Page 1

Issue 2 • Spring 2010

Keeping in touch with OPs wherever they may be

Inside Groove Armada: PGS Popstars of the Sixties

Note to Self: Advice to their teenage selves from four eminent OPs

Catwalk Queens: OPs at the height of fashion

The Magazine for former pupils, former parents and friends of The Portsmouth Grammar School


OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010

Portsmouth Grammar School •


i ii

A round-up of OP news and events

In Brief - A round-up of OP news and events



Fundraising Auction - Fundraising for the Roger Harris Memorial Climbing Wall


Dedicated Followers of Fashion - OPs in the fashion industry


Postcards Home - OPs share their travel expedition adventures


‘Swinging’ Sixties PGS - OP pop success


The Seaside Steinway Steeplechase - Piano-racing in the 1960s


Bureau de Change - How PGS desks have changed over the generations


Letter to Neil - A tribute to Neil Blewett


Super Troopers -80 years of PGS Cubs and Scouts


OP Rick naturally right for T4! - Channel 4 presenter Rick Edwards OP


Heard but not seen - Voice-over artist Sarah Strange OP


Inside Track - Weather Forecaster; Charles Powell OP


Shakespear of Arabia - A Saudi Arabian legend, Captain Shakespear OP


Streets ahead - Arthur William Street’s 1864 pewter tankard


Lost and Found - PGS Reunite Service


Hold the Front Page - OP Cyril Garbett on the cover of Time Magazine


’Dear Me‘ - If you were to write a letter to your16-year-old self, what would it say? 30-31 In memoriam

In Brief




Forthcoming events


iv v

Back cover images: i) 1963 – Guests at CCF Centenary Parade ii) 1963 – Lower school Cambridge Junction iii) 1963 – Members of the Upper Fifth on H-block steps iv) 1962/3 – Modern Lower VI The Class of 62/63 Montage v) 1965 – John Condliffe, David Owens, Graham Abraham & Tony Adams: Art Room Window

Opus is designed by Simon Udal OP (1977-1987) pictured below at the PGS Open Day with his wife Sara (née Small) OP (1986-1988) and their son Thomas.

In Celebration of Roger Harris OP Club Annual Dinner

Ofcom Supremo is Spot-on! Ed Richards Evening Lecture

by Mike Shepherd OP (1948-1957)

by Gareth Perry OP (1964-2001)

The 2009 Annual Dinner of the OP Club was held in the David Bawtree Building at PGS on Saturday 12 December. This year was a very special occasion as the Dinner was dedicated to the memory of Roger Harris, a member of the PGS teaching staff for well over 30 years and Honorary Secretary of the Club for more than a quarter of a century, who died in November 2008. More than one hundred OPs and guests, including Roger’s wife, Iris, and their son and four daughters, enjoyed the traditional excellent seasonal fare.

A striking photographic montage of the sporting career of Ed Richards (1974-84) welcomed OPs, pupils, parents and staff to the David Bawtree Building on Friday 26 February for the third in the series of OP Club organised annual presentations made by eminent OPs.

Judging from the level of conversation and the general atmosphere, there is little doubt that the occasion was greatly enjoyed by all present. This was confirmed by the letter received afterwards from Iris, expressing her and her family’s appreciation of how beautifully and sensitively the evening had been arranged and adding that it was a wonderful occasion at which they were delighted to meet once again so many friends from the past. During the course of this memorable occasion, an additional £881 was raised towards the cost of building a climbing wall in the Sports Hall, which is to be dedicated to Roger’s memory.

Without any notes, but with tremendous verve and total fluency, Ed spoke for two hours about his meteoric career in politics and the media. As the Chief Executive of Ofcom, Ed has been hailed by the business community as “the most important figure in the UK radio and TV sector and in the fixed-line and mobile telecommunications industries”. However, to achieve such elevation in a mere 22 years entailed considerable success in many career fields. In this way the audience was treated to fascinating glimpses of a number of different career experiences, all of them seen from the top and all of them in themselves worthy of an individual lecture! The ensuing lively question session eventually had to be terminated as last boats, trains and buses were due! So ended a sensational OP evening. Note: The full report on Ed Richards’ lecture evening can be found the OP Club section of the school website ( under tab ‘Development’.

Simon Udal Design -

Front Cover images: : (left to right) 1968 Polydor single ‘Sights of Pegasus’ on which Dave Allen OP (1958-1967) provided lead vocals; six members of the eight-piece band Harlem Speakeasy were former PGS schoolmates; Paul Jones OP (born Paul Pond) became resident singer with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated before going on to be the vocalist and harmonica player of the hugely successful 1960s group Manfred Mann. He had several Top Ten hits with Manfred Mann before going solo in 1966. Read Dave Allen’s reminiscences of Swinging Sixties PGS on page 10.


Alasdair Akass

Liz Preece

Sue Merton

John Sadden

Development Director

Development Officer

Development Office Administrator

School Archivist 023 9268 1391

The PGS Development Team are always keen to hear from Old Portmuthians, former parents and friends of the school. Do please stay in touch and share your stories and reminiscences with us, submit content for future editions of Opus or nominate someone to receive a copy, by contacting us at High Street, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO1 2LN Tel: 023 9236 4248

A packed school Dining Hall for the OP Club Annual Dinner

PGS 50 Years Ago: 1960 In keeping with this issue’s theme of the fiftieth anniversary of the Sixties, Father Michael Peters OP (1945-1955) has put together a view of PGS as reported in The Portmuthian from 1960. Read all about it on the ‘OP Club’ section of the school website ( under tab ‘Development’. Ed Richards OP about to deliver his evening lecture




OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010

Portsmouth Grammar School •

In Brief

Fundraising Auction provided wall to wall enjoyment for all!

A round-up of OP news and events

Beach Invasion! Fifth Annual Portsmouth Lunch Club 2009

Scott of the Himalayas OP attempt on Makalu

A record number of fifty OPs descended on the Royal Beach Hotel in Southsea in December for what is fast-becoming one of the most popular events in the OP calendar. Following a festive lunch, OPs were entertained by a talk and quiz by PGS archivist, author and local historian John Sadden. Tim Runnacles OP carried off the prize, after offering up some interesting, risqué and amusing answers! Look out for notification of this year’s gathering in the next issue of Opus.

Old Portmuthian Squadron Leader Colin Scott MBE has a long association with the Himalayas, his first experience coming in 1990 as a member of an RAF-Indian Air Force expedition to Kamet (7756m) in the Garhwal region of India. Expeditions to Tilicho Peak (7134m) and Ama Dablam (6812m) followed before he was selected for a Joint Services Expedition to climb the SW Face of Kangchenjunga (8586m) in 2000.

Birchanger Gardens Derek Worrall OP (1933-1939) and his wife Rae open their magnificent gardens to the public every year in aid of some tremendously worthwhile causes. They would be delighted to see fellow OPs and their families at this year’s Open Days. Birchanger, High Street, Balcome Forest, Haywards Heath, W.Sussex RH17 6JY Garden Opening Times: 8 & 9 May; 15 & 16 May; 23 May Each day from 2-6 pm Entrance £4 to charity

In 2004 he led the British Services Expedition to Makalu (8463m), returning in 2008 for a further unsuccessful attempt on the South East Ridge.

A climbing wall in memory of former pupil, teacher and leading Old Portmuthian Roger Harris is due to be installed in the sports hall during the summer holidays after a CCF auction of ‘money-can’t buy elsewhere’ promises raised more than £7,000. The event, organised by the Development Office, attracted a capacity audience of parents, staff and a good showing of former pupils. Squadron Leader Colin Scott OP (19731980), leader of the Makalu 2010 Joint Services Expedition Team, enjoying the Zinal Rothorn view during Alpine training

He has now returned to the Himalayas as leader of a team who are aiming to be the first Britons to climb Makalu, the world’s 5th highest mountain, by the notoriously difficult South East Ridge. The chosen route is the longest ridge on the mountain, the least climbed, and with much of the difficulty above 7000m, one of the most challenging. The team is due to return to the UK on 7 June 2010. Follow Colin and his team’s progress on the website

London Society of Old Portmuthians by Derek Worrall The London Society ceased having formal meetings at the beginning of 2009. However, OPs still meet informally and, since the new format was adopted, numbers attending have increased.

Derek Worrall’s gardens at Birchanger

Meetings are held on the second Monday in March, June, September and December at the Farmers’ Club, 3 Whitehall Court, London, SW1A 2EL. The next meeting is on Monday 14 June at 6.30 pm. There is no speaker, just an informal social gathering in the lounge, where you will receive a very warm welcome.

