to have a form teacher for two years running then. He also taught me history, I'm pretty sure. Sadly, I managed to get an "H" at O-level. (I'm still not quite sure how I managed that, to be honest!) But I do remember John being an excellent form teacher, always popular, unscrupulously fair. I'd forgotten the finger-wagging, but it was so much a feature of his unique style.
   One thing that always sticks in my memory... actually still embarrasses me to this day. I was standing by a top-floor window in the Shirley building, which happened to be open. Unbeknown to me, someone had thrown something from a window, and had caused some kafuffle down below in the playground. John was on the case, and doing the rounds of the windows! I was actually genuinely innocent of any charges, but he was persistent in his questioning. After about his third somewhat accusative question, and in a bit of frustration, I assured him that "I haven't ejaculated anything from this window". Why I chose that verb, I still don't know. I remember him looking momentarily knocked back by my response, but it did "encourage" him to believe me!
   A great man. I can't believe that John lasted under the John Ruskin name for so long. Well done, John!


 Paul Graham (JRGS 1959-66) scans some documents from the Ruskin Reunion...

The following documents have been supplied by John Walker (JRGS 1958-65) and were on show during the recent Ruskin Reunion.
   Note John's success at debating, a skill well known to those who remember his success as Labour candidate in the Mock General Elections organized by history teacher Mr. Alan Murray. I see that one of the debating team was our Reunion co-host, Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958-65). I wonder if anybody else has memories of such debates?


Speech Day 1959 - page 01 Speech Day 1959 - page 02 Speech Day 1959 - page 03 Speech Day 1959 - page 04

Speech Day programme from November 1959 - click here for a multipage PDF document

Speech Day 1963 - page 01 Speech Day 1963 - page 02 Speech Day 1963 - page 03 Speech Day 1963 - page 04

Speech Day programme from March 1963 - click here for a multipage PDF document

University Entrance 1962 - page 01 University Entrance 1962 - page 02 University Entrance 1963 - page 01 University Entrance 1963 - page 02

 University Entrance - 1962

 University Entrance - 1963

Junior Debating Society Award 1960 Junior Debating Society 1960 - special award for John Walker John Walker's Easter 1966 school report  

Junior Debating Society Success - 1960

 School Report - 1965


Paul Graham, Iver, Bucks, September 2009 Email


 Anne Smith (JRHS/JRC teacher/principal 1970-99) spotlights Ruskin Choral Society...

In 1983 or thereabouts Paul Kelly,  the school's then-Head of Music, decided that A-Level Music students ought to have a better acquaintance with and understanding of choral music. He therefore advertised amongst parents, staff and friends of parents and staff for people who might enjoy taking part in a production of Handel's Messiah, telling the students that it was compulsory, even though the rehearsals were to take place in the evening.
   In due course Messiah was performed in St Mildred's Bingham Road with an orchestra that was also made up, as far as possible, from the same groups. The performance was greeted with a standing ovation and was well reviewed in The Croydon Advertiser; afterwards Paul told us what our next production was to be. When we expressed surprise, he explained that we were now a Choral Society.
   And so it went on. Our repertoire includes a number of requiems - Faure, Brahms... - and oratorios - an early one was Berlioz's Creation - and a number of composers: Handel, Purcell, Haydn, Mozart, Bach, and some more modern. From fairly early on a tradition arose of having something lighter for the summer concerts, and amongst other pieces we have offered several concert versions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.
   In time, Paul moved on and we had a few conductors until Bruce Cornelius, who was the Head of Drama at Ruskin, but who had been a répétiteur with one of the major opera companies (I forget which one), took over. He stayed, even though he lived in Brighton, for as long as he was with the College, when the present conductor, Adrian Connell, was induced to take us over. By this time the society had changed a great deal, as had the College. A-Level Music was on the decline, but even before it died the society was no longer compulsory for the students. After I retired, the society was no longer allowed to rehearse free of charge at the College.
  You might think therefore that it should be renamed, but the fact is that seven (at least;  that is all I can remember) members are ex-teachers at John Ruskin, and that three of us have been in the society since it started. Similarly, we have parents whose children have long left the school/college, and friends who have also been members since the beginning or very near the beginning.
   Because of the origins of the society, one of our early principles was that there should be no auditions or voice tests; anyone may join even if s/he cannot read music. Anyone who watches The Choir on BBC Television may wonder where the choirmaster, Gareth, got this idea that anyone can sing and that it is good for them! Also the two violas in the orchestra when we have an orchestral accompaniment are ex-pupils (and one of them also an ex-teacher) from John Ruskin.

