The Cheltonian Association
FLOREAT 13 O B I T U A RY S U P P L E M E N T
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Maj Robert Aikenhead (BH ’38) Robert Aikenhead, son of Brigadier D F Aikenhead MC DSO (BH 1912) and nephew of R Aikenhead (H 1906) who was killed at Ypres in 1915, died on the 23rd March 2012, aged 91. On leaving College, where he had been a sergeant in the CCF, he followed his family footsteps of Army service, being commissioned into the Irish Guards in 1941. He was in the 1st Battalion when it was committed to the amphibious assault at Anzio in January 1944 where, in the subsequent bitter fighting, the battalion suffered over 700 casualties, including Robert, who was taken Prisoner of War and did not return to England until May 1945. He served in 1IG in Palestine (Mentioned in Despatches) at the withdrawal of the British Mandate in 1948, then in Tripoli and in Germany as BAOR. In 1953, he took a secondment to the 2nd (Nyasaland) Battalion of the King’s African Rifles in Northern and Southern Rhodesia. This enabled his love of the countryside to be nurtured with safaris and fishing trips in the wide-open spaces of Africa. He was a keen shot with either shotgun or rifle, training and leading several shooting teams during his Army Career. He had a passion for wildlife and for Africa, moving from the rifle to the camera and going to most of the newly established game reserves in remote areas of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Taking the advantage of post-war army reductions at the end of the tour, he joined the Civil Service in the remote NE province of Northern Rhodesia as a District Officer, where his recreations included raising leopard cubs assisted by his Labrador dogs and his wife Mary. Independence for the colonies in Africa made the colonial administrators redundant and Robert returned to England in 1964, settling in Suffolk, where he joined the Eastern District Headquarters as a Retired Officer, looking after the training areas and ranges in East Anglia. His countryside pursuits included game shooting and the training and breeding of Labradors with much success. Mary was invited to judge the breed internationally, which enabled them to travel together to most of Europe and the United States. Robert was Chairman of the East Anglia Labrador Club for many years, while enjoying his garden and house in retirement. He was pre-deceased by his wife, Mary, of 65 years and is survived by his daughter Helen, son Charles (BH ’63), four grandchildren, one of whom went to College, Harry Whitbread (L ’88), and a tally of 12 great grandchildren.
Caspar James Crawford Auchterlonie (NH & Ch ’86) Caspar Auchterlonie died on the 10th April 2012, aged 44. As a child of the late 60s, born in Singapore and christened Caspar James Crawford Auchterlonie, Caspar was never going to have a conventional life! Caspar was extremely bright (he entered College on a scholarship in 1981) and coupled that with an engaging quirkiness: that particular combination drove him effortlessly towards the Classics, in which he shone. Caspar loved Latin, but he absolutely adored Greek and he needed no coaxing in exploring not just the highways but also the byways of both languages and their attendant civilisations.
He also took his fun extremely seriously and thought that serious matters were best approached with an element of fun. The idea of separating work from life would never have occurred to him, and it is no surprise that he gravitated towards a career in wine in which such a distinction was unlikely to arise. He also enjoyed his hockey and played in goal for the XI in 1985 & 1986. On leaving College, he went on to read Classics at UCL. Caspar brought the same passion and energy to university as he did to all other aspects of his life. As well as being an active member of the Classics Department at UCL, he continued his sporting activities, representing the College with great distinction at both hockey and cricket. He played for both First and Second XIs at cricket, being an accomplished top order batsman and wicket keeper. His irrepressible character shone through both on and off the field. Always in the game, encouraging his team mates, and never quiet in the bar after the match, he was a big-hearted character, very much missed by all those who played alongside him. After UCL, however, rather than take the conventional classical scholar’s route into the FCO – where he would have no doubt rather fancied the headgear of the Governor of Barbados or Fiji – he went into the wine trade. He joined via the sure-fire way of Oddbins and spent 13 years in the independent fine wine retail sector culminating in 3 years as a manager and wine buyer for Le Pont de la Tour, Conran’s flagship restaurant. Caspar was also a journalist and was the “lifestyle and travel editor” for ‘Issue One’ magazine and one of the wine contributors to ‘Imbibe’ magazine. He regularly judged at the International Wine Challenge and Sommelier Awards and was a panelist at ‘Wine Magazine’ for 8 years. He consulted for restaurants and wine bars, having designed the list for Dion Leadenhall, Saran Rom, Zakudia, Indian Dining Club and Kennington Tandoori. Caspar also worked in placing wineries in the UK including Ampeleia, Yarraman and worked with Chateau L’Hestrange, Tamboerskloof and Stift Kloster Neuberg. He also worked through Particular Wines in catering in conjunction with the world famous jazz band ‘The All Stars’. He was a member of the Circle of Wine Writers, a former Chairman of the Wine and Spirits Trade Club and a founding member of the Civil Engineers Wine Club. He was wine speaker for Quaglino’s and Wine Wharf as well as doing tastings for both corporate and private clients and through Vinopolis. There were two qualities of Caspar that were paramount. Firstly, he only ever saw good in anyone. He treated everyone he knew as he would wish to be treated himself: with respect and love. And secondly, he was truly passionate about those things he cared about and believed in: his job (the creation and sponsorship of the “own label” wine competition seeking to de-mystify all the myriad wines for people), his friends, his music, and his sport, both hockey and cricket. It is unsurprising that he became, in the wine world, not just a highly respected but also a hugely loved figure. Caspar played hockey for the Honourable Artillery Company for 18 years, successively for the 1st XI, 2nd XI and Veterans’ teams as well as for the Fossils (UCL Old Boys) and Tulse Hill. He was semi-mad, like most goalies, and brave as hell on the pitch. In one early 1st XI match against Camberley, a short corner expert smashed four goals past him in quick time. Caspar decided enough was enough, and at the next one sprinted out in his full kit past the first runner right to the top of the D. Everyone burst out laughing and they fluffed the shot. Success! Whichever team he was in he was one of the mainstays of the sides, a one-man entertainment system afterwards, never said a harsh word about anybody, and was simply great fun to be around.
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Never better illustrated than near closing time one night on an extended post-match celebration when he led the whole pub in a few unaccompanied songs so well that some woman asked why the group weren’t playing along with him. It transpired she thought they were his band and their pile of hockey bags was the instrument cases! He also played cricket for the Wandsworth Gods and more recently for the HAC. Indeed, a great character who, after his untimely death, will be missed by all he came in contact with and especially by his wife of fifteen years, Alex.
Bindon Newman Blood (NH ’52) Bindon Blood died on the 20th May 2011, aged 77.
John Leslie Boyce (NH ’53) John Boyce, son of Sir Lesley Boyce KBE, and brother of J L Boyce (NH ’48) and CFL Boyce (NH ’48), died on the 4th October 2012, in Australia, aged 77.
Cecile Cawley (College Staff 1990-2006) Ces died on August 25th 2012, aged 53. She joined College in 1990 to start a successful 16-year career, firstly in the Electronics Department as a technician and then in the Library as Librarian. In both her roles, she was renowned for working hard to support staff and pupils alike. She was instrumental in the Electronics Department for developing systems to organise equipment and components so that everything was ready and on hand. When Ces took on the library in 1992 she faced two major challenges, namely improving behaviour and work ethic and developing a hopelessly out-dated collection. One of her favourite stories was how, upon arriving on one of her first mornings, she interrupted a full-scale hockey practice amongst the bookshelves, without anyone appearing particularly concerned about her arrival. Anyone who met Ces will know that it could only have happened once! She did not suffer fools gladly, and soon built a reputation that would silence even the rowdiest Sixth Former with a glance. Thanks to her own rebellious youth, she knew all the tricks and, over time, developed a knack of dealing with difficult situations before they even arose. Failing that, the infamous Cawley bark would quickly restore order and earned her that ultimate of pupil accolades: a nickname. It amused her greatly to be referred to by some (in careful whispers) as ‘The Rottweiler’, and yet this fierce exterior hid a very generous, kind and helpful character. Many pupils, and indeed colleagues, learned to appreciate this when they were struggling with heavy workloads or personal problems. Ces would advise and comfort them with her unique blend of understanding, banter and wickedness that never failed to put a smile on people’s faces. As to developing the library’s collection, Ces had her work cut out! There were too many rows of ancient dusty tomes that had not been used in decades - many hiding cigarettes in hollowedout spaces where pages should have been! These were clogging up the shelves that were sorely needed for more up-to-date materials suitable for College’s age group. Many were neither attractive nor indeed light enough to be lifted off the shelves by the average Fourth Former, so Ces took action. Against considerable opposition from the more conservative members
of Common Room, she managed to gain Council’s approval to auction off the more valuable part of the out-dated collection and use the proceeds to finance much-needed materials, better suited to the needs of 13-18-year-olds of the 21st century. It was a monumental effort and a very important first move towards developing the library into the up-to-the-minute collection College benefits from today. Equally, Ces’s dedication to replacing the old card catalogue with a modern electronic library management system and the introduction of the first online databases were a huge step forward and continue to help staff and pupils to this day. Her final significant contribution was the introduction of dedicated evening and weekend cover for the library, which ensured much longer opening hours, resulting in much-improved service and round-the-clock supervision. The library owes much to Ces Cawley, whose frank, common sense and no-nonsense approach got the jobs done, and well done! Golf of course increasingly became Ces and her husband, Frank’s, principal interest and they were very popular members of Naunton Downs Golf Club. Those who played against her in competitions found it was in her nature to support and encourage those less able or less confident in their game, and bring the best out of them. This was clearly the case during her time at the helm of girls’ golf at College. She took the players up to Cotswold Hills and played with them. She loved the game and was keen to encourage more girls to play - she did recruit some and enjoyed seeing them progress from the practice range to the golf course. Golf is also, of course, the reason for her subtle change of name. Ces was christened Cecil, being named for her grandfather. She bore for years the confusion this caused, endlessly having to explain that, yes, she had spelled her own name correctly! But she finally gave in and added the “e” for Cecile after a competition at Whitstan Bay; Ces in fact won the women’s competition, but was disconsolate to discover that the organisers, reading her entry form, had classified her as a man; the trophies having already been awarded when the error was discovered, she brought home the consolation prize of an umbrella. “I’m not having any more umbrellas”, she said fiercely, and thereafter added the “e.” Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour in January 2011 and was operated on very quickly. Typically, she made light of her illness and the first question she asked her surgeon after her operation was. “While you were in there, did you fix my golf swing?” She bore her illness with much dignity and kept her great sense of humour right up to the end. Ces married Frank in 1983 and enjoyed a really happy marriage. Winchcombe, Frank’s family home, was where they settled. She became actively involved in Winchcombe life, and prior to her illness, she worked in the local pharmacy. Frank’s family had set up the Evans Adlard Trust to provide care for the elderly and, for many years until her death, Ces acted as a trustee. She is survived by Frank, who sadly died on the 26th December 2012, her father, stepmother, and five brothers.