The Farmers Club in Whitehall, venue for informal meetings of the London Society of Old Portmuthians

A visit to Brawn’s Grand Prix Formula One HQ, a private after-hours tour of Westminster Abbey with a candle-lit supper for two in the chapel after, the hot seat in an acrobatic stunt plane, a zip along the South Coast in a helicopter, a tour of HMS Daring, a yacht day charter in the Solent and a trip to the Sky News studios were among almost 40 remarkable lots put under the hammer by auctioneer Mr Julian Elphick-Smith. Many of the lots had been generously donated by former pupils, including a signed squad shirt provided by Rob Burgess OP (1988 -1995), England Rugby Operations Manager, a day’s escorted caving in Cheddar Gorge from Jim Hayward OP (1974 -1981), VIP tickets for the England v Argentina Rugby International donated by Sky Sports presenter Mike Wedderburn OP (1972 -1983) and a ride in a 1964 Daimler V8 on the London to Brighton Rally given by new President of the OP Club Bruce Strugnell OP (1957-1967) and his wife Mary.

One of the most impressive and unusual lots of the night which was hotly contested was a flight for five people in the world’s oldest flying De-Havilland Dragon Rapide bi-plane (1934).

Bidders were told that they would be collected from Hilsea playing fields and taken to the aircraft’s hangar on the Isle of Wight by Scout helicopter, making it an extraordinary day out for aviation aficionados. The Roger Harris Memorial Climbing Wall will be graded with a bouldering wall at the bottom so children can climb it without being harnessed, increasing in difficulty as it rises. Cadets will use the wall during their Monday night training and sports staff will be able to include it as part of the PE curriculum. It will be a fitting tribute to Roger - a prominent figure in the school’s CCF and adventure training schemes when he was a PGS teacher. He died in 2008 after almost 60 years of dedication to the school. CCF Contingent Commander Sue Sheldrick, who helped organise the event, said: “It’s terrific that money raised by people buying a whole range of fun experiences will help give hundreds, perhaps thousands of pupils who use the wall over the years, a great time too. Thank you to everyone who made this such a successful event.” Although the Auction exceeded all expectations and got fundraising off to a flying start, installation of the Wall over the summer has only been made possible through the substantial donations of The Old Portmuthian Club and Old Portmuthian Charity.



OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010

Portsmouth Grammar School •

Dedicated Followers of Fashion Opus tracks down this season’s must-have OP movers-and-shakers in the fashion industry...

GIVe it up for Sian

Hemlines and Hairspray

The question I am most frequently asked is whether or not my workplace is anything like the one in The Devil Wears Prada, where Meryl Streep plays the tyrannical boss of a glossy fashion magazine.

When I started at PGS in the Lower Sixth, I immediately signed up for The Portmuthian Magazine. I hadn’t thought about a career in journalism to be honest, but was thinking of my slightly deficient Personal Statement for UCAS.

– usually looking as though I had raided a whole rail in a charity shop – as well as honing skills in design and project development. I felt completely prepared for the challenge when I started at Huddersfield University because the foundation course had already helped me find my ‘handwriting’ as a designer. When choosing my degree I’d not even thought about fashion, opting instead for Textile Crafts, specialising in knitwear in my second year.

Although I’ve never been asked to get my boss the first draft of the new Harry Potter novel, the film does perfectly capture the drama that seems to pervade in the fashion industry.

It was in 2001 that I went through those arches, leaving the comfort of the Sixth Form Centre behind me and got a place on the foundation course at Winchester School of Art. I had a lot of explaining to do to my father to assure him that this year long pre-university course was critical to my chances of going on to study for a degree in the creative arts, rather than an attempt to protract my time as a student! After the confines of having to wear school uniform, my foundation year gave me the opportunity to dress how I wanted

Seizing every opportunity at university is so important because competition is so fierce in Design for new graduates. In order to gain experience, I entered a competition by the Society of Dyers and Colourists, little realising that it was to be judged by George Davies, a man whose CV is based around building some of the best-known brands in the High Street; George at Asda, Next, and Per Una.

I was delighted and surprised to win and to see my garment manufactured at Per Una’s factory in Turkey and included in that year’s Autumn collection. The Competition proved to be the catalyst to the start of my career and I’ve been working for George for nearly four years now. It has been the steepest learning curve of my life. The fashion industry is pretty unforgiving to slow learners but it does support and nurture people who show creative passion and flare. Every day is a new challenge and there is never a dull moment and I can’t imagine working in any other environment.

Last summer, in common with the rest of the design team, I was set one of my biggest professional challenges to date. I would be helping to launch George’s new venture and latest High Street brand. Cloaked in secrecy, we would be developing GIVe, a womenswear line using luxurious fabrics sourced from all over the world aimed at the 30+ market, with a brand name pun that reflected the fact that this was George’s fourth clothing line. We unveiled the brand at the beginning of October 2009 and the press hype surrounding the launch has been electric. Seeing my designs featured in magazines such as Grazia has been amazing, topped only by seeing them on mannequins in our Regent Street flagship store! I work with suppliers from all over the world, including Italy, India and Hong Kong which means I get to travel a great deal in my job. Arriving in Delhi late at night with temperatures still in the 30’s negotiating the chaotic traffic before jetting off a couple of days later to Hong Kong is just mind-blowing. In terms of being at the cutting edge of Design, you just can’t beat this experience! Sian Curtis OP (1990-2001)

wasn’t the half of it – those three little perks are forgotten when you have tight deadlines, pressure from advertisers and ever-changing word limits. But still, it’s pretty awesome. After two years working for regional titles and contributing to a few London titles as a freelance fashion and beauty writer, I got a job in the fashion features department of Vogue.

Despite popular opinion, it’s not as bad as The Devil Wears Prada suggests, and certainly not as weird as Ugly Betty.

e not the only Sian and Grace ar ers in the fashion OPs pursuing care industry:

successful 5-2009) is a highly Alice Gibb OP (199 raphed twice eady been photog model who has alr is featured Mario Testino and for British Vogue by ing Standard. r the London Even here in a shoot fo

I wasn’t sure if strutting the catwalk at the school fashion show would be enough to get me into University (even though I did put 210% into that strut). Mr Faludy gave me the role of editor, and I experienced my first taste of the stress, antisocial hours and exhilaration of life as a staffer on a magazine. It frightened the life out of me and I loved it. After university, I went straight to The Times’ fashion and beauty department to intern for six months under the Fashion Editor, Lisa Armstrong, and became sure that this was the life for me - there were hundreds of beautiful shoes, a cupboard-full of brand new beauty products and lots of champagne-fuelled fashion shows. I soon learnt that

The pressure is definitely right up there, but for good reason – you’re surrounded by the most incredible works of art (shoes and clothes, but art all the same), some of the most inspiring image-makers of the twenty-first century and a set of remarkable writers. I recently moved to another Condé Nast magazine, Glamour, where I am a beauty writer. I’m not sure my teachers at PGS were really grooming me (excuse the pun) for a career writing about hairspray and hemlines, but I know the foundations to my job definitely lie in my experiences with the school magazine. Not forgetting the school fashion show too, of course! Grace Timothy OP (1999-2001)



OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010

Portsmouth Grammar School •

postcards home

Each year current and former PGS pupils undertake travel expeditions to the four corners of the globe during their summer holidays or as part of their Gap Year. These life-changing overseas adventures are often only made possible through the generosity of OP benefactors and the travel grants they provide. Opus caught up with four recipients of awards from the Pelican Fund, the Tim McDowall Travel Award, the Young Explorer’s Fund and the Old Portmuthian Club Travel Grant to find out more about their adventures.

lled Nkhoma a small community ca in ol ho sc y ar im pr wi. I lived with a ala in M capital of e I was placed th e, gw lon Li of th t that we located a few hours souand living independently in Nkhoma mean owed us to all three other volunteers e local facilities. Thisknow the pupils us d an et rk ma al loc e had to shop in th ships within the community. We got to to our house build up real relation ll and even after school many would come in our classes very we would to see us. with them money thy.atAfter t gh ou br am te er te lun Each member of the nvotowards benefitting the school in some wa girls’ toilets, be used as a donatioHeadmaster, we decided to help rebuild thels would not discussions with the o a decrepit state so much so that the gir which had fallen int id they were haunted by ghosts! r from go near them and sa closely with a teacheely ing rk wo b, clu ll ba ot fo em I got involved with thime prove the team. The players were all exdetrcid ed an to e g W yin y. tr pla ol, to ho the sc l mindset ica ct ta e th d staff. ke d an lac n rs talented but ofte be an amazing experience for the playe om a school fr uld s wo am nst te away match d netball matches agai be a truly We arranged footbatwll oanhour coach journey away. This proved tol never forget in Dedza, about a an amazing experience for all involved. I’lso that I remarkable day and holder’s face when we stopped the coach reshments! the look on the stall nas at Nkhoma market for half-time ref could buy 150 bana e truly incredible people, som t me I y, rt ve po e ut ac to have had this Against a backdrop of sm and I feel so lucky ia us th en d an y erg en full of opportunity.

