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The retiring Headmaster receives a new bicycle at the Governors’ farewell dinner .

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The U15s played King's Chester in the final, having beaten Marple Hall school in the semi-final. BS batted first and scored over 230 runs in 35 overs, and then then bowled King’s all out for fewer than 100, winning the game by more than 130 runs.

See also pages 36 and 44

HM tries it out immediately.

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A lap of honour around the School Dining Hall (on the inside!)

It’s all a blur as HM whizzes past the diners. Photos: Carl Hodson


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

The BS Team are presented with their prizes and certificates by Professor of Chemistry, Professor Peter

BS came 2nd in the North West finals of the Salters’ Chemistry Festival held at the beginning of June in which 22 schools took part. This one-day event, which was held at the University of Liverpool this year, focusses on hands-on, practical activities and rounds off the day with a fun lecture or ‘pops and bangs’ demonstration. "The Salters' Challenge" in the morning is a competitive, practical activity, for which there is no advance preparation and is designed to test pupils’ grasp of basic Chemistry principles. In the afternoon, students tackled "The University Challenge", which is a practical investigation chosen by the University. The day ended with the prizegiving. The Salters' Institute plays a major role in the support of chemistry teaching, the encouragement of young people to pursue careers in the UK chemical industries, and the promotion of chemical education, including the whole area of curriculum development. During the last fourteen years over 41,000 students have experienced the fun of practical chemistry through the Salters' Festivals of Chemistry, which have been hosted by more than 45 universities throughout the UK and Ireland in partnership with over 200 chemical and related companies. M Hayward, Head of Science Congratulations to (photo above right, l to r: Ethan Carley, Gregory Wilkinson, Holly FitzHerbert and Verity Walker, all from Year 8, who represented the School at the competition.

Since September, a number of Year 5 girls have been regularly attending Prep Cross Stitch Club, and recently its first boy member. Each week they have followed a detailed pattern to create a picture, which is then used as an insert to produce a themed card. Christmas and Easter cards and finally a design of their own choice have all been successfully created. All the children have significantly improved in their cross stitching ability and have produced some fantastic results. Quotes….. “Cross stitch is a fun and creative thing to look forward to each week”, Olivia Ross 5P “Cross stitch is wonderful. The first time I went I didn’t want to go, but then I got there and wished it was on every day. It is the best club”, Natasha Keeling 5P “Cross stitch is a very enjoyable club. I have enjoyed making the different cards. I love this club and we have a good laugh”, Hattie Rogerson-Bevan 5B “Cross stitch club is great. I enjoyed making the Christmas tree cards with help from the some Lower Sixth pupils”, Sofija Ruzic 5B. A Rushton, Year 5 teacher 2

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

In what is a short but busy season, our athletes have again performed well in a range of events. In the team event organised by Wirral Athletics Club both the junior and intergirls teams finished 4th out of eight schools. The inter-boys were also 4th and the junior boys managed 3rd place. Notable performances included: Oliver Pearson with 10.72m and 1st in the triple jump; Sam Cross with 5.15.2 in the 1500m; Dan Cooke with 4.34m and 1st place in the long jump; Lucy Mayers with 1.15 and 3rd place in the high jump; Jess Pulford 7.40m and 3rd in the shot putt; Rosie Durband 2nd in the javelin with 15.03m; Grace Edwards 2nd and Georgia Varey 3rd in the triple jump with 7.82m and 7.45m respectively; Chloe Hardisty 3rd in the 1500m with 6.25.1; Jaime Stanton 1st, Caroline Hurst 3rd in the 300m with 48.5 and 54.4 respectively. At the Y8-11 Wirral trials, not many athletes put themselves forward; however, two who did enjoyed the evening, with George Fraser winning the discus and Daniel Evans winning the 1500m. More volunteers came forward for the Y7 Wirral trials and the athletes who qualified were: Edward Oulton, runner-up in the javelin, and the star of the evening, Jaime Stanton, who won the shot putt, the 75m sprint and the 150m! These athletes should go on to represent Wirral in the Merseyside Games. Well done to all who have taken part. D Hendry i/c Athletics

Photo above l to r: Oliver Pearson Y10, Dan Cooke Y8, Jaime Stanton Y7 and Rosie Durband Y10. Photo right: Lucy Mayers Y7 3rd in the high jump. PS: Congratulations to Rosie Durband who has been selected from the North West to attend the Manchester Pumas (Hockey) Regional Performance Centre in Manchester during the summer. She has played for Cheshire West & Wirral JAC for the past 3 years. Selectors choose players from Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Cheshire East and Cheshire West through a number of tournaments played in Blackpool and at Sedburgh School which they attend.

Hard at work with painting and decorating .

Ruby Travis and Caspar Jennings show off their finished pieces. Luke Weston and Zoe Janikiewicz with their vehicles. Over the last term, Year 2 have been investigating various vehicles. They looked at the different features and sizes and what made each vehicle suitable for its use. After some careful designing, the 'junk modelling boxes' were heading into School thick and fast. The children's biggest decision came when they had to choose the wheels they were going to attach to the axle. For two lessons, it felt as if Blue Peter was visiting Old School House! Paint, glue guns, googly eyes, tissue paper and much more adorned the classrooms. Eventually the vehicles were complete! Well done to all of Year 2 who created such individual designs. Mrs Annabelle Hendry, Year 2. 3

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Annabel Saverimutto was used as a model in the Andrew Collinge Hair Competition for hair stylists in their first year which was held at the Liner Hotel, Liverpool, in May. Holly Williams is a hairdresser at Team4Hair in Prenton. Of the 60 entrants, judged by a panel from London, Holly was placed 14th for her elegant design. Incidentally, Paul supplied and cut the wigs for the School production of Les Misérables in March.

During the Lent term, as part of the D&T curriculum, Year 2 investigated puppets. After playing with puppets of varying sizes and colours, they had a closer look at the different puppets and made detailed drawings of their features and looked carefully at how they were made. Then came the designing process, taking great care over the finer details and expressions of the puppet. Well done to all of Year 2 who patiently sewed their puppets and added accessories to create their own unique toy! Mrs Annabelle Hendry

With the Head of Prep Mr FitzHerbert’s blessing, enterprising pupils Amy Gaskell, Isabella Heckstall-Smith and Abi Walker from Year 4 sold bracelets, posters, bookmarks and other novelty items to their friends in Prep playground during playtimes and lunchtimes one week in May. They were raising money for the charity ShelterBox. The girls learned about the work of the charity at their cub pack meetings (a part of the 20th Birkenhead Scout Group). ShelterBox provides basic survival equipment in boxes to support communities around the world which have become overwhelmed by disaster or humanitarian crises. Over the week, the trio raised the fantastic sum of £121.25 for ShelterBox!


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014 1 Annie started her England Hockey journey in September 2012 with thousands of others and after a rigorous 3-tiered training and selection process, regional squads were picked. Having been selected to play for the North of England Girls U16s (Pennine Pumas), Annie performed exceptionally well at the “Futures Cup” held at Cannock in October 2013, with selectors from all of England’s age group coaches/selectors and performance team watching on. Annie was selected to attend several assessment weekends at the National Sports Centres at Lilleshall and Bisham Abbey before being finally announced in the final 26 players for the England U16 Girls squad in February 2014. Annie has played three matches against Holland and three matches against Ulster over Easter and Bank Holiday weekends, both tournaments being played at Lilleshall in Shropshire, over 3 days. Playing in the number 10 shirt, she has put in good performances as one of the attackers in the team. The matches against Holland were very tough and the whole squad learnt a lot about international hockey. It was their first game representing England and Holland are one of the best teams in Europe!! The Ulster games were very close but England won 2 out of the three games. The squad will soon be announced for matches against Scotland In Edinburgh, Belgium away in Antwerp and the 5 Nations Cup to be held at Beeston Hockey Club in Nottinghamshire. The 5 Nations are Germany, Belgium, England, Spain and Holland. These hockey tournaments are played on three consecutive weekends in June/July so Annie’s training and fitness programmes will be tested.


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Photos right show Annie (arrowed) playing in the U16 England squad against Holland (1,3,5) and Ulster (2,4).

The fitness and weights rooms are open every day from 12.40 – 1.15 for all students from Year 9 upwards. Many students have been regularly making use of this facility, particularly the new cardio machines. We now have two rowers, four treadmills, two bikes and a cross trainer. On Tuesday lunchtime the gym is open to girls only and there has been a positive response to this with a small group of girls attending regularly. Many of the Year 10 and Year 11 PE GCSE students have also used the facilities to help them train for their personal exercise programme, which is part of the coursework they need to complete. There have been a few members of the teaching staff who make use of having a gym on site and Miss Gilbride has also taken the

Friday morning Mums’ fitness group in there. It is great to see a wide range of members of the School community using this area of the School and being able to access all the health benefits this can provide. D. Hendry Above left: Rosie Durband and Nina Parkington use the new bikes Above: Matthew MacDonald using the barbells.


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Elizabeth Kearney joined Birkenhead School 4 years ago to double the teaching staff in the Learning Support Department in Seniors. She has worked tirelessly to offer first-class support to every pupil she sees for a weekly study skills lessons. Her calm and relaxed nature both in and out of the classroom has put her pupils at ease and her open and supportive nature has meant they are able to discuss any concerns with her. It is clear that without her help many of her pupils would not have made such progress or achieved their best possible grades at GCSE and A Level. In addition, she has been a valuable source of advice on Study Skills and has delivered informative presentations to parents and staff. She will be very much missed by everyone in the school community, particularly her pupils and Miss Moore. We would like to wish her and her husband a long, happy and rewarding retirement. J Moore, Learning Support Coordinator, and Daniel Gaskell, Yr 10

Congratulations to Toby Brown in Year 7 and Daniel Shillinglaw in Year 10 who both scored centuries this season. Toby scored 100 not out against Ellesmere College before ‘retiring’ to allow other boys to have a bat whilst Dan scored 103 not out against the same school. Congratulations to both boys. Taking a hat-trick in cricket (3 wickets in 3 consecutive balls) is a fairly rare occurrence and so to have two players take hat-tricks in the same team in consecutive matches must be nearly unique. Yet that is what Tom Corran and Callum Andrews achieved in our U15 team. First of all Tom took his against Newcastle-under-Lyme School, ending up with bowling figures of Then, the following week, Callum achieved the same feat, clean bowling all three batsmen and finishing with figures of In the same U15 team playing against Calday Grange GS in the Cheshire Cup, pace bowler Gabriel Johnson-Aley took 3 wickets in 4 balls and ended with figures of four overs bowled, one maiden, eleven runs scored and six wickets taken, five of which were cleaned-bowled. With Armand Rabot scoring two half-centuries in Cheshire Cup games and Ashley Watkins scoring 83 not out, it is little wonder that the team remained unbeaten, despite four of the players regularly playing for the 1st XI, rather than the U15s. R Lytollis, Head of PE & Games

Above l to r: Toby Brown and Daniel Shillinglaw Below l to r: Callum Andrews and Tom Corran


Birkenhead School has a biennial ski trip for Years 7 – 13 and this year 26 people took part. Mr Roden had overall responsibility, while Mr Gill and Miss Gilbride provided strong helping hands. The venue for the ski trip varies from year to year. This year, 2014, we were flown all the way to California! We stayed in a lovely 4 star hotel by Lake Tahoe called “Inn By The Lake”. As its name would suggest, the hotel was by the lake and also had the advantage of plenty of sunshine. Every day we woke up ready for breakfast at 7:15am. We treated ourselves to hot croissants and bagels with a choice of cream cheese or butter. For those health freaks, Cheerios were also on offer (we do love our cereals!). After a delicious breakfast we went back to our rooms to get ready for a whole day’s skiing. We took the 8.40am bus and would return at 4:00 in the evening. On the first day, we went to Heavenly (an aptly named place where we also skied) and met up with our instructors. I was in the beginners group and my instructor was called Stacie; the intermediate category had Eric while the advanced group had an instructor called Rus. All the instructors were extremely welcoming and kind. We had a great time skiing. I absolutely loved it, even though I could not ski to save my life at the start (not that I'm much better know, but let’s leave that discussion for another day!). Heavenly offered us some lovely lunches including delicious pulled pork sandwiches, epic triple cheese burgers flowing with gorgeous fillings and – I shouldn't carry on because I bet your mouths are watering already! I think we all learnt a lot on this trip, not just in terms of skiing but about other people too. I’m sure I speak for most (if not all) on the trip when I say that I made some good friends and got to know some of the students in the other year groups a lot better. This trip is definitely up there among the best trips I have ever been on and I'm sure they will continue to get better in the future! Where are we going next time, teachers? Lara Abraham, Yr 7

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

On 25 April, Mum and I received a mysterious phone call from the charity Starlight. They asked if I would like to be an ambassador for them and attend a dinner at Chessington as their representative. I couldn’t believe my ears and, without a second thought, I accepted the role! On Monday morning, Elliott with Max Chilton 28 April, buzzing with joy mum and I travelled down by train to Chessington. Starlight made sure that their newly appointed ambassador got there in style and put us in first class. On the way there I was informed that I would be interviewed in front of the people at the dinner. Mum and I exchanged a glance and we both knew that I could do it. When we arrived and had got through the avalanche of people, we saw a woman holding up a sign in big bold letters ‘Ambassador of Starlight!’ We didn’t even know where we would be staying that night; it was like one big mystery that seemed to be unravelling by itself. After about 30 minutes of taking in the wonderful sights at Chessington (I had never been before), something amazing caught my eye - we were driving towards a massive jungle-themed hotel. A huge sign read ‘Welcome to Chessington World of Adventures!’ Stepping inside the hotel was like stepping into a new world. The hotel was covered with vines running up the walls and models of exotic animals as far as the eye could see. Once in our room, like all mums do, mine began to unpack. I wandered over the window and opened the curtains. In a calm voice, I said ‘Do you know there is a pair giraffes running across the lawn?’ She looked up, probably thinking that the pressure had got to me. When we both looked out again, however, we also saw a small herd of zebras, ostriches and several pairs of giraffes. We went out to explore before it was time to get ready for the night ahead. We were picked up early to go to the dinner at a large golf club nearby. Stepping out of the car, I saw three spectacular F1 cars on display in front of me. Then we were welcomed by familiar faces and friends from Starlight and, as we were so early, I was allowed to play a few holes of golf with some of the members of the club who were coming to the dinner. Just when I thought that the day couldn’t get any better I saw F1 driver Max Chilton, who is a British driver for Marussia. He had come along with a presenter from Sky Elliott: after-dinner speaker

Elliott chats to Sky Presenter, David Croft

F1 who is a friend of mine from my trip to Monaco which was arranged by Starlight for me last year. They had come to give their support and help raise money following on from their involvement with the Monaco trip. Max did a Question and Answer session with the audience. Each question cost £5 and the best question won a signed cap from him. I won the cap. There was also a secret auction with fantastic prizes up for grabs, including a signed Man City shirt. After a three-course dinner, each one filling my mouth with spectacular flavours, my moment came. Feeling amazed and proud, I stepped up and took the microphone! I was asked about what I thought of the Monaco experience and how I was doing. Near the end I

One of the F1 cars on display thanked everyone and praised Starlight for everything they had done for me and my family over the years. As I looked across the room, all I could see was a room full of smiles. I left the stage to great applause and saw mum’s eyes full of tears of happiness; pride welled up inside me. We raised over £20,000 that night, which will help grant wishes of children just like me. Elliott Casey, Yr 9 7

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

The selection process for Cheshire Under 13s County Cricket Team finished in April 2014 and thankfully I found myself selected for the initial twelve boys again, as a batsman and a wicket keeper. This was the culmination of a hard winter’s cricket training twice a week. The session got off to a great start for me when I was picked to train with the Cheshire Elite academy, along with another two boys from my team, giving us the opportunity for extra coaching throughout the year. The season is now in full flow, with lots of cricket being played - in School, I have played both the under 13s and 14s and we have had excellent cup runs. I have also been playing a lot of cricket for my club, Neston, for the under 13s and 15s, as well as the odd adult match. The under 13’s are unbeaten and have had great runs in the Cheshire and Wirral cups. I have played three matches for Cheshire this season, opening the batting and wicket keeping. We have beaten Shropshire and Nottinghamshire, with a narrow, 6-run defeat to Lancashire. I am happy to say that I have had good innings in all three matches, with a good knock of 37 off 41 balls against Nottinghamshire. I am looking forward to the rest of the season and especially can’t wait for the tournament in Taunton where we will be playing a competition against other counties. Daniel Cooke, Yr 8

This year I have been selected as Captain of the Cheshire U12’s. This will be the third year I have played for Cheshire but the first time that I have captained the side. The summer started well as I scored 102* in my first full County innings this year. I hope I can continue this recent run of success with School and County. Toby Brown, Yr7

Photo left: Sam Cross with Mo Farah after the race. Photo right: Sam during the Ireland Junior Run. Over half-term, Sam Cross in Year 8 travelled to Westminster, London, to compete in the British One Mile Road Championships, which is also known as the Bupa Westminster Mile. It is held on the most iconic mile in the world, starting on The Mall and finishing in front of Buckingham Palace. This year it celebrated the 60th anniversary of Sir Roger Bannister becoming the first man to break the four-minute mile and Diane Leather becoming the first woman to run a mile in under five minutes. It was a wonderful experience for Sam who was competing against the best young runners in the country. Sam had a brilliant race and ended up

placed 10th in the country. The highlight of the day, though, had to be when Sam was able to meet his hero, double gold Olympic medalist Mo Farah. Not only was there time for photo opportunities, but Mo actually ran part of the race with Sam's age group. Sam has had an outstanding road racing season which has seen him ranked in the top 20 boys in the country for 1 mile, 2 miles and 5km in his age group. Sam is now training hard, working towards the winter months when he hopes to gain a county vest and a place in the English Schools County team.


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

On Friday 16 May, all of the Year 8 pupils got up early to get to School to go to Malham, in the Yorkshire Dales, for our Geography Field Trip. On the trip, we were accompanied by Mr Gill and Ms Wilday (with 8AID), Mr Hayward and Mr Rule (had 8SWC) and Mr Hill and Miss Hemsley (had 8REL) to get to Malham, we took one coach and two of the school minibuses. On the coach, the airconditioning was broken so it was a very hot ride. Once we got off, we were sorted into our classes and given a clipboard and a booklet about the things we were going to see; then, we set off. After walking for about 5 minutes, we came across a meander and here we stopped to write some things down about it in our booklets. Then we carried on. After about another 5 or 10 minutes, we found a waterfall. Here we stopped and took some pictures and then a class photo. We then walked on further until we got to the entrance to Gordale Scar. Here we sat down and had a look at the landscape and thought about what impact we humans have had on the way it looks now. We also looked at how natural things like rocks or boulders have shaped the landscape. We then got up and walked for about 10 minutes more until we got to Gordale Scar. Here we talked about how it could have been formed and about the rock and about the different colours of the rock. After this chat, we had our lunch. Afterwards, we made our way back to the entrance of Gordale Scar and onto a grassy hill. Here we climbed and climbed up many slopes and steps, until we finally got to the top where we waited and had another small snack until the rest caught up. Then we all walked for another 5 minutes until we stopped because we could see the Limestone Pavement at the top of Malham Cove and the Watlowes Dry Valley. We stopped and chatted about these features for a bit until we wandered onto the Limestone. Here we dumped our bags and gathered equipment so that we could draw a sketch of the pavement. After doing this, we

explored the pavement and then grabbed our bags and walked on. Then, we reached a large set of man-made steps leading down to Malham Cove. When we reached the bottom, we had a look at the resurgence of Malham Beck and labelled a photograph of the landform in our booklets. After this, we walked on until we got back to where we set off. Here some of us bought ice creams and drinks to have whilst we relaxed for about 5 minutes until we got back onto the coach, or minibus, and back to School. The trip to Malham was great and I’d like to thank the teachers who helped make it happen and the teachers who came with us Harrison Wild, Yr 8


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

On 15 May the whole of Year 7 packed up to go on the French Trip. I remember waking up very early, very excited. Of course, the prospect of the 6-hour coach journey to Dover did not excite me the most but once on the ferry, we had 2 hours to stretch our legs and explore the boat. When we finally got to the Youth Hostel, after another coach ride from the ferry, we were all excited that there was no more travelling that day. We went to our small rooms which each slept two people and unpacked our things before dinner. After a night’s sleep we were all excited for the day ahead of us which included going to visit a war cemetery, the town of Le Touquet, a chocolatier and bowling! After we had reached the cemetery, we discussed the graves and the fearless people underneath. Soon after the cemetery we got back on the coach and journeyed to Le Touquet where we had some time to buy ourselves lunch. Visiting the bowling alley and the chocolatier seemed to whizz by and before we knew it we were fast asleep in our beds. The next day was also our last and so we packed our bags and loaded them onto the coach. We were all a bit down as we finished our trip from the market where we had done a survey on the price of things but now it was time to leave. Overall the Year 7 French trip was fantastic and I hope that future Year 7s enjoy it as much as we all did. Miles Morton It was the start of the long-awaited annual French trip to Calais. After quick goodbyes in Kingsmead Road South, we were off on the long journey to Dover. Despite comfort stops along the way, we managed to catch the earlier ferry from Dover. It seemed we had time for only a short exploration of the ship (including a brief visit to the arcade) before our arrival in Calais. We disembarked and then set off on a twenty minute journey to the hypermarché for our first activity. We had to compare the prices of items found in a British supermarket to their prices in France. An hour and fifteen minutes seemed ample time to complete the task, but, even though some items were easily identified, others required a bit of searching for. Next we checked into the Youth Hostel and changed before we ate dinner. The choices were fish, a variety of meats, vegetables and bread. Everyone agreed that the food was good. For the remainder of the evening, we went to a playground situated near the beach and played on the swings and zip wires and had

a short game of touch rugby. Next day, we took a walk along the beach which ended up as a game of football. Many bad tackles were committed that day! Others chose not to get involved and built sand castles instead. Later we travelled to the Military Cemetery at Étaples where Mr Roden explained the significance of the site and then we went off to complete one of the exercises in our books. Just looking around the graves was a poignant reminder off the great loss of life sustained during the First World War. There are nearly 11,000 Commonwealth servicemen from WWI buried at Étaples and only 73 of them are unidentified. Nearly 9,000 of the dead are British soldiers. We had lunch in Le Touquet and afterwards went to a Chocolaterie in the Vallée de la Course. We were given a talk about the cocoa beans’ journey into the chocolate bar and saw the process of making chocolate, as well as decorating chocolates. Probably the best moment was when we got to taste some of the chocolates. We went back to the hypermarché which had a bowling alley. We got through the 10 games in double quick time, resulting in some good and not-so-good scores. We also had dinner at the hypermarché - there were traditional French restaurants as well as international chains. On our last day, breakfast was similar to the day before and afterwards we put our bags on the coach and travelled to Boulogne for our final activity in France. In the town’s wellestablished market, we had to buy a drink and another item and record their cost, which was fairly easily achieved. Lastly, we went to the main part of the town to buy our lunch and explore the walls surrounding the city. We were in good spirits for the long journey home and soon enough we were back at School with some good memories of our French trip. Year 7 would like to thank Mr Rimmer for organising the trip and to Mr Turner, Mrs Reeve, Ms Moore, Mr Roden and Mr Frowe for looking after us. My advice to future Year 7s would be to go out there and enjoy it! Toby Brown


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

On Monday 11 August, sometime early in the morning, somewhere in Wales, 40 teams of 4 men and women will start the Itera Adventure Race. Details of the precise location and route are only disclosed 24hrs before the race starts to prevent teams from gaining an unfair advantage by reconnoitring, but with this leg of the World Championship series being held in Wales, it will favour UK teams, especially Team Haglofs Silva of which Mr Higginbottom will be a part. The race is a mix of adventure sports – mountain running, mountain biking, sea canoeing, white water canoeing, climbing, abseiling, caving – in fact anything the race organisers care to throw at the teams. At this World Elite level the race is non-stop for 5 days with teams covering an estimated 700km, travelling day and night, stopping only to change equipment or clothing at transitions. One question that often gets asked is “where do teams stop to sleep?”. The short answer is “they don’t”! The leading teams will probably only grab about 4 hours sleep through the whole race, almost certainly not sleeping the first night, then taking one hour on each consecutive night. They are usually fairly unceremonious as well – a bundle of bodies on the side of the path! To use a tent would take time and mean carrying it through the race. People often wonder about food on these long races. The athletes will need to take on about 12000 calories each day – that’s 5 times the normal adult amount – and as much of it as possible will be with ‘normal’ food. Too much high energy/high sugar food leads to painful mouth ulcers and very interesting digestion. Teams won’t stop to eat either. Over 85% of those calories will be taken on whilst moving – again, to dawdle is to lose! If that all sounds like too much hard work, then you can be an armchair racer. Each team carries a gps tracker which will show their position on a map in real time, updating every minute or so. The website to visit is where you’ll find the final details and live tracking. Be careful though – it is very addictive! You can even leave Mr Higginbottom a message of encouragement on the ‘trail mail’ which will start up nearer the time. The race is being televised for Channel 4 and Eurosport, and Team Haglofs Silva is tipped as one of the favourites with recent World Champions Team Adidas admitting they feel Haglofs Silva are their main threat. Hopefully we can prove them right! TMHigginbottom

Photo above: Haglofs Silva on their way to beating Adidas in last year’s 2-day race. Below: Team Haglofs Silva - TMH, Chris Near (instructor whom Y10s will remember as their instructor from their Outdoor Pursuits trip), Lucy Harris, Bruce Duncan.

En France avec un très joli chapeau.


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Arguably the highlight of the Overdale year, the annual talent competition, held on the last day before breaking for the summer, is hotly contested by Years 7 and 8 as they vie for the honour of their Houses - Beresford, Bidston, Kingsmead and Shrewsbury. It also draws large crowds of older students who remember fondly their own failed attempts in the Moving Vehicle and Flying Craft section of the Competition. In the morning, straight after Chapel, the Competition opens with some weird and wonderful events, including makeovers, arm wrestling, keepy-uppy, and a staring-each-other-out competition, as well as fairly normal table tennis matches. The Big Talent Show takes place in the afternoon, this year held in the McAllester Pavilion before a panel of 3 judges chosen from the staff. Of course there is, as always, its incomparable compère, Mr Blain. One of the judges, Mr Murdoch, teacher of Classics and Modern Languages and OB 1992-99, remembered winning when he was in Overdale with a poem which Mr Hopkins, then Head of Overdale, had persuaded him to read. Mr Blain undoubtedly presided on that occasion too. There was some genuine talent on display - The Walking Dead of Birkenhead, a movie created by Ollie Dean and Tom Goodwin, had a brilliant atmospheric soundtrack and credits worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. This is the Rhythm of School Life, an adaptation of Kool Savas’ rap song was clever and had everyone in the audience joining in

The finished School Several forms chose to impersonate their teachers , which was a source of great amusement and always popular with fellow students. It was strange that, however bad the impersonation, the students instantly recognised the teacher being portrayed.