Geoffrey Kim Elliott (Xt ’47) Kim Elliott, brother of Tony (Xt ’51), died on the 21st August 2011, aged 81. He was born in the Falkland Islands in 1930 and lived there with his family until 1939. His parents and Tony returned to the Falkland Islands in September 1939, leaving Kim and his elder sister with an uncle and aunt 2.
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in Herefordshire. He attended Lickey Hills and Brampton Bryan prep schools where he distinguished himself at all sports, but particularly cricket. He came to College in September 1943 and played in the XI at Lords against Haileybury in 1946. On leaving College, he went into the Navy to undertake his National Service and was based mainly in Malta where, apart from learning meteorology, he was able to play cricket, tennis and golf. He went to Reading University to read Agriculture in 1950. It was there that he met Chris, whom he married in 1954. While at Reading, Kim played tennis and hockey not only for Reading but also the Combined Universities and he also represented Dorset at both these sports. After leaving university, he worked for a short time in Somerset as farm manager before taking over the helm at the family farm outside Dorchester in 1956. Kim and Chris had two sons who both came to work on the farm and they took over the reins when Kim retired in 1997. Working full time on a farm was not conducive to playing tennis and hockey at county level, so Kim joined Came Down Golf Club in 1956 and after a few years he got down to a handicap of four. He became Captain and President of the golf club and played his last game there only a few weeks before he died of leukaemia. Kim was a loyal supporter of O.C. golf and was captain of the O.C. Golfing Society 1995/96. He played in the Halford Hewitt in 1976-78 and again in 1996. As soon as he was old enough to play in the Mellin (the age limit then was 50 and over) he was an automatic choice from 1980 to 1989 and again in 2001. He played in the Burles Salver (age 65+), which started in 1990, from 1995-98. The Millard Salver (aged 75+) was started in 1997 and again Kim played as soon as he was old enough. In his later years, he became a keen and able bridge player and also took an active part in village life serving on both the Parish and Parochial Church Councils. When Chris developed Alzheimer’s disease he became an active supporter of the Alzheimer Society and was local treasurer for some years. He was predeceased by his wife of just over 50 years, Chris, in 2005 and is survived by their sons John and Michael.
Edwin David Finch (Xt ’45) Edwin Finch died on April 21st 2012, aged 84. He enjoyed his time at College, where he was Head of House and a College Prefect, visiting on a number of occasions in later life. At school, he was at his happiest playing rugby and on the athletics track, despite suffering from asthma. He also showed a natural aptitude for French, which was to stand him in good stead in both his military and civilian careers. In October 1945, he went up to Christ’s College, Cambridge, as an RAF cadet to read French and English. There, he became a keen tennis player and was awarded his College half colours. Whilst at Cambridge, he accepted a place at RAF Cranwell in the first post-war cadet entry, from 1947 to 1949, graduating as a pilot. His service coincided with the height of the Cold War and duties included surveillance of the Soviet shipping threat in the Atlantic, flying Shackletons, and leading the nuclear deterrent flying the now iconic Avro Vulcan. It was in a Vulcan that he temporarily held the record for flying from Ottawa to London, in 5 hours 18 minutes, having taken part in the 1958 Centennial
Celebrations in British Columbia. Apart from a love of flying, the highlight of his RAF career was two years at Fontainebleau, as ADC to two Commanders-in-Chief, Allied Forces Central Europe, Generals Valluy and Challe, the latter falling from grace and landing in prison after heading the abortive Algerian putsch against the de Gaulle government in 1961. The prospect of more desk work and less flying, together with increasing family commitments, led to his retiring from the RAF in 1965 after his last operational posting, which was to Borneo (Indonesia) to counter the communist threat there under President Sukarno. The next 30 years were very successfully spent in the City as a Lloyd’s broker in Reinsurance, a job that took him all over Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Brazil, but France remained his favourite workplace. His extensive knowledge of French opened many doors and, after he retired in 1987, he went on working as a consultant to a French company until 1997, when he finally retired and was able to contribute in many ways to the life of his adopted town, Colchester, and enjoy what was most dear to him, family life. He is survived by his wife Marianne, three daughters Christine, Nicole and Anne and six grandchildren.
Roger Henry Finch (H ’45) Roger Finch died on the 5th June 2011, aged 82.
Arthur Edgar Firkins (Deputy Bursar 1983-89) Arthur Firkins died on the 16th April 2012, aged 73. He was educated at Oldbury Grammar School and on leaving school he started work at Major & Co Chartered Accountants, Birmingham, working at night school to study for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants’ qualification. He left Major & Co to become a partner at Marcus Hazelwood in Cheltenham, before venturing into commerce and working in various companies, including a discount warehouse, makers of specialist batteries and ran the Toddington Garden Centre. Arthur was a founding member of the Teddington Narrow Gauge Railway, where he spent a great deal of time sorting out legal problems and acquiring land. Arthur was Deputy Bursar at College for six years and was responsible for computerising the accounting systems. He had an excellent rapport with everyone he came in contact with, was very approachable, greatly respected and affectionately known in the Common Room as the Firkin Bursar! In his later years he ran a private practice from home, giving of his time and talents generously to many charities and voluntary organisations, especially St Vincent’s Centre by taking on the treasureships. St Vincent’s Centre is a locally based charity supporting people with severe and complex disabilities for over 50 years. Arthur brought both his professional financial skills and his big heart to the Centre in 1963. He served as treasurer in the late sixties, became Vice-Chairman in 1973 and Chairman from 1986 to 1992 - a quarter of a century of unstinting voluntary support. Under his leadership, the charity weathered some difficult times. His efforts were of real benefit, enriching the lives of many people from Tewkesbury, Cheltenham, Gloucester and surrounding areas. His work lives on in the charity, which has continued to thrive
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and expand its work. Arthur is survived by his wife of over 50 years, Dawn, their daughters Rachael and Kathyrn and sons Nicholas and Daniel.
Duncan Robin Anderson Gerrard (NH ’60) Duncan Gerrard died on the 12th April 2012, aged 70.