From: William Hancock Spent 3 months in village schools in Malawi working as nt a Teacher’s Assista (from May 2009). Now: St John’s College, Oxford g reading Engineerin

When I arr stepping offived in Cambodia I was experience wouthe plane. It was a verytaken aback by the cult the orphana ld be invaluable. I w different place and I ure, from just knew that my a sea of smilge where I would be worakis collected by some of th in n e g g children from f w ho took me th at the orphan aces, laughing and er e to p a la ge b y e greeted by in h g a d been rescued in the square and had suff . A f er ro ll ed m th th e children se e ve Phnom Penh re hardship. assigned 2 From: sessions withclasses of 3rd Grade stEudveryone was very welcomrubbish dump Vocabulary. some older students, pra ents and I was also giveing. I was E mily ctising readin n one on one g a S nd simple Spa ullivan I can hones nish The children tlwy say that my experienc Worked as a the future. I ere an inspiration with e in the orphanage was v a a f olunteer te which was mos lso had the pleasure of ll their ambitions and antastic. acher at an orph opportunity of t exciting. I would like experiencing a Cambodhopes for a n age to ank the ia a life time an in Phnom school for givin wedding d one which th P e n h, ng me the I will treasure Cambo . dia (Septembe

r 2009) Now: Plym outh University reading Psycholog y

I spent the mor afternoons at Sniokngs at Sokode Gbogame RC Prim teacher of Class 2,ode orphanage. In the school I waary School and the the support of loca preparing the children for their s appointed as the in age from 7 to 18l teachers. The class, which cons end-of-year exams with many of their Engl years, was very keen to learn anisted of pupils ranging ranging from Mat ish counterparts! The course mat d far more polite than rather than the lohs to Natural Science and Religi erial was comprehensive, cal language of Ew on, all studied in En e. glish The work at the lo ca l or ph an age was a far mor involved entertai e soon became a finirmng all the children from the localal id-back affair and community. Piction favourite. ary By far the most ap pe al in g as pe ct of Ghana wa the local people. commodities wereThrae country quickly became ‘homse the hospitality of (particularly ice cr rely missed and in fact local Gfrom home’. Western ha eam) was hastily sought after uponnaian produce I am very grateful our return. me to undertake th for the Travel Grants which en abled is unforgettable experience.


From: Gavin Rutter Volunteer wor k in a school and an orphanage in Ho, Ghana (July 20 09).

for me to be and life changing experience ing rm wa rthea a h suc s S that I was wa PG It gentina in my last year atin a poor district part of the school trip to Ar p Year. I was situated mmunity Centre. determined to return in my Ga ca’ and I taught in a Co Bo of Buenos Aires, called ‘Laldren during their summer holidays (January to I was working with the chi t the older children passed their yearly exams anish March) trying to ensure tha sted in Mathematical and Sp ere int en ldr chi r nge you get to and trying exercises. rning From: g as such, but more about lea pin hel ly ect dir out ab not and is ns g cer con n, tio Volunteerin ua sit the d Suzie Hance able to understan d tan ers und to an from each other and beingfew beg I s sion ses volunteering Volunteer school needs of others. After a ching the children. Lack of space meant that tea in ced age and the problems fa support work with as one large class, regardless of all children had to be taughtunteers were required to work individually with ‘Voluntaria Global’ ability. This meant that vol at home eg. health and nutrition concerns in Buenos Aires, each child. Daily challengess not necessarily a priority for families living Argentina meant that education wa children were unable to attend school sessions ons asi occ ked On lac (Jan/Feb. 2010). en ca. en oft in La Bo flooding. As a result, childrrni n eve or ms ble of pro one y mil and fa ng to due elves to be incapable of leaself-esteem. Now: Bath enthusiasm and believed theams raise their to s wa eer unt vol as me University reading for the main tasks ng chi tea for Spanish and nce I have developed a passion plans for after my From my volunteering experie nge cha y ma is Th ! nal had I know eer again - be it in Internatio which previously I did not for unt vol ll sha I t tha n tai cer Studies university, but I do know country or in a disadvantaged area in the UK. ng aki spe sh ani Sp r the ano trip with been able to embark on thisort e hav to d sse ble ly ous rm eno l opp unity to I fee ant and honoured to have the assistance from a Travel Gr meet some remarkable people.

OP Tim’s Wanderlust Lives On One of the sources of grant funding helping PGS Sixth Formers realise their ambitions to travel the world is the Tim McDowall Memorial Fund. Tim left PGS in 1984 and tragically died in Central America whilst travelling in 1995. When he died a group of his friends at Cambridge University set up a memorial fund in his name, specifically for pupils at his former school, to give them an opportunity to follow in his footsteps and experience the thrill of overseas travel. Emily Woodhouse, Tim’s god-daughter, has taken over from her father Anthony as Trustee of the Fund and has very clear memories as a little girl of receiving postcards from Tim from all the weird and wonderful places he had visited. She even had a world map on her bedroom wall with pins marking all the stops on his global travels! Over the years she has received many letters and photos from winners of the award and takes great comfort in finding out about the exciting adventures so many PGS pupils have undertaken. Emma Aldridge, who received an award from the Memorial Fund in 2006 so that she could help crew Sir Francis Chichester’s boat Gipsy Moth IV, from Hamilton Island to Cairns along the East Coast of Australia is in no doubt about the impact that the funding had on her. “Being awarded money from the Tim McDowall Memorial Fund really meant a lot to me and I hope that it can continue to ignite the spark of adventure in young people. I feel incredibly honoured”, she said. A new Tim McDowall Memorial Fund website has been set up at which Emily hopes fellow OPs will want to have a look at. “The aim of this website is to share with everybody the fantastic things that have been achieved with the money donated when Tim died and which is still being donated today.”

Luca and me. We practised Mathematics, and History in English preparation fo r her Level 2 exams.


OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010

Portsmouth Grammar School •

In the first edition of Opus Andrew Hind confessed that when, at age 11, he first walked through the school gates, he “didn’t feel like part of the 60s revolution.” In complete contrast, I had walked the opposite way in what I still remember as a golden summer. In the early 1960s, two other OPs, Alan Zeffert and Tony Day began writing songs and signed with publishers in Denmark Street. They placed their songs with various performers although with no significant success. Meanwhile, John Clark left PGS to work in the design studios of Burns Guitars in London. He returned to Portsmouth later and played in local groups including Coconut Mushroom who were signed briefly to the Beatles’ label Apple. Another fine musician, Dave Mussell, played keyboards locally with Barry & the Strollers, Thumper and others.

At 17 I was leaving PGS and over the next few weeks I grew my hair, joined the hippy trail hitching to the West Country, attended my first pop festival and moved to Highbury College. There I met again fellow OP Pete Gurd who recruited me to his new group. Pete was a wonderful guitarist and we had played together previously – now he was playing with fellow OPs Keith Shilcock, John Lytle, Geoff Gunson and Sam Eddings in a popsoul outfit called Harlem Speakeasy.

In no time at all we had become one of those 60s ‘overnight’ successes. The band’s line-up was finalised in January 1968, by the spring we had signed to Polydor Records, in July our first single was released and we were soon touring the country.

Harlem Speakeasy 1968 Top: Jon Edwards, Geoff Gunson OP Centre: Keith Shilcock OP, Sam Eddings OP, Dave Allen OP Front: Phil Jones, John Lytle OP, Pete Gurd OP

Sadly the success really was overnight. Entertaining our peers in local youth clubs was one thing, being fully-fledged professionals quite another. By December the band had split and while most of us continued to play and improve through the decades, the main chance was gone. This was true of other OPs through that period, although one, Paul Jones (Pond) enjoyed regular ‘hits’ as the lead singer of Manfred Mann. In their early days, they played regularly in Portsmouth at venues like Kimbells Ballroom and the Railway Hotel Fratton. Later, Jones had solo success as a singer and actor before returning to singing his first love, the blues, as well as presenting BBC Radio Two’s blues show. In the 1990s I had the pleasure of performing on the show.