Appealing for Singers and Audiences
We are appealing for singers and audiences. Those of us who are long-time members are getting on a bit; there are always too few tenors, and we would like to think that as we have to give up there would be some younger members to carry on the tradition. But even if you are not sure about singing, we should love to see more alumni in the audience, and in these hard economic times we need them! It is sad to have to reject pieces we should like to sing because they need soloists or an orchestra who do need to be paid even if the amount they are prepared to sing or play for is sometimes tiny.
   Several of our members (me included!) do not read music and have to learn all the pieces. Another founder member those at the reunion may recognise is Mike Grant, with his wife Kit. Rehearsals are held in Shirley Methodist Church, Eldon Avenue, Shirley at 7.45 pm on Wednesday evenings in term time.
   If you aren't sure whether you want to sing, come to our next concert; if you are sure you don't want to sing, come to our next concert! It's on 5 December in St Mary Magdalene Church, Canning Road, at 7.30. We will be singing Mozart's Dixit and Magnificat and Haydn's Nelson Mass; in addition there is a chance to hear the Handel Organ Concerto The Nightingale and the Cuckoo played by our rehearsal pianist and organist, the professional Suzanne Brodie.
   The other dates for this year are 20 March in St John's Church, Shirley (where John Ruskin's parents are buried) and 3 July in the Shirley Methodist Church.
   Further details are available from Wendy Twitchett on 0208.777-3594 or Email

Anne Smith, Croydon, Surrey. September 2009 Email


 Colin Bateman (JRGS 1957-63) recalls his successful sporting career at the school...

My recollections of the first couple of weeks at Ruskin involves the fear of being indoctrinated via “the lurgy bin”, changing in The Mill, and getting Asian 'flu! My recollection of my last couple of weeks at the school involves being off sick due to smashing my nose whilst practicing in the cricket nets! The six years in between are a blur!
   The latter accident occurred when Vic Reed and myself were bowling to a master - Mr. Cook, I think - in the nets. I bowled, collected my ball, turned round, and walked back to my run up mark which was about 35 yards from the batsman. Vic bowled to Mr. Cook, and as I turned round to run in, so Vic’s ball hit me, still on the rise, direct from the teacher’s bat, bang on the centre of my nose! The memory thereafter fades!
   Actually, weeks 3 to 300 of my time at the school weren’t too bad. I spent too much time playing sport and not enough time doing homework, and I continue to marvel at the level of commitment that Mike Noakes
(JRGS 1957-63), Stuart Smith (JRGS 1957-63), etc. must have shown in order to combine mid-week school sporting pressures with homework.  I was in the 5U of 1961 but missed the GCEs due to Chicken Pox, returning in the official fifth form to take them the following year.

Below Cup XI - 1961

The 1961 Beloe Cup winning team (back row, from left):
Colin Alexander, John Macdonald, Vic Reed, Colin Bateman,
Rod Simmons, Keith "Monty" Masters and Peter Howard.
Front row: Jimmy Little (who played for Crystal Palace for several years), Mike Noakes, Peter Holmes, Ian Paye and Stuart Smith.

   Shown right is a photo of the 1961 Beloe Cup winning team from page 33 of the April 1961 school magazine. Keith "Monty" Masters, Jimmy Little and Peter Holmes were all in the year above us, but the rules of the competition allowed that eight players should be under 15 at the start of the school year, and three under 16. It is for that reason that Mike Noakes, Ian Paye and myself also appear in the 1962 side. The strength of soccer at the School at that time is reflected in the fact that Roy Hodgson did not make the 1962 team.
   The Beloe Cup, which was open to all Surrey schools, started in 1960, and Ruskin certainly won it for the first thee years of its existence.
   I think it was either the winter of 60/61 or 61/62 [maybe 62/63? - ML] that saw huge snow falls on Shirley Hills, and I can remember a few of us going down to Oak Road in order to dig the pitch out, only for our efforts to be negated by further falls! For games some skis were hired and we had some very basic tuition on the field next to the Windmill.
  Incidentally, my memory says that Jimmy Little played left back with Palace - was it the reserve team, I wonder? - not left-half as at school. I played with him in the Surrey Schools team of 1959-60. There is much reference to him on page 31 of the July 1960 school magazine, and page 31 of the December 1961 edition.
   One summer I can recall that Mr. Charles Smith booked the tennis courts at Shirley Park for a few periods, and I seem to think it was then that Stuart Smith showed his potential.
   I also seem to remember that Mr. Smith had a habit of saying “personally” pronounced “per-shun-ly”
   1962 was a fortunate sporting year for me, in as much as I played for London Schools against Glasgow at Hampden Park, and was also lucky enough to get called into the England Senior Schools Cricket team against Wales, at Cardiff, when Alan Knott dropped out. The football was an under-16 match, and in those days children in England could leave school at 15, whereas it was 16 in Scotland, and the consequence of this was that only two of us from the previous year’s under-15 side were still at school, whereas the Glasgow side contained about five Schoolboy Internationals from the previous season. We drew; but we would have annihilated them a year earlier!
   While laying cricket against Wales and keeping wicket, the first ball of the match went hammering to the boundary for four wides, as Alan Ward - who was really quick - lost all sense of direction to their left-handed opening bat! Great start for the confidence! The bizarre fact from a purely personal perspective, was that I somehow got an England Schools Cap, but never managed to get my School Cricket Colours!
   I did go on the Surrey County Cricket Staff at the Oval that summer (£3 a week plus match fees), and was offered a year’s Contract that I rejected it on the grounds that I felt I would never be good enough to sustain a long term career in the game. It did give me a chance to meet my hero - Peter May - along with the rest of that massively successful team of that period. Whilst the Colts X1 contained such players as Pat Pocock, Robin Jackman, Geoff Arnold, Graham Roope, and Geoff Howarth.
   I am not sure, but I believe that the school had a future pop star playing for the first team that cricket season. About then Tom and Bill Moeller arrived at the school from Australia - long way to come every day! - and both played for the School. Tom was a very good opening bowler, but it was Tom who went on to be in Unit Four Plus Two - challenging stuff this Australian maths - while Bill later re-incarnated himself as Whistling Jack Smith.
[Tommy Moeller handled lead vocals, guitar and piano with Unit 4+2; his brother Billy saw success with Whistling Jack Smith and I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman. Tommy was also co-writer of Concrete and Clay - ML. ]