Everyone gets in on the act for Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes.

the chorus. One verse, for example, was: When Mr Hill explains erosion, My brain sinks into an ocean. Oh why do rivers cause me pain, I’m sure this is inhumane, Lesson after lesson, Each time I hear you say This is the rhythm of School Life. Moving vehicle competition 7ER’s comedy slot was a novel sketch involving a pantomime horse called Nuts, while several classes chose to parody their teachers - with unnerving accuracy in some cases . In the main, however, it was a huge giggle and a wonderful final note on which to end the 2013-14 academic year.

COMPETING IN ASA WELSH NATIONALS Edward Tilleard will be competing in the Amateur Swimming Association Welsh Nationals in August. This is a big achievement for Edward because it is the first time he has qualified and it makes the 6-8 hours training per week worth it! He will be competing in 6 events - 3 Breaststroke, 2 Freestyle and 1 Backstroke. We wish him well.

Katie Leyland and Annabel Lewis, Year 8 12

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014



ORIENTEERING RELAYS AT BIRKENHEAD PARK The Orienteering season concluded on Saturday 10 May at Birkenhead Park with a relay event. I am pleased to announce that our Senior School Team came in first position, winning the Mixed Open Relay. The winning team consisted of Lucy Mayers, Cahan O'Driscoll from Year 7 and Sam Cross in Year 8. Cáhan O'Driscoll was also presented with his silver medal for his individual performance this season. Birkenhead Prep runners from Year 6 were presented with Certificates and Medals: David Turner: Gold Medal at the Primary Schools Championships, as well as certificate for successfully completing 5 events this season. Aden Husseyn: Silver Medal at the Primary Schools Championships, as well as certificate for successfully completing 6 events this season. Grace Harvey: Certificate for competing in the Primary Schools Championships, as well as certificate for successfully completing 5 events this season. Matthew Palmer: Certificate for competing in the Primary Schools Championships. Nicholas Johnson: Certificate for competing in the Primary Schools Championships. Samarth Kumar Certificate for competing in the Primary Schools Championships. Contributions to BS Orienteering this year were also made by Cameron Brown, Maddie Unsworth, Lexi Jones, Erin Coughlan, and Abi Saverimutto from Prep, as well as Elliott Casey, Tom Parkes, and Talha Ebrahim in Year 9. Many thanks to Mrs O’Driscoll, Miss Jung and Mr Turner for the support they have given to the team. Thanks too to all the parents who have come along to support and encourage the team in this seasons events. Mrs MT Washington

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Photographs right: 1. David Turner punching the last control of his race; 2 3. Lucy Mayers and Cáhan O’Driscoll race to the end!; 4 5. The changeovers; 6. Sam Cross finding his way on the Light Green course; 7. Cáhan O’Driscoll, Lucy Mayers and Sam Cross with their gold medals, after winning the Mixed Open Relay competition; 8. Cáhan O’Driscoll receives his silver medal for finishing in second place in the Year 8 individual competition this season; 9. Aden Husseyn proud of his gold medal in the Primary School Championships.

A taste of the Caribbean arrived in the Prep playground when Year 3 pupils wore colourful, Caribbean themed T-shirts designed and created during their Design & Technology lessons. In the photo left, they are all modelling their creations. Mrs EE Thuraisingham 13



In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

The finished classrooms

Last summer I cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats, a little under 1000 miles, to raise money to help improve the education for young children in an isolated mountain village in Nepal. The journey took 8 ½ days and was quite a challenge. We were very fortunate to have very little rain and hardly any wind - ideal cycling conditions. Having been to Nepal on holiday in 2010, I had met some wonderful people and saw first hand the extreme difficulties and hardship faced by the children in the isolated mountain villages. The difference between the opportunities afforded to our children at Birkenhead School and what the children in Nepal have is quite unbelievable. It also became very evident that a little money, spent wisely, could go an awfully long way to help provide education for these children. With the generous support of my friends and in particular the Birkenhead School community, I raised a total of £3,800. Through email conversation with the friends I had made on my first visit to Nepal It became apparent that this amount of money could actually provide three new classrooms for Krishna, a remote village situated at 2400m above sea level about 3 hours’

the outskirts of the village we were met by the Headmaster of the School and all the children, each child had a garland of marigolds to place around our shoulders and I could hardly move with the weight of the flowers around my neck. We spent the afternoon at the village and left feeling we were really going to make a difference to the lives of the young children in the village. Over the next few months I received regular updates on how the building was progressing and it was completed in April this year. In Lent Term we held a non-uniform day here in School to help raise some additional money to have the building rendered, painted and provide equipment for the classrooms: desks, blackboards, lighting, and to help fund a teacher to work in the School. With the project complete it was wonderful this coincided with a visit being made to Nepal by our School nurse, Jenni Pizer. She took a detour form her planned schedule, visited Krishna and formally opened the School with its Birkenhead blue School roof! Project complete, thank you to all those who helped to support. D Edmunds, Deputy Headmaster

The School’s commemorative plaque

Laying the foundationsof the School

Garlanded Denise Edmunds with schoolchildren in Krishna

drive from Kathmandhu. Arrangements were made for the project to begin in September, just a few months after my cycle ride. An engineer provided the plans and costings and work began on digging the foundations. Having already made plans to revisit Nepal in October, the timing was perfect for visiting the village, see the foundations complete and to lay the foundation stone. The visit to Krishna was extremely humbling, they had not previously had a western visitor in their village. On our arrival to 14

The School is officially opened.

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

As the Y11’s and L6th started their exam leave there was just one more important annual event to attend – the staff/pupils touch rugby match. Players arrived at McAllester field on a hot sunny afternoon and were split into two equal teams. There were five girls and ten boys, from Y11 and the sixth form, as well as six staff. After some instructions on the basic rules for the uninitiated, the game began. Both teams passed and moved the ball well seeking out space in well organised defensive lines. Ben Unsworth dazzled with his silky running and outrageous dummies! Owen Morris did his impersonation of a crab as he used his fast feet to move sideways across the pitch! Holly Carrington squealed every time someone ran at her! Annie Mills wanted to play contact rugby! And Miss Gilbride scored a hat-trick! Play continued at an ever decreasing rate, in the hot sun, for about 90 minutes and an enjoyable time was had by all. The result doesn’t seem important as rugby was the real winner. It was decided to introduce a more regular Touch Rugby activity in September, perhaps after school on each Friday of the first half of term, for Y11’s, Sixth Form, staff and parents. It is a fun, noncontact activity so males and females can play together. If you are interested, please let Mr Hendry know or ask him for further details. If you’re still not sure, come and watch a game (but bring your trainers as you will want to join in!) I can be contacted at Those who played were Annie Mills, Grace Keenan, Holly Carrington, Annabel Saverimutto, Lucy Rogers, Francis Good, Ben Unsworth, Dominic Maddox, Dominic Fowler-Williams, Alex KarusMcElvogue, Owen Morris, George Kirkby, Tommy Keenan, Max Shah, Harry Unsworth Mr Brand, Mr Pillow, Miss Gilbride, Mr Hayward, Mr Rule and Mr Hendry. DA Hendry sound. The Ensemble was tight and we were treated to some lovely touches and detail’ (Bachanelia, Lou Goes Latin). The Ensemble was awarded a total of 89 points (Distinction) — one mark short of ‘Outstanding’. Well done! Members of the Ensemble: Tom Gibbs, Andrew Sherman, Jonathan Mansfield, Matthew Oulton, Clare Lawrence, Hannah Durband, Cameron Brown and Abi Saverimutto - Trumpets and Cornets Ethan Lee, Christopher Lansdown and Ciara Williams - Horns Edward George, Connie Sturgess and Bronwen Morris Trombones Alex Aldman - Euphonium Jack Billington and Neil Lawrence (who is now at the University of York) - Tubas

At the Chester Competitive Festival of Performing Arts held in May at King’s School, Chester, Birkenhead School Brass Ensemble came first in the Brass Band Open section. Competing against five other groups in the Brass Open, some of them adults, Birkenhead came out top overall in 3 categories (Brass Open, Wind Band Open and Swing Band Open) to win the Hilda Catherall Trophy and Intertech Award of £50. Julie Baker, the Band’s leader and director for some 20 years, said she is delighted with their performance and will spend their award on new music scores. It is also the first time in her association with the Band that Julie has had children from the Prep playing in this competition. The Competition adjudicator, Philip Dewhurst, commented in his notes: ‘The melodic material was passed around with care for balance and projection’ (HMS Pinafore) and ‘A well-balanced

Only 2 members of the Brass Ensemble are not pupils at Birkenhead School. 15

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

During the Easter holidays a Group of Lower 6th Science students spent a week in Spain so that they could visit the Science City Complex in Valencia and the CosmoCaixia Museum in Barcelona. The group flew in to Madrid and were whisked away

by the metro to a hotel in the Chueca Area of Madrid. We spent our first few hours having a walking tour of the Gran Via area which was close to the hotel. We split up for our evening meal, half of the group having tapas in Chueca with Mrs Parry-Jones and the other half having an Indian meal in a somewhat grittier area of Lavapies with Mr Webster, who acted as a guide to the underbelly of Madrid. During our walk to Lavapies we met lots of interesting characters all of whom, on the advice of Mr Webster, we decided not to practise our Spanish on. The next day was spent exploring the historic centre of Madrid. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side but equipped with umbrellas, we visited the main squares, churches and the Royal Palaces. The next day we visited the Prado for a few hours of art, to prove that scientists are not philistines, and then it was off to Atotcha Railway station for the high speed train to Valencia and the next section of our trip. The train journey was quite a strange experience as there seemed to be a gigantic party taking place on the train. People were moving from carriage to carriage kissing each other and exchanging pleasantries. So as not to be left out, Mr Webster decided to do his bit for UK–Iberian relations and 16

wandered from carriage to carriage to befriend the locals. Before leaving the UK each pupil was given the task of getting the group from one location to the next. On arrival in Valencia, it was Lucy Higgins’ turn to get us from the train station to the hotel. She produced a piece of paper and assured us it was just a few minutes’ walk to the hotel. Rather than take Lucy’s route to the hotel, which involved us walking on the hard shoulder of an urban motorway, the majority decided it would be better to follow Mr Webster’s route to the hotel which included a bit of sightseeing at the bullring and the main squares. Half an hour after arriving at the hotel we were on the number

95 bus making full use of our Valencian travel cards to visit the Prince Felipe Museum of Science, designed by the famous Valencian Architect Santiago Calatrava. After the museum we visited the Marina Area before taking the metro back to the historic centre for our evening meal. It was during this meal that the group decided to pretend it was Jack Hussey’s birthday

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014 metro journey to the airport. As we sat down to eat Zack Kirkman received an email from lost property informing him his camera had been found. It also informed him that they would close in an hour’s time. As the rest of the group sat down to eat Zack and Mr Webster were back on the metro where, after a few changes, they finally arrived at Sants Estaciò lost property. They joined the queue with 15 minutes to spare only to be informed that a mistake had been made in the email and the camera was actually in another station across town. So it was back on the metro. Zack was finally reunited with his camera just in time for the flight home. P Webster, Head of Physics Group photo in front of Sagrada Familia

and caused quite a commotion in the restaurant with their rendition of happy birthday. The next day we took the metro to the Bioparc Zoo where we had a guided tour followed by an amazing show of trained animals before taking the metro back to the Science city complex where we visited the largest aquarium in Europe and watched a film in the Hemisfèric Imax cinema, again both designed by Calatrava. After this we had our evening meal overlooking the science city complex where Jack Hussey had his second imaginary birthday of the week - this time complete with candles, a cake and a special birthday crown. The next day, after a delicious breakfast, it was off on the train to Barcelona. On arrival we negotiated the metro system to our hotel in the hills outside the city. Our hotel was run by a charity that provides work for people with special needs. It was a fantastic hotel with a swimming pool surrounded by pine forests inhabited by wild pigs. The service we received was brilliant. After several days walking for hours around Madrid and Valencia we were looking forward to some rest and recuperation by the pool. It was at this point that Zack Kirkman realised he had left his expensive camera on the train! Just as we were about to settle down, one of the group received a text message informing them that after leaving the UK the football match we had arranged to see in Barcelona had been brought forward a day. It was due to start in an hour’s time. So it was back on the metro with no time to rest. After a brilliant game where Barcelona FC thrashed Real Betis we went to Plaza España to watch a musical fountain show. The next day we visited the CosmoCaixia Science museum. Inside the museum was a large area where a section of Amazonian rain forest had been recreated. It was a shame that we only had a few hours to explore this museum. We spent the rest of the day exploring the centre of Barcelona. The final day of our trip arrived. We had seen each of Spain’s threebiggest cities in an exhausting seven days. On our final day, our plan was to visit Sagrada Familia followed by Parc Guell and then to relax at the hotel before our evening flight. On arrival at Sagrada Familia the queues to enter wrapped right round the basilica. We strolled past the queue, picked up our pre-booked schools tickets, entered and left the tourists to bake in the sunshine. After our tour of the basilica we jumped on the bus to Parc Guell where we spent our final afternoon. We arrived at the hotel looking forward to an evening meal, some rest and then a 17

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

So, as the summer exam period approached, our first batch of Year 11 PE GCSE students were into the final stages of their preparations for both the theory exam and the practical controlled assessments. They all had to perform in four physical activities of their choice, each worth 12% of their final mark. There was also a piece of coursework, worth another 12%, and then the final theory exam worth 40%. The group are pictured as they prepared for moderation day on Friday 25 April. They took part in a range of activities from athletics to table tennis and badminton to golf. D Hendry

The Ladies’ Committee held an afternoon tea farewell for Mr Clark. Mrs Heather Thomas (retiring chairperson) presented Mr Clark with a stunning framed picture of aspects of the Chapel created by Mr Blain, and spoke fondly of the support Mr Clark has given to the Ladies’ Committee over his years as Headmaster. We as a committee wish him well for his future endeavours. Tea and cakes were, as ever, created by our very talented Committee members and enjoyed by us all !! Sara Hatherly, Chairperson Ladies’ Committee OPEN WATER SWIMMERS At the end of June in the NW Regional Open Water Championships held at Salford Quays, Nicholas Morgan, Year 9, and Alexandra Williams, Year 10 won Regional Silver and Cheshire Gold respectively in the 1500m event. Alexandra also came 5th in the Regional 2000m event, winning the Cheshire Silver in the 15-16 year old age group. Well done to both because it was the first time either has competed in an Open Water event.

Congratulations to: Liv Wimpenny who played in the U18s England Lacrosse team in the Home Internationals against Wales and Scotland. Charlotte Lytollis who was awarded Outstanding Player of the Tournament in the Senior Home Internationals playing for England.

Birkenhead School was place 9th out of 29 schools taking part in the Top of the Bench National Final organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry earlier this year. The competition is for 14-16 year old students and tests their knowledge of Chemistry through a series of written and practical tests. Having come through their regional heats, the team, consisting of Connie Sturgess, Eleanor Hilton, Tom Parkes and Shikhar Kumar, represented BS in the finals held at Loughborough University in April. 18

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

GCSE art work inspired by the work of Joseph Cornell. Right: One of Joseph Cornell’s shadow boxes. Joseph Cornell (1902-1973) was a self-taught American artist and sculptor, one of the pioneers and most celebrated exponents of assemblage. He was much Influenced by the Surrealists. BS Artists: 1. Alex Scott, 2. Elliott Kirkbride-Wright, 3. Casha Anderson, 4. Holly Carrington, 5. Sophie Hatherly, 6. Ben Corlett, 7. Jessica Leyland, 8. Charlotte Major, 9. James Neal








7 19


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Having run in the inaugural Wirral half marathon last year, raising a little over £650, I decided to up the ante and have a go at the Rock & Roll Liverpool Marathon on Sunday 25 May. As I had doubled the distance, I hoped to raise twice as much for Sands, a charity that does great work in supporting people when they need it most. Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity) supports anyone who has been affected by the death of a baby before, during or shortly after birth. They offer emotional support and information for parents, grandparents, siblings, children, families and friends, health professionals and others. Every day in the UK, 17 babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth. Sands believe that many of these deaths are preventable, and that this level of baby loss is completely unacceptable. They work hard to raise awareness of stillbirth and neonatal death, both with the general public and health professionals, but also with key decision makers around the UK. Having followed a training programme, my running partner and I felt positive, but still nervous, on the start line in the Albert Dock. The most we had run was 20 miles so we were about to go into uncharted territory! With energy gels and a pocket full of sultanas we were off. The route took us up and around Goodison and Anfield, then we returned to the Strand and out to Sefton Park, down to Otterspool and back 4 alongside the river. It sounds like a pleasant way to see the city. Well, it wasn’t! I reached 17 miles feeling quite good and then hit “The Wall” and struggled for the remaining 9 miles. There was plenty of support and encouragement from both spectators and fellow runners and that, along 1. At the start with thoughts of the people I was raising money for, helped to keep me 2. At the finish going. I finally finished in 4:18 hours. Many thanks to all those who have made donations to my charity. At the 3. On course - being cheered time of writing, I have raised £1095. I only need another £205 to reach my on by Miss Fraser (a student teacher in Little School) target of double last year’s total. If you would like to make a donation I have included a link to my ’Just 4. Still smiling after 17 miles Giving’ page which is still available. Many thanks. Duncan Hendry

In the first week of the summer term, two pupils from Birkenhead School went down to Queenswood School in Cambridge to participate in the National Children’s Wind Orchestra (Jack Billington (Tuba)) and the National Youth Wind Ensemble (Andrew Sherman (Trumpet/Cornet)). It was a whole week of fun, sun and lots of rehearsals. During the week, we practised for at least 3 hours (and at most 6 hours!) a day under the watchful eyes of our conductors (including ‘celebrity’ conductor Cynthia Johnston Turner who came over from Cornell University in the USA to conduct for NYWE), playing a range of music, from fast, joyous pieces to slow and sad pieces. Whatever music we were playing, we rose to the challenge, and were confident enough to play a few solos for the final concert. The week was filled with lots of fun activities, including a solos concert, which included a range of instruments, all played excellently by their musicians. It was surely a trip that we would happily do again. For the final concert, NCWO played 5 pieces, which included: Band 2 – A fast paced piece with an amazing tuba part, with a few solos. New World Dances – A collection of 3 pieces, The Earth Dance, The




Moon Dance and the Sun Dance, each filled with different characteristics. Fiesta – Another fast paced piece and a very fast melody line on the trumpets. East Coast Pictures – Another collection of 3 pieces that explore different moods throughout the piece. Epitaph (for Hillsborough) – A slow piece with a solo soprano saxophone part and a tubular bell that struck 96 times, for the fans who lost their lives in the incident. and NYWE played 4 pieces: Short Ride in a Fast Machine – Adams – an incredibly exciting minimalist piece inspired by a ride Adams had in a fast Lamborghini West Side story Symphonic Dances – Bernstein – a direct transcription of the full orchestra score from the production of West Side Story; it was certainly a challenge. However, Bernstein’s melodies and textures made the effort worthwhile! Emblems – Copland – one of Copland’s later works, it is the colours created from each different, unique block-chord that give the piece its name. Some famous folk tunes are also ‘hidden’ within the piece. Bright Spirit - Judith Bingham – played in memory of a young and well-loved NYWE member who passed away at the end of the previous year (but whom I had never met). It is a haunting piece. A. Sherman, U6th 20

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014


Photo above: In the grounds of Magdalen College, Oxford, HMC (Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference), which represents the world’s leading independent schools, says farewell to retiring colleagues. The host Tim Hands, Chairman of HMC and Headmaster of Magdalen College School, hosted the dinner. Photo left: Retiring Birkenhead School Headmaster, John Clark, in the grounds of Magdalen College School. 21

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Sian Howell-Jones has joined the Birkenhead school community as Chaplain. Originally a graduate of Music, Sian taught Music at a girls’ independent school in Birmingham, before moving into more pastoral roles, including Careers Advisor and Life Coach. A parent of four children, she is looking forward to getting to know the pupils at School and will be working throughout the School, with some RE teaching in Prep. Sian says her passion is to make faith accessible to all and would like to offer an open invitation to our regular Evensong service, term time Sundays at 6.30pm, sung by our Chapel Choir.

To support the D.T. and Geography curriculum, Year 2 managed to explore the Wirral and Liverpool using as many different types of transport as possible. First was the coach to Seacombe to catch the early ferry to Pier Head. Ten minutes later, after arriving in Liverpool, we walked to the Museum of Liverpool to be greeted by the people who were going to take us on a trip back in time. The children learnt about different vehicles from the past and how transport has developed over the centuries. With a chance to dress up and take on the role of people from the past, the children boarded a train and took a 'ride' through different Liverpool towns, 'alighting' at different towns on the way. Following a calm return ferry ride to Woodside, and a chance to have lunch on the Mersey, we were collected by tram and taken to the Wirral Transport Museum. Here we had a whistle stop tour of the different trams that once were used on the Wirral and were shown how the carriages had been found and restored. We also were able to see some old-fashioned buses and hear how they also changed over the years. The children (and adults) returned back to School after an exhausting day, most of us ready to jump into our cars to get home! Mrs Annabelle Hendry, Year 2.


Photo above: Liverpool bound on the ferry; Below: Travelling by tram to the Wirral Transport Museum.; Below left: Learning all about how the trams moved.

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Towards the end of term, Year 7s prepared an afternoon tea which they ate outside the Sixth Form Centre with the Headmaster, Mr Clark. This was one of his retirement parties organised by Suzanne and Lucy, the School’s cookery teachers. According to Mr Clark, everything was delicious. His only regret: having lunch beforehand. Siân Round, U6th

Afternoon Tea

Selection of assorted sandwiches: Lemony prawn and cucumber Houmous and roasted red pepper Cheddar cheese and honey roast ham Chicken, carrot and avocado


Sausage rolls ******** Scones with jam and clotted cream Lemon drizzle cake Millionaire’s Shortbread Rich chocolate cake Fresh fruit tarts ********* Served with Earl Grey tea or homemade lemonade

On Sunday 15 June, Mr Guinness and three of the boys from the School unicycle club, Edward George, Oliver George and Jonathan Mansfield, took part in the annual Wirral Bikeathon. Mr Guinness had done the event last year, and been the only unicycle taking part, so this year he convinced the three boys to join him. The Wirral Bikeathon is a charity bike ride through the Wirral aiming to raise money by sponsorship to support Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. It is designed as a fun day out for individuals and families. Two routes of 15 and 28 miles are available: both start and finish in Arrowe Country Park. For more details see There was a record turnout at the event this year, with around 1600 bikes (and 4 Unicycles!) with £58,000 pledged so far. The boys even made it onto the front page of the Wirral News! It’s a fantastic event to be part of. It’s not a race, just a lot of people having fun for a great cause. The boys did fantastically well on their unicycles, pedaling round the multi terrain course, with plenty of support and encouragement from the other riders. I certainly plan to do it every year, and hope to encourage as many others to do with me as well. The School Unicycle Club meets once a week and learns the challenging skill of Unicycling. Once the pupils have mastered the basics they then try out a range of activities, from unicycle hockey to a spot of medieval unicycle jousting! S. Guinness, i/c BS Unicycle Club

Above: the route; left: front page news; below left: Oliver George and Mr Guinness unicycle with aplomb!; below l to r: Mr Guinness, Edward George, Jonathan Mansfield and Oliver George.


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

On Monday 23 June, Year 3 pupils and seven members of staff excitedly boarded our coach for a day out at the beautiful and historic village of Port Sunlight. We arrived at this picturesque village with the sun shining and everyone looking forward to the day. It is impossible to be anything other than inspired by this wonderful village, with its stunning assortment of buildings and perfectly manicured lawns and gardens. The colours of the flowers were just glorious. In the Lyceum: guessing what some We split off into two groups for the day. My group started Victorian off in the museum where we watched a fascinating film Eoin Moore household objects would be used for. about how Port Sunlight came into being and about William Hesketh Lever, who set up the village for his staff who worked at the soap factory. It also gave us an interesting insight in to the lives of the people who lived and worked in the village. The pupils undertook a quiz which led them to different parts of the museum to find out information about the Lever family, the village and the factory. Did you know that The Beatles played at Hulme Hall in 1962 for the princely sum of £30?! The pupils were also able to dress up in historical costumes, as our photographs show. We then all enjoyed lunch outside by the fountain. Once fortified, we took a coach tour around the village. Our guide, Peter, was a mine of information and we found out so many interesting facts about the buildings around the village and the war memorial which apparently is the largest one in the country after London - it is a real Learning more about the Victorian age. spectacle and such a poignant commemoration to all those men, women and children who lost their lives in the First World War. After our tour, we went to the Lyceum for a fantastic workshop where we looked at real historical artefacts such as old toys and household items which the pupils drew and in some cases tried to guess what they were for! One of the overriding feelings I was left with, having visited this village, is that as a worker in Victorian times, if you were lucky enough to get a job in Port Sunlight you would have had a very happy and fulfilling life. Lord Lever really believed in looking after his workers, giving them well equipped, clean and spacious homes and offering cultural activities for people to participate in and enjoy after work. The village had everything that its workers needed. To quote the man himself, he believed, ‘If employees were healthy they would in consequence work harder and be more loyal to the company.’ It makes sense doesn’t it? Dressing up l to r: Mistique-Beau Jones, A great day was had by all. Mrs A Delaney Sarina Rahman and Jess Rooney

Year 1 travelled back in time via the Maritime Museum to find out all about holidays in the past. Taking part in a seaside workshop, they learnt how to get ready for their Victorian holiday, spring cleaning and preparing a picnic. It was then time to journey to the beach where they played traditional seaside games, dressed up in Victorian beach wear and visited the souvenir shops. In the afternoon, after touring the museum, the children were able to practise their observational drawing skills using some of the maritime art work and models. Miss Lee commented, “The children had a wonderful day, but most decided that holidays in the past would be too much hard work.”

Photos - left: Conrad Baker (1L) relaxes and right Mr Smith, Miss Lee and Oscar Sandow (1S) pose for an old fashioned photograph.