Coconut Mushroom 1969 (John Clark OP second right)

John Clark OP (left) working at Burn’s Guitars, London circa 1963

In that same first edition of Opus it was lovely to see Wally Bartle. I eventually enjoyed a successful academic career in the visual arts thanks in no small part to Wally’s teaching and support but I do remember that in 1963 he confiscated a Beatles book I had brought to the art room. I’d love it back Wally – it’s probably worth a bit!

In 1961, the Portsmouth Evening News profiled an instrumental group from the school whose sound, like so many, was based on the Shadows. They were the Dark Angels: Pete Welch (lead guitar), Geoffrey Lamb (guitar), Kevin Timms (bass guitar) and Steve Gold (drums). I know nothing about their subsequent careers but one of their friends Nigel Baker went on to play in various 60s local groups including Legends, Jamie’s Kin and Horizon . Nigel shares my memory that pop music was “pretty much frowned on at school at that time” but it was an exciting time around the city.

In the 1960s, parents and teachers told us regularly to stop wasting our time since pop would do us no good. In 2010 there is a major exhibition of 1960s pop photographs at the City Museum a few hundred yards from the Grammar School and I’ve been working on it as the local consultant. Perhaps it was OK to swing after all!

The Guildhall played host to acts like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Cliff Richard, Jimi Hendrix or Pink Floyd and a few of us were regular visitors to clubs like Kimbells and the Birdcage where we would see the Who, Small Faces, Cream and other ‘mod’ favourites.

On one occasion, OP Keith Russell and I were waiting outside Kimbells to see the Yardbirds when a prefect spotted us and suggested we should be doing our homework. I’m afraid it didn’t work, but we did see Eric Clapton!

Dave Allen OP (1958-1967)

Dave Allen on Southsea Common, Sept 1969

Rosemary on Southsea Common, Sept 1969 Dave Allen (singing) and John Lytle (Right)

John Clark OP (left) in Morgan’s Camel Train 1966 (Portsmouth)

The Birth of British Rock, a touring exhibition from the V&A Theatre Collection, featuring 100 photographs of many of the rock ‘n’ roll stars of the 50s and 60s, including original Portsmouth Pop memorabilia runs at the City Museum until 6 June 2010.



OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010

Portsmouth Grammar School •

The Seaside Steinway Steeplechase

A foolhardy sport of the 1960s with strong musical connections.

The selected piano was moved from the Shaw household in Chelsea Road to that of W.H.L. (Bill) Adkins in Worthing Road, where it was inverted on the front path for the application of four pram wheels, plus a fifth to support a contrivance that would enable the pianist to play throughout the race.

Piano-racing contests probably originated in the post-austerity years of the late 1950s. Rules varied, but typically two or more pianos would be raced in public places whilst being variously pulled and/ or pushed by brawny teams of youths: quintessentially, each piano had to be played throughout every race. Sometimes, the race could not be considered finished until the pianos had been broken into tiny fragments and fed through a smalldiameter hole. Piano-racing came to Portsmouth in the mid-winter of 1962. At that time the erstwhile College of Technology (latterly the Polytechnic and now the University) had a fund-raising Rag Week at the end of the Autumn Term. One of the College’s students, Martin Clare, was lodging in the home of the Shaw family, where he discussed the possibility of a race with PGS sixth-former G.J. (Graham) Shaw. The notion appealed, and Graham’s mother procured an upright piano: meanwhile, Graham sought and obtained permission for a piano race from the Headmaster, Mr D.H. Hibbert. The date was fixed for Wednesday 19 December 1962, being the day following the end of the PGS term. Inexplicably the race was not allowed to raise money for charity, even though it marked the climax of the College’s Rag Week. The route was to take the racing pianos along Southsea Seafront, between South Parade and Clarence piers.

The feeble sunshine of the approaching winter solstice illuminated the two teams as they lined up for the start at South Parade Pier. To lighten the burden, the PGS piano was stripped of non-essentials, such as its fascia boards and keyboard lid.

Ornamentation comprised a Union Flag and a small pole bearing a white pennant displaying the initials ‘PGS’ and (briefly) a likeness of the school’s heraldic lion. The pianist, R.I. (Ray) Fisher, was strapped to the piano by stout ropes and perched upon a seat that rode on the fifth wheel. By contrast, the College’s piano was mounted on a stout two-wheeled cart that had been equipped with a leading pram undercarriage for auxiliary support. Both contestants provided three teams, nominally of ten people each, with eight pulling and two to push and steady the

pianos. The teams operated in relays, although the pianists had to remain on their musical chariots throughout. At 11.30 am the race began, and the PGS team quickly took the lead even as the College team was trying to overcome the inertia of their heavy burden. The race route followed the Promenade throughout, including vicious adverse cambers and a narrow corniche around Southsea Castle. By the time the PGS piano reached the Castle the second team was in command, but its work was becoming harder as one of the rear wheels began to buckle and work loose. Eventually, it came off altogether (and now decorates Bill Adkins’ shed), leaving one of the piano’s rear corners to scrape its way along the Promenade: inevitably, the failed wheel was on that side of the piano which previously had but two. Despite these impediments, PGS’s third relay team took over and brought the piano to a victorious stand at Clarence Pier approximately 300 to 400 yards ahead of the opposition.

Fortunately, neither team had the appetite to destroy good pianos by cutting them apart and disposing of them through a hole.

Hence, the victorious 1962 piano was destined for further glory twelve months later. On 26 November 1963, the pithily-named ‘Portsmouth Grammar School Racing Piano Society’ was established to develop details for the 1963 race. In a basement room at PGS the piano was resurrected on Saturday 14 December 1963, when it was inverted and equipped with six new pram wheels, arranged with four wheels located in tandem at the front and a pair of slightly smaller diameter wheels at the rear.

Rather than ‘floating’ on a single wheel, the pianist was required to straddle a stout wooden beam, screwed beneath the keyboard and fitted with a cushion, nailed to its outer end.

The PGS piano had a further outing on Sunday 5 January 1964, when it progressed through the streets of Portsmouth to the writer’s home in Widley. Notably, M.A. (Mike) Winstock attached the piano’s haulage ropes to his motor scooter for the long ascent of Portsdown to The George Inn: the scooter’s clutch was never the same again. After this the piano slumbered in a conservatory for more than a year. There was no race in December 1964, but one was scheduled for March 1965. The piano was returned to the School on Sunday 14 March, albeit without motorised assistance. The following day it was painted in the school colours of red and black by G. F. (Gray) Abraham, who applied some artistic flourishes of his own. Once again, six new pram wheels were applied, stouter than before and all of equal diameter.

Anticipation was mounting by 18 March, when the Acting Headmaster, Mr J. Thorp, conveyed the author along Southsea seafront in his durable Rover 90 car. Mr Thorp required assurance that the race would be safe, and such assurance was readily given. The following day, 19 March 1965, marked the third and final piano race. It was a day of stiff equinoctial winds and frequent heavy squalls of polar maritime origin, but the elements failed to daunt the enthusiasm of the two teams. The race route returned to the Promenade, but the College of Technology persevered for a third time with an overweight vehicle (lessons apparently having not been learned). Likewise for the third time, PGS won, although the twisting route meant that the overall journey time was six and a half minutes. continued...

The race took place on Monday 16 December 1963, starting at 2.30 pm. It was a bleak and misty day, and once again the College of Technology came forth with a juggernaut. However, the route was easier because it used the road from pier to pier. Consequently, the College team was faster than in 1962, but the PGS team’s comparative youth and lighter trailing load enabled another win. The winning margin was 70 yards and the elapsed time from pier-to-pier was five minutes and fifty seconds. J.C. (John) Shepherd provided piano playing of the highest order for the benefit of anybody able to distinguish his contribution from the rumbling wheels and primitive grunts of the teams.


OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010


Portsmouth Grammar School •

The Seaside Steinway Steeplechase continued

leaving only a generation of elderly men to chuckle and reminisce about the simple pleasures of nearly half a century ago.

Whereas pianist G.D.H. (Graham) Preskett and the three teams of pullers had every reason to be proud, it had not been a day of unalloyed pleasure. Two of the school’s leading sportsmen, G.M.T. (Geoff ) Foley and G.N. (Graham) Wingate sustained significant injuries. It was even said that members of the public took fright when they observed the approaching phalanx of pianos storming along the Promenade.