Career after JRGS
Eventually I finished my studies via Borough Road Teacher Training College (now University College Brunel) taking PE and Maths; having spent an intervening six months period supply teaching PE at Ashburton Secondary Modern. [Bob Houghton was there at that time.]
   Unfortunately, teaching became a thing of the past when I hurt my back at College - an injury that continues to give me problems some 45 years later.
   Before the injuries finally took their toll, I did manage a season playing for Sutton United in their halcyon days in the mid-Sixties - and still have a couple of match reports written by Ron Pigeon when he was Sports Reporter at The South London Press. We had six players who appeared for England Amateurs in that side, including three (all ex teachers) who made it as international coaches - namely Dario Gradi, Ted Powell and Keith Blunt.
   Stupidly, I left Sutton at the end of the 1965-66 season for more money - so much for a supposedly amateur game!- played for Redhill, and then followed a friend of mine to two clubs he successfully managed: Eastbourne United and Horsham.
   From Borough Road College I went to Slazengers, and then into relatively successful sales and training management roles with John Player&Sons (I never smoked), Imperial Tobacco head office, CPC Ltd, Truman Brewers (I did drink) and Cow & Gate Ltd.
   My wife Wendy and I have two children: a son who has a Sports Science degree from Brunel, and a daughter with a degree in Business Studies who works for the Medical Division of GE. Our son-in-law is good friends with Rod Simmons
(JRGS 1957-63) - two lads from their days in Henley-on-Thames together. A small world.
   I've not played any active sport for years, and my back problems have very recently manifested themselves, via MRI and bone scans, as excessive wear to three lumbar discs that might need surgery. Hope not!

Colin Bateman, Hilperton, Wiltshire September 2009 Email

John Byford (JRGS 1959-66) adds: Tony, a fellow Crystal Palace supporter who keeps exhaustive records of the team's players, advises that "Jimmy Little did play for Palace - he was a full back who played for the reserves. He played one game 61-62, 12 games 62-63 and 24 games 63-64. He left and joined his namesake Roy at Dover close season 1964."

Mike Etheridge (JRGS 1963-65) adds: Ian Paye was former captain of the Whitehorse primary school football team in 1957. I met him at JRGS in 1963.

Tony Hasler (JRGS Teacher 1960-72) adds: Personally, I know of no other occasion when Mr. Bateman Senior - Colin Bateman's father - umpired but at that time it was not I but CES (or possibly Nev Graham) who arranged umpires. I was happy to accept his turning down of my appeal - it (the decision) was almost certainly correct as I realised when it was made. I had been a little too eager to whip off those bails, an opportunity which didn't come too frequently as I stood back to most staff bowlers who were all quickish - the spinners were seldom used and rarely beat the bat!

Croydon  Under 16 fooball team from 1961Mel Lambert (JRGS 1959-65) adds: I recently came across the attached image while surfing FriendsReunited.co.uk, and came across a profile of Peter Smith, who attended Woodside Infants and Junior Schools, and then Ashburton Secondary Modern School from 1956-65. The image show the 1961 Croydon School Under 16 Football Team that won the Cyril Black Trophy, beating St. Helier. It feature three former JRGS pupils: Jimmy Little, Keith Masters and Keith Robinson. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger image.
   A chartered engineer, Peter Smith still lives and works in Croydon, and enjoys "plenty of golf." Ashburton Alumni have also been meeting at The Sandrock, Upper Shirley Road.


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