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

On Tuesday 17 June, there was an air of anticipation, excitement, nervousness and competitiveness surrounding the infant playground! Little School Sports Day was here! The Sporting event of the year with children competing from Pre-Prep to Year 2. The running races in different groups enabled children of all abilities to compete together, and this, along with various obstacle, egg and spoon and sack races, meant there were a number of events for everyone. The children were all fantastically behaved and encouraged and supported each other. The day culminated in the Year 2 relay race where the six teams worked well together to provide a closely run event. Well done to all the children, who tried their best and contributed to a fabulous afternoon. Mrs Annabelle Hendry




1. Ollie Meadows in the sack race. 2. Megan Bullas jumps along. 3. Sophie Thurasingham balancing the bean bag. 4. Caspar Jennings sprints for the line. 5. Joseph Herbert and James Huxley compete.

From the annual Art and D&T Exhibition of student GCSE and A Level work.


On selected Fridays after school from 4 – 5pm at McAllester Field. ALL are welcome from Y11, 6th Form, staff and parents, boys & girls. Beginners and experts can play together, just turn up to any of the organised sessions (see right) with trainers/boots.

Friday 12th September Friday 10th October Friday 14th November Friday 12th December Please contact Mr Hendry for further details 25


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Birkenhead School Physics Department recently borrowed samples of lunar rock returned from the Apollo Space missions, as well as a selection of meteorites from the Natural History Museum. During the week they were on loan to us, a special timetable was arranged so that every class in both Prep and Seniors had a chance to handle the meteorites and the samples of lunar rock. Jack Redhead, an A level Physics student, took a trip down memory lane and returned to Prep to give a talk to pupils. He shared some fascinating and sometimes bizarre facts about each meteorite. Each of them is special in its own way and highlights included the Henbury Meteorite, the most physically impressive of them all. It started its life as part of the iron core of an asteroid before smashing to earth in Australia 4000 years ago. He told them that, among Aborigines, there is still a legend about how a fire devil came down from the sun. The oldest meteorite was the Parnallee meteor which is made up of particles older than the solar system but the meteor with the strangest story is the Nakhla Meteorite which started life in a Martian Volcano before being blasted into space by a collision with a meteor that hit Mars. After travelling round the solar system for 11 million years, it finally came to rest in Egypt where, on colliding with the earth, it vaporised a dog! Pupils were able to handle the meteorites and, best of all, were able to examine rock samples brought back from the moon at a cost of about half a million dollars per gram. Students also had a chance to take a “selfie” with the meteorite and moon rock samples, and a Twitter competition ( #meteoriteselfie ) was launched to see which selfie would be retweeted the most. Special security arrangements had to be made by the School, including a visit to check the School’s safe. The samples were delivered in secret and collected in secret at the end of the week. During the week Mr Webster, Head of Physics, and Mark Turner, the Bursar, were the designated ‘rock handlers’ and the only two people with access to the rocks. Security was so high that the press could only be informed about the event once the samples were safely off the School premises. This was part of a series of events to raise the profile of physics even higher. It is already one of the most popular and successful subjects at A level and GCSE in BS. One third of all Lower Sixth students study A level Physics and the percentage of female physics students exactly reflects the percentage of female students in the school. Physics exam results have been outstanding with 86% of A2 physics results being A or A* and 97% of GCSE results being A or A*. However, it’s not all about raising numbers and getting our pupils excellent results, it’s also about making physics fun, interesting and enjoyable for the pupils. P Webster, Head of Physics

Sebastian Wilkes with the grains of Lunar rock

Tommy Keenan and Fay put the lunar samples under the microscope.

Right: Lucy Higgins and Kay McFarlane examine the Henbury Meteorite.

From the annual Art and D&T Exhibition of student GCSE and A Level work. 26

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Christine Winn

A Very Hungry Caterpillar

first began teaching at Birkenhead School 36 years ago, so I can’t really bemoan the fact that she has decided to take early retirement this summer. In fact, I am very grateful she stayed on for my first year at the School so that I could get to know her and see the wonderful way she has developed Little School. Mrs Winn has that amazing gift of being able to get complete attention from large groups of small children without shouting at them! They listen because they want to please her and because they know she cares about them and of course because this is exactly what she expects of them. Year 6 pupils who were in her Reception Class back in 2008, spoke warmly of her kindness, of her sense of fun and of her teaching skill. Mrs Winn has taught generations of children to read, write and do their sums – skills they have then built on to achieve great things. She has also encouraged children in their faith, their singing and their love of music. Her direct, no-nonsense approach ensures that children know where they stand (and so do colleagues and parents!) and if we’re honest with ourselves, we need this. Too often nowadays, the more difficult conversations are avoided for fear of hurting people’s feelings or so as to escape uncomfortable consequences. But Mrs Winn will tell you how it is honestly and will then provide help, support and wise words. Schools are extremely busy places and those in leadership, faced with lots of decisions to make, need wise counsel around them. I will always remember, Mrs Winn’s calm and considered approach to any problem, even when urgent action might be required. In fact, if coming to see me about a problem, more often than not, she would also tell me the solution. Talking to her colleagues and former colleagues, all have sung her praises. Interestingly, without exception, everyone has referred to her love of costume days at School. Could she have perhaps enjoyed dressing up a little too much? On the final Monday of her final term, she was dressed as a chief pirate for the Fun Day in Little School and I could tell she was in her element as she crossed the playground, sword in hand to have a word with me at the School gate. There have been countless outfits over the years and evidently Christine’s attention to detail and her costume making skills set the standard for generations of Little School Staff. I’m sure many of you reading this article have attended the Christmas Bazaar over the years, and perhaps you’ve been to Santa’s grotto run by Mr and Mrs Winn? I don’t think I’ll ever forget seeing Mrs Winn as the Christmas fairy, in her sparkling white dress complete with wings…. and a 27

After completing her placement with the School, as a student from Chester University,



joined the Pre-Prep in May 2011, as an Early Years Graduate. The last three years have flown and, we shall miss her tremendously when she moves to Dubai, to take up her position of Teacher of Kindergarten, at Emirates International School, in the Meadows. In Pre-Prep, Louise is known for her forward thinking and creativity, particularly when it comes to role play ideas for the children. It was Louise who inspired the children to make passports for their travelling and transport theme, and to use them when arriving at their make believe airport passport control; what a fabulous learning opportunity this turned out to be, enhancing mathematics, knowledge of the world and expressive arts and design. Louise is passionate about her work with the under-fives and this is remarked upon by the children’s parents, who say she is caring, nurturing and a good listener, all the qualities needed for an effective and visionary Early Years Practitioner. Not content at working term time only, Louise is also a member of the Holiday Activity Courses, where she plans fun, adventurous, challenging and rewarding play opportunities for the 3 to 5 year olds. Louise, your colleagues here in Prep wish you lots of luck and hope that your career goes from strength to strength, and, that you have a happy life in Dubai. Jan Dorney, Nursery Manager team of Little School elves helping her, but I wonder how many recall the famous Hungry Caterpillar costume she wore for a Book Day once upon a time? Mrs Winn’s leaving gift to the School is a wonderful “Story Telling Chair” and here she is on the last day of her career at Birkenhead School, contemplating the next chapter of her story. From all the pupils, colleagues and parents you’ve known over the years and from your third Head of Prep… Mrs Winn, you’ve been an inspiration, with your high expectations and your enthusiasm and we wish you every happiness in retirement. Harry FitzHerbert, Head of Prep

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Rugby Tour to Namibia and South Africa 2010

Reception, Year1 and Year 2 - the African animals There's a rumbling, there's a's approaching........It's ‘Nyonei Ropta’! Little School playground was recently transformed into the rolling plains of Africa, where the wild native animals have been nervously expecting the unknown Nyonei Ropta. What could it be? Where was it coming from? The animals quickly seek the advice of Ghubari (Elis Bennett), a wise old man who lives at the top of the umbrella thorn tree. But his wise and cryptic words confuse them, so the animals find enough courage to seek out and confront the terrible danger that is coming closer. The different groups of animals - zebras, giraffes, monkeys, elephants and lions - work together and go in search of the mysterious 'creature' that is to appear. The children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 worked really hard to learn the words to the story and the songs of this year's Summer Show. The children enjoyed working together and developing their confidence in performing. From drummers to wind dancers, giraffes to zebras, Mrs Winn ensured all the children have been involved. The show was spectacular, with all the children rising to the challenge of an outdoor performance. The team in Little School were all very proud of the children, especially given the youngest members of the cast are still only 4. Well done, also, to Mrs Winn on a wonderful production in her retirement year. And as for Nyonei Ropta? It did arrive over the African landscape, releasing the much needed water to the dry veldt, and ensuring the circle of life could continue.

Year 2 - the wind dancers

Year 2 Narrators tell the story

Strange to tell, on the afternoon of the performance of ‘Nyonei Ropta’, there was a tremendous downpour on all the African animals in Pre-Prep playground.

Mrs Annabelle Hendry

1W - the monkeys 28

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

A very tired Max at the finishing line.

On Sunday 29th June three pupils from the School took part in the Wirral Junior Triathlon (North West Series Race) organised by Mersey Tri and taking place at Bebington Oval. Sam Keenan from Y10 took part in the Max back at home with Max pushes his bike into Youth age group which entailed swimming his finisher’s medal and the class bear, Nelly the transition area 400m, cycling 4800m and running 2400m. Daniel Evans from Y9 took part in the Novice Youth age group which entailed swimming 200m, cycling 3200m and running 1200m. Max Hendry from Y2, taking part in his first triathlon, entered the eight year old age group which entailed swimming 50m, cycling 800m and running 600m. All three boys worked hard on a hot afternoon and completed their respective distances successfully. Sam achieved a personal best time of 33 minutes, Daniel won his event and Max came fifth in the youngest age group. D Hendry

A celebration in words and music of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), poet, novelist and musician.

You did not walk with me Of late to the hill-top tree By the gated ways, As in earlier days;

Readers Amy Naylor

Harri Jones On the evening of Monday, 30 June, a celebration of the novelist and poet Thomas Hardy, entitled “Exeunt Omnes”, took place in the intimate surroundings of the Music School rehearsal studio. Ten readers and six musicians explored a number of the themes and different facets of this complex author, whose long life spanned much of the Victorian era and more than a quarter of the twentieth century. The evening started with “Domicilium”, a poem written when he was in his late teens. It was explained that this was appropriate because poetry was his first love, although for financial and other personal reasons he did not publish any of his poems until he was fiftyeight. The audience heard some of the folk music that Hardy performed on the violin with his father, uncle and on occasions other musicians, performed by the School folk band, as well as “The Choirmaster’s Burial” from Benjamin Britten’s “Winter Words”, sung by Luca Galvani and accompanied by his brother Marco. As well as excerpts from several of Hardy’s novels, there were readings of a number of his poems, including five from the remarkably intense group entitled “Veteris Vestigia Flammae”, composed after the death of his first wife. The evening ended with “Afterwards”, Hardy’s plea to be remembered as a close observer of the natural world. C Smale

Tom Atherton

You were weak and lame, So you never came,

And I went alone, and I did not mind, Not thinking of you as left behind.

Ben Hillyer Ece Mert

I walked up there to-day

Sam Bowler

Just in the former way;

Grace Keenan

Surveyed around

Connie Sturgess

The familiar ground

Seb McTaggart

By myself again:

Matthew O’Hare Musicians

What difference, then? Only that underlying sense

Mike Turner

Of the look of a room on returning thence.

Oliver Jones

From Poems of 1912-1913, in Satires of Circumstance, Lyrics and Reveries (1914)

Seb Mactaggart Luca Galvani Marco Galvani Stewards Stephanie Balfour Antonia Dowd Ross Hepton Poster Connor Boon 29

Despite many years of estrangement, Hardy was devastated by his wife Emma's sudden death in November of 1912. Overwhelmed by immense regret over what their life together had come to and by memories of their early happiness, especially their courting days in Cornwall, he made the long journey to Cornwall in March 1913, an arduous undertaking for a man of seventy-three. He reflected upon her death in the Poems of 1912-13 and regarded them as an 'expiation'.

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Colosseum, Rome Latin Group with St Peter’s Basilica, Rome, in the background. Mr Smale asked him to tell about it. He told us that it was built

Monday 31 March- Monday 7 April Day 1 (Monday) I had to wake up at 3:15am so that I had time to get dressed and finish last minute packing. I arrived at the airport at 4:55 am because I wanted to make sure I was in good time, because I cannot be late for anything! When we eventually boarded the plane, we sorted out seats and prepared for takeoff. After 3 or 4 hours of playing splashy fish and taking selfies with the girls, we landed and collected our bags. Eventually we arrived at ‘Hotel Edera’ but straight away Mr Smale told us to get ready to go to the Vatican City. We were a bit annoyed because we barely had enough time to change out of the clothes we had been travelling in. Outside Vatican City, we were greeted by our guide, Sabrina, who gave us headsets so that we were able to hear her throughout the guided tour. We walked through the grounds and some of the galleries to see the amazing artwork of Michelangelo. I learnt that the Vatican is actually the smallest country in the world. After the tour, we walked by the river looking at the stalls and eating ice cream. Day 2 (Tuesday) The best part of breakfast was the hot chocolate. We met Sabrina again who took us to the church of St Peter in Chains and we sat outside while she talked to us about it before we went inside. Then we went to the Forum. Sabrina took us to see lots of grand temples dedicated to the Roman gods. After lunch, she took us to the Colosseum and told us some really interesting facts such as, it gets its name from the word ‘colossal’ meaning big. It was built over Nero’s lake to prove a point of power and is oval in shape, not circular. It took only 20 minutes to get everyone inside because of the number of entrances and cleverly arranged staircases. This was where gladiators fought lions, elephants and slaves for the entertainment of the crowd. Next was the Pantheon, which is half a sphere and has a circular window in the roof which is always open. Afterwards we had free time to buy ice cream again and walk around the square. Day 3 (Wednesday) Mr Smale took us see the Basilica of St Mary of the Angels. There were box-like rooms along either side of the church where Catholics make their confession. There was a mass taking place while we were walking round which was really interesting to watch and listen to because I had never experienced one before. We went to the Castel St Angelo, which is James Budworth’s favourite building, so


as a Fortress and is where the Pope would come, if there was any threat to the Vatican. We climbed the steps to the top and all took advantage of the photo opportunity. The view was magnificent and you could see most of the sites we had visited on the previous days but from a different perspective. After lunch, we had a chance to shop and sit on the Spanish Steps. Ben Travis and Noah Lawrenson decided it would be a good idea to run up and down them twice to count how many steps there were and they agreed there were 104. We went to the Trevi Fountain and threw a coin - it is said that if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the Fountain, you will return to Rome one day. The fountain used to be a way of getting water into the city. Next we walked to the time elevator show in the 4D theatre for a ‘brief’ realisation of the history of Rome. After watching

In the Forum area, Rome, looking toward the’ ‘Wedding Cake’ (Victor Emmanuel II Monument).


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Sorrento looking across to Bay of Naples to Vesuvius

the introduction, we took our seats and put on headphones. A bar came across our laps, like a rollercoaster, which made everyone a bit nervous about how bumpy the ride would be, but the show taught us about the history of Rome in a fun and interesting way - when the rats came onto the screen, our ankles were hit with little wires, which made Lara scream really loudly! Day 4 (Thursday) We woke up, had breakfast and got on the coach for a day of traveling, first to Monte Cassino Abbey, which was very pretty. We got to the edge of the building and looked down at the amazing view. We could see a cemetery for Polish soldiers from WWI. After lunch, the journey continued to our new hotel, ‘Hotel Ascot’ which was more fun because there were more people to a room. Later, we went on a walk to work out where we are in relation to the shops! Day 5 (Friday) We got back on a coach to take us to Mount Vesuvius, a good hour and a half away. When we arrived a sign read, Tickets have stopped being sold due to no visibility, pre ordered ticket holders are still able to make the journey at their own risk. We decided to go up anyway. The actual walk was fine but the heavy rain made it less enjoyable. When we had reached the top, we could see nothing but white, like a blank canvas. We were a bit disheartened because we were cold and soaked for no reason. On our descent, Lara Abraham decided to run down the last but couldn’t stop. She shouted ”Watch out!” as she hurtled into James, fell over and kept sliding until she collided with my ankle. We all checked if she was all right, but she was laughing, so we assumed she was. Later, however, she discovered she had scraped her leg, so she grabbed onto me and I helped her to the coach. We were still cold as we walked around Herculaneum. We went down steps inside the site to get down to the level on which the Romans had lived before the city was covered with a thick layer of volcanic ash. We walked along the streets and saw a café, which Lizzy had thought were toilets. We saw some of the baths which had very small doors and weren’t sure whether that was to keep the different rooms at contrasting temperatures or whether the Romans were much smaller than we are now. Day 6 (Saturday) On our visit to Pompeii, we were split into teams and had to find a list of things, make a note of where we had found them and write a sentence about each. We also had to name 3 things that we didn’t think the other teams would notice or find. The team I was in consisted of Ben, Lara, Kevin Wong, Mr Smale and Catherine Smale. Mrs Reeve and Mrs Smale’s team had Claire 31

Lawrence, Lizzy Howse, Alex Wilkinson and Noah. The Year 10 boys had their own team and didn’t have ANY adult supervision, which most certainly meant they were going to either get lost or not do any work! Our team found a bakery, baths and a café but most importantly we saw Caecilius’ house where students collected bits of stone from the wall because they thought Caecilius (the main character in the Cambridge Latin Course Book 1) had touched it. At the end of the day I talked to the Year 10 boys and asked how they had done. They said it was great and they knew everything about Pompeii. After dinner, we went through our results; the boys had only found one thing from each category when, in fact, they were supposed to have done everything in each category! Day 7 (Sunday) It was our last day in Italy. When we arrived at the Museum, we were put into pairs to go to find the mosaics, the paintings and the statues. We were supposed to see the part of the museum about Pompeii and the room of statues which had the bust of Caecilius in it, but they were both closed, sadly. Later, we went to the beach were we bought a ball to kick around but a dog attacked it. Then we went shopping and on the way back to the hotel we got a surprise. As it was Kevin’s birthday, a master class in making gelato had been arranged. When the lesson was over, we all got a free ice cream! After dinner, there were presentations - Claire got the ‘most positive’ award, Kevin got the ‘most focused’ award, Lizzy got the ‘flamboyant’ award and I got the ‘most committed’ award. I couldn’t help but think some of the awards were a bit sarcastic! Day 8 (Just!) We slept through the first wake up call and only got up at 5:20am and had to be on the coach at 5:30am. On the minibus, we all went back to sleep. When we arrived at the airport, there was a bit of a problem with the weight of Matthew Macdonald’s suitcase because there was about half of Mount Vesuvius in it! It weighed 33kg and the limit was supposed to be 22kg. He had to remove the rocks and put them in his and Kevin’s hand luggage. At security Matthew and Kevin were questioned about the rocks which, in the end, were confiscated. Just as we were going to board the plane, Lara realised she didn’t have her passport with her boarding pass in it. After some frantic moments and several searches, it was found. In Manchester, we were greeted with heavy rain! Verity Walker, Yr 8

In the Gelateria David

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

On Wednesday 2nd July the Nursery and Fun Club children had a treat, when the ice cream man visited. Just what everyone needed on a hot sunny afternoon. Here you can see us delving into our Mr Whippy ice creams, complete with chocolate flakes and strawberry sauce, of course. Jan Dorney, Nursery Manager

Sienna Gray and Zahra Pasha trying to finish their ice cream before it completely melts. Nicky Jones handing out ice creams to Lily Hardy and Emilia Delaney.

What a lot of ice creams!

Tina Ross with Jemima Travers indulging in an ice cream.

Christian Light, Jack Swarbrick, Archie Campbell and Imogen Holmes waiting patiently for their ice creams.

Photos: left - Caiden demonstrates what he can do to a block of wood with a flying side kick; above left - at the awards ceremony; right - after the grading

Caiden Marley of 3B has just passed his Junior Black Belt grading in mixed martial arts. This consisted of a weekend at 'Boot Camp' where he attended seminars from world- class instructors, worked on his weapons and sparred with other adults and black belt candidates. After lots of hard work (and plenty of sweat!), Caiden passed 'Boot Camp' and was deemed ready for his black belt grading. This took place 2 weeks later on 15 June. It was a gruelling three hours which a lot of the adults found difficult, never mind an 8 year-old boy! But in true Birkenhead style, he gritted his teeth and got down to business to bring home the black belt! He was awarded his certificate at a black tie party in the evening to celebrate his success. Congratulations and very well done to Caiden. Mrs V Belchier, Yr 3 teacher 32

Congratulations to Jess Rooney in Year 3 who has recently taken Bronze and Gold exams in ballroom, Latin and disco dancing. Alongside these disciplines, she also does street dance and regularly performs at the Floral Pavillion. She somehow also finds time to learn two musical instruments, be one of the youngest members of the School orchestra and take speech and drama lessons! Mrs EE Thuraisingham

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Individual Winners: Event Hurdles 100m 200m 400m 1000m Long jump High jump Shot putt

Winners Girls A. Saverimutto L. Rogers

Y11 Boys W. Brewster O. Morris O. Morris L. Rogers T. Simpson A. Mills T. Simpson A. Mills B. Corlett A. Mills & L. Rogers W. Brewster A. Sherrard W. Brewster

6th Form Boys M. Williams T. Cornall C. Boon D. Fowler-Williams A. Karus-McElvogue M. Williams T. Cornall




1st 2nd 3rd 4th

Shrewsbury Bidston Kingsmead Beresford

Bidston Shrewsbury Kingsmead Beresford

Kingsmead Beresford Bidston Shrewsbury

On a rather overcast and slightly damp day at the beginning May the Y11 and Sixth Form sports day took place. There was the usual mix of traditional athletics events like the 100m and the high jump, mixed in with some less than Olympic like events such as the egg & spoon and the three legged race! All events were highly competitive but none more so than the three legged race and the tug ‘o’ war. In the three legged race the extra practice put by Casha Anderson and Sophie Hatherly earned them first place. In the tug ‘o’ war Bidston, had cunningly kept Oliver Sait in a dark room and not fed him any protein for the whole day, so by the time he was unleashed in the final poor Kingsmead had no chance! There was some controversy with a disqualification for Bidston in the egg & spoon (Mr Blain using blu-tack again!) and Mr Rule sustained a nasty ankle injury, also in the egg & spoon!

D. Hendry

On Monday 23 June, fourteen local primary schools from Wirral and Liverpool brought teams of Year 5 pupils to Bushell Hall to take part in our second annual Maths Challenge day for primary schools. The challenge is an exciting mixture of individual, pair and group work to answer some difficult but fun questions set by the UK Mathematics Trust, a group which also organises the individual and team competitions we enter regularly from Year 7 right up to Sixth Form. All the schools really enjoyed the day, especially the energetic relay round which saw the pupils answering questions and then running to take the next question to their colleagues sitting elsewhere in the Hall. The challenge was won this year by Booker Avenue Junior School from Liverpool. Mr Barlow, Deputy Head, presented their team members with a copy each of “The Murderous Maths of Everything” S Hope, Head of Maths 33

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

On a glorious Friday, close to the end of the Summer Term, most of the School gathered on School Field for Sports Day. This involves all 214 pupils in Years 7 – 10 in six different competitions over 73 different events. The day is split into two halves with mostly heats in the morning and finals in the afternoon, with a BBQ for visitors and supporters while the competitors have lunch. Many parents bring a rug and their own picnic and there were some superb spreads worthy of the west car park at Twickenham! Everybody is encouraged to take part in at least two events, one on the track and one in the field, and they can choose which ones they compete in. Many pupils choose a few events and there were some very tired bodies by four o’clock! In the boys’ competitions in Year 7 Ben Way and Ben Goodwin both had two victories and Year 8 was dominated by the Carpenter family with four wins for Patrick and two for Seàn. In the Year 9 Boys, Tom Walker took the most wins with three and in Year 10 John MacGregor also won three different events. In the girls’ competitions Jaime Stanton from Year 7 won the hurdles, 100m and the shot putt while Connie Sturgess went home with four medals from the Year 9 & 10 competition. D Hendry

OVERALL RESULTS Y10B Y9B Y8B Y7B Y7 & 8G Y9 & 10G Bi 166 S 128 Be 157 Bi 174 Be 161 S 83 Be 140 Be 121 Bi 137 K 122 S 102 Bi 67 S 105 K 117 S 130 S 111 Bi 76 K 50 K 67 Bi 112 K 78 Be 104 K 49 Be 39 Key: B = Boys G = Girls Bi-Bidston Be-Beresford K-Kingsmead S-Shrewsbury Photos: 1. Dylan Sandhu, George McCann (shot putt winner Y7), Ben Goodwin (100m & 200m winner Y7) 2. Ben Goodwin and Adam Durband (long jump winner Y 7 ) with their medals 3. Ben Goodwin collecting his medal from the Headmaster

Congratulations to Ailsa Dunn who gave birth to a baby girl, Ivy Harrop, at 9:45am on 7 July. She weighed in at 7Ib 15oz. Both mother and daughter are both “doing really well”

Matthew Diaz-Rainey, 6S, completed an amazing season with Wirral School Boys’ Under 11 Football team in the Barnet Shieldhouse Cup Final at Goodison Park on 21st May. This was the team’s best ever season, with the boys achieving five trophy wins this year. Their final game at Everton’s world famous home was against Huyton and they drew 1-1 to share the shield. The Wirral School Boys Under 11 trophy cabinet now holds the Pennine League Cup, the Merseyside League Cup, the Airbus Cup, the Tranmere Cup and The Barnet Shieldhouse Cup. What a season! Matthew has also just completed his third successful season with Tranmere Rovers FC Academy. He was top scorer for the Under 11s with 27 goals. Congratulations, Matthew! Playing for Wirral Schoolboys has been a big commitment for Matthew, but he has loved every minute of it and despite being exhausted after the Goodison Park match, he said, “I want to do it all over again!” 34

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

The 28 BPS Competitors

In the Lent term, a strong Birkenhead School athletics team travelled to Robin Park in Wigan for the annual AJIS Indoor Athletic Championships. Buoyed by successes at the event over recent years, the team, containing two of Wirral’s top athletes for their age group, travelled with high hopes of medals. Over 20 of the AJIS Schools were present, with a very high standard of competition across both track and field events. All of the Birkenhead School athletes competed tenaciously in their events and, in what were all hard-fought contests, the team managed to come away with a substantial medal haul. Three Prep athletes broke long-standing AJIS records in the process. Huge congratulations must go to Abi Saverimutto for her two gold medals and her sprint record, along with Megan Simpson and Emmeline Barry for collecting gold and breaking records in the U10 Javelin and U11 Vertical jump, respectively. A delighted Megan said afterwards “I was thrilled to not only win a medal, but also break an AJIS record!” with Emmeline adding “We all had a fantastic day and were all so proud of our achievements as a team.”