T.V. Runnacles OP (1954-1965)

This article could not have been written without the reminiscences of several OPs. In particular, I wish to thank Graham Shaw, Bill Adkins, John Chatterton, Mike Winstock and Clive Vinall for their contributions.

A wry look at the history of PGS desks “The desks at this school are not of a nice sort.”

As soon as the jubilant teams and their supporters returned to the school, the piano was lifted up to the Scout Room, its racing days ended. After March 1965 the piano-racing era at PGS seemingly ceased,

This was the considered verdict of an anonymous PGS pupil in 1898 in an essay, written in the Detention Room, thought to have been set as a punishment for banging his desk lid.

All activities contain pote PIANO RACE ntia controls you RISK ASSESS have in place l hazards and are a source to manage th Significant ris of risk. Please MENT: FORM A: em. ks to include identify and are those that many people, assess the si coul or impact on gnificant risks the finances or d lead to death, disability in your area School: Port and severe dis reputation of and the smouth Gram th tre e ss Sc ; or are less se hool. mar School rious but - oc Department: cur frequently Sport Date: A , affect 19 Decembe B Haza rd

Controls in pla ce Risk reducin g actions (hierarchy of controls)

The overturnin g of the piano.

Exhaustion of crew pulling piano

Wheel falling off piano Piano careeri ng into sea Race disrupte d by adverse weather syste m from polar maritime regio n Loss of race to College of Technology

Limited ability to sheet music du use ring race Wheel attache d by skilled person (Bill Adkins) Personnel ba rri ers in place on sea front promenade

Read weather forecast beforehand

Select highly trained crew

Charitable fun ds Funds to be distributed raised for through usua College Rag lly re liable channe Week will be ls (eg po p musician) used to buy weapons Loss of control of piano durin g return to storage in Widl ey

Hopelessly inadequate calculations

Regular circu it tra sessions in PE ini ng lessons

Poor choice of music reperto ire

C Adequa cy

Centre of grav ity evaluated by A level students study ing mechanics.

Piano to be tow ed by usually comp etent person (Mike Winstock)

Hopelessly inadequate lessons Hopelessly inadequate restriction Wholly adequate provision

Usually adequate It’s only a weather forecast

Probably inadequate or inebriate Doubtful

Outri ght untruth

Ri sks & Contr ols Communica ted to: John Th orp (risk regis ter) Name of Risk Assessment Te am Lead: Tim Runnacles

Bureau de Change

r 1962

D Risk of ha rm to No of persons person affected State problem or area s of concern

Death of a pia nist (1)

Whole crew inj ur piano running ed by amok (10) Whole crew an d illpositioned sp ectators death by drow ning (20)

Death of popu lation in war torn area s (millions)

Impact with No 41 bus following slowl y up Portsdown Hi ll

Quite serious

Once per person in crew

Damage to he aring of crew and gene ra public (thousa l nds)

Loss of face of whole school (400)

F Severity

Death can only occur once

Heart attacks (10)

Ice and snow on track leading to risk of skidding or pe piano rsons falling

E Freq


Mi ddle C is 262 Hz Once per piano Once per race Seven

One face per person

Of ten

Half hourly weekdays, hourly at weekends

Select pianist of little worth (Ray Fi sher) Crew to absta in drinking and sm from ok for 24 hours be ing fore race

Harsh but fair

Select pianist with wi de repertoire (Ray Fi sher)

Yes I’m serious

This cannot ha pp wheels secure en as d by competent pe rson

Painf ul


Very severe

Very very severe


G Additional co ntrols Action require d

Only compete against weak opposit ion do not learn fro who m experience Do not collect money for chari ty

Use of stout ro pe

Residual risk nil

Residual risk nil

Residual risk nil

Experienced swimmer (Graham Shaw ) wi th crew as life to run -saver

Experience weatherman (Tim Runnacles) to make final decision to race

H Level of resid ua l risk (transfer to ris k register)

Residual risk nil Residual risk nil Residual risk nil

Residual risk nil

Residual risk nil

Residual risk nil

A Mock Risk Assessment for Piano Racing devised retrospectively by Roger Pope OP (1954-1963)

Perhaps in the same way that a bad workman reputedly blames his tools, the miffed schoolboy attributes his unfair treatment firmly to his wooden desk. It was, after all, the desk that made the offending noise. In the half-an-hour that was stolen from his life, spent in shameful, unnatural silence in the Detention Room, the boy controls his despair over the injustices of school life, draws deeply on that ’can-do’ PGS spirit, and proceeds to list his ideas for improving school desk design. Nobly and selflessly he seeks practical ways to prevent others suffering his own cruel fate. He concludes that a desk catch would have prevented the lid falling down. With this simple expedient, the sacred silence of the classroom and the Master’s ignorance of his existence would have been preserved. It would also save future schoolboys from the suffering caused by heavy wood slamming on fingers and knuckles. The anonymous boy comes up with more brilliant recommendations. A unique lock for each desk: “The object of having locks is to keep your books, pens, pencils and other necessities from being ‘gone’”. Desks, he argues, “should be standalone, not shared, bench-style. Seats should be padded and have a shaped back for comfort”. All the boy’s suggestions anticipate the ergonomically designed desks and individual lockers taken for granted today.

Half a century later, in a piece of post-war creative writing of the type beloved of a new breed of English teacher, an eight year old Lower School pupil imagines himself as a desk. While the Victorian schoolboy had ideas to improve his desk, in this 1946 account, the vengeful desk concludes with an idea to improve the schoolboy: I am a single-seater desk placed in the back of the class, near the window. The first thing I remember was that a horrid boy woke me up in the morning by banging my lid up and down to make a noise. He nearly cracked my head, and to increase my discomfort he stuck some nasty chewing gum on me. I finally got some peace when the teacher came in. But even he spoilt it by making a boy stand on my seat! In the dinner-hour the little brute took out a penknife and started to carve his name upon me. Happily a Prefect caught him before any real damage was done. I hope he was caned!

The physical abuse suffered by the average desk from chewing gum and penknives, was, one imagines, an occupational hazard, and the carving of one’s name an expression of the natural territorial instinct of the schoolboy. In those innocent times, knives were carried as routinely as mobile phones today, before whittling was replaced by twittering. Ten years later, Peter Barnes OP (1954-64) and his contemporaries added their own mix of psychological and physical abuse to the long suffering school desk:

“There was a craze for creating marble runs inside the desk by arranging books, wooden pencil cases, geometry set boxes, rulers etc. inside the desk so as to create an inclined zig-zag route from the top right hand corner where the hole for the inkwell was down towards the edge closest to the seat. The trick was to catch the marble as it emerged (from a hole at the front, possibly bored by a compass point or a penknife) after its concealed passage, but sometimes it would drop on to the floor and then there could be trouble.” Today, such innovation would be heralded for its promotion of problem solving, touching on several areas of the curriculum, as well as the development of motor skills in catching the marble. Another innovative use of the desk was as a place for pin-ups utilising the underside of the lid, so that every opening provided the ranks behind with a welcome distraction from academic matters. Indeed the role of the desk in education, in its broadest sense, may appear to have been neglected, but thanks to the memories of OPs and occasional accounts in The Portmuthian, we are able to take a peep under the lid.

Following the appeal in the last edition of Opus, Geoffrey Salvetti OP (1958-1968) has very kindly donated a 1960s school desk to the PGS archive (pictured above) which will be put to good use in future displays and for present-day pupils to appreciate as a historical artefact.



OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010

Portsmouth Grammar School •

Letter to Neil

properly. You worked out the fine details with incredible precision but also made them workable – a rare gift. You would think about the staff and pupils who had to work to these details and made them as painless as possible for us all. You saw any flaws in arrangements and offered constructive solutions to problems. Not for nothing were you given the name Mr Fixit.

The entire school community, past and present, was deeply shocked and saddened by the sudden and unexpected death of Neil Blewett on Friday 12 March. Neil was an integral part of the school community for nearly 30 years, adeptly filling the role of Head of Games and PE and, more recently, Surmaster. Many hundreds of people packed the Cathedral of St Thomas for his Memorial Service where the following letter from Head of Middle School, David Hampshire was read by Simon Marriott, a friend of Neil’s and teacher in the Music Department 1982-1987:

Dear Neil I’m sorry that I can’t read this last letter to you. I am afraid I will be hiding away somewhere inconsolable at your loss and would make a dreadful mess of the job. I know you won’t mind Simon reading this on my behalf. My only consolation is that you would be just the same if you were in my place. Many people do not realise just how emotional a person you were and we often discussed what we would do when we had to make our retirement speeches. Neither of us wanted what became known as the Cliff Flowers effect. You will remember that we first met over thirty years ago. We both used to go to a pub on the Point called the Coal Exchange – now part of the Spice Island Inn. Christine and I used to sit at one end of the pub and you and Pauline sat at another. That was before you married Pauline and you both worked at St Johns. We used to overhear each other’s conversations and realised that we were both groups of teachers but it was not for another couple of years that we spoke, when you joined the staff at PGS.