Maj Gen John David Carew Graham (NH ’40) John Graham, son of Major JA Graham (S 1914), died in Barbados on the 14th December 2012, at the age of 89, only weeks from his 90th birthday. He was born into a Scottish family, whose members had included James Graham Marquess of Montrose; General Sir Thomas Graham, who, in 1794, had raised in a regiment which was to become the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), and who as Lord Lynedoch founded the United Service Club (now the Institute of Directors) in London, and Colonel John Graham, 13th of Fintry for whom the town of Grahamstown in South Africa is named. John’s first ambition was to take up a career in the diplomatic service but, like many others of the time, this was upset by the outbreak of the Second World War. Instead, he chose not to follow his grandfathers into the Royal Berkshire Regiment but enlisted in 1941 as a private soldier in the Argyll & Sunderland Highlanders. Two years later, he was commissioned and was sent to France. His baptism of fire came with the launch of Operation Epsom, aimed at exploiting a gap between 12th SS Panzer and the armoured division Panzer Lehr. His unit captured intact two bridges that were essential to the advance over the River Odon, South West of Caen. Later, he became a casualty during the Rhine Crossing, soon after the war ended when Germany surrendered. He was Mentioned in Despatches in 1945. At the end of the war, he decided to stay in the army; thus began a career that lasted until 1978, taking him to more than 60 countries and into a variety of those conflicts that were a continuous feature of the Cold War. John had always been interested in the airborne arm and, at the end of 1946, he was seconded to the Parachute Regiment for a tour of duty with the 5th (Scottish) Parachute Regiment in Hampshire and Schleswig-Holstein. Two years later, the Berlin blockade and airlift occurred and, as he already knew some Russian, he secured a place at London University to learn Czech – an “Iron Curtain” language. After a year at the British embassy in Prague, he was employed on sensitive work at GCHQ. A fluent French speaker, he was posted to Fontainebleau in France in the appointment of Military Assistance to the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces Europe, a major Nato command. There he met Maurice Challe, a senior French General, who later was to lead an unsuccessful coup against General de Gaulle, a folly for which he was later sentenced to 15 years in prison. After France, he was invited to become the second in command of 2 Para station in Bahrain, where Britain maintained a strong military force as part of her commitment to defend Kuwait. This posting introduced John to the issues of the Persian Gulf. Two years later, he was selected to command 1 Para, a challenge that he seized with enthusiasm. His energy and zest seem to
have rubbed off on his subordinates, for on the conclusion of the annual inspection, the inspecting officer reported: “This is the best unit with which I have ever been associated. To write more would be superfluous; to write less would be unjust.” John’s most challenging posting was his job as Brigadier to the Omani forces at a time of great turbulence in the Persian Gulf. John had the difficult task of planning and supervising the Salalah coup d’état of 23 July, 1970, which secured the abdication of the then Sultan and his removal to the UK, and the installation of his son, Qaboos, the present Sultan. On arrival in Muscat, he took over an army, air force, tiny navy and auxiliary police force whose combined strength was smaller than 4,000, in a country the size of the UK, then ruled by Sultan Said bin Taimur whose inflexible nature and repressive policies had caused nine-tenths of the rich southern province of Dhofar to fall under the brutal control of rebels and outside forces. At the end of the 1971 monsoon, the Sultan’s armed forces, reinforced by the SAS and native firqas, began the process of retaking the rebel-held areas on the Dhofar jebel. Two years later, the main military positions were secured, helped by the bold operation of the SAS in defending Mirbat, which became the turning point and ended the war in 1975 in total victory. When John left Oman in September 1975 he handed over an army of 11,000, an air force of 49 aircraft and a growing navy of modern warships. John has not spoken publicly about his role. This is not surprising, given the sensitivity and secrecy of the operation, even today. What is certain is that he was admired and held in very high regard by many in Oman. Typical of John, he wished for no personal accolades. His view was that those who had contributed to that decisive operation should enjoy the credit that flowed. To some, he was the “Lawrence of Oman”. He was then posted to New Delhi at the Indian National Defence College. This was a wise move on the part of London. India had close interest in the Gulf affairs, especially her military contribution in manning and modernising Oman’s armed forces and civil infrastructure. In 1976, he was promoted to Major General and General Officer Commanding (GOC) Wales. On retirement in 1978, he and his wife, Rosemary, who is an accomplished poet and artist, moved to Kent and he took up the post of administrator of Chevening, the country house of the Foreign Secretary. Eleven years later, when his tours of voluntary appointments came to an end he had planned to settle down with his wife in their Barnes house to write his memoirs, Ponder Anew: Reflection on the Twentieth Century. The book was written but Graham was on the move again. This time his wife brought him on a short visit to Guyana, her place of birth, and on the way back they stayed for ten days in Barbados. After 48 hours, they decided to stay and bought a house, and had been there ever since. In 2007 he co-authored Caribbean Wars Untold: A Salute to the British West Indies, which was published by the University of the West Indies and won its award for bestselling general interest book. John Graham was a remarkable man. He was a professional soldier, linguist, author, diplomat and the beneficiary of the Freedom of the City of London. He is survived by his wife Rosemary (née Adamson) and their daughter Jacqueline and son Christopher.
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Derek George Hearn (DB ’43)
The Rev Harold Rodan Bristow Giffin MA LLM (L ’30)
Derek Hearn died on the 12th January 2012, aged 88.
Harold Griffin, son of W B Griffin FRCS (L 1901), died on the 22nd July 2010, aged 100. He was born on the 29th January 1912 in Scarborough where his father was one of the senior surgeons at the General Hospital. Harold’s early years were dominated by the First World War and he might never have survived his very early years if a bedroom door had not been left open. The family home was on the sea front in Scarborough and during the German bombardment of 1915 the house took a direct hit, resulting in him being blown from the nursery into the next room where his father, home on leave from the Army, found him underneath the spare bed!
Anthony Edward Herring (NH ’43) Anthony Herring died on the 7th January 2012, aged 86.
Nicholas John Hughes (BH ’78) Nick Hughes died on the 12th July 2012, aged 51. He entered College from the Junior School as a music scholar and was lead violin in the orchestra, but after two years the violin spent more of its time on the shelf as he discovered rugby. Nick loved his sport and played on the flank for the XV for two seasons and flirted with the team before that. The 1997 rugby report in The Cheltonian included: “Hughes, indestructible, laid havoc around him without being totally constructive!” Cricket and athletics dominated his summers, often with a warm up regime matched by Botham or Flintoff, with a ‘swifty’ down at the Mitre on a Saturday lunchtime beforehand but, gallingly, it would never interfere with his performance or commitment. His sporting prowess was also matched on the stage and he loved taking part in both House and College plays. He had the perfect mix of the ideal Cheltenham pupil; he embraced school life, while having an anarchic streak, keeping his Housemaster and others on their toes. This approach to life stayed with him after he left College. He held a series of successful jobs and he excelled at all. His ability to woo customers made him an outstanding salesman; he truly could sell ice to the Eskimos, but his heart was in the family farm. He returned to Great Rissington, but after some years his father decided to retire and sell the farm. Many would flounder, but Nick started his own franchise. All of this is against the background of him losing both kidneys, through renal failure, at the young age of 22. Living with dialysis showed the strength of the man; never once did he complain about the pain or inconvenience; it was never going to get the better of him. Nick was Britain’s longest surviving dialysis patient. In the latter days, when his condition had deteriorated, he still spent his time encouraging other renal patients to get on with life. With his death the world was left a lesser place, and anyone who knew Nick will remember a great character. Intelligent, unswerving, stubborn and tough are just a few of the words you can use to describe him, but most importantly he was a true friend, with a wicked sense of humour. Anyone who was at school with him or lucky enough to know him afterwards, will remember his loyalty and kindness, although it was frequently at the cost of a good ribbing. His wonderful wife, Dierdre, lived through thick and thin and became a pretty deft nurse, enabling him to dialyse at home, rather than face the drive and long overnight stays at the John Radcliffe in Oxford which he had endured for many years. Nick will be desperately missed, not just by Dierdre and his two children Tara and Aidan, but everyone whose life he has touched. He wouldn’t have wanted our sympathy, though; that wasn’t his style. He’d rather we raised a glass and a laugh. So here’s to a true Gloucestershire man, Old Cheltonian, true friend, great husband and father….Cheers! Nick Purnell (BH ’78)
On leaving College, he read law at Cambridge and then was called to the Admiralty Bar in 1935. He met Miriam Lee, an aspiring young concert pianist, in 1936 and they married in Surrey in November 1939 after Harold had volunteered for the Army. After Sandhurst, he joined the Yorkshire Regt., The Green Howards, with several of his childhood friends from Yorkshire. There were various postings around the British Isles and at one stage after Dunkirk they were the only armoured Regt. left in the country, stationed at Galashiels in Scotland! He went on the expeditionary force to Norway, which turned out to be a fiasco, he claimed, and they all sailed for home again. The Regt was then posted to the Far East with orders to land in Singapore, but en route the orders were changed (subsequently it had been learnt that Singapore had fallen to the Japanese) to continue to India to take part in the Burma campaign. Strangely, contracting double pneumonia spared his life and he ended up in the high hills of Northern India recuperating in Simla, whilst his Regt was sent on to Burma and suffered badly. Harold was invalided out of the Army in 1942 and by 1943 he had decided that he had a calling for the Church. He and Miriam returned to Cambridge, where he studied for the Ministry at Ridley Hall and Miriam went off every morning to the Pye factory, where they made radio wireless sets. He was ordained in York Minster in 1946 and then became the Curate in Kirby Moorside, in Yorkshire. Shortly after Naomi was born, they moved to the back streets of Middlesborough in the days when the back streets looked just like the original Coronation Street. From there, his Ministry went to Derbyshire and finally down to Helmingham in Suffolk. In 1971, Harold retired for the first time. They lived in Lavenham where he assisted in the local Deanery. In l974, he was elected a Conservative District Councillor for Babergh and served a four-year term. After a move to Lincolnshire in 1981, Harold and Miriam moved back to Cambridge where he pursued his theological readings and writing and decided to learn ancient Greek for the purpose of reading the Scriptures in their original form! He helped out in nearby parishes as required and retired for the second time in 1990. Miriam sadly died in 1999 and Harold arrived at Highlands Residential Home, Woodbridge, in February 2000. Twelve happy years passed in companionship, laughter, more learning, forays into computers, mobile phone texting and other forms of gadgets, particularly clocks! He continued to take some services at Highland and he retired for the third time about 3 years ago when he nearly set fire to his surplice! Harold died peacefully at the very grand age of a hundred and a half years and is sadly missed by his family.