We are very sorry to be saying farewell to Mrs Philippa Relph, a teacher in Prep, at the end of this term. She will be taking up a new teaching post at Higher Bebington Junior School. Philippa joined us in the Summer Term of 2008 when Birkenhead School had its first intake of girls, taking an extra Year 4 class. She has taught many Prep children in her time at School, working in both Years 4 and 6. Recently, she also provided much support for staff and pupils in her role as SEN coordinator. Philippa is one of the most dynamic and inspirational teachers I have ever worked with. She is an excellent communicator and a very knowledgeable teacher. Her calm, kind and patient nature makes her popular with pupils and staff alike; she will be sorely missed. Her extra-curricular talents know no end too. We will miss the delicious smells emanating from her cookery club as countless children produce rocky road, sweet potato soup and other delectable treats. Her ICT skills have not only benefitted pupils in her ‘Animation’ club, but also dragged some of the ‘more mature’ members of staff into the modern era when she taught them how to get to grips with the interactive whiteboards. We wish Philippa, Raj and their gorgeous two sons, Rehan and Zeshaan, all the very best for the future . Mrs E E Thuraisingam

Beyond Words Jack Doran, Year 6, entered the annual national writing competition organised by the British Dyslexia Association to celebrate Dyslexia Awareness Week. The theme of the competition was 'Beyond Words' and the judges chose Jack's WW2 themed story from many hundreds of entries. Jack's story, which told of the exploits of good friends Ginger and Alfie, won him the Primary age writing award. Mr FitzHerbert, who presented Jack’s award in assembly, commented, “We are all very proud of Jack. He is an example to anyone with dyslexia and I am delighted that he has achieved this award.”

On the last sunny Sunday in June, a group of BPS Year 1 families cycled a route along the Dee Marshes cycle path – several had enjoyed the inaugural “Year Cycle Ride” from Seacombe to New Brighton in June 2013 when they were in Reception - and there were also some new faces saddling up (including some parents who had not ridden a bike for many years!) After a fortifying elevenses of home baked choc-fudge cookies and tea/coffee/hot chocolate, the intrepid gang headed off from Little Neston and cycled along a path that took them through farmland (with sunbathing sheep), Burton RSPB reserve, and across a boardwalk over the marshes adjacent to a disused railway and the Sealand MOD Range. A picnic lunch was enjoyed on the return leg and a little later the group stopped off at Net’s café for wellearned ice creams after their 6-mile ride. All (mums and dads in particular!) also enjoyed a refreshing beverage sitting in the sunshine at The Harp, Little Neston, at the end of the route. The event was such a success that the group hope to encourage more of the Year to join them in September/October for a “Welcome to Year 2” bike ride. Watch this space! Well done to Summer Baker (Nursery); Lucy Thornton (Reception); Conrad Baker, Esme Daly, Ioan Edwards, Adam Jones, Rohan 35

Taking a well-deserved break!

Kapoor, Finn Lawrence, Marcus Thornton, Zach Webster (Year 1); Anoushka Kapoor and Bryce Edwards (Year 3) for superb pedalling! Clare Jones, Birkenhead School Parents’ Association Year 1 Parents Liaison Representative

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

In the U12 final BS played Cheadle Hulme School, having beaten King's Chester in the semi-final. BS batted first and scored 135 runs in 20 overs, with Jack Breheny scoring 34 runs and Captain Toby Brown 69 (photo above right Toby accepts the Winners Cup) In reply, Cheadle scored 119 for 6 with Toby Brown taking 3 wickets for 21 runs in his 4 overs. BS won by 16 runs. There were inflatables, from a small bouncy castle for the little ones to a space hoppers grand national, a mini bucking bronco for the The Parents’ Association organised an amazing afternoon of fun under 11s and a gladiator duelling arena for older students. There (and even glorious weather!) for the BS family at the end of were traditional races such as egg and spoon and sack races which June. It was also an opportunity to say goodbye to Headmaster, were run and organised by Tom and Natalie Brand. Nick Corran also supplied a set of racing frogs, which was enjoyed by staff as much as John Clark. The BBQ was run by dads, Colin Gaskell and Keith Durband (the students! Duncan Hendry organised an impromptu volley ball game onion king!), with the help 6th Formers, as well as Mark Turner which organisers, parents and children joined in. The set of stocks and Dave and Denise Edmunds. Homemade sandwiches and were made and supplied by Colin Gaskell and run by Grace Keenan. cakes, afternoon teas and cold drinks were served from the We had lots of volunteers to go in the stocks, including the outgoing Pavilion by Mel George, Bev McCann and student helpers. Ice Head of School, Tom Gibbs and the 2 new deputies, Grace Keenan Creams were served by Clare Jones, her son Adam and his and Rob Hilton and teachers Mark Turner and Duncan Hendry. Harry friends. The Pimms tent which also offered soft drinks and FitzHerbert kindly agreed to perform his "banana dance" when the beer, was run by Jayne and John Bransby, Sue Keating and some bananas sold out and was greatly enjoyed by parents as much as the children! Thank you Mr FitzHerbert! Mr Clark also kindly agreed to willing mums. There were many attractions and side-shows. The circus was a take part in the Welly Wanging competition and faced Matthew massive hit and spectators could try their hands (and legs) at Macdonald in the final. Matthew won by an absolute mile but thank stilt walking, unicycling and juggling. The Circus troupe also put you Mr Clark! on two shows for families to enjoy. Stalls run by Overdale It all took a lot of organising and planning but it was well worth it. A students included a tombola, Nail in a Bale, Banana sales and great time was had by all and there were lots of happy memories. Hook a Duck. Splat the Rat, built and run by Steve McCann and Our thanks not only to the staff, students and parents who helped or students, drew large crowds! Daniel Gaskell took it upon himself just came along, but also to Carl Williams and his Estates team for to learn the art of face painting and demonstrated his new skill helping set up and dismantle and to Keith Watson for the generous loan of kitchen equipment and BBQs. by painting over 60 faces during the afternoon! Sally Gaskell, Parents’ Association

Mr FitzHerbert wows the crowds with his Banana Dance 36

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Frog race

Bouncy castle

McEdmunds’ Burgers

Hook a Duck

Mark Turner in the stocks


Circus unicyclists


Mr FitzHerbert has them under his spell

HM wangs the Welly 37

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

organising instrumental exams, but as Front of House for School plays and as our staff rep on the School’s Health and Safety Committee – that shows dedication for you! Above all we were extremely grateful when she agree to step in as Director of Music for a term when Mr Ellis left – that can hardly have been part of her plan for a quiet retirement. Well, Irene, I hope that’s what the months and years ahead now hold in store. I’m sure we will see you from time to time in Chapel, so this is an au revoir rather than a goodbye. We were delighted when, earlier this year, Andrew Rymer achieved his longheld ambition to run his own department. In September he becomes Head of Maths at Birkenhead High School Academy. Congratulations, Andy. He joined us in 2006 and a year later became Housemaster of Shrewsbury and has taken the House to a number of significant achievements in the past 7 years. As well as teaching maths at all levels in the School, and known for his sympathetic approach to those pupils for whom maths seemed to be more mystery than magic, he has made his mark as a Year 9 Form Tutor and in running hockey teams. Before he joined us, his then Head of Department wrote the following: “He is well known for his sense of humour and approachability. He willingly gives of his time to tutor students who require extra support. He is a keen sportsman but is sadly a Leeds United fan.” Andy, thank you and good luck at the Academy. The Maths Department loses a second member of staff and the

Two Year 9 pupils are in conversation. For anonymity’s sake, let’s call them Pupil A and Pupil B. The Headmaster walks up. Both have won prizes. Pupil A has never had one before. “Congratulations”, says the Headmaster, focussing his attention particularly on Pupil A, who, turning to pupil B, asks: “What’s Prize Giving like then?” Seemingly unconcerned by the Headmaster’s presence, Pupil B replies: “Oh, it’s really boring.” So, as my special farewell gift to you, Jack and Dan, … and to the rest of you on stage and in the Hall, I would like this to be my shortest speech yet. I would like it to be... Thank you, Chairman, for you generous words and to you all for your warm response. I am not the only one leaving or retiring this year of course. Indeed, the list is longer than it has been for some years, although I am quite sure there is no connection. Some have been with us for a relatively short time, others for many years. If you will bear with me, I would like to say a few words about each of them in reverse order of their arrival here. Elizabeth Kearney (see also p 6) has been with us for only four years as a member of our Learning Support Department and yet in that time she has had an extraordinary impact, not only on the progress and well-being of the pupils she has taught and mentored, but on the development of our collective understanding of pupil needs. After university, Elizabeth spent 12 years as a teacher of Geography and Geology so has been particularly well placed to understand the demands which the wider curriculum places on pupils with special educational needs. Understanding she may be, but Elizabeth stands for no nonsense from pupils, colleagues or indeed from the Headmaster. Those she has taught and their parents worship her and so do I! We wish her all the very best.

L to R: Prizegiver Judith Greensmith, CBE , with Governor Ian Boumphrey, his wife Marilyn and Irene Nolan.

School its Deputy Head (Academic), as Ralph Barlow moves on to take up his new post as Deputy Head at Sherborne School in Dorset (that’s down south). Ralph arrived in 2005 from King’s School, Gloucester (that’s also down south), where he had been Head of Maths and – as has always been the case here – did a lot of other things. As many of you will know, he is a complete wizard when it comes to IT and thanks to him, we have information systems in place in the School which visitors from elsewhere can often only look at with envy. But his main responsibility has been

Irene Nolan came to us in 2009 but her association with the School goes back much longer. She worked closely with our Music Department for many years when she was Head of Music at what was then Birkenhead High School. This is, in effect, her second retirement and I have been very grateful to her for stepping in wherever there was a need, not only in the Music Department where, amongst other things, she has had the onerous task of 38

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014 the annual Festival of Remembrance. Mary Butterworth is a Librarian by training and joined the School a couple of years after I did, to assist with our Foundation Trust Bursary Appeal and as Librarian in Junior School (as it was then) – whatever role she has taken on she has always relished opportunities to work with pupils. She left for a while to live in the States but almost the first thing I did before I had even officially started as Headmaster in 2003 was to get Mary back on the staff to drive our marketing. In 2004, I needed a new secretary and I took the liberty of inviting Mary for an informal chat late one evening. She turned up in her best frock and proceeded to tell me how she was totally unsuited to be a secretary – she was prone to making mistakes and could only type with two fingers … but she would really love to do the job. And passion is what you need. So I decided the typing didn’t matter, appointed her as my PA, and the typing really didn’t matter. She gave me the most incredible support and still does. Mary is from Yorkshire, I’m a Lancastrian. Little wonder that our relationship occasionally had touches of the Wars of the Roses about it or, as Jenny Ellis described it only the other day, “It was sometimes like listening to an elderly married couple bickering”. Mary may not have been able to type as fast as some and she may even have made the very occasional mistake, but her ability to promote the School and to build relationships with parents and pupils was remarkable. That’s a theme to which I will return. As my PA, she would spend hours on the phone, not arranging high level meetings for the Headmaster, but counselling parents on how to deal with their adolescent children or cope with some family crisis – including missing bags, lost cricket bats… you name it! Mary was the fourth emergency service. In Focus was her baby and she insisted on keeping it when she became my PA, which often meant working late into the evenings when the day’s work was done. In Focus has become an extraordinary way of connecting with the whole School family. When she stepped down as my PA to work part-time, she became the School’s events manager – her crowning achievement was almost certainly the Perfect Pitch concert which so many people still talk about. She has also worked tirelessly and with a passion to build up alumni relations and that will be an enormous legacy to the School. Mary has become the glue that holds past and present together and, through her, many former pupils have been drawn back into the family. Like a piece of Blackpool rock, Mary has the School, its values and traditions written right through her. To me personally she has also been an enormous support and it is to her I have often turned in moments of doubt or crisis because I knew she would never say what she thought I wanted to hear. For that Mary and so much more, I thank you and wish you an exciting retirement. Elaine Wilday has taught parttime in the Art Department and now retires after 22 years. Elaine came to teaching late, after pursuing a career as a painter, sculptor and illustrator. Well, this is not really a retirement so much as another career change: Elaine now intends to devote more time to her new career as an Art Therapist. As well as being a very capable practitioner and teacher, Elaine has always had an eye for

for the curriculum which has grown significantly in his time here. A lasting legacy will be the Beyond the Curriculum concept again copied by other schools, enabling both pupils and staff to stretch their sights beyond the constraints of ordinary school subjects and have great fun on the way. He led some quite radical changes to our assessment and reporting, and other initiatives have enabled us to evaluate pupil progress much more rigorously. It is not by chance that last summer’s results at both GCSE and A level were the best the School has ever had and, whilst he would be too modest to take the credit for that, his role as the driver of our curriculum has unquestionably been a significant factor in that success. As many of you will know, his great passion is music and for 9 years he has sung in the Chapel Choir, for a term he directed it and recorded a CD, the a cappella group BarLine was his baby and what a success that was – and another CD! He has directed Prep shows and helped out on numerous productions of different kinds... On top of all that, he has been truly inspirational in the classroom. As Deputy Head, he has always made decisions by asking what is best for pupils, even if that sometimes means people – colleagues and parents - don’t get the decisions they want. I am sure he will continue to operate by that principle as he moves to his new post. Sherborne is the most beautiful of schools in the most beautiful of settings and I feel certain that Ralph, his wife Liz and their three children will have a wonderful new life there. My only fear is that, being a boarding school, Ralph’s working hours will be even more ridiculous than they have been here. Thank you, Ralph. And now to our long serving retiring colleagues: Captain Alan Joseph came to us in 2003, after distinguished service in the Cheshire Regiment, to act as the School Staff Instructor (SSI) in the CCF. Soon after his arrival, he had to cope with my decision to make the CCF voluntary which, despite our partnership with Upton Hall School, had an enormous impact on numbers. Despite that decline in numbers, Alan has remained committed and enthusiastic about what the CCF has to offer and he has devoted many weekends to providing opportunities for cadets to take part in camps and competitions and, in his

passionate promotion of the sport of shooting, has enabled cadets to bring back to the School not insignificant amounts of silverware. I am sure that it will be with a considerable sense of pride and well-deserved satisfaction next November that he will watch one of our cadets carry the CCF flag into the Albert Hall at 39

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014 And even now he’s not really leaving: pupils and colleagues will be able to find him on Monday mornings working with the Archives team at the top of the 6th Form building – continuing to preserve and promote the history of his old school. He is currently engaged in planning a rolling exhibition to reflect the events of the 1 st World War in which, of course, as we were so poignantly reminded last November, 96 Old Birkonians gave their lives. I have always seen Jim as our link with our own history and his network of contacts amongst former pupils is quite remarkable. I am sure he will continue to put that to good use and to promote the school. Jim, thank you and all the very best to you and Jennifer. ____________________

the all-round well-being of her pupils and, whilst she has not been a Form Tutor, she has always kept a discreet eye out for individuals who needed a listening ear or particular encouragement, for which I know those individuals have been grateful. I can only think that her 22 years working alongside Alan Blain must have prepared her particularly well for her new career as a therapist. She sometimes refers to herself as his PA; certainly she has earned her retirement in a very particular way and so, thank you Elaine, and all the best for the future. Keith Robinson joined us as a technician in the Design and Technology Department (it was called CDT in those days), planning to stay for two years. That was over 22 years ago … He has been a lynchpin of that very successful department – I don’t think I have ever seen Keith anything but busy. Moreover, he has from time to time provided a service to the whole School – if something vaguely technical goes wrong or if an unusual prop needs making for a school production, it’s to Keith people turn. He has well and truly earned his retirement – his working life has spanned exactly 50 years - and we are delighted that his very large shoes will be filled by his son Steve who is – yes, you’ve guessed it - planning to stay for two years… we’ll see. Keith, you leave with our thanks and best wishes for a long and happy retirement. Jim McGrath has been at Birkenhead School for 31 years – 7 as a pupil and 24 as a teacher. Jim is a man of fierce loyalties – to his old school, to his old college and university, to his subject. For a pupil of the school to go to Christ’s College Cambridge to study History was and is, I think, Jim’s idea of ultimate success. If that pupil then gained two soccer blues consecutive years, that would be perfection. As far as I know, only Jim himself has achieved that! After 20 years away from Birkenhead School, he returned in 1990 with the title of Head of Careers and Industrial and External Liaison. It was very much a post he created and had a much broader remit than the conventional Careers Master, building on his experience as Schools Industry Liaison Co-ordinator for Wirral. Having played 1st XV rugby and 1st XI cricket when he was at School, it was hardly surprising that Jim should throw himself into the coaching of those sports, focussing his efforts for many years on the young players coming in at the age of 11, then later running the 2 nd XV. He has also run School golf for many years. A stalwart of sports tours and ski trips, the extra-curricular life of the School was in his blood.

In order to avoid any confusion, our prize giver this evening is not Esther McVey, MP for West Wirral and Minister of State for Employment. It became obvious some time ago that she might not be able to escape parliamentary business to be with us. However, I am truly delighted to welcome Judith Greensmith this evening. A former pupil of Birkenhead High School, where she was also Chair of Governors for several years, she studied Economics at Birmingham University. She joined ICI in 1975 and worked in sales, purchasing and marketing management roles. After having her family, she worked as a freelance management training consultant and was appointed to an NHS Chair post in 1991 at Liverpool Women’s Hospital. She has continued to chair NHS organisations in the North West and has been Chair at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust since 2006. One of her recent major achievements was to gain approval for the New Royal in Sept 2013. She is a member of the Executive Committee of Liverpool Cathedral and trustee of Clatterbridge Cancer Research. She was awarded a CBE for services to the National Health Service in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2010. She was High Sheriff of Merseyside in 2008-9. Appointed directly by the Queen, High Sherriffs are charged with keeping law and order in the county but, Judith, I hope there won’t be much of that to do this evening. I met her very early in my time here because her two sons, Thomas and Henry, were pupils and, even since they left, she has always felt part of the extended family, so it is a very particular pleasure to have not just such an eminent local figure but also a great friend of Birkenhead School to present the prizes at my final Prize Giving. Thank you, Mrs Greensmith, and I would like to call upon Katie Leyland, Deputy Head of Overdale, to present a bouquet of flowers. At prize givings heads often give an account of the successes and achievements of the past year. Rightly or wrongly I have never done that, preferring to leave you all to read what has been going on at your leisure in our impressive annual Record of Activities and Achievements which you will receive during this summer. At a final prize giving, there is a temptation to look back and reflect on changes that have taken place, improvements that have been made (thanks to or in spite of the Headmaster), aims that have or have not been achieved, hopes dashed or fulfilled. Again, I would rather leave that to you if you are so inclined. Not least because I can see Jack and Dan already have their phones out. At the risk of seeming trite or pompous, I will, however, take a brief look back and muse a little on education itself. When I left school at the age of 17, I had all sorts of grand ideas about what I wanted to do. Whilst at university I had the great fortune to spend a year abroad – in SW Germany as it happened. I could have


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014 attended a German university but I opted to teach as an English Language assistant in a school. It was like love at first sight – suddenly I could imagine no better possible career (and 33 years later I still can’t - honestly). I was not sure whether this was just a brief infatuation and whether I really did want to commit to a profession which at the time was not exactly high status. So I wrote to my old chemistry teacher at school for advice. Why him? I had never been terribly good at chemistry, even though I managed what was then a grade 2;I gave it up after O level to concentrate on English Literature, French and German. I remember little of the subject he taught me. And yet it was Harry King, my old chemistry teacher at QEGS Blackburn, who I can say with some certainty, was the most influential teacher in my life. Why? Well, for one thing he had the most extraordinary passion for his subject, an inner spark which inspired me, quite unrelated to the subject he was teaching. Second, he was an amazing communicator: I can still see him dancing around the dusty old lab swinging his hands in the air to illustrate what the particles in some chemical reaction or other were up to. But thirdly and most importantly he built relationships with his pupils because of who he was and what

he stood for. I retain a deep sense that I learnt more in his lessons about what really matters in life than I did about the period table. If you encounter a teacher like that – count yourselves lucky indeed. Anyway, back to Germany. As I say, whilst I was there I must have written to Harry about my career dilemma and I still have the letter which he wrote in reply. I’ve no idea what I wrote to him but it must have indicated that friends and family were trying to put me off the idea of a career in teaching because of the state of the education system at the time. He wrote encouraging me to go for it and offering this advice: “I can only speak from my own experience – I began as a primary school teacher and have seen the lot (double underlined) in 47 years in the business and I wouldn’t have my life any different: ups and downs yes, despair even one day, but the heights the next. For me it has been a wonderfully rewarding life. If there is a secret to it, it is two-fold: (a) be yourself – no airs and graces, not trying to copy other practitioners and (b) as I was advised some 46 years ago: “If you

wish to teach Johnny Chemistry, you must not only know Chemistry, you must also know Johnny”. Whatever success I have had hangs on those two principles.” Harry King died less than a year after writing that letter but his message has remained a guiding principle for me, although I am not sure I have been as successful as he was in sticking to it. Rather like him, after 33 years in teaching I have come to the conclusion that education does not come down to methodology or resources, buildings or equipment but to relationships. Relationships are, in my view, at the heart of a successful education. Put together an inspiring teacher and a pupil ready to be inspired and you can throw away the textbooks, the smartboards, the wireless iPads, the interactive this and that. You have in that relationship all the essential ingredients for a successful education… and if they need technology they will improvise. It is for this simple reason that technology will never replace the teacher. Technology can inform, it can facilitate, it can assess and it can correct, but it can’t relate. And yet, tragically, in recent years the teacher pupil relationship has been tarnished by a steady stream of child abuse scandals, and when schools appoint teachers now their prime duty, as far as the state is concerned, is to ensure that they are safe not that they inspire. The sorts of relationships I enjoyed with pupils when I started teaching (and many of them were only a few years younger than I was) would nowadays probably lead – quite wrongly - to questions being asked. And yet, I think we inspired each other and there was an energy to the teacher pupil relationship which was at times electric. Parents will be sick of hearing me talk about the magic triangle linking pupil, parent and school and yet I do feel that is crucial to the success if this school. My own memory of school is of parents being kept at arm’s length by both school and children. How different it is today and that has been one of the great pleasures of my job. I feel very optimistic for the future when I see the openness and warmth of relationships between children and parents and indeed between School, parents and children. Last Sunday’s Midsummer Madness was a great example of that, but I see many more examples week in week out. It’s a good sign and augurs well for our children’s well-being. In a broader sense too, learning to develop and sustain mutually supportive relationships is a crucial outcome of a successful education. And yet I worry that it is getting harder for young people to establish those kinds of relationships. It worries me when I see how many young people there are (and older people too) whose most profound and meaningful relationship seems to be with the screen of their smartphone. And, of course, social media – where people may boast a thousand friends – can give the illusion of relationships which are in the end nothing but momentary pulses in cyberspace. I urge those of you over there to spend real time talking to each other, wean yourself off your phones, write letters occasionally instead of emails (if Harry King had sent me an email, I wouldn’t have been able to find it 35 years later), talk instead of text. Girls you are already much better at this than the boys and I wonder whether this isn’t one reason at least why mental health problems are on the rise amongst the male population – they no longer talk to anyone! One of the aspects of this School I have become most proud of and which, I think, makes us rather special is the vertical relationships between the different age groups. This has grown dramatically in the last couple of years and it would be hard to 41

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014 list all the opportunities there are – Lower 6th students mentoring Year 7 pupils, Year 8 pupils listening to readers in Year 3, Year 10 pupils coaching Year 5 pupils in sport, pupils of all ages running activities in the Prep, then there’s Chapel Choir, House Drama, House Music, CCF, science clubs, this year Les Mis, next year Hamlet. This sense of mutual respect and responsibility across the age groups reinforces the sense of family which permeates the School and which creates that deep sense of community. The importance of community, respect for all and responsibility for all, is something which I hope our students take with them when they leave - not as something nostalgic to look back on, nor as something to re-create through Facebook or Twitter, but as something which is the foundation of any successful community and indeed any fair and just society. Yet it is very easy in a cosy community like this, in a safe and insular Wirral, to enjoy the close-knit relationships we have here and fail to look to the world beyond. We used to sing at the start of Prize Giving the School Song, one line of which ran: ‘The School it is the world to us’. It mustn’t be. We need to recognise that all humanity is in the end as interrelated as we are in our tiny microcosm of a world here at School. “Respect for all, responsibility for all” needs to apply not just here but everywhere. There are some of you who will leave School and find yourself in a position to change the world, but all of you will be in a position to change your own world for the better – your family, your university, your workplace, your

town, your community - wherever that may be - and I hope the values you have learnt here and those relationships imbued with respect for all and responsibility for all, will shape the rest of your lives and touch the lives of those you meet. We can all make a difference.