You were appointed Head of Rugby and a member of the Games Department under the direction of Chris Stoneham and also a teacher of maths. You very quickly however joined the PGS community and entered enthusiastically into the full life of the school. John Hunt, Simon Marriott and many others were privileged to go on many trips with you. You and I would enjoy the slopes of France and Italy with Tonale being a particular favourite. We managed the more difficult slopes using courage from my expansive hip flask which held a cocktail of Drambuie and Whisky – a potent mixture which took all the fear away from the slope. You never forgot why you were there however and spent most of your time helping the more timid skiers who needed the confidence, care and time you could give them. You will remember that the first ski trips were totally by coach and your travel sickness played havoc with the journey. On one occasion you were feeling unwell as we turned into Pembroke Road. The journey was punctuated by us having to stop the coach to throw away the evidence in various countries throughout Europe. Altitude sickness was also a problem. I remember us both being on a long, high chair lift at the end of which you gracefully skied away and was then violently sick. This was difficult to hide as the rest of the children were behind us on the lift and skied past you in pairs with everyone enquiring after your health. You were the best colleague to take on a trip because the pupils knew that they could not get away with anything. You became a bit of a legend on school ski trips and earned yourself the nickname of the “Inspector” on such occasions in the 1990s. You had a nose for pupils up to no

good and could spot a guilty look from a mile away. One episode occurred when the village green at a ski resort in which we were staying was consumed by fire. The emergency services were called as the smoke billowed and we watched from the balcony of our room. The Police arrived at the hotel following a lead that a group of boys in the PGS party were involved. The mayor was furious, a diplomatic incident loomed. The smell of melting trainers led you to the room of one of the boys who was present when the fire caught hold. Apparently, some local youths had started throwing bangers at a small group of PGS pupils which then set fire to the tinder-dry grass. Instead of running away the boys tried to stamp out the flames! Mysteriously to this day, the incriminating trainers were never found. It was not long before you and Pauline had two daughters on your hands, Claire and Rachel. You were incredibly proud of both of them as they are of you. Both of them were pupils at PGS and were very successful. You played the part of the proud Dad watching their sporting achievements and applauding their academic successes whilst giving them the space they needed as pupils at PGS. When Claire went to Cambridge you went with her – she went to read law, you went just to make sure that her move went OK and that if her accommodation needed any handiwork you would put it right. Rachel, after graduating, is now following in the family tradition and training to be a teacher. In the Maths Department you were the first to admit that you were never given the glamorous jobs. Your commitment to teaching and fatherly approach to

Neil Blewett takes to the slopes with Headmaster James Priory, school ski trip to Killington, 2005

helping children who found the subject difficult (or just coping with children who were difficult) is legendary. Generations of boys and girls have you to thank for getting them through their O Level or GCSE in Maths, something essential for their futures. Their many tributes to you are testament to your ability and gift as a classroom teacher. Things were to change however when you were appointed as Head of Games. Things were also changing in the school. The Headmaster’s house was knocked down and you oversaw that space change into the Sports Centre we now have. Until then you were managing with the Old Gym. You also introduced our first fitness and weight training facility. Massive changes then came about with the introduction of girls into the school. You appointed Di Spencer as the first female PE teacher and sport at PGS was never to be the same again as girls’ games built to match the success of the boys. Many of us remember your time as Head of Games with great affection. In those days we had Middle School games on a Friday afternoon with the whole of Year 7 and 8 down at Hilsea. Exclusivity was not your style nor were you allowed it! Members of staff were put down to teach games whether they wanted to or not and it was your job to make sure that they did it. I happily taught rugby for 20 years under your guidance and had such fun doing it and gaining from your experience. Your inclusive approach was not at the expense of excellence however and during your time as Head of Rugby the sport at the school flourished. You reckoned that the glory days were during the early to mid

1980’s when you had such names as Mike Wedderburn, Roger Black and Ed Richards in your team which was nicknamed in the press “The Scarlet Army”. You remarked at one stage that the PGS 1st XV was the county team. In the 1982/3 season the 1st VII won the Hampshire Schools Cup and the Hampshire 7-a-side Cup. This was repeated during the seasons of 1985/6, 1986/7, 1987/8, 1990/1, 1992/3. In the 1991/2 season the U15 won the County School’s Cup and represented Hampshire in the Daily Mail national competition. They defeated the Dorset winners but lost to RGS High Wycombe in a tense Quarter Final. This was reported in the News as Blewett’s Braves Bow Out. In the 1992/3 season the 1st XV won the South and South West Final of the Daily Mail National School’s Cup. In the semi-final of the National Cup they were defeated at Wolverhampton. In that year eleven pupils won County representative honours. In 1993/4 the 1st VII won the Romsey Sevens, Rosslyn Park National Sevens and the Hampshire Sevens. In 1996 you declared “I am stepping down from the post of Master in charge of Rugby to make way for a younger person”. So time went on and you increased in seniority in the school to take on the role Tim Hands created of Surmaster. None of us really understood what Surmaster meant – go on Neil you weren’t sure either! You however built up a job which has become indispensable in the school. We all know that now because in the last two weeks we have all been chasing around trying to find out how the school really works. It was your job to make all the myriad of events the school puts on, work

Times were also changing regarding the Law and School trips. I can remember a less than interesting talk you once gave on the Law of Tort. It was basically about the legal responsibilities teachers have when taking trips away. I was sure that Claire had taught you all this. Suddenly we were compelled to produce risk assessments for all of our trips and it was you who realised that however tedious this was we had to do it for the safety of the pupils and of the staff. You developed the systems that we now have in place for all school visits off site. This took hours of your time for which we all owe you a great debt. You produced the 8 page risk assessment for the ski trip I am to take on Saturday – all I had to do was sign it. continued...



OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010

Portsmouth Grammar School •

Letter to Neil You took charge of the Prefect body in the school arranging their selection, training and deployment. A job you did with great pride and to which the prefects reciprocated with enthusiasm, charm and commitment. You were heavily involved with the training of PGCE students and Newly Qualified Teachers. Your dedication, professionalism and common sense approach was appreciated by all those who passed through your care. Your lessons were an obvious choice for junior colleagues to observe and all that did so commented upon your outstanding abilities as a teacher and as role model for pupils and colleagues alike. How will the pupils remember you? - Certainly as a gifted teacher of Mathematics to those for whom the subject did not come naturally. A book of remembrance has been opened in your honour and there are many tributes from your pupils who marvel at how you got them to achieve an A at Maths! Countless pupils will thank you for introducing them to sports and encouraging them to perform at the highest standards. But perhaps most of all you will be remembered as someone who truly embodied the meaning of PGS – who had a sense of service and was inspirational – someone to look up to (although as I pointed out to you many times you were only the same height as me). You must have seen them all every morning and they all had an almost Pavlovian response to your presence by checking their tie and tucking in their shirts. This was all done with a light touch and a sense of humour. Instilling a sense of discipline in young people is not easy. To any teacher there is the fear of not seeming popular if you insist on maintaining standards. Your popularity and respect came from the fact that you did insist on high standards consistently and without favouritism. The Common Room will all remember you as a friend and colleague who was not selfish or self promoting but genuinely wanted to help however he could. The support you have given me in the Middle School has been invaluable. In particular your assistance and interest in the interview process and the awarding

Super Troopers


of scholarships has been immense. How appropriate then that in your memory some form of fund for scholarships is to be set up. I am not sure if the pupils used to know how much you and I messed around in the school day. If I saw you in the quad I would shout across “Neil” and you would get down on both knees. It never failed – well we enjoyed it anyway. You were also very tolerant when for years I would call you Paul. I was never quite sure why I did that. The Friday that you left us was absolutely typical. You saw me just after 8.00am to discuss the arrangements for swimming sports and we joked about how the announcements at swimming sports years ago used to be impossible to hear because of the acoustics in Victoria Park swimming pool, the noise of the pupils and the fact that the person making the announcements had a speech defect. A few minutes later a small child came to give me their hoodie which you had caught them wearing. At 9.41 you sent me a final email expressing your concerns about the end of term arrangements. A few minutes later and you had gone. So you left all of us a week last Friday at break with a huge gap to fill. Incidentally did you sign out? I imagine that you are up there now checking that everyone coming through the gates has their tie done up. I bet that the risk assessments for Heaven now are thorough, up to date and everyone has signed them. Bye bye Neil and God bless.