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John Edwin Gifford Lywood (BH ’46) John Lywood, son of Air Vice Marshall O.G.W.G. Lywood CB CBE LM FRSA and brother of the late Alan (L ’35), died on the 27th December 2011, aged 82. His early life was spent on a boat that was moored on the Thames and, when his father moved stations, they just moved the boat up or down the river. John, and Jane his sister, were evacuated to Montreal, Canada, in World War 2, moving down to Virginia in the USA. On his return, John went to a prep school in Chepstow, complete with American accent, before coming to College in 1943. John started his farming career in Yorkshire, just outside Wetherby, and then moved to another farm in Shropshire. From there, he went to the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, and did a 2 year diploma course. After that, in 1952, he set sail for Southern Rhodesia and started a job as a milk recorder east of Salisbury. He said he was “an uncivil civil servant” and quickly changed to being the dairy manager on a large tobacco farm 25 miles out of the town of Marondera. Over the years he learnt the intricate skills needed for growing and curing Virginia Flue Cured Tobacco. By this time his first wife Beth had joined him and sons Richard and Nicholas soon arrived on the scene. Farming in Southern Rhodesia became quite difficult due to UDI and the sanctions that were imposed in 1965. Nevertheless, John had decided to start his own farm, Joberini, and grow tobacco, and later bought another farm, Dozmery Estate, making some 5,000 acres in total. There were many ups and downs and, during the struggle for independence, John joined the police reserves and spent time as a medic patrolling the neighbourhood. On one occasion he saved the life of an insurgent who had been shot. He also kept the radio network of the farmers in good working order. He was ambushed twice and also straddled a land mine in his truck, so there were some lucky escapes! Sadly, his marriage to Beth ended in divorce in 1972 and, although John lived alone for the next twenty years, he was not short of female company! Mary came into his life in 1987, meeting her at a lunch party in Harare whilst she was out visiting friends. John unfortunately had health problems and sold his designated farms to the Government in 1988. Receiving various offers, he decided to become the manager of a large derelict 18,500acre farm, called Wensleydale, which had been given to an NGO. A trust was formed and the farm generated money from the tobacco crop, maize, paprika and 1100 head of cattle to support a centre to train the local African farmers in better farming methods. This enterprise employed up to 200 workers at busy times of the year, and John also built a new school for the workers’ children. Mary joined him in 1991, helping with the secretarial reports and the entertaining of the many visitors and those attending board meetings. Finally retiring in 1999 to a house in Marondera, John continued to work helping people with various projects and problems. It was only in 2002, when the situation started to deteriorate again in Zimbabwe, that John decided to call it a day in the country he had known and loved for 50 years. He and Mary came to live in Scarborough, partly to be near very good friends and not too far from Ripon to help support Mary’s mother. As a true Lywood, John could not sit still and do nothing so he volunteered to look after the garden at the church. He much enjoyed doing this for over 8 years until failing health forced him to give it up a year ago. All who knew him as an intelligent, warm hearted, kind and
generous person will remember John. Whatever he did, he was totally focused on the job in hand and did it to the best of his ability, whether it was growing prize winning tobacco, being chairman of the farmers’ association, subscription Library chairman or an area Hail damage Inspector. He is survived by his wife Mary and his sons Richard and Nicholas.
Com John Ashley Clive Moulson OBE (H ’44) John Moulson, father of Richard (Ch ’78) and John (Ch ’81), died on the 31st December 2011, aged 81.
Prof Ian Renwick McWhinney (H ’44) Ian McWhinney died on the 28th September 2012, aged 85.
Richard Middleton-Smith (Bursar & Secretary to the Council (1961-74)) Richard Middleton Smith died on Christmas Day 2011, aged 97. The Headmaster, the late David Ashcroft, wrote at the time of Richard’s retirement: “Mr. Middleton-Smith took up the post of Bursar early in 1961 after a highly distinguished career in the Malayan Civil Service. It falls to the lot of every Bursar to have to husband carefully uncomfortably slender resources, and his stewardship has been remarkably successful. He arrived at the end of a period of hectic post-war refurbishing and has retired before the new planned developments have become a reality, but throughout his period as Bursar he has been relentlessly committed to planning, whether with regard to the eventual disposal of land, or in regard to future building. Though his period may have seen more planning than achievement, he has been responsible for many and various unobtrusive improvements, such as heating, administrative staff pensions, insurance schemes, as well as over a quarter of a million pounds’ worth of capital improvement. Finally, as secretary to the College Council, his steerage of vastly increased and more complex work and his skill as a minute-writer have been enormously appreciated by the College Council.” During his tenure he oversaw the building of Waterfield Close (6 houses for staff) in 1966, a Junior School classroom block in 1967, the Biology Department, which was the first stage of the new Science Department in 1972-73, Clare House (currently the house of the HM of the JS) and Gateway House (currently the house of the Deputy Head of College) in 1973. Richard was born in Hong Kong, where his father was the first Professor of Engineering at the then new University. He was educated at Wrekin College, where he had been awarded a scholarship, and went on to read Jurisprudence at Lincoln College, Oxford. Richard always wanted to go back to the Far East and in 1935 he was selected for Colonial Service for the Straits Settlements and Malaya. He was chosen to study the Tamil language and did this by spending nine months travelling in South India, studying the language and the customs, before passing an examination in both written and spoken Tamil. He later became an examiner in the subject. From 1937-1940, Richard worked as Assistant Commissioner
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for Labour in the Federated Malay States, and in 1941 he was appointed Assistant Secretary in the Colonial Secretary’s office. At the outbreak of the war in the Far East, he enlisted as a Private in 13876 1st Battalion, Straits Settlements Volunteer Corps and became a POW at the Fall of Singapore in February 1942. Richard was sent from Changi POW camp overland by rail to Thailand on June 26th 1942, where he was detained for nearly four years. He earned a reputation in the POW camps for unselfish conduct, regularly making trips to the river to obtain buckets of water for sick men, teaching Tamil and helping in the camp coffee shop. At the end of the war, he was one of a small group of six Malayan & Straits Settlements Volunteer Force members who took the selfless decision to stay behind to locate and repatriate to Malaya the surviving 27,000 Asian labourers, mostly Tamils, who had been impressed as slave labour by the Japanese for the construction of the Thailand-Burma Railway. This involved travelling up and down the railroad, organising relief camps and insisting on proper treatment, feeding and medical arrangements for the labourers. Formed into two groups under Lt Colonel W.M. James FMSVF, they left Bangkok Railway Station on August 28th 1945 to locate the labour camps from Kanchanaburi to above 185 Kilo Camp where Richard had ended his time as a POW. He recalled: “At every camp, the labourers seemed overjoyed to see us and meet those of us who could speak to them in their own language. In a number of camps they seemed unaware the war was over. Their first wish was to get back to Malaya and see their relatives. We ordered the Japanese to continue to provide work and pay them and also to improve their rations and medical treatment. We heard accounts of the hardship they suffered, that of gangs of 100 men only 4 to 10 remained. This did not surprise us as we had seen thousands of them die during the cholera epidemic of 1943 when the Japanese made the POWs bury them in huge pits. There were some 150 orphans, and in each camp we made sure someone was caring for the children.” Richard then headed for the Kra Isthmus in the south of Thailand to assist Javanese labourers. In late October 1945, he contracted amoebic dysentery and malaria and was hospitalised firstly in Kuala Lumpur and then Singapore. He arrived in Southampton in February 1946, four months after other liberated POWs. In June of that year, he married Eileen Norah Cooper. She was the widow of Major G.D. Cooper of the Manchester Regiment who died in captivity in Thailand in the River Kwai camp. Returning to Malaya later in 1946, Richard opened a new labour office in Kluang, Johore, then served as Labour Commissioner for Kedah & Penang, based at Sungei Patani. In 1950 he moved to Singapore and was appointed Deputy Labour Commissioner. G.W. Davis, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour noted: “In conciliation work, his patience and obvious sympathy with the difficulties and problems of others were of great value in winning the confidence of both sides in disputes.” In May 1952, in a crackdown against police corruption, Richard was given ‘special investigation duties’ and taken out of the Secretariat to organise the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau of which he became the first Director. Corruption was rife in 1940s and early 1950s Singapore. Prior to 1952, a small police unit known as the Anti-Corruption Branch investigated all corruption cases. Members of the public did not co-operate as they were sceptical of its effectiveness and were fearful of reprisals. Richard set up an organisation, separate from the police, to investigate all corruption cases as an independent body. It was a small unit consisting of civilian investigators and seconded senior police officers, with Richard reporting directly to the Colonial Secretary. Its location in an office in the Supreme Court building would be of
psychological importance to the public. In 1953, Richard was appointed Secretary for Defence & Internal Security and, in 1954, Deputy President, Singapore City Council, also acting as President in 1956. In these roles and later as Chief Administrative Officer of the City Council he was instrumental in the ‘Malayanisation’ of the City Council. Sir Percy McNeice, President of Singapore City Council at the time, referred to his ability to maintain “an unruffled demeanour” in difficult negotiations, and also to his “gift of keeping discussions alive when they are in danger of breaking down.” Richard retired from the Malayan Civil service in 1957 but, at the request of the Singapore City Council, he stayed on to help with the moves to independence and was chosen in 1957 as one of only two experienced ex-pat officers to stay on. He disagreed with the Mayor of Singapore, Ong Eng Guan of the PAP [People’s Action Party] over the role of the Information Bureau. Council sessions were often turbulent but he and Ong became good friends in later years. Retiring in 1958 he correctly sensed that the demise of Singapore City Council was near. His departure recognised by the Sunday Standard in Singapore: “Richard Middleton-Smith had one of the most illustrious careers ever held by a local government official.” Richard was a very keen golf player, and played up to the age of 92, winning several tournaments over the years, Whilst at College he was a member of the Lilley Brook Golf Club and was always a short-priced favourite for the Common Room Golf Bowl! Richard was devoted to Eileen and in 1980 they moved to Dewhurst, where she had spent many happy times as a child, and where they spent a very happy retirement together. She predeceased him in 2008 and he is survived by their daughters Virginia and Caroline, and his step-daughter Susan and step-son Anthony.