Finally, I have a few more thank yous to say: to the Governors for their strategic vision and their wise management of the School’s finances in particular, to all those colleagues both teaching and support staff who never hesitate to go the extra mile to make Birkenhead School the exceptional place it is. Because I think the physical environment is such a vital part of the education we offer, I’d like to say a special thank you to Carl Williams and his Estates team, who maintain our beautiful campus and for whom nothing is too much trouble. My thanks also to Andrew Thomson, who was Chair of Governors when I was appointed and who, with his wife Caroline, have given me the most fantastic support – usually over a bottle of Andrew’s finest claret. To all those friends and former staff of the School who have provided me with constant

encouragement over the years and many of whom are here this evening. To you, our parents. And to you, the pupils, who make the job worthwhile: at the risk of insulting everyone else I have mentioned, I must say that it’s you I will miss most. And, of course, to Dave Edmunds, my Deputy throughout my 11 years as Head. Dave has been an absolute rock and works tirelessly to ensure that the School runs smoothly and happily, overseeing our discipline and pastoral care and so, so much more. Dave never says ‘no’, starts work at about 5am each day to ensure that everything is as it should be, always puts the interests of pupils first and, all importantly, never loses his sense of humour. Thank you, Dave. I have one final presentation to make and that is to my long suffering, infinitely dedicated PA, Debbie Roberts. Unlike Mary, she never shouts at me - or at least not within my hearing - and as I wrote these lines last night she was still sitting in her office in the Lodge (it was about 7.30pm) ringing parents of prize winners who had not yet handed in their books to her for presentation tonight! You know who you are! I don’t know what time you went home, Debbie. She typifies the dedication of so many of our support staff. Debbie’s commitment to the job is summed up for me in a post-it note which I found last weekend attached to the mantelpiece over the fire in her office. Those of you who have been in Debbie’s office will know that we keep a lot of cups and trophies on that mantelpiece. The post-it read: “John, don’t panic, I have taken the silver home to polish!” Debbie, please accept these flowers, as my personal thank you. Forgive me if this has all been rather serious – and sorry, Jack and Dan, that it’s not been as short as I would have liked. Don’t worry, you won’t have to sit through it again! It has been a privilege and (on most days) a joy to be part of this wonderful community, to help to shape this great School and nudge it onto the next stage of its journey. Most of you in this room – pupils, governors, parents, staff and friends – will be part of that exciting journey and so may I wish you all bon voyage and, as our former Chaplain, Ian Davenport used to say, happy adventuring! John Clark, Headmaster 2003-2014


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

On Friday 21 March, Y6 Mums joined together to take on Y6 girls and teachers in a fiercely competitive netball match. Y6 girls helped with the preparations by making posters, banners and cakes and were all bursting with excitement about the event. Emma Cooke said, “I can’t stand still, I just can’t wait to play against my Mum!” Many staff, pupils and parents stayed to spectate, and those who were less keen to play enjoyed the delicious cakes that were on sale. The whistle blew and they were off….. Y6 girls were victorious in the first match, but the Mighty Mums came back to ‘narrowly’ defeat the staff in a match that had end-to-end thrills and spills. A fantastic way to end our most successful netball season ever and, to top it off, £400 was raised for a local charity which supports children who have Down’s Syndrome.

The Reception children, staff and KS1 Science Club were delighted to welcome Professor Greg Hurst and his team to Birkenhead School earlier this term. Professor Hurst is Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Liverpool University, as well as an entomologist. The team helped the children to search for and observe mini beasts in the School grounds using various scientific apparatus. The hunt led to some fascinating discoveries, including a solitary bee nest site. The afternoon was enjoyed by all. The children and staff involved would like to thank Professor Hurst and his team for an amazing afternoon full of mini beast encounters. Shaking the wee beasties out of the tree John Davies and Georgina Mudge 43

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

The annual Adventure Holiday invariably proves to be one of the highlights of the year for all Year 6 pupils and this year’s excursion was no exception. Fifty-nine pupils and their teachers all headed for the Lincolnshire countryside, intent on thrills, spills, excitement, rest and relaxation. Apart from the rest and relaxation, all these things came to pass. As Abi Saverimutto describes: “The brave teachers who embarked on our adventure were: ‘The Mummy’ (Mrs Sewell), ‘The Heroic Mr Halpin’, ’The Lovely Miss Lord’, ‘The Courageous Mr Corran’, and last, but definitely not least, ‘The Disco Diva’ (Mr Stockdale). Excited and disorganised, we headed to our rooms and, after dumping our bags, we raced for dinner. That night our team leaders, Adam and Annette, led ‘Wacky Races’ with us and off to bed we all went after a great start to our week’s adventure! We awoke, excited and ready for our first breakfast, having been split into five groups in time for our different activities. Our Team Leader was Miss Lord and we were ‘The Unicorns!’ Our first activity was kayaking and, though scared of capsizing, we carefully manoeuvred around the lake.” Kayaking and raft building were two of the most popular activities,

despite a couple of obvious drawbacks, as Tom James describes… “Many people capsized (including myself) and were soon freezing cold. Fortunately we all had showers in our rooms so we could warm up. Unfortunately there was only one shower per room, so some of us stayed soggy for a while.” Tom went on… “From high roping to archery, all the activities were thoroughly enjoyed by the children. No matter how scary or frightening, everyone bravely accepted the challenges they faced.” The non-stop nature of a PGL Adventure Holiday is summed up by the observations of Luke Crocker, who was later presented with the ‘All weather Cricketer’ award, for his services to cricket in adverse conditions. “We usually played football and cricket on the field behind our rooms in between activities. It was fantastic fun because the events were many and varied, and we always had a different instructor. Activities included high ropes (walking around, seemingly a thousand feet in the air, on unsteady platforms!) fencing, survivor, archery, shooting and much more. My favourites were abseiling, survivor, orienteering and, of course, high ropes, which I’m sure everyone enjoyed (even those suffering from vertigo!).” The final word on the week away comes from Abi … “I can sum up my PGL experience in five words: Great, Exciting, Different, Challenging and Fun! I loved every second of it with my friends and teachers!”

Paul Keenan with the cup

The U14 team

In the U14 final, BS played King's Macclesfield having beaten King's Chester in the semi-final. We bowled first and bowled Macclesfield out for 56 runs, with Edward Azurdia and George Wild both taking 3 wickets. BS scored 57 runs without losing a wicket, winning by at total of 10 wickets. Armand Rabot was 27 not out and Dan Cook 23 not out.


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

How well do you know your President? Hello, it was suggested that I should introduce myself since we are mostly unacquainted! After an itinerant wartime at 6 different schools, culminating with the BS Prep in January 1944, I joined the Junior School in September 1946. Over the next 9 years I developed interests in Boxing, Music, Athletics and other sports, Natural History, Pyrotechnics, Photography, Wireless telegraphy and Birkenhead High School for Girls. I took my ‘A’ levels 61 years ago and in later life I even married into the BHSG Clan! After school I developed professional pyrotechnic skills with 2 years in the Corps of Royal Engineers and then went to Cambridge (Natural Sciences), emerging as a chemical engineer. [There were about 30 OBs at Cambridge in those days.] I worked for ICI in various guises, have a couple of inventions to my name, and finished up in commercial control of their Lime Quarrying and Rocksalt Mining businesses, which were sold as part of the breakup of the company (which I deeply regret). Andrew Marr noted in his book ‘The Making of Modern Britain’ “ICI invested annually more in research than the total of all British universities combined.” This break-up was a huge loss to Britain’s intellectual capital store. I had been lucky enough to work with two Fellows of the Royal Society. On completion of the sale of my businesses, I left for early retirement in 1992, with the ownership in my pocket (conveyed by ICI) of an undeveloped invention intended to restore the productivity of fly-fishing in British salmon rivers. All attempts in my retirement to develop this for the benefit of the School were unsuccessful as my contacts had dispersed following the demise of the Company. But I still have it at home, and if any OB has influence or interest in Salmon Fishing or River Conservation circles, I would be glad to discuss its revival as a legacy for the benefit of the School. I have tried recently to encourage my generation and older members to take a new look at the idea of funding Educational Scholarships out of current contributions, now that interest rates are so low. The School welcomes the idea, but it will be up to more recent generations of OBs to take up the challenge. It would be good if everyone could adapt the idea to their own generation’s needs and abilities, because even a modest pound a week from everyone could put a full scholar into every year group. And what about the girls? We are no longer an all male Society! It must be daunting to be an ‘Old Girl’ of this school, especially if you are one of the first. What can we do to make them more welcome? Well, here is a suggestion, what about Honorary Associate Membership for BHS Old Girls who are mothers of OBs?? Radical, you say?? They can make no useful financial contribution to the new Girls’ Academy, which I have supported as BHSG, but they might see the benefit of supporting scholars at this centre of independence. Perhaps this could be on the agenda for a Council meeting?! 45

Photo: Martin with wife Jackie (after 37 years!). They met as members of the first ever joint Birkenhead School/Birkenhead High School Musical Society venture in 1953. Martin was its first Secretary and Jackie the star singer. BS Connections: although Martin’s son could not come to Birkenhead School, he was at Solihull for 8 years where he won the Bushell maths prize in 1981. WF Bushell was Headmaster there in the 1920s, before Michaelhouse in South Africa and finally Birkenhead from 1930-1946.

I am astonished to find myself in this totally unexpected position, a relic of a past age. I will be grateful for any assistance to make my period of office of some value to the School and to the Society, whose membership I have enjoyed since 1955. ‘Best before dates’ come to mind in this context, and we have to hope that the signs of my decay do not become too obvious in the coming years. My medical advisors tell me I am decaying from the feet up, so I shall keep my boots securely laced at all times! Thank you for this great honour; I am trying to be useful to the School and will do my best to encourage others likewise, but please take it on and don’t wait for me to come knocking! Martin Granger Brown (1944-55) OBS President

President Martin Granger Brown Chairman Roger Ewing Secretary Will Roberts Treasurer Trevor Mathew-Jones Council Members Brian Boumphrey Alan Hanson Graham Hurton Paul Briscoe Tom Harrison William Nute

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014 particular. It is expected that a planned netball match against the School at the OB weekend could be an interesting first. Mary Butterworth has been the vital link between the School and OB Society for many years and this summer she retires. The Society and Archives in particular will miss her tremendous contribution. It is hoped that Mary can be persuaded to visit us at every opportunity from her home in Malpas.

Chairman’s Report 2014 Our nine Council members have remained unchanged and continue to meet four times per year and in addition, of course, there is the traditional Annual General Meeting at the OB Society weekend in September. The main thrust of activities are the archives, new merchandise, the dinners, both here and in London, lunches in Liverpool, rugby (OBFC) and golf at Royal Liverpool and Heswall. Each have group leaders who deserve a big thank you for the considerable support they provide throughout the year. The Headmaster introduced a fresh round of Welcome Back Dinners in May and the younger more recent leavers were the first to enjoy the occasion. We must impress upon the new Headmaster the considerable benefit that both School and OB Society reap from these popular events. There have been two rather special dinners this year. In April there was the OBFC Hotpot entitled “The Last Hurrah” which attracted about 80 diners and witnessed five excellent speakers and in June we held a Farewell Dinner for John Clark which provided the opportunity to those who had not qualified for a Welcome Back Dinner in May and June, to wish him well. John has been a very committed member of staff for 17 years (the last eleven years as Headmaster) and has always shared a close relationship with the OB Society. His support for our activities has been much appreciated and we wish him every success for the future. We will, of course, keep in touch with John as an Honorary Member when he moves to his new base in London. The Society has again gifted a sizeable sum to the School to assist with “Hardship Bursaries” and in addition a scholarship has been set in motion in the name of Neil Gracey. Neil, who died in 2007, was a Council member and Past President, a very active supporter of the School and Society throughout his life. The scholarship was created as a result of contributions from his loyal group of friends. One of our major aims is to maintain good communication with all Old Birkonians, whether by website, social networking or e-mails. The latter, however, has become a growing problem as many of our members tend to move address, alter their e-mail provider, or change their employer without telling us. About 300 attempts to contact members this year have been rejected. All very frustrating. So can I appeal to those who have made a change recently or those who have not received any contact from us for the past year or two to get in touch at Our website is also something for you to share with us. We endeavour to keep you informed of all events and we welcome any news you can provide about yourself or your OB colleagues. We would like to hear from the girls (non pc!) in

Events approaching us in the last quarter of the year include : 6th/7th September

Old Birkonian Weekend. (Programme on page 72) 3rd October Golf Day at Royal Liverpool GC, Hoylake. (Hoblyn Trophy) 14th November Liverpool Lunch (Artists Club) 28th November London Dinner (House of Commons) 27th December Rugby match Birkenhead Park v Old Birkonians We look forward to seeing you at the Old Birkonian weekend on the 6th/7th September Please let me know if you can join us for lunch on the Saturday. Roger Ewing (OB 1943-56) Chairman OBS.

From launching less than 12 months ago the initial response to The Old Birkonian Facebook and Twitter pages has been incredibly positive, and we've managed to build up a following that goes across quite a number of different school years. Our next task is now to try and recruit the current leavers from each school year to help bolster our Social Media numbers and reach even further. Given that the overwhelming majority of all new Old Birkonians, will have probably have either a Facebook or Twitter account, it would be great if we could get every single leaver from every single year to sign up and stay in touch. Now, given the anticipation of actually leaving the School we on The Old Birkonian Committee fully understand that most recent leavers will be off doing new and exciting things, and so any thoughts of school related activity will not be top of your list of things to do! However, what signing up to the Old Birkonian Society Social Media pages will do is to allow you to be aware of all of the events that The Society runs during the course of a year. You can therefore simply keep a watching brief and then chose to participate whenever you like. So from dinner at the Houses of Parliament to golf at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, there are a series of both formal and casual events where Old Birkonians of all ages can catch up, generally over a drink or two. As a result, if you are interested in staying in touch please simply connect with us on either Facebook or Twitter. Facebook - Old Birkonian Society Twitter - OldBirkonianSoc Paul Briscoe, OB 1989-96, OBS Council Member


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

L to R: Alan Hanson, Lindsay Tyler and Angela Hanson

A pleasant lunchtime was spent at Royal Brighton Yacht Club in Melbourne in early February, when I eventually managed a meeting with Lyndsay Tyler, OB 1954-1962. By a strange twist of fate, Lindsay's son Rob and my son Mark, OB 1974-1988, and their respective families, both living in Australia, have been friends now for some time and, when the boys discovered the fathers were at BS and overlapped for a few years, they made several attempts to unite Lindsay and me. On a recent visit to Australia, we finally managed it! During our days at Birkenhead School, although we both lived in the vicinity of Upton Station, we did not really know each other. However, it turned out we had several acquaintances in common and had a wonderful time reminiscing over coffee! In my opinion, Lindsay has had an fascinating career: After Cambridge Veterinary School 1962-68, Lindsay went into general practice in Wiltshire for 3 years and at the same time did a

Unbeknown to Alan Hanson, Lindsay attended the Headmaster’s Welcome Back Dinner for the Leavers of 1960-63 in June 2013. There he met up with classmates Dr Carl Jones (an Ophthalmologist in British Columbia) and Keith Blair (a retired businessman) - left, centre and right of the photograph respectively. tropical veterinary medicine course. Then he worked in the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia and Tanzania, followed by short-term contracts all over the world with various aid organisations from his base at the Agriculture Department of Reading University. In 1996 he spent five years in Botswana training local vets in epidemiology and economics. Finally, he had a year in Vietnam training local vets in disease control, prior to a well-earned retirement in the Wye Valley near Monmouth. Alan Hanson (OB 1952 to 1959, BS Staff 1970 to 2000)

The family of Judge David Mackay, OB 1950-65, a former Chair of Governors and staunch supporter of BS, has donated a Himalayan Birch tree and bench in his memory. Both are sited on the perimeter of School Field, the tree on the Beresford Road side and the bench outside the Sports Hall. It has already been well used during this cricket season . 47

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

I left Birkenhead School in the summer of 1980 and went to Bristol University to read Electrical & Electronic Engineering. There I spent three happy years making friends, partying and helping to organise concerts. Rather surprisingly, after obtaining my degree, I decided that I did not want to become an engineer, so someone advised me to try Chartered Accountancy. I joined one of the big audit firms in Bristol, Coopers & Lybrand (that today is PwC) and enjoyed the audit firm experience it gave me, qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1986. With C&L I had the chance to do a six month secondment to Auckland in 1987, at the same time that the first Rugby World Cup was held. The timing was perfect! In 1989 I joined the Corporate Finance department of the Paris office of C&L. There I worked on numerous M&A transactions that allowed me to travel extensively in France and around the world (Hong Kong, Japan, South Africa, USA, Abu Dhabi …). In 1992 and 1993, I worked on two assignments related to the Swiss watch industry, for the Breguet group and then the Cartier group. As a result of this work, I was offered the chance to become the CFO of the Breguet Watch Group in 1994. In 1995, my wife and I moved from Paris to a Swiss mountain valley, where they make the most complicated mechanical watches in the world. We have lived there ever since in the same village, improving our skiing skills and have become great cheese fondue lovers. Whilst with Breguet, I actively participated in its financial restructuring and turnaround prior to its sale to Swatch Group in 1999. I then joined another watch company, Audemars Piguet, as CFO where I was heavily involved in its significant international development. This job also gave me the opportunity to get to know many of its brand ambassadors and friends – amongst others Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Faldo, Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke, Sachin Tendulkar, the Alinghi team (winners of the America’s Cup in 2003 and 2007) and best of all for me Steven Gerard! I became CEO of Valtronic Technologies, a group of over 500 people that is active in the subcontracting market for OEM companies in both the medtech and industrial fields, prior to its sale to strategic investors in March 2010. I am now the CEO of a family investment company that is active in the fields of watchmaking, medtech and real estate. I am also a cofounder of VFM Conseil, an advisory and accounting firm, which has a particular focus on the luxury goods and medtech fields. I am also co-founder of Ayanda Biosystems, a diagnostics company developing a biomarker for the detection of ovarian cancers, as well as co-founder of Qwane Biosciences, a diagnostics company operating in the field of screening of CNS and neurodegenerative 48

diseases. Last but not least, with some very close friends from our mountain valley, we make our own whisky. I have three boys who all play ice hockey and, even though I do not understand the rules, I am an assistant coach (I do the motivational part!). I really enjoyed my time at Birkenhead School and still have a number of really good friends, even though my family left the area soon after I left school. What did I learn from my days at school? 1. How important it was to avoid meeting the headmaster, if you wanted to keep your hair vaguely long and not have to have it cut and then recite four verses of poetry to him at 8:00 a.m. the next morning. 2. More importantly, it made me learn how to figure out a lot of problems for yourself, and when you really don’t know the answer find someone who does! WAJ (Bill) Muirhead, 1973-1980

Home one Christmas Day morning

Bill in his schooldays

More recent leaver, Oliver Carins (2004-11) received his Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at St James’s Palace last July. Oliver has just completed a BA Hons in Industrial Design at Bournemouth University. Last year, his brother Andrew (20018) graduated from Southampton University with a BSc Hons in Biomedical Sciences. Andrew then applied and was accepted at the flight training school for commercial pilots in September 2013. We last heard that he was on pilot training in Arizona We wish them both well in their future careers.

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Birkenhead School Archives pre 1989 An article produced twelve months ago in the Bulletin seemed to suggest that the School Archives was formally set up in 1989 – in fact it was in 1989 that Archives moved into a suite of rooms on the top floor of 44 Bidston Road. A great deal of work had been done prior to this which the following paragraphs will show. FW (Frank) Hunt , also known as “Bunty”, (at School 1896 to 1904) returned to the School to teach chemistry from 1909 to 1947, being Second Master for his final ten years. On retirement from teaching he then became School Bursar until 1962. Throughout this period Frank built up a superb collection of photographs covering many aspects of School life. Samples of these photographs have been on display each Old Birkonian weekend for very many years. The Bursar’s Office then took over responsibility for collecting archive material and this was collected predominantly in several rooms at the top of 11 Kingsmead Road South. This was the flat where Fred Wakelin (staff 1951 to 1992) was living and he kindly agreed to making these rooms available! Unfortunately it was not stored in any logical format. In 1987, the Old Birkonian Society, whose Chairman at the time was David Leaver (at School 1945 to 1951) and Secretary Mark Feeny (1963 to 1974), decided that the Society and not the School should be responsible for Archives. The Bursar at this time was Danny Garforth, assisted by Jim McCue, and Jim took on, with interest, the preliminary sorting of the material in Kingsmead Road South. For the Society, Ken Speakman Brown (at School 1928 to 1938) began negotiations with the Headmaster, Mr John Gwilliam (Head from 1963 to 1988) and the Chairman of Governors, David Mackay (at School 1957 to 1965) to decide on suitable accommodation on the School campus. The final decision to move to 44 Bidston Road was not taken until Stuart Haggett had taken over as Headmaster (1988 to 2003). Prior to transfer of all the archive material to its new premises advice was sought by Ken from Nigel Hardman (at School 1963 to 1976) whose experience with several archivist organisations was invaluable. Nigel provided expert advice concerning storage, security and confidentiality of archive material generally, and recommended how best to use the newly available accommodation. The OB Society and the Bursar supplied initial funding towards the new premises but in 1994 the sale of Egyptian artifacts found in the School “museum” raised over £8,500 which provided an encouraging boost for the new Archives team set up in 1989 under George De Ritter (at School 1925 to 1933). At this stage Des Bower (at School 1928 to 1932), at that time teaching in the Prep School, provided considerable assistance in coordinating material from the Preparatory School. Other members of the initial team were Frank Hunter (1928 to 1935), Tony Pemberton (1927 to 1933), Des West (1929 to 1935) and Teddy Tetlow (1928 to 1934). A separate collection of Archive material related to the Old Birkonian Football Club was introduced into the general archives of the School, with guidance provided by Len Kirkham (1949 to 1956), aided by John Pelling (1925 to 1935), Sandy Carmichael (1931 to 1936), Losh Smith (1929 to 1935) and Jimmy McGuinness (1924 to 1936). 49

Archives Team 1996 l to r: Desmond West (deceased), Ian Boumphrey, George De Ritter (deceased); Ken Speakman-Brown (deceased), Jeremy Eyre, Tony Pemberton (deceased), Brian Boumphrey and Brian Dunn. Des Bower and Teddy Tetlow were the other members of the original team not in the photograph. The photograph was used in Birkenhead School Pictorial History Part Two (for the years 1996-97 on page 82).

The present Archive team continue to develop the Archive facility at the top of 44 Bidston Road, and certainly welcome visitors any Monday morning (except Bank Holidays) between 10am and 1pm. Alan Hanson

Nigel Hardman, OB 1969-76, wrote after he read the article about the School Archives (Summer Bulletin 2013 p40) last year to tell us more about the early days: Ken Speakman-Brown, concerned for the safety of the School’s historical records, raised the issue at an OBS meeting in 1986. David Leaver suggested getting in touch with Nigel, an archivist working locally. He agreed to help and started by consulting the British Archives Council Survey and Index of the first thousand registered companies in the UK, of which the School was one. It listed a number of administrative records and memorabilia found at the School at the time of the Survey. Ken discovered that these were still extant, residing in the loft of Freddie Wakelin’s flat in Kingsmead Road South. Though some items were missing and others had not been recorded by the Survey, the core of the School records were intact. I put together some papers on how the Archives could be catalogued, conserved, added to and made available for use by the School and Old Birkonians. Ken met with the Headmaster, Stuart Haggett, and Governors and it was agreed Archives would be housed in the attics of 44 Bidston Road. At this time, the last of the Pelling brothers, John, died, leaving his entire estate to the OBS. Some of the money was used to set up the Archives. Ken got together a team of volunteer OBs to start sorting and listing the material, including George De Ritter and Desmond West. One of Nigel’s last acts before work prevented further involvement, was to invite a fellow archivist, Bob Stewart, who was working for a similar school in Yorkshire, to share his expertise on the organisation and conservation of School records and how to promote awareness and the use of Archives to the School community. Nigel was sorry to have to leave the project because it was interesting and different from his other professional work. He admired Ken Speakman–Brown’s energy and drive in getting the project moving from an idea to a fully-fledged reality.