Looking back Neil Blewett was clearly one thing above all else: a dedicated, warm-hearted man who truly loved teaching and believed in his pupils. On more than one occasion he made it abundantly clear to me the opportunity a PGS education represented and ensured I did not waste it and for that I will always be thankful. Adam Patrick OP (2000 Leaver)

He taught many of us the values and standards that we once resented but now live by. A selfless man to whom I owe a great deal. Tim Cummings OP (2002 Leaver)

Mr Blewett taught me maths in my GCSE year and now I’m training to be an Accountant – I have him to thank for that, as without his patience and belief in me during that year, especially following my own personal family tragedy, I wouldn’t have succeeded. Susanna Rixon OP (1996-2003)

Marking Neil’s Memory

Neil’s family have asked the school to join them in launching a memorial fund to continue his hard work and determination to support the bursary programme at PGS. Pupils and parents, past and present, and all those whose lives have been touched by Neil in some way are invited to contribute to a bursary fund in Neil’s memory as a lasting recognition of a much-loved husband, father, colleague, teacher and friend. To contribute to the fund, please visit A group of six Year 12 pupils are also fundraising for the Bursary Fund in memory of Neil by undertaking the extraordinary task of scaling the highest peaks in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic in 48 hours. Please support this tremendous endeavour which they have set themselves at


Opus salutes 80 years of PGS Cubs and Scouts

PGS has always been famed for the depth and range of its innumerable after-school clubs and societies. Over the years a great number of clubs have been formed from a Gramophone Society and a Meccano and Hornby Club to a Tudor Music Society and a Numismatological Club! Few, however, have enjoyed the enduring tradition and popularity of the PGS Cub and Scout Troops, which also hold the accolade of undertaking the school’s first ever overseas trip. The Winter 1956 edition of The Portmuthian included the following notice: “It is apparent that there is a big demand for the opportunities afforded by Scouting. Cubs and Scouts now have waiting lists, and many who have asked to join have been told ‘house full’. As soon as places become available they will be informed, meanwhile, patience please!”

I joined the Cubs in eye of Doreen Waterwthe Lower School under the watchful one Christmas party whorth. My sole recollection is of ‘entertainment’. This to en Ian Clarke and I put on the with a bench or board. ok the form of a bit of ‘slapstick’ brought forth huge lau I recollect that an unintended slip going until everybody’s ghter and after that we just kept I also recollect gatherisides were splitting so much it hurt. ng quite an armful of badges! The scout troop met at th e pla yin g fields at Hilsea as I recall and I well rem shelters. There was alsemo ber cook-outs on top of the air raid trees and birds, althoug a lot of field craft identifying As part of the celebrations to mark the eightieth anniversary of the one of the non-featheredh on one occasion we came across formation of 42nd Portsmouth Grammar School Scout Troop in 2010, Opus not sure who was more kind in the undergrowth. I am our patrol! In addition surprised - her and her boyfriend or tracked down some former patrol members and staff to ask them exactly I particularly recall on there were annual summer camps. why scouting held such appeal for them. I was there for the fu e in the area east of Petersfield. I was privileged to be ll two weeks. In the first week second I was leading myon the staff side whilst in the came I k. pac cub the run to ped hel week already I had be patrol. Having been there for a bs. Miss I joined the school in 1952 and Cu the run had I ere wh ool, our patrol tent. Whilsten able to identify a good site for from Arnold School, BlackpS in 1953 and helped me. PG from the river and commnot perfectly level it was away Jean Maxwell came to rs hou o tw nt campsite. I also took a anded a good view of the whole ter school and spe We met on Friday eveningstsafas well as other cub activities. I built a good camp fire.leaf out of Mr Wells’ book in that tes g sin pas es, This was soon to prove gam and g e yin fir pla invaluable. sea on a Saturday, had a bon W ith n in dow a rts da Po Sometimes we went to Hilals y r or ove so of having set up camp the country d lore exp o We d. foo we fo ek own r th second it started raini . A sor ing cooked our before to practise our map-read t of drizzle at firste bu gradually over the cong Hill where many had not been t ur much worse. On our retse of the next two days it got very skills. ur n m by the site of two othe from a day out we were greeted was when we went to the 9.30a patrol tents standing in A highlight of the Cub Pagckdown the High Street with our flag. I fo ot of water as the mer ad ow had flooded. Movingnearly a Sunday Service, progressineach term. proved no real problem itself ed pen hap bu nt think this eve time fresh sites had be t everyone was quite wet by the ng chi tea a on t wen I en en wh sel ected and the fected il 1959 tents had been re-pitch patrol I ran the 42nd Cub Pack unt was appointed to Jerrard ed. Patrols were senaf urn ret my on and a, rni te lifo as t Ca to (th co is ok be their ing ff. exchange to sta th er e e hot meal of the day) the hands of oth almost two and a haon . A ft er House, as the Cub Pack was in lf ho urs none of the other pa the staff side had trols or naged to light and ke ff 1952-1989 but we had!! For twma Doreen Waterworth Sta ep a fir e going on our patrol’s campofirdays all the cooking was done by me e - we were extremely popular!! My scouting days at PGS wer Br uc e e St am ru ong gnell OP 1957-196 the happiest of my life. Whilst reminiscing about them 7 diaries from my scouting days, I came across various logs and which I have summarised below: Summer camp, Isle of Wight, 1948 Site: Corfe camp, Shalfleet, Isl to Ryde, then train to Newport e of Wight. 28 July: by ferry 13.30 and pitched tents, built and Calbourne. Arrived at (presumably in Shalfleet creek, kitchen, found den, went swimming 20.00 Lit fires, cooked cocoa forwhich was just west of the site). more of this!) Porridge for bre troop. 22.30 Lights out. (Lots supper; two or three nominated akfast; stew and semolina for inspection at about 10, wit poias cooks every day, with daily nts awarded. While there some of us visited Newbridge, Cahrisb roo Parents came on Sunday 31 Ju ke Castle, Cowes, Colwell Bay. scout troops there, as I wrote ly. There must have been other that we had camp fires wit Hayes troop on 2 August 7th with 27th Willesden on 4 Auhgus Home on 6 August. My onland ollection about this camp was t. rigging up a trip-wire acrossy rec the path leading to a can wit a stone in it to give us warning of visits from other scoutersh during the night! Alan Scaife OP 1947 -19




OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010

Super Troopers

Portsmouth Grammar School •


I joined the S used to meet evcouts in 1951. Throughout th we would get in ery Friday evening. On thes e term we games, some volved with many different e occasions activities and and the sea-fofrowhich involved exploring Old nt, very exciting P for young boyors.tsmouth On one such adv Maths Master, enture we were amused to encounters with John Davison, engaged in a find our m a girlfriend on a seat on ‘theorhoous The camps were t walls’ camps and ann a highlight, these included ua camps we wou l summer camps. Durin weekend surrounding areld undertake daily hikes arogunour annual The highlight ofas in pursuit of various task d the would be excite the week was the night hike s set for us. d to be out and about past mwidhen we There were alwa night. remember someo ys competitions between us ne a nd I can having to go to hit by a met hospit Other competiatil plate, which we used to usael after being the deepest hole ons included finding out whoas a Frisbee. build the most for the burial of rubbish, could dig elaborate oven/f or who could ire. I remember tha when John Bro t scouting at PGS was gr ea wnlee became th Scout. e school’s firsttly honoured Queens One thing for w at PGS is my hich I am extremely gratefu enduring love of maps and malp to scouting John Bartle reading. OP 1947-195 7

er for used to go in the summ we 35 19 t ou ab rship er wa ft A t, a Victory type of similar a spells on the Foudroyan th It was used wi moored in the harbou, a training ship for young ship, the Implacable in hammocks and scrubbed the people. Here we slept row and to sail in small dinghys decks. We learned to lamps, we had fascinating talks and, at night, by oil ings. on seafaring happen oop than about 20 in the tr There were never moherer and many friends we made, so we knew each ot of the camps and stays on especially as a result Foudroyant. oree tended the World Jamb In 1937 three of usndatreds of others we marched in Holland. With hu our chief scout for whom we had past Baden Powell I remember a bit of his speech. so much admiration.e youth of today that the future “It is largely on th depends.” peace of the world refree At least 5 of thoseofcalife in Sadly he was wrong.wh ll fu en we were so scouts that I knew finished as names on the school ys those halcyon da war memorial. Derrick