Hilary Harold Rubinstein (H ’44) Hilary Rubenstein, son of H F Rubinstein (Corinth 1906), died on the 22nd May 2012, aged 86. He was a House Prefect, a member of the Debating Society and appeared as the Second Scholar in L.I. Davidson’s 1943 production of Dr Faustus. He clearly kept the staff who taught him on their toes! The following comments were made in his final reports: i) Good, but argues for the sake of arguing. ii) Bubbling with enthusiasm, terrified of anything straight forward, mistakes clever writing for style. iii) Appears to be slapdash but full of ideas. History really good. He left College in 1944 to go to Merton College, Oxford, though his progress was interrupted by National Service as a trainee-pilot in the RAF. He completed his PPE degree in 1949, then joined the publishers Gollancz, whose founder was his uncle, Victor Gollancz, in 1950 and worked for them for thirteen years. He had met Kingsley Amis at Oxford, and when Longmans turned down Amis’s first novel, ‘Lucky Jim’, he wrote to Amis asking to see it and he accepted an advance of £100 for the book. Having astutely gained maximum publicity by bringing the novel out in January (of 1954), when it faced little competition, Hilary saw Amis’s star rise when ‘Lucky Jim’ won the Somerset Maugham prize. Amis was to repay him by introducing him to one of his own enthusiasms, science fiction, which was to become a mainstay of Gollancz’s list.
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Aware that his chances of succeeding his mercurial uncle at the helm of Gollancz were far from assured, he left the firm in 1963 and joined the Observer as special features editor of their new colour supplement magazine. Two years later, in 1965, he then joined AP Watt, founded in 1875 and acknowledged to be the world’s longest-established literary agency. It then occupied Dickensian premises off the Strand, where he found clients’ papers filed in tin boxes bearing names such as Mark Twain and Conan Doyle. He stayed until 1992, ascending from partner to director to chairman and managing director. Hilary brought to the business both discerning taste and an eye for the market. Writers admired his energy, his attention to detail and his creativity – unlike some agents he enjoyed coming up with new projects for his authors. His time in publishing and in journalism had also given him good contacts, which he often exploited to secure serial deals with newspapers. His stable of writers came to include Quentin Blake, Jan Morris, Geoffrey Moorhouse and the Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer, whose books he had published when at Gollancz. He signed up Lucy Irvine, the author of ‘Castaway’ (1983), after a chance meeting, and shrewdly approached Edwina Currie when the salmonella scare made her a public figure in 1988. Another smart piece of work was the sale of the diaries of John Colville, Churchill’s wartime private secretary, although an agreement to represent the Soviet spy Anthony Blunt got away from him. Part of his success derived from his readiness to work in all genres. He enjoyed looking after science fiction and fantasy writers such as Brian Aldiss, Harry Harrison and Ursula K Le Guin, just as much as he liked negotiating contracts for the historian Martin Gilbert. Another of his clients was Eric Lomax, whose memoir about his time as a prisoner of the Japanese, ‘The Railway Man’ (1995), is currently being filmed with Colin Firth. Hilary’s greatest coup came in 1987, when he invited publishers to make sealed bids for Holroyd’s monumental study of Shaw, which would run to four volumes and be a decade in the writing. A few years before, Richard Ellmann had received £100,000 for his life of Oscar Wilde. Carmen Callil now trumped this by offering £625,000 on behalf of Chatto & Windus. The sum astounded the industry, but was earned back after the paperback rights were sold on to Penguin. Arguably it marked the moment at which fiction’s staid sisters, history and biography, began to be treated as potential bestsellers. It was a development that has had a profound impact on publishing in the last 25 years. After retiring from AP Watt in 1992, he continued to look after a number of clients, and in 1998 arranged Cries Unheard, a controversial collaboration between Gitta Sereny and Mary Bell, the 11 year-old convicted in 1968 of the manslaughter of two toddlers. Several newspapers protested that the book was allowing her to profit from her crimes, and the Government for a time sought to prevent her from doing so. Hilary pointed out that Bell had previously turned down far greater amounts proffered by the press if she would co-operate with them on more sensational accounts of her life. He served on the council of the Institute of Contemporary Arts and on the literary panel of the Arts Council, but his other great interest was the ‘Good Hotel Guide’, which he founded in 1978 and which for a time had few rivals. Its attention to detail and keenness to discover new places put Egon Ronay’s, the Michelin and most subsequent guides to shame. It concentrated on smaller establishments, with reviews sometimes supplied by friends such as Shirley Williams. Though he worked for, and with, so many of the Great and Good
(and occasionally notorious), Hilary was essentially a modest, lovable and good man. His greatest triumph in life was his long, happy marriage in 1955 to Helge Kitzinger. In their early days together they shared their West London house with Bernard and Shirley Williams, and later moved between it and their Oxfordshire cottage and a French farmhouse near Albi. Appropriately, Helge Rubinstein was for many of the years of their marriage a distinguished marriage guidance counsellor. Helge’s excellent 1981 book on chocolate is still a standard, and Ben’s Cookies, the business she founded, is named for their youngest son Ben. He is survived by his wife, their sons Jonathan, Mark and Ben and daughter, the literary agent and bookshop proprietor, Felicity Rubinstein.
John Reginald Drummond Ruston (Ch ’49) John Ruston died on the 10th June 2012, aged 80.
Bernard Brian Shelmerdine (NH ’43) Bernard Shelmerdine, grandson of Thomas Shelmerdine (NH 1874), son of Col. Brian Shelmerdine CBE MC TD (NH 1908) and father of Jonathan (NH ’68) and David (NH ’70), died on the 7th March 2012, aged 86.
Ian James Llewellyn Thorne (H ’64) Ian Thorne died on the 3rd November 2012, aged 66. He was a very accomplished sportsman and he excelled on the games field during and after his time at College. He played in the 1963 XV and the 1964 hockey XI. The Cheltonian rugby report, written by Trevor Davies, said: “At scrum half he saved the forwards a great deal of hard work by his kicking”, whilst the hockey report said: “Thorne went on to play for the Welsh School Boys’ XI (against England, Scotland & Ireland), an outstanding achievement as he was in the College 3rd XI last year”. Whilst still at College, he played rugby for London Welsh School Boys v London Irish, was chosen for the Anglo-Welsh Public Schools versus the Welsh Secondary Schools and played twice for Pontypool. A Welsh Press report, headed Eightieth Birthday Treat for Grandpa, said “Mr W.H. Thorne, a former chairman of the old Pontypool Urban Council who now lives at Paignton, recently celebrated his eightieth birthday by going to see his grandson, Ian Thorne, playing at scrum-half for Cheltenham College against Blundells School. Cheltenham lost the game - their only defeat in five games so far - but young Ian, who is 17 and in his fifth year at the College, greatly impressed experienced critics of the game, and especially the “Times” correspondent, who described his play as characteristically Welsh.” On leaving College Ian, joined the Bank of England as a trainee (where he also represented them at rugby) for two years but then, having decided to join the family agricultural seed firm W. H. Thorne Ltd, he spent two years at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester. He worked in the family business for five years before being headhunted to set up a wheat and barley futures markets on the Baltic Exchange. This was the start of a very successful career in the city, spanning over thirty years. Ian had to stop playing rugby in his early twenties, after suffering an ankle injury, but he enjoyed playing cricket and captained 8.