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014


Boys, girls, parents, friends and relations, members of staff, guests, fellow governors, Headmaster - good evening. I am Andrew Sutton and it’s my privilege to chair the School’s Board of Governors. I don’t usually get to the lectern on prize-giving days – but there are not many days like this one. Nations reflect on their history in terms of the reigns of monarchs, presidents and prime ministers, Churches of popes, archbishops, sufis and lamas ………….and Schools of their Headmasters and Headmistresses. Mr Clark’s rule at Birkenhead School ends in the coming holiday. He is the eleventh Headmaster in the School’s 154 year history and is completing eleven years as Headmaster and, with his time as Deputy Headmaster, a total of eighteen years at Birkenhead. An era closes and another will begin. Each Headmaster has a different personality and brings his own style. We are now accustomed to the calm and sensitive authority of Mr Clark. He has no need to raise his voice; the lifting of an eyebrow will normally suffice to get his message across. He knows the name of every Senior and many in the Prep and he knows all the staff in the School, teaching, estates, catering and administrative. Such is everyone’s understanding of his dress-code standards, hands move instinctively to check that top shirt button, that knot in the tie and any errant shirt tails when Mr Clark appears in the distance – as he can spot anything out of order at fifty yards or more Throughout his Headship, his vision has sought the best academic results from all students while providing an environment for personal development and participation in a wide range of activities – too numerous to list here but including plenty of sports and lots of music and drama. Last year’s A level results were quite the best of recent years and Mr Barlow – who knows about these things – reports that the School’s ‘value added’ rating puts us in the top 0.01% of schools in the country (and that’s very high). The School’s teams perform very successfully and often ‘above their weight’ and debating, maths and science teams also do well in

regional and national competitions. Indeed the School is held in increasingly high regard both on the Wirral and nationally – and much of this is down to Mr Clark’s work and influence. Mr Clark has nurtured and developed the School’s ethos; the school community has become kinder, more tolerant and understanding and confident during his stewardship. I am particularly impressed by the way that Seniors are increasingly involved in the development of younger generations – unheard of when I was a boy, back in pre-history. Mr Clark’s rule has seen the School adjust to the end of Assisted Places, to the introduction of Academies and Free Schools in the maintained sector and to a prolonged recession. It has seen the opening of our Nursery and, most significantly, the introduction of co-education throughout the School. The School’s fabric has been extended and updated with new class rooms in the Prep and the opening of the Old School House, the Music department was relocated, the Sixth Form Centre has been transformed, at Mac Field the pavilion has been extended and the all-weather pitch replaced and re-sanded, the Noctorum pavilion has also been given a makeover and much tarmac around the campus has been re-laid. The Physics department, Bushell Hall, the Dining Hall and Chapel have all been refurbished. And he has seen all this done within the School’s budget and without bank borrowing. We all know Mr Clark to be dedicated to his job and that no level of detail is too fine for his attention. He sets high standards for himself and expects them of others too. Adjectives used by colleagues include thoughtful, inspiring, intelligent, wise, marvellous, perceptive, exacting, charming (mostly) and caring; also meticulous, pedantic, fastidious, and fussy; they also speak of his integrity, his passion for standards, his leadership by example, his capacity for incredibly hard work and his sense of fun… and refer to him as both a gentleman and a gentle man. While we may not see Mr Clark in shorts on the sports field, he is invariably on the touchline for matches, as he is present at all productions, concerts and Sunday Chapel services. His dedication and personal standards keep him at his desk until the job is done – often in the early hours. E-mails that I and many of you receive carry datelines of midnight or later. He has led trips abroad, followed teams to South Africa on several occasions, joined the Choir on their tours and latterly followed up contacts made by the School with a hospital and a school in Nepal. You can find out


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014 more about his plans to work with schools in Nepal via a link on the School’s website. The campus is near immaculate – thanks to the great work of the Estates staff and because the high standards set at the Headmaster’s desk. He is forever on the lookout for anything requiring attention – and for stray bits of litter. Bursars never quite know whether they will hear of a dripping tap from the Headmaster before the news reaches them through their own information systems. Mr Clark has been editor in chief and copy-editor for most (if not all) the School’s letters and communications. His ability to spot a missing or misplaced apostrophe or a mixture of fonts is legendary. I always thought I was quite pernickety but I have experienced (and cherished) the rare pleasure of his agreement to a draft document without any changes marked. Alert he may be but not always consistent; members of staff tell me of occasions when updating documents for use in a later year, Mr Clark has reinstated commas which he had been at pains to remove the year before. He has applied himself with care and skill to the management, development and motivation of the common room – counselling, recruiting and promoting to help individuals to achieve their potential as well as to contribute fully to the School. Unseen by most here, he has played a full part in the HMC (the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference), serving as Secretary and then Chairman of its North West Division. But he’s perhaps happiest at the coal face. Even as Headmaster he has taught German and French. Our memories of his outstanding production of Les Misérables are still fresh, many will recall the various 150th anniversary celebrations which he masterminded and some here will remember his notable Waiting for Godot. This School and its pupils – who always come at the top of Mr Clark’s agenda – owe him much and will thank him now and in later years for all he has done for them. Former chairman, Andrew Thomson (here tonight) and I have enjoyed immensely working with John Clark and are very grateful for his support. John, I offer you my thanks as well as those of the Governors and the whole School community and wish you a rewarding, entertaining and satisfying life in your well-earned retirement. Andrew Sutton, Chair of Governors, OB 1952-65

Les Misérables March 2014

Waiting for Godot 1999

German Exchange 2010

Hockey Tour to South Africa 2012 Choir trip to Truro 2013


Visit of the Earl of Wessex March 2009

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

In the last few years the School has developed a new way in which its friends and supporters can help to open up the exceptional benefits of a Birkenhead School education to bright boys and girls who would normally be denied such an opportunity on the grounds of cost. Through the Access Scholarships Fund, we are trying to make supporting a pupil as involving – and affordable – as we can for donors. One special feature of the Fund is the option for group sponsorships which provide a collaborative way of funding a bright pupil at a relatively modest cost for individual donors. Unlike schemes used by some schools, where money is accumulated in an anonymous ‘pot’, our Fund will enable donors to ‘adopt’ (educationally) an individual pupil throughout his or her school career. The aim is to assist more talented Wirral children to take advantage of the potentially life-changing education we offer. Access Scholarships will be awarded to selected talented children aged 11 or over, whose families would not otherwise have the means to pay full fees. These Scholarships will be in addition to those awards and bursaries already provided by the School. There are parallels between this scheme and the Direct Grant

and Assisted Places arrangements with which many OBs will be familiar. We now have four such scholarships to fund individuals through their seven year career as Seniors. One has been provided by the Old Birkonian Society using contributions to its Neil Gracey appeal, one is sponsored by individuals who joined the School between 1940 and 1949, one by individuals who left the School in 1964 and 1965 and one by a single donor. We very much hope that other ‘year groups’, alone or in cooperation with near contemporaries, will wish to fund further such scholarships and ‘give something back’. The administration involved is simple as the School has the appropriate forms and will collect gifts in the Birkenhead School Foundation Trust. The challenge and effort is in contacting and exploring the issue with your alumni and alumnae. Again the School can help - not only with literature describing the scheme but also with its records of names and such addresses it holds. If you would like to explore Access Scholarships further, please feel free to contact Catherine Sandow at School: ( or me at Andrew Sutton (1952-65), Chair of Governors

Matthew Williams Oliver Sait Tom Jarvis

Patrick O’Connor

Luke Naylor Chris Way

Alex Watkins Chris Morris

Joe Doyle

Francis Good Alex Saverimutto

Alex Karus-McElvogue

Harry Sturgess Dimitri Kyriacou

Brian Boumphrey, OB

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon during the OB weekend last September, a large crowd gathered for the annual School versus Old Birkonians rugby fixture at Noctorum. Our newest Old Birkonians, having recently returned from a very successful rugby tour to Namibia and South Africa, as well as a whistle stop tour of Europe for some extra warm weather training, proved too strong for the inexperienced School team. School started off well under the new leadership of Francis Good but, despite

some heroic defence, could not cope with the physicality the Old Birkonians were able to bring to theMike game. The crowd were soon treated to some magnificent running and offloading as the Old Birkonians powered to a 51 – 0 victory. And so we wish our Old Birkonians well as they set off on new beginnings around the country and hope that many of them continue to play the game, wherever they end up. D Hendry 52

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

After leaving Birkenhead School, Edward has just finished his MEng Michael studied music in Electronic Engineering, at the composition at the Royal University of Nottingham and is Northern College of Music in looking forward to graduating Manchester, completing his BMus with a 2:1 on the 9th July. He has with First Class Honours. He was specialised in communications awarded the 2011 Sage and submitted his thesis ‘PsychoFellowship for Music Composition acoustic audio compression’, to join the Doctor of Musical Arts which in layman’s terms, involves (DMA) programme at Cornell the compression of very large University, an Ivy League music and speech files without university located in Ithaca, New perceptibly changing the sound York. The academic year 2014/15 quality. will be Michael’s fourth year at While Edward enjoyed studying Cornell, during which he will be L to R: Michael Small (OB 2000-7) and Edward Small (OB 2000-2010) engineering at university, he has continuing his role as a teaching on holiday recently in Washington DC. ( The dates indicate their decided to put exams behind him assistant while working on his years in Seniors. (Both boys started at BS in the Prep). and is anxious to put the doctoral dissertation and knowledge gained from the past recital. He hopes to be able to four years into practice in optical extend his time at Cornell by or mobile communications. He has started a period of job-hunting, applying for a further fellowship for teaching. Michael has continued the interest in art that he developed at and as Nottingham’s engineering graduates have an extremely high Birkenhead School, drawing inspiration for musical ideas from success rate in gaining employment, he considers his prospects to be the beautiful surroundings of the Cornell campus, above Cayuga very good. Edward’s interest in electronic engineering was (literally) Lake, one of New York’s stunning Finger Lakes. Recent projects sparked by accidentally blowing up an LED in Mr Higginbottom's include a song cycle with original text from a published poet at Design & Technology class in Year 7. This incident piqued his Cornell and a piece for the Cornell Winds based on photographic curiosity and eventually led to his choice of career. imagery. Michael recently completed a tone-poem for orchestra Edward thoroughly enjoyed Nottingham and would recommend it as inspired by the sculptures of the environmental artist Andy an excellent university, set in a beautiful campus not far from the Goldsworthy, who spent 8 years as a visiting professor at city. With the camera and lenses that he was given for his 21st Cornell. Michael had been introduced to Goldsworthy’s work birthday, Edward has been capturing views over the city from his through GCSE Art with Mr. Blain, and visual art has remained a apartment as well as other natural surroundings and architecture in passion for him since this time. Photography has become an various locations ranging from humble Bidston to Washington D.C. inspiration for Michael's work as well as artistic and literary Both Michael and Edward attended Birkenhead School from the ages sources. His current projects include a short piece for Cello and of 4 and 3. They are particularly grateful to their teachers for making Piano based on Pale Fire, the Nabokov novel begun in Ithaca, and such a marked difference in their creative, spiritual and intellectual a new work for the New York-based Momenta Quartet. lives. Update: Michael has won a prize from the Royal Philharmonic Society in the form of a commission to write a solo violin piece for the Presteigne Festival 2015 (Alan Horne Prize). Michael studied composition with David Horne as an undergraduate at the Royal Northern College of Music between 2007 and 2011, where he received a First Class BMus Hons. His work Alacrity [for Sinfonietta] was premiered in May 2010 by Ensemble 10/10, described as “a brief but exhilarating ride” by The Guardian. In 2011.

In May 2014, the Queen approved the nomination of the Venerable Paul John Ferguson, MC, FRCO, to the Suffragan See of Whitby in the Diocese of York. After BS from 1966-73, Paul Ferguson went to New College, Oxford, and then to King’s College, Cambridge, and trained for the Ministry at Westcott House, Cambridge. He served his curacy at Chester St Mary from 1985-1988 in the Diocese of Chester. From 1988-1992 he was Sacrist and Chaplain at Westminster Abbey, and Precentor from 1992-95. From 1995-2001 he was Residentiary Canon and Precentor at York Minster and since 2001 Archdeacon of Cleveland and a member of the College of Canons of York. He is a member of the Church of England’s Porvoo Panel which oversees links with the Scandinavian and Baltic Lutheran churches. He is the author of ‘Great is the Mystery of Faith: exploring faith through the words of worship.’ 53

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

On Friday 20 June the older members of the Society enjoyed a very sociable gathering in the School Dining Hall to wish John Clark well for his future. Many of the younger members had already said their farewells at the popular Welcome Back Dinners during the previous weeks. A broad spectrum of Birkonians were present including some who had travelled from the deep south (of England that is). John seemed quite overcome by this. There was also a fine group of retired staff whom I suspect could still teach us a thing or two! In addition to the Honoured Guest, the President and the Chairman, the top table included four Past Presidents, Colin Bazley, Graham Hurton, Barry Owen and John Rogers. A record at an OBS event I should imagine. Until two days before, another Past President, Andreas Whittam Smith, was also intent on being present but an urgent call from “The Independent” imposed an apology at the eleventh hour. Brian Boumphrey was called upon to say Grace which he did in what has become a familiar poetic form. The four course menu and coffee to follow was of the usual high standard and Keith Watson, Carl Hodgson and the catering team received deserved applause. Both the President, Martin Brown, and the Headmaster made very poignant speeches about John’s time at Birkenhead. After toasting John, Martin presented him with a painting as a gift from the OB Society. Alan Blain, Head of Art, had been commissioned to paint an appropriate scene from the school campus. The outcome was a view of The Lodge at 58, Beresford Road. This is a fine building, once the Headmaster’s house, which was gifted to the OB Society in and where John had spent so much of his time as Headmaster. The departing Headmaster’s traditional portrait arrived from London the day before, kept an eye on us during the dinner and then progressed to Bushell Hall to join the gallery of his predecessors. WR Ewing, OBS Chairman




John Clark Farewell Quiet young John, a linguist well-read, Arrived from Whitgift as Deputy Head. You made your mark, a man who led Soon came promotion to be the Head. You steered the ship through choppy waters Now teaching both sons and daughters. Though a rugby man you were certainly not You spoke with eloquence at the Hot Pot. Full support to the Archives Team—nothing less And your Welcome Back Dinners are a huge success. 150 years which a Royal visit sealed Cathedral Service and Perfect Pitch on the Field Exam results achieved are the best The equal odf any in the North West. Your crowning glory was directing Les Mis You certainly made that production fizz. And now you leave for pastures new As an Indian summer comes into view. We wish you well as we bid you adieu And God bless the work you’re committed to do. Brian Boumphrey, 1945-55 54

4 Photos above from top to bottom: 1. John Clark; Martin Brown (OBS President); Graham Hurton, 1946-53, Archivist, VP of the School; Roger Ewing, OBS Chairman 2. Judge Michael Burrell, 1959-66 with Mark Feeny, 1963-74, Former Chairman of the OBS. Background: Trevor Mathew-Jones, 1970-75 (OBS Treasurer) and Simon Russell, 1977-84 3. Brian Boumphrey, 1945-55, Former Chairman of the OBS and Martin Brown. 4. Judge John Rogers, 1951-57; Barry Owen, OBE, 1955-60; Rt Rev Colin Bazley, 1946-54.

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

The annual Old Birkonians (London Branch) The London Branch dinner last took place on Friday 22nd looks forward to this November, 2013 from 7pm on a cold year's Dinner, which is November evening in the Churchill Room in once again to be held in the House of Commons, Westminster, the historic London. surroundings of the The reunion was organised by Joint London House of Commons. Branch Secretaries, Jon Bradshaw and Andy This has been organised Jones, and was sponsored by our very own through the offices of OB MP, Karl McCartney. It was one of the our very own MP for best attended in recent memory. Over 100 Lincoln, Karl McCartney guests provided one of the most enjoyable OB, and we look forward Old Birkonian reunion dinners for years and to welcoming Birkenhead we were delighted to have so many School’s new Headmaster, attendees. Dr Jeremy Grundy. Our special guest for the evening was Birkenhead School’s Events & External The date: Relations Manager, Mary Butterworth, who Friday, 28 November has tirelessly helped the event’s success over the years, while Andy Jones presided over the The venue: Churchill Room, event. The Headmaster, Mr John Clark, was in House of Commons, London attendance for his final time as Birkenhead’s Early booking for the event is highly Headmaster, supporting the London Dinners recommended as the number of tickets is as he always has. limited and demand is expected to be There could not be a more magnificent high. For booking details/form please setting for pre-dinner drinks from the bar contact Andy on than the Terrace Pavillion on the Thames and, as always, drinks set a most jolly tone to the or Jon on evening, allowing all OBs to catch up with those that they had not seen for some time. Onwards to Dinner and the Churchill Room, another wonderful setting. A fine and worthy meal was washed down with some most acceptable wines, the Port started…….as did the speeches. In his report, the Headmaster updated us all on how well the School has been progressing and we were treated to a most fitting farewell to the London Dinner from the Headmaster who also gave a warm welcome to the new Head for the 2014 dinner. All were most impressed. The Headmaster was followed by a freestyle Q & A with Karl McCartney, MP – our host for the evening who took any questions to the next level and deftly batted questions on all topics around the room – totally unprepared and unprompted, it was a great show and a most fitting training for PMQs! The dinner drew to a close with the HoC’s kick-out time approaching. The lasting impression of the walk back to the exit, through the splendor and history of the Houses of Parliament left a lasting impression for all. OBs then went onwards together into the cold November night, to other venues – some had to dash for trains back to far away places, others re-lived the old times over more welcomed ports or pints. The evening was fantastic, indeed, so fantastic that we want to do it all again in November 2014. Andy Jones , OB 1987-94

Last Summer’s edition had an excerpt taken from the June 1945 edition of The Birkonian in which there was a reference to LAF Hill. I remember Les Hill visiting the School in 1953 or 1954 when there were few teachers who would know him other than Charlie Jones. At the time, he was on leave from the Royal Canadian Air Force and was based in Calgary. Charlie called me into the gym to meet him and suggested getting some of the boys together for a coachimg session on basketball. Les probably gave us 5 or so sessions over two weeks at the end of the school day. My brother, Don Goad and I used to play basketball for a team in a Birkenhead youth league at Livingstone Street Baths, using an old leather soccer ball. When he returned to Calgary, Les sent us a proper basketball ball. Later Tony Wilson (who later became the MEP for Wrexham), Peter Carden and I formed a team to play in the league representing Wirral Athletic Club. Sadly contact has been lost with Les who would be in his late 80s now. Dr Eddie Hignett, OB 1948-56 55

For all Alumni enquiries, call 0151 651 1076 (Monday am) or email

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014 Andrew Neville Ross (OB 1947-1953) passed away on 24 April 2014. Major Alexander Lewis Temple, MC (1928-36) died on 21 June 2013 aged 95. The records show that he won an Entrance scholarship in 1931, was awarded Hockey Colours and was made Head Boy in 1935. He left School in 1936 to work for Lever Brothers. He was very proud of his old School and group photographs still hang in my mother’s home. As Major AL Temple, MC, he is also on the Roll of Honour. Patrick Temple (son, who was, in fact, a pupil in Prep for a term before the family moved) Denny Edwards (1930-39) August 2012 Alderman Alan Courtney Brazendale (1936-41) Mrs EA Sherratt wrote to inform us that her father passed away at the beginning of 2014 Ronald E Birkett (1937-43) passed away in 11 September 2013 Arnold Frederick Jaques (1938-49) His partner Valerie Brown rang to inform us that Fred had passed away on 27 July 2013. After School, he became a fighter pilot in the RAF. He went on to work for commercial airlines and became a trainer at the Oxford Aviation Academy. Kenneth John Norris (OB 1939-45) died aged 85 on 23 March 2014 from injuries sustained from a fall whilst travelling in South Africa. He loved travelling and had visited over 89 countries - and he always had a tale to tell! Martin Dodd (Nephew, OB 1981-87) Colin Kerr (1939-47) passed away in Canada in November 2013 Tristram WR Eastwood (1941-54) passed away in December 2013 E (Eric) J Crompton (1942-46) In August last year, Harry L Ross (1939-45) wrote to inform us that his friend Eric Crompton had died peacefully at his home in Montreal. Harry and Eric shared a study in Old School House and had kept in touch ever since. Harry wrote: The diminishing group of the 40s will recall Eric’s prowess as the goal-minder in the School’s 1st XI Hockey over two seasons and also, with a bit of assistance, for throwing the then Head of School ‘Spike’ Orton out of School House, which was much against the custom of the times. A competent engineer, he emigrated to Canada in the mid-50s. He was something of an inventor and has a good claim to have manufactured the first snowmobile, and also a geared device which enabled an oarsman to row normally, but facing the bow of his rowboat! He was a very large, red-headed boy and Willie Woodhouse (History) called him ‘Eric the Red’ but it didn’t catch on!

Robert (Bob) George Kevan (1950-57) Robert’s brother, Peter, advised us that Robert passed away on 2 August 2013. After School, he studied at Manchester University and then went on to a career in the RAF. He later became an education officer specialising in psychometric testing and, after retirement, he re-trained as a Chiropodist .

Robert Kevan in his schooldays

Hamish Ian Smith (1954-62) Jim Thomson (1955 -63), a year below Hamish at School and at Pembroke College, Oxford, wrote to inform us of Hamish’s death from cancer in August 2013. At School Hamish was noted on his record card as a ’splendid boy’ and went on to read History at Oxford. According to the obituary in the Pembroke College Record by Bernard Capp, his academic work was balanced by hockey, Chapel Choir and punting on the Cherwell. After graduation, Hamish took up a trainee Hamish’s photo on his School managerial position with J Bibby and Sons, which record card produced animal feeds and related products from soap to margarine. He acquired accountancy qualifications in his spare time and in time rose to become the company’s Managing Director. On retirement, he took up no less than 37 directorships, including the Milk Pensions Fund Trustees and similar bodies. The family lived in Warwickshire but, like Hamish, his wife was also from Heswall and together with their son and daughter, and later their respective spouses, loved travelling: A map on the study wall marked all the places they had visited - there were very few blanks. Michael Astbury Stone (1956-63) a Society Member requested that his former places of learning be notified upon his death, which was 30 March 2014. (His School record card describes him as ‘an able boy with personality’ who was obviously well-liked by both masters and his peers.) From Birkenhead, he went to Durham University to read Psychology and afterwards to Balliol but, following a cut in his research funding, left to start teaching at Goldsmith College, London. He achieved a Masters in Artificial Intelligence from the University of Sussex in 1985. Notably he wrote the degree programme for Psychology for the University of Central Lancashire and often worked with the Police on driver behaviour and cognition, including the speed awareness courses. After retiring, he ran a number of racehorse syndicates with Frankie Dettori riding several times for them. He also enjoyed being a grandpa during his last years. Will Stone (son) Peter G Howard (1962-72) passed away in November 2013

Ian C Bennett (1943-50) Simon A Cross (1979-86) passed away in May 2014 Trevor W Jones (1944-52) passed away December 2012 Robert L Suffield (1982-93) passed away in February 2014. Derek EB Needham (1943-51) 56

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Peter Richard Dutton (OB 1935-40) enjoyed only a few years of his early education at Birkenhead School before moving to Wrekin College but he retained a life-long interest in the School. He regularly attended School Chapel Evensong and invariable brought in a gift of chocolates for the girls in the School Office to say thank you for sending him his latest copy of the School calendar or magazine. After school, Peter joined the family firm and became a master printer. He married Ann and enjoyed a happy family life with his 3 children and later his 6 grandchildren. He also enjoyed music and singing in the choir of St Stephen’s Church, Prenton, and another group. His greatest love, however, was golf and he did much over many years to promote and encourage junior golf nationally. He was a regular traveller with England for the European Boys team Championship and his interest in junior golf saw him donate the trophy which is now played for in the English Junior Champion Club event. He said ‘Watching young players come through has been one of the highlights, such as Lee Westwood and David Howell, the Molinari brothers or Justin Rose, who actually hit me on the shoulder with one of his shots during the McEvoy Trophy. He was so concerned I would be all right.’ As well as spending much of his time in committee rooms and out on the fairways watching the rising young stars, Peter was himself a fine player and in his prime got down to a handicap of three! His involvement with golf was huge - he was appointed Captain of Prenton at the age of 31; appointed President of the Cheshire Union of Golf Clubs in 1989, as well as President of the English Golf Union in 1989; he was a member of the R&A St Andrew’s and also a former President of the National Association of Public Golf Courses. Peter Dutton passed away on 12 October 2013. Over 600 people attended his funeral service at St Stephen’s Church in Prenton. C Frederick (Fred) Caroe Fred came to BS in January 1951 from Eton and left in 1954. He went to Cambridge University and served in the RAF for his National Service. At School, Fred was a keen cricketer and played for the 1st XI. On his return from National Service, he joined the family firm of grain merchants in Liverpool. He was later appointed Danish and Icelandic Consul in Liverpool. There is no doubt that his main sporting interest, however, was golf. After joining Prenton Golf Club, he transferred his membership to Heswall GC, where he was appointed Club Captain, Council Member, Trustee and latterly Honorary Member. He was elected President of the Cheshire Union of Golf Clubs in 1988 and President of the English Golf Union in 2005. He was also interested in Philately, Meteorology and gardening. He was married to Sue and had three children and enjoyed his role of grandfather to their children. Fred passed away on 29 July 2012 Graham Hurton, OB, VP of the School & Archivist

David Holt, OB 1956-69, drew our attention to The Times obituary for Howard Stephens on 27 August 2013, who was born on 3 May 1921 and died 25 July 2013. From the Times obituary: Howard Stephens was considered to be one of the most significant and influential figures in music education during the second half of the 20th century. Lecturer, composer, teacher, writer, examiner, organist, conductor and, above all, enthusiast, the sheer breadth of his industry made him an inspirational figure for generations of aspiring musicians. His tutors at the Royal College of Music in the late 30s included Sir Walter Alcock, Henry Ley, Sir William Harris, Angus Morrison and R O Morris. Stephens was already regarded as one of the finest organists of his generation. During the Second World War he spent five years in the Royal Air Force and in 1946 was elected organ scholar of Keble College, Oxford. Becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, he remained one of the few musicians to hold the Archbishop’s Diploma in Church Music. Appointed organist of St Thomas’s church, Regent Street in 1949, Stephens began his teaching career at Westminster School. Twelve months later, while assistant organist at Exeter Cathedral, he taught at the Cathedral Choir School, was a tutor at St Luke’s College and directed both Exeter Musical Society and Honiton Choral Society. From 1955 until 1959, he was director of music at Birkenhead School and Conductor of Hoylake Choral Society. In 1959, he became principal lecturer at Borough Road College, Isleworth. In addition, as the long serving organist of St Mary’s Church, Osterley, and chairman of Hounslow Music Festival, he also made a deep impression on the wider cultural community. In 1976 Borough Road merged with Chiswick Polytechnic and Maria Grey College to form West London Institute of Higher Education, Stephens was appointed Head of Music. In addition, he was examiner for Trinity College of Music which afforded him regular breaks from this exacting routine. He was senior music examiner at O and A level for the Oxford Delegacy of Local Examinations and also a longstanding member of The Schools Council and the Standing Conference on Amateur Music. He was also a special commissioner for the Royal School of Church Music.

Whilst visiting Australia earlier this year to celebrate his Golden Wedding Anniversary, Dr Eddie Hignett (1948-56) visited Margaret Rimmer, widow of Norman Rimmer (194854), in Melbourne. Norman had built up a very big collection of books relating to UK bus companies and buses in general, the Mersey Ferries, as well as railways and other forms of transport. Margaret would like them to go to anyone who is interested, the only snag being they are on a bookcase in Melbourne but anyone would be welcome to visit her and help themselves to the books!


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Peter James Mitchell was born in Burnley in 1942 where his parents were both teachers, Pat at Burnley Grammar School and Ethel taught ballet. They divorced when Peter was 7 and he and his brother, John, went to live with their maternal Grandmother in New Ferry and that was when they went to board at the Prep. Peter was a talented all-round athlete and stood out as a gifted rugby player, starting his Old Birkonian career under the benign guidance of Desmond West at the age of 16. Peter was also very much influenced by his grandfather, Alfred Edgar Jones, a merchant seaman who taught Peter to sail when he was 7. Peter proudly followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and took an apprenticeship at Cammell Laird Shipbuilders, later joining the Merchant Navy as a Junior Engineer with Palm Line, working the West Coast of Africa in the 1960s. He quickly rose to Chief Engineer sailing with Ellerman Papayanni Lines and CP Ships. In 1972 he became a Chartered Engineer and, at that time, was the youngest Member of the Institute of Marine Engineers. Life at sea was not conducive to playing rugby but he still managed to find time to play for the Old Birkonians (and Cheshire County RFU until this was curtailed by life at sea). He was an exceptional 7’s player and later helped coach the Fijian 7’s team. He was also a pretty decent 15-a-side winger and occasional goal kicker. Whilst working in the Caribbean and, having already been capped for Nigeria (he qualified through the “never leave home without your boots” rule), he was asked to play on the wing and goal-kick for a Dominican Republic XV in a game held as a prelude to a football match against the touring New York Cosmos. The player/coach for the struggling Cosmos at that time was Pele. Pele watched the strange, egg-shaped ball game with interest as Peter, on the wing, somehow managed to slot the winning conversion from the touch line. After the game, Pele shook his hand and is reputed to have said “I wish I could get my winger to cross a ball like that”. Peter met his future wife, Lois (daughter of OB, F.G.Coomber), on the ferry returning from the Isle of Man. He had been playing rugby, Lois hockey, and they ended the night in Liverpool’s Pink Parrot Club. Later that week Lois needed a date for a party and asked Peter to join her. He agreed on the condition she ironed his trousers! He was always very romantic! He enhanced this impression by reciting all 58 verses of The Ballad of Eskimo Nell on their way to South Wales to announce news of their engagement. In spite of the warning signs, they were married in September 1967 and spent 46 happy years together. Four years later Matthew was born, followed by Stewart in 1975. Peter was at sea for long periods but always wrote home to the family and his children eagerly awaited letters featuring his fictional stories and hand-drawn pictures based on his travels over the equator and to far flung corners of the World. He had a remarkable memory and loved poetry. He dabbled in this, composing a book of dinner graces for every occasion which raised a little money for charity. Peter and the family have always holidayed on boats. If there was something Peter didn’t know about boats and sailing, it

probably wasn’t worth knowing. His expertise enabled the family to access a small fleet of boats over the years, from an 18 foot Sailfish, to a 230 foot cement delivery ship. They sailed the Menai Straits, cruised the North Sea and Dutch waterways, crossed the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay, and cruised the Atlantic coast. They also had their fair share of warm weather cruising in the Bahamas, Fiji and Mediterranean. Boats included Pugwash, Macavity, Take Five and of course most recently (the home away from home) a 38-foot Bavaria called Boxer - named after Harry Boxer Jones, Peter’s great grandfather. She is currently in Greece where Peter and Lois have spent the last few summers. He was always very proud to see his grandsons, Morgan (10), Rhys (8) and Harris (7) on-board continuing the maritime tradition. A memorable few weeks involved rugby friends bunking down on Boxer in Marseilles port during the World Cup Semi Finals in 2007. When he returned from abroad, Peter focused on business in Kent. Before he retired in 2004, he inspected pressure vessels for Bureau Veritas, and prior to that set up the Royal Tunbridge Wells Spa Company, building swimming pools and jacuzzis across the South East. Stewart still works in the industry. The family have never been far from the sports field. You would always know where to find Peter on a Saturday afternoon - at the rugby club. In fact he continued playing until he was 54 years old, for his adopted club, Tonbridge Rugby Club, Kent. In 1986, when Matthew was only 15, he took him to watch his side, Tonbridge Vets, play against Maidstone Vets – the opposition were short and Matthew ended up playing his first game of senior rugby against his father. Peter sold him a couple of good dummies in open play which he has never let him forget. Matthew now works for the Rugby Football Union. Peter was one of the driving forces behind the beginning of mini rugby in Tonbridge where he was Youth Chairman and later Club Chairman. He coached many teams, from Minis to Colts, and even refereed, having been coached by the Marist Brothers in Fiji. He was a Club Vice-President and ever-present supporter of both the old Tonbridge Rugby Club in Avebury Avenue and the new club, Tonbridge Juddians RFC. The wake following the service of remembrance was held at the Clubhouse where his family and friends raised a pint of real ale - in a jug not a glass! Returning home in September after spending 4 months sailing with family and friends in the Ionian, Peter was diagnosed with lung cancer and died 3 weeks later on the 28th November 2013. He is very much missed and was a wonderful, adventurous, inspirational husband, father and friend. A last word from Peter:

The Septuagenarian’s Plea! Dear Lord above to whom we pray, Why have we grown so old and grey? When all we want is strength to play, Where we can drink and eat all day! How can lives be lived this way? We’re young at heart or so we say! Let’s sow wild oats ‘n’ make more hay, Before we get too old and grey! Amen Matthew Mitchell, son. Peter in his School days 58

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Colin came to BS after being awarded a free place. He was Victor Ludorum on several occasions during the Athletics season at BS, frequently winning the 100/200m and High Jump. Between us, we took a fair share of the trophies (from the family album below in the middle photo on the left, Colin is the tall kid in the middle with white shorts and I am on the left also in white shorts. In the background are Mr Rankin and Mr Gwilliam. I was a First Year so my guess is it was 1971). Colin went on to become a computer analyst and worked in several countries including Sweden, Holland, Belgium, France, Austria and Switzerland, mainly as an independent contractor. The photo above shows Colin with his father deep in the Alps in the 1980s. He was just 55 when he died on 27 December 2013, but had lived a full life. I believe both Colin and I joined the OB Society immediately as did my uncle Keith and cousin James. Our sister Lesley and cousins Jill, Jane and Suzie all went to the High School down the road. We are all definitely OBs, although we moved West and East with Colin to Europe, Keith, James, Jill, Jane, Suzie to California and myself to Boston. Birkenhead created world travellers! The School really teaches you to think on your feet. To have the ability and confidence to be parachuted into anywhere and know that you will survive and most probably thrive. Problems are opportunities. I'm sure it's hard on mums and dads, but upon asking my folks about it they simply said they were proud that they helped me get to where I needed, wanted to go. "It's all we can ask" to quote Mum. Ross Kennedy, OB 1971-78 (Ross photo right with his wife Jane and their 6 children)

We have been advised of the passing of one of our oldest OBs, Dr Norman E. Mawby, on 28th November 2013, just 4 months short of his 102nd birthday. Norman was born on 1 April 1912 in Prenton, Birkenhead. He started school at Winchester House, Prenton, and in 1921 he was interviewed by the then Headmaster of Birkenhead School, Mr Griffin. As he was only 9, he was given an oral test and, on the strength of that, admitted to Big School. On his arrival,

Colin’s photo on his School record card

Kennard Davies had taken over as Headmaster. His progress at the School was ‘scholarly’. He admitted to being on the small side and a quiet lad and never took any leadership roles, nor did he excel in sport. He left the School in 1928 and as he was too young to be admitted to the Medical School, undertook additional studies in Physics at Liverpool University. In 1930 Norman was accepted into Medical School and, after time off to care for his father, qualified in 1936. He joined a practice in Beaumaris where he worked until being conscripted into the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Captain in 1941. He served in Malta for 3 years as Staff Surgeon, Malta Command, during the time of the convoys which were attacked by the Luftwaffe and U-boats, leading to many casualties. In 1944, Norman was posted to be the Medical Officer at the Continued on page 64 59

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014 He was also on the Liverpool Committee of the Prince’s Trust. Dad had to cope with Sylvia dying of Leukaemia in November 1953, when I was just 3, but happily he met Hetty, they married in June 1955 and were together for over 50 years. Ann and I were educated at public schools, and Dad was a great supporter for Liverpool College when I was there, even when we played Birkenhead. He was known as our best supporter of the rugby teams I played in, his catchphrase being “Bustle them College” – I’m not sure we knew quite what he meant but...! He was very fair, never expecting too much from us. Even when a bad school report arrived it was discussed calmly, with words of encouragement. He didn’t make idle threats, so when we were going on a picnic once and Ann and I were bickering in the back of the car, we were told if we didn’t stop, we would turn round and go home again. We went home – it was a very quiet day after that! He maintained contact with all sides of the family as much as possible, both in the UK and abroad, and sometimes organised and always enjoyed family get-togethers. He took great interest in the English language, and we could always look at a dictionary or the Encyclopaedia Britannica during a meal if something cropped up. It was his wish for the Bible reading at his funeral to be from the King James Bible, as he enjoyed the richness of the language and always preferred the Book of Common Prayer, though he was quite happy with change in other ways. He was a regular churchgoer in Liverpool and at St Saviour’s, Oxton, until his state of health prevented it. He had a keen interest in education, and remained involved with Birkenhead School (arguably one of the most loyal and active OBs of all time) being Chairman of the OB Society, a School Governor, a Trustee and the originator of the School Archives Team, and was made an Emeritus President of the School. He was chairman of the Old Birkonian Rugby Football Club, and after they merged with Birkenhead Park, he was President of the Club from 1981-83. He and Hetty moved to the Garth in Oxton in 1973, and needless to say, Dad was Chairman of the Residents’ Association for many years, and I am advised he ran the meetings with great firmness! This move also allowed him more time for his activities with the School, which was just round the corner. They spent many happy years there, including their Golden Wedding anniversary, but when Mum developed Alzheimer’s and he had became incapacitated with his hip, they moved to Springholme in Anglesey in 2007, shortly after my sister Ann died. They were well-cared for there, and Hetty passed away in 2010. Dad had a stroke 18 months ago, which considerably changed his quality of life. He was always concerned he was being a burden to people, which he wasn’t. We should remember how he was before that, though he always maintained his sense of humour – when he had been told he had to move from Springholme, he joined his 3 colleagues at the lunch table with the comment “I’ve been sacked”. And he maintained his charm to the end – when I went to see him after he came out of hospital in Croydon, he had 3 young ladies at the foot of the bed in conversation with him. Sadly he didn’t have a lot of time at Sunrise in Purley to enjoy the facilities but was well looked after in that time, and he did see his grandchildren and a lot more of us in his last weeks. He is now at peace. Kenneth Speakman-Brown passed away 2 September 2013. Jonathan Speakman-Brown (son)

Dad was born in Wallasey 93½ years ago – he said that at his age, the half years count just as when one is 6 or 7! He grew up in Birkenhead, attending Birkenhead School. He was an original member of Pearse’s (on the Classics side) and later Head of House; ultimately Head of School; Captain of the Rugby, 1st XI Cricket, Hockey and Fives teams; was awarded Athletics Colours and held the School records for the mile and half mile at the time. Somehow he found time for academic pursuits as well, and he left the School in 1938 having been accepted for St John’s College Cambridge, to start in October 1939. The European turmoil got in the way and after joining the TA earlier, he signed up with the Royal Engineers in September 1939, so Cambridge didn’t happen. He was commissioned in May 1940, and served in North Africa, Italy and Palestine. He generally only told the lighter stories about his service, like having his jeep stolen in Italy when he left it outside the barracks late at night, or playing cricket with one of the Bedser twins, but he was twice mentioned in despatches. He was de-mobbed with the rank of Major in May 1946 and married my mother, Sylvia Bailey, on 26 May – “straight off the boat” in his words. He settled in Liverpool and joined GD Walford & Partners in July 1946, studying for his RICS qualification whilst working full time, qualifying as a Chartered Surveyor in March 1948. In the meantime, my sister Ann had arrived in October 1947, he had moved to Edmund Kirby & Sons in January 1948, and still managed to play rugby for Old Birkonians and for Cheshire in 1946-47. Then I arrived in July 1950. He stayed at Edmund Kirby’s, initially as a Quantity Surveyor but then turned his hand to Compulsory Purchase compensation and other general practice work until he retired as Senior Partner in March 1981 and, as I was reminded by a note from one of the partners, he always knew that if he saw someone in a bowler hat in the distance in Liverpool City Centre it was probably Ken - he was probably the last regular wearer of a bowler in the City!! He was involved in many committees in the RICS – the 1938 Committee, the regional junior branch which he was chairman of in 1952/53, was on the RICS Council, and was Chairman of the full Lancashire Cheshire & Isle of Man branch in around 1970. He was a representative for the Fédération Internationale des Géomètres from about 1968 – 1971; I went with him and mum to Wiesbaden in 1971, as chauffeur and interpreter – he opened his presentation with a few lines of German followed by French (which I had prepared for him) before reverting to English, which confused the simultaneous translators as he was billed to speak in English (or perhaps it was my translation which caused the problem!).


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Two brothers, Old Birkonians James Gill (1996-2010) (right in photo) and Nicholas Gill (1999-2013) (left in photo) are raising money for Cancer Research UK this summer in memory of their uncle who died from the disease. They will cycle 300 miles in 4 days on the London to Paris Bike Ride organised by Discover Adventure from 3-7 September. James and Nicholas have set themselves a target of raising £2600. Their gruelling schedule is: Day 1 London to Calais (80 miles)

Day 2 Calais to Arras (80 miles) Day 3 Arras to Compiegne (80 miles) Day 4 Compiegne to Paris (60 miles). James and Nicholas say, ‘1 in 3 of us will suffer from some form of cancer in our lifetime and we all know someone who has died from the disease. Hope you can spare a small amount for this great cause.....or however you see fit.’ The internet link for donations: Go to Virgin Money and search for ‘Nick Gill’ or ‘James Gill’ We wish them well and hope they have good padding!

It may have been Friday 13th but it was another great day at Heswall Golf Club for the summer competition. It was hot and sunny and hats were required to protect the bald patches. It was a full stableford, a four hour trip and great value for money. Many thanks to our Old Birkonian/Heswall GC members guesting our members from other clubs. It was competitive but great fun and it concluded with only 12 points between first and last. The winner, John Roberts, was presented with 4 bottles of wine and the runner up, Jim McGrath, a box of golf balls. The winner bought a round of drinks and a pleasant hour on the clubhouse balcony was enjoyed in the evening sunshine. Photos Above l to r: Jim McGrath and John Roberts “putting the world to rights”.

Right l to r: David Ewing, Rod Delf, Malcolm Kaye, Randall Grundy and Mike Croker. 61

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

The author Michael Levitt, who is married with two teenage children, grew up on the Wirral attending Birkenhead School from 1973 until 1987, gained a BSc in Chemistry and Biochemistry, worked a decade in the chemical industry followed by a decade in the Civil Service, living in Liverpool and becoming increasingly involved in his Judaism and the Merseyside Jewish community, finally making Aliyah (returning to his ancestral homeland) in 2012. Those readers old enough to remember “the troubles” in Northern Ireland will recognise the analogy. Most Brits – if they had no Irish connections – saw the six counties and much of the republic as a no-go area of mad people bent solely on inflicting terror on each other’s innocents. But if you asked someone with connections across the Irish Sea, you would be told that it was simply a matter of using some common sense, watching which neighbourhoods you entered, and relaxing to enjoy the famed Irish hospitality which was the hallmark of the true Irish character. So it is with Israel. Unless you are a Jew, the chances are that you have one, fairly black and white image of Israel: the great pariah of our times. This image is fed by media which are increasingly unable to use the sort of independent-minded, nuance-seeking skills taught at Birkenhead School. Whether this is through laziness, fashion, or because such journalism is today considered too expensive, I leave to the reader to ponder. The reality is that there is more to this beleaguered country than meets the eye; it is not a simple situation of black and white, good and ill. This is a country of so many shades of colour... This is not the place to argue Middle East politics – for one thing there are not enough column inches available. Rather, I thought that I could demonstrate my point and whet readers’ appetites for the intricacies of the multi-coloured society that is Israel by describing some of its uniqueness from my personal experience of the last two years living here. Israel is a young country (66 years) in which a lot has changed in a short time. From literally struggling for its life at the end of the British mandate, via an initially poor but determined agricultural economy, to the “Startup Nation” of today (also known in the hitech world as “Silicon Wadi”), this is a country in constant flux – even before you consider “the situation.” With such rapid development where other western countries have enjoyed hundreds of years to evolve, it is no wonder that every change may have unforeseen consequences. We do not live in the tense centre of the country, the Sharon plain running from Tel Aviv up to Haifa, which is only ten miles wide from the sea to the “green line” and where there was a constant stream of terror until the infamous “wall” (mostly a fence actually) was built. Here interaction between Jews and Arabs is inevitably made more difficult by politics and being close to the epicentre. We live in the Galilee, or what is more generally called simply “HaTzafon” – “the North,” a part of the country where just over half the population is Arab. Like all Israeli Arabs, they enjoy full Israeli citizenship, and choose their own labels: Israeli Arab, Israeli Palestinian, Palestinian, Palestinian Arab etc. But they are not refugees; they did not leave and were not forced out after Israel was born in 1948, but stayed to be part of a state – albeit a Jewish one – founded on

Michael with wife, Riva, and children Yonatan and Amber.

the equality of its citizens. They comprise Christians, Muslims (including the Bedouin) and Druze, and, together with we Jews, live in a myriad of different settlements from mixed towns and cities to homogenous ones, from kibbutzim to moshavs, from cooperative settlements to experimental settlements. Here it is not assumed that separation – so long as it is democratic and voluntary – is a euphemism for racism. Amongst the Arabs there is both homogeneity and heterogeneity. Some towns have mixed populations, whereas others may be wholly Muslim, Christian, Bedouin Cistercian or Druze. And northern Israel is where the persecuted Bahá'í faith, founded in Persia, found sanctuary. Of course there can be divisions even within communities, and Judaism is no exception. We live in a thirty-year old co-operative village – of 140 families and growing – whose purpose is to demonstrate how religious and secular Jews can live together as one integrated community, rather than side by side ignoring, or worse, despising, each other – the norm across so much of Israel if we are to believe received opinion from both inside and outside Israel. And it works: there are those who never set foot in our synagogue, and those who are daily regulars, and every shade in between, yet we all get on and come together for cultural events if not religious ones. Eshchar is a model for bridging the religious/ secular divide, as well as giving Jews everywhere on the spectrum of religious observance the chance to change, rather than remain pigeon-holed for life. The Western European mindset immediately wants to know why Arabs don’t live with us in Eshchar? Because Muslims as much as Jews practise a religion which imposes daily rituals and observance which requires a community – neither is a Sabbathday religion. In a small village where religion is part of life this is perhaps not possible or desired by either faith, but it does happen in villages set up specifically for the purpose, which tend to be more secular, and Arabs and Jews of all types live together peacefully in larger towns which can support more than one community alongside another, such as in Acco (Acre), Haifa and even newer once homogeneous “Jewish” towns such as Karmiel, where Arabs are beginning to move in. And why do Jews not live in Arab towns? That’s a more difficult question to which to find an answer. After all, many of the now fully Arab towns were originally Jewish towns, de-Judaised when the Romans exiled us. Many Israelis don’t even realise this. But 62

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Eshchar there is plenty of archaeological as well as Talmudic evidence of this, and even something as basic as a look at a road atlas will show large numbers of graves of Jewish sages and rabbis in what are otherwise Arab towns today. Sakhnin, the Arab town at the foot of our hill, is a case in point, where within living memory, the second century grave of Rabbi Yehoshua D’Sakhnin used to be kissed by the town’s Arab inhabitants, while they asked the dead Rabbi to heal them and their relatives. This Jewish grave (and countless others in other Arab towns) is not defaced and vandalised as it might be in the West Bank, for highly inflamed and politicised reasons. Yet today there isn’t a single (living) Jew in Sakhnin – a town of 25,000. Despite its reputation as the centre of the Land Day riots of the

citizen. There are Arab towns that hang out Israeli flags for independence day, towns that mourn the “Naqba” instead of celebrating independence, hanging out Palestinian banners, and towns that do nothing. People choose how they want to live, but maintain good relations with the “other,” whether in towns where we live together or where we meet only for business. There are Arab doctors and dentists in surgeries in mainlyJewish towns and vice versa. There is no segregation except by choice. So why don’t Jews live in some of these 100% Arab towns? After living here for some time, visiting many Arab towns, shopping and interacting in them, and researching their history, I have my thoughts. Maybe some Jews don’t feel they would be accepted. Maybe others have had enough of centuries of living scattered in exile and subconsciously want to live together in some way, even if not for religious reasons. But I believe that most simply respect the choice of those Arabs who wish to have their own towns and villages, just as they ask others to accept that some Jews want to live in Jewish villages. In any event, many of the Arab villages and towns are really restricted to one or more clans or extended families, as can be seen from the names of districts even on Google Maps – just try Sakhnin at and zoom in or out until you see them. If a Jew wants to live together with Arabs in a town, there are other choices where this is established and accepted, rather than intruding into the very personal territory of a clan or family. Sakhnin is actually a microcosm of the north in being a place of possibilities. It has a football team, Bnei Saknin (The Sons of Sakhnin) with both Jewish and Arab players, and its fans include Arab Israeli citizens of Sakhnin along with Jews from the

Sakhnin's stadium has the team's name in both Arabic and Hebrew. The grave of Rabbi Yehoshua D'Sakhnin.

mid-1970s, Sakhnin is today very Israel-oriented and outwardlooking. It has adopted the olive branch for all its municipal signage, and has street names in both Hebrew and Arabic; most of the businesses have signs in both languages. The next-door Arab town of Arabe – also formerly Jewish as it happens – is more or less equally friendly to Jewish Israelis, but many shops only have Arabic signs, and the municipality has erected a sculpture which flies a Palestinian flag. Remember this is in “Israel proper” – but is nevertheless tolerated in a democracy where everyone is an equal

neighbouring communities and politically progressive Jewish residents of the big cities. Jewish players and coaches are reportedly made welcome at matches, and during the celebrations after a Cup Final victory in 2004, Israeli and Palestinian flags were raised side by side. Its fiercest enemy is Beitar Jerusalem, whose followers are notorious for their hotheaded racist chanting against Arab players and teams, perhaps in part because Jerusalem is not a place of inter-religious harmony, but the epicentre of millennia of religious conflict. Continued overleaf


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014 Continued from previous page

A view of the Bet Hakerem valley north of Eshchar, from the ruins of ancient Kfar Hanania.

Yet the owner of Beitar Jerusalem, the Russian oligarch Arcadi Gaydamak, paid part of the cost of Bnei Sakhnin’s new stadium. The North of Israel is truly a place of contradictions and hope, of every way of life, a model for co-existence and integration. Recently I was told that it had been the case even during the period of the Mandate, but the British ignored what – to them as well as many modern Israelis – did not fit their preconceptions about Arab-Jewish relations. But maybe it is for the best if politicians leave us alone to get on with living together. I hope that, in this short article, I have managed merely to paint a few shades of colour into your picture of this beautiful yet troubled country. If you would like to come and see for yourself, you can contact me at Michael Levitt, OB 1973-1987

Advanced Handling and Field work Training School at Llanberis where he served until de-mob in 1946. After a month in Beaumaris he accepted an appointment at a practice in West Kirby, where he quickly became a partner, and spent the next 31 years caring for patients in the area. It is understood that he is responsible for delivering many of the babies born during this period in West Kirby. After retiring from the practice in 1977 he continued to practise medicine for a further 24 years – until the age of 89! In 1973 Norman and his wife Elizabeth, who died in 1998, established The Earl Mawby Trust in memory of their son David, a medical student, who was killed in a car accident. The Trust makes some 70 donations a year to a wide variety of Charities. It has also funded: a stained glass window in St Stephen’s, Prenton; Lady Chapel pews in St Andrew’s, West Kirby; a carved doorway leading into the Lady Chapel at in St Hildeberg, Hoylake. How his second name ‘Earl’ arrived he is never sure. His father was visiting America shortly before the birth and it has been suggested that this is where the name came from. Archives

Cecil Reddie was at Birkenhead School for only a year, so we can't claim too much credit, but it emerged that he was an remarkable innovator in education. When I completed my research and uploaded it onto the Internet, I was astonished to see that there were already articles about him in German, French, Catalan, Italian and Japanese, but until then not in English. Clearly a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country! Cecil Reddie was born in 1858 of Scottish parents but after his parents' deaths, he attended Birkenhead School (1871–1872) as a day-boy and then went to Fettes College, Edinburgh, as a boarder. He studied medicine, physics, mathematics and chemistry at Edinburgh University before obtaining his doctorate in chemistry at Göttingen University. He had been unhappy at boarding school and was bored by the classical curriculum. While in Göttingen he was greatly impressed by the progressive educational theories being applied there. He decided to found a new school: Abbotsholme School in Derbyshire in 1889. He made the school his life's work and he ran it until he retired in 1927. Reddie rejected corporal punishment and substituted the principles of self-discipline and tutoring. Not only was there intensive study and personal supervision, there was also a programme of physical exercise, manual labour, recreation and arts. Modern languages and sciences were taught. Religious instruction was non-sectarian and covered other religions and philosophies such as Confucianism. He ran the first sex education course at a British school. Reddie believed that being close to nature was important and so the boys worked on the estate providing practical experience on raising animals and vegetables, haymaking, digging, wood-chopping and fencing. Reddie devised a uniform of comfortable clothes (soft shirt, soft tie, Norfolk-type jacket and knickerbockers) at a time when boys at public schools wore stiff collars and top hats. Among one of the first the teachers was John Badley, but Badley left after a disagreement in 1893 and started the famous Bedales School. Badley said: "Reddie taught me everything I needed to do and what not to do". By 1900 Abbotsholme had 60 pupils, many from Europe and the British Empire. He often engaged foreign teachers, who learned its practices before returning home to start their own schools. Consequently Abbotsholme was particularly influential in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the United States and Japan. After his death in 1932 his fame diminished in England, but Cecil Reddie should be acknowledged as one of the founders of progressive education throughout the world. John McCullagh, OB 1961-68 64

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Ian with his wife Sue and daughters Sarah and Elspeth in 2013

Sadly, my brother Ian (b. 6.1.1944) died on 17 June 2013 of a sudden heart attack. He had a veterinary practice in Caerwys, N Wales, for many years, having qualified at Liverpool University after BS. He was married to Susan Ffirth who was the daughter of a Wirral Vet. He loved his work as a vet, especially the 'large animals', and folks would travel to his practice from some distance because of his specialised knowledge. He started in the Prep when he was 5 years old and soon became known as 'Sam'. It seemed that the old lady who used to see Ian and his friends across the road to School recognised Ian. She had once taught his father, Samuel Hilton, who had also attended BS. She must have nicknamed Ian ‘Sam’ which was picked up by his pals and stuck with him throughout his schooldays. On his Senior School record card, he is noted as being a ‘conscientious, hard-working and self-sufficient boy’. Whilst he was studying to be a Vet, he joined the University Air Squadron, renewing his pilot's licence later in life. He flew regularly and was part owner of a glider. He leaves his wife Sue, daughters Sarah and Elspeth and two grandchildren . Janet Pierce (née Sergeant) The Editor’s apologies to Brian V Roberts (1949-56) who was mistakenly put in the ‘In Memoriam’ list in last year’s magazine. He had been confused with another OB of the same surname and initials. Brian wrote to School: ‘I am alive and well (I think) living in Cumbria. I had a re-union with classmates Norman Poole, John Whitman and Mick Daly (on a visit from his home in NZ) in Heswall a few years ago. It was Norman who alerted me to my entry in the magazine. He was a bit spooked to say the least!’

Last year’s edition of the magazine prompted Richard Harrison (OB 1977-81) to get in touch again from Zimbabwe where he has been a teacher at Falcon College, an independent school in Esogodini Matabeleland, since 1986. He noted that, like him, Barry Owen, the last President of the OBS, started his school career at Kingsmead School before joining BS in the 3rd Form. At the time of writing in August last year, Zimbabwe had just had elections in which President Mugabe’s Zanu PF party was reelected with a two-thirds majority, prompting reports that the elections were rigged. Since then, there has been little in the press and life seems to continue as before for the College. Prior to 2000, however, Richard recalls, Falcon College used to host many schools from the UK, South Africa and Australia on cricket, rugby and hockey tours. Not surprisingly these dried up post 2000, though South African schools have started to return in the last few years. Richard sees no reason why British schools couldn’t travel to Zimbabwe; ‘even in the bad years safety was never really a concern. It was an excuse for making a political judgement which was fair enough but gave something of a false picture of the country. I would love it if BS did send a tour out here. They would be very well looked after all over the country.’ During his summer holiday last year, Richard was acting as liaison for the Match Officials at the Zimbabwe-India cricket matches in Bulawayo, effectively baby-sitting the match referee and umpires—’hectic but fun’. The photograph was taken of Richard relaxing after his cricketing duties at the Hwange Game Park. Richard is happy to act as a contact if any OB past or present should happen to visit Zimbabwe.