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LLanarth Cricket Club in Monmouthshire during the 70’s. The Abergavenny Chronicle reported: “Llanarth, in devastating form, completely overwhelmed Raglan. In a magnificent partnership of 96, Ian Thorne and Michael Spencer put the home side well on the road to victory and Bernard Hayward and Co. are not the firm to let such an opportunity slip, and Raglan were back in the pavilion for a meagre 56 runs. The numerous spectators at this game were treated to what must have been the best partnership seen on the ground. The contrasting styles of these young batsmen gave added pleasure to the entertainment. Thorne, a slim figure, has tremendous power off the back foot and when he was in full cry, the ball was being hit very hard indeed and every bowler received the same harsh treatment.” Ian was indeed an all round sportsman – he was a terrific skier, a very decent tennis player and a keen golfer. Ian is survived by his partner Suzy and his three daughters Fiona, Amy, Megan and his step-daughter Suzanna.
Martin Willis-Stovold (Hon OC & Current Staff) Martin died on Saturday 12th May, aged 56, after a long illness fought with great dignity and courage. He was very much a Gloucestershire boy, having been born in Olveston in 1955, and was educated at Thornbury Grammar School, where his prowess as a cricketer and a footballer first attracted the local scouts. He attended Loughborough College, now part of the University, in 1974, and having qualified as a teacher his first appointment was at Cotham Grammar School, where he taught PE and Geography, before joining the Gloucestershire CCC staff. The younger brother of Gloucestershire CCC batsman Andy, Martin was a left-hand batsman and an occasional off-spinner. He played 25 first-class matches for the County with a top score of 75 not out against Oxford University at The Parks in April 1980. In all, he made 518 first-class runs and 325 List A runs for Gloucestershire. He took 18 catches and also represented the county in 50 2nd XI Championship fixtures between 1974 and 1982. In the winter of 1979, he was appointed cricket coach at Wynberg Boys’ High School in Cape Town. Initially he moved between Cape Town and Bristol, playing and coaching cricket, but after being released by Gloucestershire he decided that the warmer climes of Cape Town were more to his liking. It was in South Africa that he met and married Di, his wife of 26 years. Martin was fundamentally a family man and both he and Di have three children, Kyle, Kelly and Robyn, of whom he was immensely proud. Shortly after being married, Martin and Di decided to move to England on a permanent basis. Martin asked Andy if he knew of any potential school cricket jobs and incredibly, at the very same time, Richard Morgan was asking Chris Coley (Th ’63) if he knew of any suitable candidates for the job of Cricket Professional at College. An interview took place over the phone and by the end of the call the appointment was made. Martin joined College in 1986 and took over as master in charge of cricket in 1992. Under his stewardship, cricket flourished at every level and College was able to field more XIs than many other similar schools. He was responsible for the development of many
cricketers, including Mike Cawdron and Dominic Hewson, who both went on to play county cricket for Gloucestershire. Anyone who loved the game as much as he did found a ready and helpful hand. From the Yearling’s D player to the 1st XI star, all received equal attention and were taught to play the game in ‘Stov’s way’. There was no room in his cricket bag for anything underhand, mean or half-hearted. For him, there were no short cuts to instant glory. Martin’s legacy is the quality of College cricket today – a school that can hold its head high with any other cricketing school on its circuit. Martin was one of the old school and set very high standards of dress and behaviour on and off the pitch for all teams. He was a great believer in the importance of the team ethos, believing that this is an essential ingredient of a pupil’s development. Indeed, he was a true sportsman. The new electronic scoreboard and improvements to the front of the College pavilion were initiatives driven by him, and bear witness to his commitment to College and his passion for the game of cricket. It is indeed very fitting that the new score box was named after him. Martin will always be remembered for his great contribution towards OC cricket and especially his stewardship of the Cricketer Cup XI. At times, he was exasperated by late withdrawals but, undeterred, he would reach for his phonebook and some OCs got a rude awakening on a Sunday morning! Martin was also a valued member of the Geography Department and an excellent Housemaster of Newick House for 18 years. He ran a tight ship, but it was a happy and successful house and he was extremely well liked and respected by the pupils and their parents. He was an inspiration to all his pupils and made them part of his extended family, as he did with the Gap year students who lived on the private side. The enormous volume of tributes that were sent to his family was testament to his standing within the College and wider community. He is survived by his wife Di, their son Kyle (S ’06) and daughters Kelly (Cha ’08) and Robyn (Q ’11).
Lt Col Colin Prescott Walker RM (NH ’46) Colin Walker, son of L P Walker OBE (BH 1895), grandson of A D Walker (DB 1862) and father of R P H Walker (NH ’78) died on the 7th July 2012, aged 83. He was a College Prefect (elected on the promise that he would work harder!), played in the 1945 XV, becoming captain in 1946, and was a member of the shooting team that shot in the Ashburton at Bisley. On leaving College, he joined the Marines in 1947, and was commissioned into 45 Commando in 1950. He went on to serve in various units and on HMS Newcastle, HMS Fearless and HMS Bulwark, operating in Burma, Malaya, and Africa and most notably Suez. His distinguished military career also included spells at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich and Ministry of Defence, Whitehall. Colin was for some 28 years organising secretary of the Three Peaks Yacht Race, one of the oldest extreme multi-sport endurance races in the world, involving almost 500 miles of sailing, running and cycling en route to scaling the three highest peaks in Wales, England and Scotland. Inspired by the adventures
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of the climber and sailor H.W. “Bill” Tilman of Barmouth, in Snowdonia, it began in 1977, pitting crews of five - usually three sailors and two runners, often fell or marathon specialists - against a series of natural hazards. The yachtsmen, leaving Barmouth en route to Whitehaven (for Scafell) and Fort William (for Ben Nevis) must negotiate 389 miles of coastal sailing that includes the crossing of Caernarfon Bar (for Snowdon), the treacherous Swellies of the Menai Strait, the Mull of Kintyre, the whirlpools of the Gulf of Corryvreckan, and the ebb tides of the Corran Narrows on Loch Linnhe which can stop a boat dead. The faster the sail, the quicker the footslogging and pedalling starts; the runners, sometimes queasy from the sea trip, often begin their stints in darkness, and usually face the first two peak runs - of 24 and 48 miles - within a 24-hour period. On Ben Nevis there is usually snow, even in July. Colin, having retired at 50 to the family home in the hills above Barmouth after 33 years in the Royal Marines, threw himself into local life immediately, taking on the challenging position of organising secretary of the race, a post he relished and held until 2007. Not only did he meticulously organise the increasingly popular and demanding event, but also followed it as a marshal, and was instrumental in setting up an Australian equivalent of the race. From 1984, he was secretary of the Barmouth branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, becoming its President in 1999. From 1986-1990, he was the Gwynedd area health authority treasurer. He was an assessor for the Duke of Edinburgh Award as well as a keen supporter of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Voluntary Service Overseas. Colin was well known among the elderly community for delivering WRVS meals on wheels with his wife Pam, whom he had married in 1979 after the death of his first wife Ann. It was with Pam’s support, and almost equal energy, that he managed to fulfil such a demanding retirement. The couple were pillars of the local community. After Pam died in 2010, he soldiered on in many honorary roles, and remained a faithful member of the congregation at the tiny church at Llanelltyd, where he regularly read the lesson. Colin was taken ill on June 14th. He called 999 for an ambulance from his home, but the vehicle was unable to reach the remote house, and an air ambulance had to lift him to hospital in Wrexham, where he died. He was predeceased by his wife Ann and is survived by his son Robert (NH ’78) and his daughter Elizabeth from his first marriage.
Simon John Wells (JS ’69 & NH ’73) Simon Wells died on 1st February 2012, aged 56.