Roger Allison Jones (1956-63) (left) and Trevor Owen (1956-63) (right) held their own private OBS reunion in November 2013 at Palm beach, Sydney. (otherwise known as Summer bay in the TV series ‘Home and Away’). Trevor wrote: I recalled the excellent Welcome Back Dinner earlier in the year and summarised those who attended from our years at School. We then reviewed those with musical talent such as Lance Fortune and also Dave Boyce of the Roadrunners. Some hours later we went for a look at Mona Vale where Roger had had a dental practice for many years before retiring. Shortly after his visit, Trevor saw an article about David Turner (1956-63), now the Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and recalled they were in I Romans together in the mid 50s. He commented: It is interesting that Dave’s (Turner) views are so well-respected in Australia and that he is still so active in the business world. 65

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

For the first time crosses of poppies were planted by current pupils of Birkenhead School on School Field, in memory of our 96 killed in WWI .

The photograph left shows one of the first drills of the BS Cadet Corps outside Big School. It was started in the autumn of 1914 with about a hundred and twenty boys. Company drills were held on Mondays and Fridays. They were inspected by Colonel Hopps on October 21st with a view to their adoption by the 4th Cheshires as a Cadet Corps.

It had been reported in early October 2014 that Old Birkonian Lieut. H. N. Harrington in the Cheshire Regiment was missing, presumed dead. In the November Birkonian of that year, there was good news. A letter was received from him in which he said that he was lying wounded and a prisoner in hospital at Wesel. He spoke very highly of the kindness of the Germans, both doctors and officers, and said that he was recovering rapidly from his wound. Harrington had taken over the first draft of soldiers to the Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment on 26 August 2014. He wrote about his experiences at the Front. It reads like a ‘jolly jape’ in a Boys’ Own comic book, although there are already intimations of the privations to come: I am feeling as fit as anything. My face is a nice shade in beetroot colouring after so many days of blazing sun. The men are all also fit and very cheerful. We are getting plenty of food, principally bully and biscuit of course, but of very good quality. It is a most extraordinary feeling to be whisked away like this, hearing nothing from home, knowing nothing of the future or what is going on around except in one's own immediate neighbourhood. . . The men are really a 'topping' lot, there are about five or six little bunches of them, mates as they call it, who vie with each other to supply me with extra tit-bits, etc., and are quite upset if I refuse. September 23rd. Handkerchiefs and tobacco arrived; just what I wanted as I have been separated from my kit for about a fortnight and running on one handkerchief for that length of time is scarcely pleasant! . . . I used to think it was impossible to live without taking off one's clothes at intervals, but I haven't had all my clothes off for a fortnight and I find existence quite possible! This is the second day of glorious September weather; the relief after ten days of almost consistent rain and mud is indescribable. It is beginning to get quite cold at night, however, and I don't think many of us 66

will be sorry to get back to good old England. . . . Even yet things seems scarcely to be real, sleep seems to be the actual thing and the waking the dream. . . . The last two nights I have spent very comfortably in a bed, not as clean as it might be, but very pleasant. The French peasant is an extraordinary animal, and never seems to dream of washing himself or his house. September 27th. I have been lucky enough to draw the lot to send this in His Majesty's letter bag, so you will get it in record time. I am feeling very fit indeed. There is no sickness and the men are in excellent form and full of beans. . . . Four of us live in a hut built of straw. Have a splendid servant from the Indian Battalion, about 6 ft. 3 in. My former one, on my recommendation, got his Lance stripe. By November 1914, the Birkonian could also list over 190 OBs who were already serving in the Great War, most of them as officers in the Army and many in the Cheshire or Liverpool Regiments.

OBs studying at Cambridge kept the School abreast of their news: The events of the Long Vacation have been such as to blot out all recollection of tennis and triposes. After the declaration (of war), interest was transferred to the new HQ of the OTC in the Hall of Corpus, where officers of the Corps and the University Board of Military Studies were engaged in forwarding applications for commissions from past and present members of the corps to the War Office. In August, without warning, a large force of regulars arrived and camped on all the open spaces and commons. In early September, again without warning, 70,000 men were entrained for an ‘unknown destination’. The realities of war were brought vividly home to us by the hospital which was established in the Cloisters of Trinity.

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Walther Bensemann (1873-1934)

When we who write this letter have risen to supreme command of His Majesty's forces, someone may say to us: “Now tell us why you joined the Army.” Without a moment's hesitation we will say: “To escape the annoyance of being forced to write for the Birkonian." But as it happened all was in vain. No sooner were we settled in Prescot than we received a p.c. from the Editors demanding a Prescot Letter. There are between twenty and thirty OBs at Prescot. A group of nine of us are in the same platoon and the others are scattered elsewhere in the Battalion. The four Ashcrofts are distinguishing themselves in many ways: W has been playing for No. 3 Company, and is now working hard teaching the Adjutant his business; S also has taken to rugger again, and helps dole out our pay at the end of each week; F is playing rugger marvellously well and everyone wants to know who the little fellow with the bald head is, who plays so well. F is also good at his drill, especially in the way he holds his rifle at the slope. This has been commented on by the Colonel. A L has also played rugger for No 3, but his forte is eating steaks and chip potatoes at Reece's. WA Heyworth is a shining light in No 3 and is one of the pillars of the rugger team. E L Hinson is at home on sick leave, but we hope to see his cheery face with us soon and trust that he will bring back another box of cigars. The two Bibbys are also with us; C L's moustache is one of the seven wonders of Prescot. So far, all that Tobey has done is to get water on the knee and try to brain himself with a coconut. We really wonder why he ever joined the Army. D L

The Archives Department received a query from Dr Gillmeister of Bonn University about Herr Walther Bensemann’s time at BS where he was a language teacher from 1911 to 1914. It transpired that Herr Bensemann is considered to be the pioneer of German soccer, a sport he became passionately interested in during his time at a private school in Montreux, Switzerland. When he moved to Karlsruhe, to take his school leaver’s examinations, he began to spread the game around Germany. In September 1889, he founded the International Football Club, the first football club in southern Germany, and two years later he was instrumental in the founding of Karlsruhe FV, one of the first champion clubs in Germany. He was also involved in the creation of Frankfurter Kickers, who would later become Eintracht Frankfurt. In 1900 he belonged to the founding-fathers of the German Football Association. Bensemann thought of football as a means of international understanding, so he started to organise international matches such as the ones between Lausanne and southern Germany in 1893. This led on to the five historical matches between Germany and England between 1899 and 1901. Bensemann even put up the £200 required for the project (his father was a Jewish banker in Berlin). England won the first two games 13-2 and 10-2, which caused a Berlin newspaper to write : After the first game the improved defeat in the second was because the Britons were most affected by the ceremonial drinking sessions and the spree following, which spoiled their fitness. The third game was won 8-0 and the fourth 7-0. England has since carried on this downward trend, with few exceptions. Although these matches had no official status, they are considered historically as the first international matches of any German side. While teaching at the School, Herr Bensemann was well known for his lavish dinner parties given for influential and prospective parents at the renowned French restaurant in the Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool. He went on holiday to Germany in August 1914 and did not return. Why, one wonders, did such a wealthy man teach in Birkenhead? Could it be its close proximity to the major port of Liverpool in which he spent some time – especially in its main hotel where secrets could be overheard? According to The Birkonian, after he left, some thought he had been a spy. In 1920, Bensemann founded Germany’s kicker-Sportmagazin, which soon evolved to be Germany's leading football magazine, a status which it retains until today. In January 1933, the Nazi Machtergreifung (meaning "seizure of power", it is specifically used to refer to the granting of governmental powers to the Nazi Party in Germany) compelled Benseman to move back to Montreux where he died soon after, relatively unnoticed and without means. Pelling we see quite often. He lives next door to a gramophone so we hope to see him perform at the next school concert. We see quite a lot of Paterson who spends most of his time washing dishes. He says he takes to it as a rest cure for the strenuous life in the Barracks. He has also played soccer. M T Hughes, Harper, Locke, Cameron and Gregory are in the room above us. Tuckniss we meet every day. W Willmer is a 2nd Lieut. in No 3 Company and seems to be getting on well with his arduous duties. Dobson is a fullblown Company Quarter Master Sergeant. Freestone and the two Hilditches are flourishing in No 1 Company. By the time the next magazine comes out, we hope to be far away from Prescot and the long arm of the Birkonian editors. The Liverpool Pals’ barracks in Prescot was originally a watch factory. At the start of WWI thousands of men volunteered for service in a surge of patriotic fervour. Liverpool was particularly strong in this: the concept of tight-knit battalions of men from local workplaces was led by Lord Derby, ‘England’s best recruiting sergeant’. On 24 August the King’s Regiment HQ in Liverpool was overwhelmed by the numbers who turned up to volunteer for service. Eventually the Pals formed 4 battalions and would go on to fight some of the costliest battles of the War, taking part in the ‘big push’ at the Somme in 1914. 20% of them were dead by 1919 (nearly 2,800) and if the figure for the wounded were included, it would be closer to 75%. 67

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As a result of the Headmaster’s Welcome Back Dinner for the Pre1955 Leavers in May 2013, some fascinating insights and photographs from that era in BS’s history came from JGA Mack who attended the Dinner along with two of his fellow Septagons, John Meecham and Jim Maddocks: Prefects certainly had the right to use the ultimate deterrent of the cane - rarely used but a good deterrent. WFB (Bas Bushell) also used the deterrent on occasion but at other times was heard to say ‘Waha (his favourite opener) have a glass of cider’. His friend Bulmer, with whom he was in the trenches, kept sending him crates of the stuff! Bushell led us over most of North Wales on bikes (and on foot) and his method of mounting the bike was unusual in that he put one foot on the large nut on the rear wheel and hopped over the saddle. He kept quite fit and usually did a few laps of the track in most weathers. He was a wonderful headmaster and much liked so we were sad to see him retire, but some of us used to visit ’Colonsay’ on Bidston Road to sample his tennis court, billiard room and swimming pool. Bushell also visited the KM’s youth club at St Stephen’s Prenton, giving us a talk, which we had chosen from several topics he offered. I remember one on Lawrence of Arabia. He arrived in his faithful Ford 8 with all the wall charts etc. Of course, he knew Lawrence quite well - amazing! He related, with some glee, ‘April Fooling’ one young lad. Bushell pretended to be extremely annoyed with him and sent him off to Chapel to learn the 151st Psalm and to report back to him when he had learnt it off by heart. The lad returned in tears some while later to say he couldn’t find it. Ah, April Fool!’ said Bas. The stage staff in the photo below is posed and of little interest except for the backcloth at the rear of the stage which is a picture of old Jerusalem painted by Pete Venour, also in our year. The actors gazed at it through a window so that only they could see the inscription the stage staff had added, ‘Wot, no audience?’ At this time, the School was on direct current, and dimmers for the lighting were manufactured from drain pipes mounted vertically under the stage and blocked off at the bottom. They were filled with water and had cone-shaped lead contacts at the bottom with a similar cone on a string over a pulley to the switchboard terminating in the

usual toilet type pull. All that was then required was to add sufficient salt to the water to give the appropriate resistance to operate the load required. My reference from KD Robinson described my electrical ability as being ‘dangerously near professional’. When the School changed over to Alternating Current, MANWEB, who were obliged to replace all the equipment with that suitable for the new supply must have had a good laugh at our efforts - but they worked! Three of the Septagon sang in the Choir which was a bit basic when we joined. It was organised by Mr Jamieson (tenor and ex Ripon Cathedral Choir) and OB Mr Pyke (bass). Shortly after WWII, there was a memorial service for our fallen OBs. We sang Ireland’s ‘Greater Love Hath No Man Than This’ There were a few tears shed that day. The Septagon was formed for no reason at all (the Minutes from their first meeting in 1949 shows what great fun they must have had e.g. ’The meeting ended in some confusion the Hon Five members of The Septagon in their youth. with Members crowding on to a No 38 Corporation bus with mouths full of a fruity dish obtained from Periander’s Mater.’) and members took the names of the seven sages— I was Cleobulus of Lindus, known as Clob. We had a newsletter after we left which was passed round between us, each person reporting and extracting his previous letter. It was a bit slow (before email!) as I was in Birmingham and the rest were in variously St Andrews, West Bengal, New Zealand, Australia, London and Birkenhead.

The Sages in the photo above taken a few years ago from left to right: JR Wilson - Chilon of Sparta (became a doctor in Australia, now deceased); KE Davies - Thales of Miletus (worked withy Shell in Australia, now deceased); JRW Smith - Periander of Corinth (retired to Ashford Chamber of Commerce, now deceased); ER Gardner - Bias of Prene (caught polio while working in Bombay, died a couple of years ago); JGA Mack (Mackwell Electronics retired); J Meecham - Solon of Athens (medical school and Alder Hey, retired); JE Maddocks - Pittacus of Mtylene (West Bengal and New Zealand, retired)


In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Congratulations to George Wright (OB 2006) and his wife on the birth of their first child. Joseph was born 31 March weighing 7 pounds 2 ounces. George says that it already feels like we have never been without him! George is now a dentist practising in Doncaster.

Living in Wiltshire for over 30 years since his retirement in 1980, David Allan Harcourt (1926-33), an OB Society member, died in May last year aged 97. Born in London to parents who were both busy actors (James Harcourt and Isadora Keith), David and the family moved to the north when his father got a job in Liverpool Rep and David was sent to BS. After leaving School, he started working in the camera department at the BIP studios in Borehamwood. The war helped move his career along because he had operated on various instruction films for the Army Kinematograph Service. During his long career, he worked on many landmark British films A Night to Remember, Whistle Down the Wind, Day of the Jackal. He also worked on Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes and Ken Russell’s Women in Love. David was responsible for keeping his eye fixed on the viewfinder, following the action and capturing the creative vision set out by the Director of Photography and Director. Billy Williams, a Director of Photography with whom he worked on many films, including Billion Dollar Brain, observed his skill in synchronising camera movement with the movements of the actors. His expressive operating was a major contribution to the shooting of Women in Love - the famous nude wrestling scene between Alan Bates and Oliver Reed for one. He married Margot Dawson in 1946, who survives him with their 3 children. Their son Jamie is a camera operator like his father.

Austin Stirrup, as the photograph shows, paints some rather good pictures, although he is keen to point out that the one on his right is not a self-portrait! Austin is grateful to Ken Jamieson, the Art teacher at BS at that time, who encouraged his passion, even though it was considered then as a poor sort of subject. After leaving BS, Austin spent two years at the Laird School of Art then did two years National Service with the Cheshire Regiment in Egypt (he played rugby for the Battalion with the late Jimmy Gopsill) before working in Advertising and Design. Later he opened his own Advertising Agency with his wife Sheila but after 25 years moved to a smallholding in Wales where they now keep sheep, goats and poultry. After giving up Commercial Art, both he and his wife of 55 years, concentrated on their painting. They exhibit throughout Wales and are members of the Clwydian Art Society (Sheila is its President). They have both exhibited in the Royal Cambrian Open Exhibition, North Wales Open Exhibition and held a joint exhibition in the Ruthin Library Gallery a few years ago. Their paintings are in private collections all over the world. Incidentally, Austin designed the original of the OBS logo. His son Marc is also an OB. Austin Stirrup—painting detail 69

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

I left School in 1969, a time of both academic and athletic excellence, and was the last Captain of The Old Birkonian Rugby Club before it merged with Birkenhead Park. In my ‘retirement', I have become engaged in the sport of triathlon and last summer faced the ultimate challenge – an Ironman race (a jaw dropping 2.4 miles of swimming, followed by 112 miles of cycling and finally a 26.2 mile marathon run). I write this article, not as some act of self-congratulation or selfaggrandisement, but in order to encourage those OB’s of my era to realise it’s not too late to set themselves a significant challenge. I have taken enormous pleasure from being Chairman of East Devon’s N1 Tri Club and watching people gain, or regain, a passion for a sport is a wonderful thing and the human spirit thrives on the process. In 2013, I found myself in Kalmar on the start line of the 2013 ‘Ironman Sweden race’. To give my effort some context, my race number on the day was 2015, the year when I will begin to draw my state pension! I had chosen the race in Sweden for two good reasons; first of all the bike section is relatively flat (no apologies there) and second, the race has gained a reputation for superb organisation and also an atmosphere, second to none, which is generated by the involvement of the whole local community. I was not disappointed. At 7am in the morning I found myself standing in the middle of 2,000 plus highly trained athletes, including professional triathletes and a former stage winner of the Tour De France, waist deep in the Baltic Sea! The banks of the harbour of Kalmar were mobbed and a local churchman read a moving prayer seeking safe passage for us racers. As he finished, a cannon boomed and the race was on.

I quickly learned I had made a terrible mistake as I was caught in the middle of a headlong charge for the first marker buoy. It was like being in the biggest washing machine in the world as the water churned with the efforts of swimmers fired with a potent charge of adrenaline. I gulped for air and drank large amounts of sea water as I tried to find a way out. Panic took over and I literally fought my way to the side of the field lengthening my swim, but finally finding clear water. I emerged from the water battered but hugely 70

relieved, despite my slow time. So to the bike and it was here that I began to see just why it is that the Swedish race is so popular. The racers swept out of the magnificent town of Kalmar with its ancient castles and ramparts as a backdrop - a signal of former power and glory. The first few miles involved crossing a magnificent achievement of modern engineering, a five mile long bridge, normally closed to cyclists, but on this day two of its four lanes were closed to cars, police motorbikes buzzed too and fro, and we raced high above the waters beneath. As I crossed the bridge, I first became aware of the strong wind we were to face on our ride as my carbon fibre deep section bike wheels twitched violently in the wind. Off the bridge, we turned on to the neighbouring large island of Oland and turned into the strong 25 mph headwind. For the next 35 miles I was bent as low as possible in a long line of racers all clad in various bright colour of lycra, aero helmets and many riding top-of-the-range time-trial bikes with disc wheels and aero handle bars. Amazingly, the whole 112 miles was staged on closed roads and every junction was manned by an orange shirted marshall with a red flag. Ironman rules insist no ‘drafting’ of other racers and motor cyclist patrolled the course carrying the ever present threat of the dreaded black card and disqualification. At each and every farm we passed, we were cheered on by the families who owned them and as we passed through small towns and villages street parties were in full flight and we were urged on with the soon to become familiar Swedish cry of ‘Heya’- a mix of greeting and exhortation. I offered some ‘Good Mornings’ in my best English accent and was repaid with cheers and further messages of good will. The hills of East Devon, Dartmoor and Exmoor have built some power in my ageing legs, but the relief I felt as we turned at the end of the island was considerable. With the wind now driving us, I began to overhaul other racers. Back into Kalmar and a second loop on the mainland where we raced through housing estates and shopping centres with huge crowds urging us on. With 10 miles to go, the awful feeling came upon me that soon I would face the daunting prospect of a marathon run. In truth my knees are a little worn and my longest training run was just 15 miles. My stomach churned with fear as I anticipated the effort. I need not have worried. The run course was a three lap affair out around a peninsula on which beautiful houses are built overlooking the sea. Seemingly every house had its own garden party, many had flags and bunting, and some provided music to spur the racers on. Every three miles, an aid station was in place where a team of orange shirted helpers served a menu of energy drinks and various food. The most amazing aspect for me was the people I met on my journey. Some conversations lasted many miles, but with my friends from Canada, Australia, America and of course Scandinavia, I developed a most reassuring bond. After one lap, we entered the old walled town of Kalmar and I was just blown away by the experience. We ran down a channel of crash barriers for some two miles as the course zigzagged through the cobbled streets. The crowds were huge and the packed street-side bars and cafés had become watching places for thousands of spectators. In Ironman races, the race number also carries the first given name of the competitor so now the familiar ‘Heya’ was coupled with my name. Tantalisingly, the final section through the town passes through the main square where the large finishing grandstand was erected and the huge crowd roared home those who were already finishing. I was made to pass down a separate corridor, alongside the finishing channel. I looked

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014 down and tried to blank out the feelings it provoked as a yellow bracelet was placed on my arm and my second circuit began. This time many of the faces were familiar, the greetings even warmer and amazingly my legs began to work well. The second passage through the town was as uplifting as the first as I was encouraged to keep going and finish the course and as I passed the grandstand this time I looked across to the finishing line and for the first time I dared to dream I would finish. On my final circuit, dusk was drawing in but all the spectators were still in place. My second band, a blue one, signalled my final loop. At each aid station the volunteers lined up to ‘high five’ me and offer congratulations and I was able to thank each and every one of them for their support. I received a huge hug from a man who had built a pyramid of beer cans during the afternoon and a kiss from an old lady in a wheel chair. I later learned that every the person in the race received the same treatment, even those who were cruelly denied a finishing medal if they failed to cross the line within the 16-hour cut-off time. As I entered the town’s walls for a final time, an amazing thing happened: two young Swedish boys, dressed in the organisers’ orange tee shirts, appeared and took up station on either side of me to escort me on my final mile. They urged me on as I passed the bars and restaurants packed with my new ‘friends’. The emotions coursed through my body, hands reached out from young and old alike. As I approached the market square the two boys disappeared: I never got to thank them. The sight in front of me was awe inspiring, the square was packed and the master of ceremonies announced my arrival, his booming mic drowning the music of some rock classic on the PA system. As luck would have it, I spotted my wife, who had endured a day of endless stress and worry, standing by the finishing shute. She handed me a Union Jack flag and I proceeded down the final steps of my journey. The confirmation of my joining an exclusive club was left to the crowd as the MC had, by this time of night, trained them well, as I crossed the line he announced ‘Dennis Elliott of the N1 Tri Club Great Britain, you are an ..., and the crowd roared ‘Ironman’. My race was run and I had achieved a life-long ambition and experienced one of the greatest days of my life. For the record it took me 14 hours 53 minutes to complete the course in 1544th place. I was beaten in my age category (60-64) by 11 impossibly fit looking Scandinavian men (it must be genetic!) but there was at least one American and mercifully one Australian in my wake! Postscript: I have not thought about my school days for years but one thing is clear: looking back, those who knew what they wanted to do found the process easier and more relevant. Stephen Smith always wanted to be a Doctor, as did a lot of others and most if not all realised their ambition. Hugh Dagleish had the Navy in his sights and low and behold he became Commander of the Royal Yacht (where he once entertained me!). David Pickavance wanted to fly, as did Vic Crutchley. One became a Wing Commander, flying fast jets, the other flew 747s from Auckland to London most of his life. Many OBs also found themselves in finance - a career that has had a bad press in recent years. Some of this is valid but most is not and there are loads of opportunities for those who are interested - all over the world. My own academic failure at School resulted in the Headmaster making a few calls and me finding a position in a Liverpool firm, courtesy of the President of Birkenhead Park Rugby Club. In time, I was to move to London and I earned a place in the Harlequins Rugby Club, whose tie 71

opened as many doors for me as any degree. I was lucky enough to work all over the world and in the process often met with OBs - many of them in high places. I managed to run businesses in New York and London and elsewhere before my final stopping placed in one of the world’s leading Investment Management Companies based in Atlanta. In my various roles, I was a business builder and hired hundreds of young people. I even used to present on the ‘milk round’ at Cambridge University and elsewhere on occasion (never Oxford - don’t know why). Birkenhead School instilled some very deep principles in me which for the most part have served me well. Dennis Elliott, 1962-69

Barbara was born in 1931 and, after attending Cole Street Primary School, she made her mother proud by gaining a Scholarship to Park High School for Girls. Tragically her father was killed in the Second World War, leaving her mother to bring up four children on her own. Barbara’s first job was at the national Cash Register Company in Liverpool where she met Audrey Horrocks, who not only became a very good friend but was later married to her brother Sam. After Barbara married Vic Oliver, a Naval tailor, they moved into the first floor of 13 Wellington Road, Oxton, a large house which had been Vic’s family home. Audrey, Sam and their children lived downstairs. John Oliver was born in 1954 and altogether they were both very happy households. When John was a little older, Barbara went back to work, first as the secretary to a university professor, then as a Post Office clerk in Wellington Road and finally as the secretary to the Headmaster of Birkenhead School, a job which she loved. She worked there for many years and the School became very important to her, both professionally and emotionally. The church also played a big part in Barbara's life. Originally she attended Palm Grove Methodist, coming to Trinity when the two churches merged in 1976. She enjoyed singing in the choir; she helped with the production of LINK; she was once Treasurer of the Tuesday Circle and helped run the Women’s Fellowship for many years; but perhaps she will be best remembered for the wonderful floral arrangements she created each Sunday. Barbara like gardening and was deeply knowledgeable about flowers. Her other major pastime was crosswords. She could complete The Times crossword remarkably quickly and was always a stickler for correct spelling and punctuation. Sadly, her husband Vic died some years ago. She leaves her brother Sam, sister Joyce and son John and his wife Jane and grandsons Paul and Robert. Trinity Church Magazine

In Focus & OB Bulletin Summer 2014

Storm-proof golf brolly £25 School roller ball pen £5 Silver-plated cufflinks engraved with the School crest £20

£2.50 for 10 notelets and envelopes

Two details from the School Chapel’s stained glass windows. Pack of 10 A5 cards with envelopes £5.50

Chapel Choir CD £8 BarLine CD £8 Buy both for £15

Afterwards When the Present has latched its postern behind my tremulous stay, And the May month flaps its glad green leaves like wings, Delicate-filmed as new-spun silk, will the neighbours say, 'He was a man who used to notice such things'? If it be in the dusk when, like an eyelid's soundless blink, The dewfall-hawk comes crossing the shades to alight Upon the wind-warped upland thorn, a gazer may think, 'To him this must have been a familiar sight.'




TOP FLOOR, 44 BIDSTON ROAD 10.30 - 12.15PM Coffee available










If I pass during some nocturnal blackness, mothy and warm, When the hedgehog travels furtively over the lawn, One may say, 'He strove that such innocent creatures should come to no harm, But he could do little for them; and now he is gone.' If, when hearing that I have been stilled at last, they stand at the door, Watching the full-starred heavens that winter sees Will this thought rise on those who will meet my face no more, 'He was one who had an eye for such mysteries'?





And will any say when my bell of quittance is heard in the gloom And a crossing breeze cuts a pause in its outrollings, Till they rise again, as they were a new bell's boom, 'He hears it not now, but used to notice such things'? Thomas Hardy See also page 29

The service will be conducted by the School Chaplain, Sian Howell-Jones, and the preacher will be Canon John Rankin, OB 1957-64.


In Focus & OBS Bulletin 2014  
In Focus & OBS Bulletin 2014