James Edward Anthony Whitaker (NH ’57) James Whitaker died on the 15th February 2012, aged 71. He excelled at College as a good athlete; on College Sports Day in 1957, he set a new record for 880 yards (2 min 4.8 sec) and also in the 440 yards (54.8 sec). He was also a keen boxer and was recognised as having courage and spirit in the ring. Dan Hearn (NH ’59) recalls: “James had a big personality. He was a member of a boarding house that was full of big personalities all seeking the
limelight. You noticed James; his chunky frame, his rosy cheeks, and above all his mischievous chuckle accompanied with a broad smile. He had views and he liked expressing them; he did so with a resonant voice. He was by nature a non- conformist so perhaps it was mildly strange that he was to become such an ardent supporter of the Royal Family. The rough and tumble of Fleet Street certainly suited his temperament. The last time I saw James was in September 1983 when he kindly responded to an invitation to speak to the Haileybury Political Society on ‘The Politics of Reporting Royally.’ James had huge communication skills and I felt then that he would have made a marvellous schoolmaster. James, a generous hearted man, enriched the lives of many. I, for one, am grateful to have shared time with him.” On leaving College, at the insistence of his father, he worked for three years training to be an accountant. He hated it and, without telling his father, found himself a job with a local West London newspaper. In 1968 The Daily Mail took him on, where he rose to deputy features editor before the paper merged with The Daily Sketch. Writing in the Daily Mirror on the 20th March 1999, James said: ‘The message was stark. “Ring Cheltenham College – the Headmaster wants to speak to you”. Oh cripes. What horrors. Knees knock, stomach churns, bowel twitches. Not again? The last time I got such a summons was circa 1956. An hour later my time at this fine public school was over. “You are rusticated”, said the then Head, Rev ACGC Pentreath. Too much attention paid to the college maids not enough to the Latin and algebra. Oh dear, Mater and Pater upset, but the message was clear. Go away for a term and then we’ll have you back when you learn to behave properly. Well, I never went back until Wednesday of this week after the current Headmaster, Paul Chamberlain, was on the phone to protest that memories of my Alma Mater were way out of date’. In a previous article he had recalled some of his experiences whilst he had been at College. At one stage during his career as a young reporter, James was dispatched to the South of France to interview Pablo Picasso. He charmed the artist, and when James asked if would be all right to take notes, Picasso replied: “Of course. Do you mind if I sketch you?” The interview over, Whitaker returned to his hotel room, where he put the picture in a drawer. To his lasting disgust, when he came to check out some time later, the valuable sketch had disappeared. In 1971, James joined the William Hickey column at The Daily Express, and four years later was recruited by The Sun. There he was known as Widow Twankey and joined forces with his future rivals, Harry Arnold and Arthur Edwards, with a brief to follow the Prince of Wales’s search for a wife. He went to the recently launched Daily Star in 1979 to specialise in royal coverage, and was noted there for his habit of writing with a plate of smoked salmon sandwiches and a bottle of champagne on his desk. He moved to The Mirror in 1983. For many years James had a weekly radio show in New Zealand. He was also an experienced television commentator on royal matters, appearing on programmes such as This Morning and The Joan Rivers Show. After retiring from his full-time job on The Mirror, he was given the title of royal editor and continued to write for the paper. Under Piers Morgan’s editorship he contributed a regular column, the purpose of which was to enrage the readers and generate a large postbag. It worked: James used the space to complain about irritants such as the outrageous price of Krug and the difficulty of finding decent servants. He was considered the doyen of Fleet Street’s royal 10.
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correspondents (otherwise known as the Rat Pack) during a 40year career on tabloid newspapers, notably with The Daily Mirror. He was one of those who created the type of royal correspondent that has become the norm today: a reporter whose business it is to unearth stories about the Royal family rather than produce anodyne accounts of official engagements. His best years coincided with those in which Diana, Princess of Wales, became the most famous woman in the world, and he chronicled her story from beginning to end. He followed her around Britain and across the globe, and was the first to reveal that she was suffering from a serious eating disorder. A florid, irrepressible character who exuded bonhomie, he took seriously the notion of the gentleman of the press. His upper-class vowels boomed above the hubbub of the bar, and an Australian newspaper once declared that he sounded like “a retired brigadier addressing a pair of deaf daughters”. When following the Princess of Wales on her annual skiing holiday in the Alps, he would often clothe his portly frame in a bright red ski suit, prompting the Princess to christen him The Big Red Tomato. She certainly had some affection for James, whom she had first met at a wedding when she was 16. According to him, she came up to him and said: “I know who you are, you’re the wicked Mr Whitaker.” More generally, he - who often worked in tandem with the Mirror photographer Kent Gavin - had excellent contacts in the Royal Household. At his 70th birthday party at his London home, the former royal protection officer Ken Wharfe was among the speakers. And while courtiers at Buckingham Palace were often exasperated by the stories that James published, they respected him for the straightforward manner in which he operated. Last December he was among the guests at the reception for the media for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at Buckingham Palace, where he chatted amiably to the Duke of Edinburgh about the shooting at Sandringham. Inevitably, as incessant stories of scandal affected the monarchy’s popularity, there was a certain adversarial side to the relationship between royal reporter and Royal family. Among the scoops that he secured was the news that Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips were to divorce; he was also responsible for obtaining for The Mirror the pictures of the Duchess of York cavorting topless with John Bryan in the South of France, and told the world about the Princess of Wales’s relationship with Dodi Fayed. Things did not, however, always go according to plan. In 1982, when he was working for The Daily Star, the recently married Prince and Princess of Wales slipped away to a Caribbean island for a quiet break. His rivals on The Sun, the reporter Harry Arnold and photographer Arthur Edwards, got wind of the trip, made their way to the island, and early one morning hacked their way through undergrowth towards the beach house where the royal couple were staying. After three hours they arrived at a suitable vantage point, only to become aware of a tremendous crashing from the bushes behind them. They spun round, to be confronted by a sweating James and his photographer, Kenny Lennox, who had followed them all the way from London. Several hours later the Princess emerged on to the beach, wearing a bikini; she was five months pregnant, and the two photographers took their pictures. In Stick It Up Your Punter!, their book about The Sun, Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie record what happened next: “The race now started to get the first pictures back to London. The Star men were convinced that Arnold and Edwards had a plane waiting to fly them to an adjoining island from where they could ‘wire’ the pictures back to London, using an early version of
a fax machine. But the Sun team had established that the island’s tiny newspaper office had its own machine. Edwards, after giving [Whitaker] the slip, sent the pictures and called [his editor, Kelvin] MacKenzie. Hearing that the Star also had pictures, MacKenzie ordered down the line: ‘When you’ve finished wiring, put an axe through the bloody machine’.” This proved unnecessary, as Whitaker and Lennox had already left for the next island, and The Sun duly published its pictures ahead of its rival. The fracture of the Prince and Princess’s marriage was, of course, one of the biggest stories he covered. His pre-eminent status in the field was somewhat threatened by Andrew Morton, who had the Princess’s complete confidence and in 1992 published Diana: Her True Story. However, Whitaker responded with typical brio, the following year bringing out his own book, Diana v. Charles. During a punishing three-week promotional blitz for his book, James is said to have given 238 radio interviews and more than 200 press interviews, and to have appeared on 114 television programmes. Among his more sensational claims was that the intelligence services were bugging the Royal family (a claim denied by both MI5 and MI6). The book was a bestseller in Britain and the United States. James was an accomplished skier and enjoyed good food and fine wines. He also followed horse racing, and at one point was part-owner in a horse called Really a Rascal — it went lame on its first outing, and thereafter he confined himself to the role of spectator and punter. James is survived by his wife, Iwona (née Milde), whom he married in 1965, and by their two sons and one daughter.
David Hamilton Wheeler (Xt ’56) David Wheeler died on the 28th February 2011, aged 73.
Col George Torquil Gage Williams DL (BH ’37) Gage (Toots) Williams died on the 1st April 2012, aged 91. His father, Gage Williams, was wounded as a Captain serving in the 19th Hussars in France in the Great War. To recuperate, he was sent to New Zealand as ADC to the Governor General, Lord Liverpool. Whilst in New Zealand, he married Yvonne and at the end of the Great War, Gage chose to farm on North Island. Christened George Torquil Gage Williams, Toots could not pronounce Torquil, which sounded like ‘Toots’ – and that’s how the name stuck. Times were tough in New Zealand during the Depression and it must have been a heart-breaking experience to watch his father drive 30,000 sheep over a cliff as there was no market for them and the 23,000 acre farm was nearly worthless. In 1929, the family returned from New Zealand to Cornwall. Toots, aged nine and with little education, was sent off to a tough prep school at Burnham on Sea where he was asked to leave by the headmaster who thought he was not taking school seriously enough as he was hunting two days a week. At College, he excelled at most sports, especially rugger and boxing, as he was very small until 16 and tough with it. Throughout, he had a menagerie of dogs, ferrets, magpies and two badger cubs, one of which died in his aunt’s bed when a practical joke went wrong. At Sandhurst, he was runner-up to the prestigious Saddle for the best horseman. He was commissioned into the Duke of
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Cornwall’s Light Infantry in July 1939 and set sail for India just as war was declared. He had two wonderful years in Lahore. The 1st Battalion had been in India for nearly 20 years and had set themselves up well with a pack of hounds. Toots sent a Christmas card to a friend in Lanarth, Cornwall, in 1939 in which he wrote: “War not worrying us out here much, but marvellous shooting – duck, snipe and partridges - all free so you can go where you like”. In November 1941, the battalion embarked for Basra to help put down the Iraqi rebellion. The fighting was over by the time they arrived and they were to spend six months guarding key points, still champing at the bit to get into the war. Toots shot throughout that winter in Iraq, including with a Sheikh on an island where they shot black partridge, with the Sheikh’s 9 year old grandson helping as a beater. Toots grand-daughter, who was working in Iraq five years ago, by chance had dealings with the current Sheikh who remembered well the days shooting that they had when he had been a boy 66 years earlier. On a two-day notice, the battalion was ordered ‘to move by desert route to Egypt’. They were given extra 50 trucks and had to find drivers for these. There were few drivers in the battalion, which had relied on mules and camels until 1938, but with Cornish ingenuity, and much clashing of gears, they drove through Jordan, Palestine and Egypt, taking just 20 days to reach Tobruk. On arrival, on 6th June 1942, they were pitched headlong into battle at Bir el Harmat, despite lacking any anti-armour weapons other than eight 2-pounders that had been sent to them from the training centre. On taking up their sector, they reported enemy tanks, but were disbelieved by higher authority and were given neither armour nor artillery support. After a frantic battle, with heavy casualties on both sides, they were overrun by Rommel’s surprise attack. There were just 120 survivors from a battalion of 750 – the remainder being killed, wounded or captured. Toots was to be a PoW for fifteen months in three different camps in northern Italy. He wrote later “At this stage, I heard that my grandfather had died in 1942, largely as a result of the news that, first my uncle Stephen - a brigadier - was a PoW and, then, that I was “missing, believed killed.” The next blow was a postcard through the Red Cross telling me that my father had been killed on active service in a car accident near Plymouth.” After 15 months ‘in the Bag’, in September 1943 the Italians sued for peace. Taking advantage of the chaos, he and many others managed to escape 30 minutes before the Germans arrived to take over the prisoners. Most were recaptured and taken off to Germany. He, accompanied by two other DCLI officers, set off to march to the Allied lines. Heading south along the line of the Apennine Mountains, they covered 364 miles as the crow flies (but more like 600 miles in reality) in 35 days. Finally, after a hairraising night sharing a wood with a German artillery regiment, they managed to pass through the enemy lines to safety. During their escape, they were helped by mountain villagers at considerable risk to themselves. After hitching lifts in lorries, a Dakota flight to Algeria and a ship sailing from Algiers to Glasgow, they were home. On his first night at home, his sister Liz took him to a party where he met Yvonne Ogilvy – and they were married 14 months later. After the war, Toots and other escapees set up the Monte San Martino Trust that has so far helped with the education of over 300 children, whose forebears had helped the escaping Allied prisoners of war.
In 1945, he was a company commander with 1st DCLI in Palestine at a difficult time. The Army was being demobilised and any soldier who had been called up was entitled to be posted home, and yet there was still a demanding job to be done. His Commanding Officer got the company commanders together and asked them to try to persuade their men to sign on, although he expected that most would leave, and he knew that they were not going to get any reinforcements. Toots got his company together and after explaining the situation, 100% signed on. This fired up the other company commanders to do likewise and in the end just four soldiers requested to leave. After Palestine, he went on to command a company of the King’s African Rifles in Kenya, Somaliland and Abyssinia, a company of Gurkhas in Hong Kong and Malaya, and companies of the DCLI in Minden, Bermuda, Osnabrück and Bodmin, where he was to command first the Depot and then 4/5th DCLI, a TA battalion. His final command was in Hong Kong, where he was in charge of 1,200 Chinese soldiers, whom he came to admire and respect. He commanded the island brigade during a spate of riots in 1966, when the Brigade Commander was away on leave. He commanded soldiers at company level for 18 years; he had just six months on the Staff, having refused to take the staff college exams. Toots kept wonderful gamebooks, which were far more than a tally of what had been shot or caught – the four books are filled with maps, descriptions and newspaper cuttings. He was a wonderful shot knowing where to stand, where to look and how the quarry would fly or where fish would lie. His gamekeeper once noticed, when cleaning Toot’s gun at the end of a day, when they had shot 40 woodcock, that the left barrel had not been fired. Curious about this, he asked him how many woodcock he had shot – Toots told him that he had shot 19, all with his first barrel. Not bad at 71 years. In all, he spent nine complete years of his life out shooting and shot a record 3,364 woodcock to his own gun. However, his greatest joy was in introducing young people or officers to shooting, fishing and the history of Cornwall. He had the gift of being able to get on with people of all ages and all backgrounds – his interest in people and his memory for names, was astounding, as was his sense of fun. On leaving the Army and settling down in St Mabyn, he went to work for the Conservative Party, collecting money from individuals and small businesses across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. His other job for many years was that of Clerk to the Lieutenancy, assisting the then Lord-Lieutenants Sir John Carew-Pole and Viscount Falmouth, to ensure that Royal Visits to the County were delivered flawlessly. He was not one to let standards slip where Royal Visits were concerned. On one occasion, he was doing the initial planning at County Hall a year or so before an event. He was told that a local dignitary would be accompanied by his ‘partner’, so Toots asked if the lady in question was married to the dignitary. On being told that she was not, he replied that she had a year in which to get married... or else she would not be shaking the Queen’s hand! He had two favourite books, ‘Jock of the Bushveld’, the story of a loyal and brave dog – a copy lived by his bedside– and Dana’s Mineralogy, the bible where minerals are concerned. He had a unique knowledge of Cornish mining history and of the
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extraordinary minerals that had emerged from underground. He had inherited a remarkable collection of minerals – the remains of the once famous Williams collection of specimens – and, thanks to his eager study of Dana’s Mineralogy and listening to his grandfather, he knew all about them and the mines from which they had been extracted. In later life he was delighted to be able to advise the National Trust on their minerals. New Zealander, Cornishman, Deputy Lieutenant, soldier, great countryman and field sports enthusiast, mineralogist, family historian, expert on all things Cornish and a man whom everyone was proud to call a friend – Toots was all of these things and more. But above all he was the cornerstone of a great family, and this was the achievement of which he and his wife were proudest. He was predeceased by his wife and is survived by their sons Gage and Peter, daughters Louella and Rosie and their grandchildren.
As Treasurer of the PCC for three decades, it was a brave person who queried Graham’s accounting. Someone did… Once! They were politely informed to look more carefully at the notes and they would have a better understanding of accounting procedures! Graham was renowned for his astonishing recall for dates, his depth of general knowledge and geography. For years, (when he wasn’t away cruising) he was the mainstay of the local pub quiz team. You didn’t need to Google when he was around. He is survived by his wife Peggy and the wider family circle.
Graham Leslie Woolcott (Ch ’48) Graham Woolcott died on the 30th September 2012, aged 81. He was born in Hall Green, Birmingham, in 1931 and spent much of the war in a fully furnished and carpeted bomb shelter - the house was dangerously close to the Rover car factory. It is alleged that it was at College that he took an early interest in the hospitality industry! After Chapel on Sundays, you could find him in the Bricklayers Arms, with a group of school chums, learning how a barmaid should pull the perfect pint! On leaving College, he went on to Westminster College to study hotel management and worked at five star hotels in Geneva and Paris, before returning to London to be assistant manager at the famous Goring Hotel. Graham made it his business to know who was doing what, where and with whom, and by all accounts there was nothing that he didn’t know about the cauldron of gossip that was the Goring. Which night porter slept on the job, which sous chef was dating which chambermaid! Graham was in his element. However, he yearned for the country life so he moved North to Nottinghamshire to manage the Normanton Inn, where he met the missing ingredient in his life, Peggy. They were married in 1979 and bought a small pub in Oxfordshire. They then moved back North and settled in the village of Askham, near Newark, where they spent 31 wonderful years and became known affectionately as The Woollies. On talking to those who knew Graham, there are recurring themes. He had time for everybody, not just his friends and family but for local charities, Bloom’s summer balls, for his church and the village as a whole. He was warm hearted, down to earth, thoughtful, forthright, kind, a wonderful host and always, always great company One resident of Askham said: “We have lost the most prominent man in the village”. He took pleasure in people’s company. It could take him 45 minutes to drive from one end of the village to the other, and not because he was a slow driver but because he stopped to chat with so many people. Graham was a father figure to many. Young people loved him and he took the changing scene and the pace of modern life in his stride. That didn’t mean that he felt pressured into adopting things he had no use for. His goddaughter suggested once that it was time he got a computer. “Now just a minute” he said, “I’m still thinking about whether to get a cordless kettle”.
O B I T UA R I E S All the following obituaries have been compiled from ones published in national and local papers, addresses and tributes given at funerals, and in some cases by family members, or those who knew the deceased very well. I am extremely grateful to Paul Chamberlain (HM 1997-2004) for proof reading and to Jill Barlow (Archives) for the research she has carried out and for providing some of the photographs. For those I have missed, if you would like an obituary for them published in Floreat 14, please get in touch.
Malcolm Sloan OC Administrator
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Cecile (Ces) Cawley
Gage (Toots) Williams
Cheltonian Association Cheltenham College Bath Road Cheltenham Gloucestershire GL53 7LD Contact Details: Tel: 01242 265694 Fax: 01242 265630 Email: email@example.com www.cheltenhamcollege.org
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The obituary supplement for Floreat.