-1937 H Hughes OP 1927

When I was changed the rethstirteen years old I made a de from joining the of my life in almost every cision at school, which com to be a most a school OTC was if you join way. The only way to be expletely ttractive alterna ed e Scouts. empt The Scouts seem tive to drilling th Our Scoutmast a ed nd lo ud voices. number of thingser, C. G Carpenter, was an interesting man, before becoming Bill because who ha a tea demonstratinghesohad spent time in India,cha er. His nickname to us wads done a Benga nd he me of the native war dances. used to entertain us all by l The troop camps I remember on were a real delight, nearly our evening meaone occasion we took four m always in the Sussex coun But we didn’t mls, and one for each cooked atches with us, one for eachtryside. use paper to ge iss out on any of fires, andbreakfast. We were very co of t them going. cky! as Scouts we re fused to take or The camp fires atmosphere was used to be great fun. We a on a silly stunt wonderful, as it gradually lways had a huge fire, and were great fu or ten minute play, which got dark. Each patrol ha the except Carpenn.te One thing I will always rewe used to make up, and thdesto put Parker. The smel r, always smoked their pipemember was that all our Scoe s, a particula l of the smoke dr uters, marvellous. rl ifting down tond wards us in thy ePoole and firelight was My Scouting ys really did ha often think thda ve a lasting at I learnt mor e from Scoutineffect on the rest of my life. g than schooling. Derek Worral I l OP 1933-193 9

I became a mem ber of the PGS Camps were th scout e hi as being especia ghlight of the year. I trreoop in 1933 at the age of 12 rather more am lly noteworthy for us, when call the summer camps of 19 . continent in thebitious. Plans were made to it was decided to try somet 34/35 Britain before. company of a foreign troo hold summer camp on the hing the cost of the I believe that when the ideap. None of us had been outs take us to the return journey, accommoda was first mooted to our ide of our parents Ardennes Forest in southwestion and food would be £8-parents arrived. Portsm consented and to our growin t Belgium. Fortunately enou9, to by Belgium goveouth to Dover by train was g excitement the day finally gh capital we were rnment steamer, Ostend to three changes, Dover to O in Brussels and accommodated in a large haBrussels by train. In the Bstend French and som spent 3-4 days sightseeing. ll. We met boys of the 97 elgian news cinema. (Ae of our group, less historica Most of us had some scho th olb lly inclined, opte t the time, thes - there was e were th d instead r oy a Our colleaguesa new one in Commercial Roaed,latest thing, small but comfo monde naturel” sought directions from a pa Portsmouth called The Clafortable sser-by, asking they were askin ssic.) corrected!” fo g for the nudist cinema and wrer“cinema a e gently From Brussels w e headed across a farm near th co untry the 97th, we tae village of Houffalize. Caamnd set up camp with the 97 th ught each other p some of our sofingres were also held jointly w, iton We eventually sa h s. and as far as id farewell to our Belgium conducted pen-I am aware non of us ever colleagues on return to Bru years later, in apal correspondence with one met up again. A few of us ssels never to learn repeat of 1914, the Ger or two of them. Less tha had got to knowthe fate of the boys of thme ans re-occupied Belgium. In five got out- and th , his first name was Guy w 97th, now like us rising 20. was One had to fea ere was no particular courseas Jewish. Unless his familyOne I r for him. ha to do so- where did he end up?d Leaving such th storm in Europ oughts aside, and in 1934 took part woulde, this expedition was a reso/35 none of us foresaw the fu never came to B ever quite forget the sheerunding success and none who ture en ritain, at least returned. as a troop, andjoyment we derived. The 97th in 1939 the wa r clouds had I have never re second century. gretted joining this world-wid that never goes I know that it leaves a ma e movement, now beginning rk on one’s chara its away. cter and outloo Tom Dethrid k ge O P 1931-1939




OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010

Portsmouth Grammar School •

Super Troopers

Early morning traipse

, Mere c.1958 to ‘the lats’, Zeals House

Senior Jay Ventham laying it on

the line to Peter Moore and Chri s Owens, Preston Candover c.1956

talgia 60s - with than a whiff of nos and s 50 the in ing mp Ca out PGS Sc rity and trust in characterised by relaxed autho s wa ys da se tho in g Rogate, Mere pin at d cam hel PGS scout t spirits! Junior camps weresco des wil the n eve one or two of and se sen uts n mo ior the com asters, sen utm sco of up gro HQ an h or ‘Pop’ wit or Preston Candover endary Brownsea Island fame leg of ole Po s’ ‘Gu as h suc attendant staff maintenance. Lovat, the doyen of trek cart spread about eye on the four or five patrols an t kep and ies ivit and act es) ily rin da lat the HQ organised the odd fatigue (eg. diggings for out hed dis le survival ey Th tab ld. for fie com e acr a 10-12 technique and ges dod of dge wle kno ble imparted their considera t it was all done with a lightness of touch that left theff-free in the great outdoors. Bu autonomy; and most senior camps were virtually sta youngsters a sense of secure zones. ekly term time the high points of the year. -We ny, ma for e, wer ay aw ss nights ks me wee l l, but Those annua after school were all very wel gs nin eve y da difference Fri the on all ngs de eti me ma scout port. What sup and st ere int in our d hel e apart - might not hav ay under canvas on ‘night ops’ over the hill, weekend camps aw e tim of was the appeal fortnights up-country. the Meon Valley or those sunny r or Hazleton elder brothers into Carpente ir the ed low fol s ling sib r were Venthams, nge Invariably you s of the Senior Scouts. Thesereaplenty! ght hei zy diz the o int ond bey Troops, and and Owens ndersons, Fawkner-Corbetts fel low scout and masters differed Dores, Moores, Talbots, Heling and ut sco n wee bet and s sib n re was Relationships betwee friendships blossomed and the w Ne ool. sch and e hom than loose at re se mo subtly from tho ple who might never have been peo of ms tea in n tio ora lab col amiable acquaintances at school. t a couple of 4th tious, risk-obsessed climate, tha cau s ay’ tod in e, ang that half a str ds; m wil see y in the It ma ed on 24-hour night hikes urn rvis upe uns off e of Wight, to go Isl ld the wou on rs e me for ry to Fishbo fer car by ss cro ld wou lds r-o Wight for a week dozen 13-14 yea roads on Newtown in West sho in ma ng alo t car k tre en uld be let loose lad drag their testosterone-charged teenagers en doz a t tha or r; run up in the ste y’d Ea the at oes away vers Wye and Severn in canmo Ro the ck, rbe Pu away from any s, of e ain Isl unt the on nights in the for ct tri Dis ke La the on or Woodwork Shed cipline. staff or adult guidance or dis th and, I guess, was a halcyon time for you t tha ht, sig in nt me ess ass line cip s of Cambridge With nary a risk little the quasi-military dissib a ate der mo ’ Wells, to ff sta for e a freer tim o made it pos le - to ‘Ernie wh se tho to ude tit gra of t at Junction . We owe a deb , ‘Mugsy’ Mason, Barry Dodd, ‘Gus’ Poole, ‘Pop’ Lov and ‘Egg’ Lenton, ‘Boggy’ Marsh others. smin Mug the Venthams’ Wareham Ja to uel seq a n, nio reu al orm new inf e s of this as Roll on the next coy Heath in 2003. To recteivwit De on n ma Wo ent Sil e h John Owens Th at Celebration ties should please make contac par d ste ere int nt, eve ed dul che yet uns Office on 023 9236 4248. through the school Development 963

ens and yant, Chris Ow ens, Dicky Br Ow hn Jo – e eding tim gate c. 1957 Kestrels at fe Rupert Cox, Ro

Dib Dib Dib Ten PGS Scouting Facts


John Owens OP 1953-1

Mr Carpenter, who founded the School scout troop in 1930, had previously been Acting Scout Commissioner in Delhi. Pioneer Corp reporting to CO Mr ‘Ernie’ Wells at HQ, Preston Candover with – amongst the baggage – Barnes, Ventham (mi.), Kendall, Owens (mi.), Cannon, Anon, Owens (min.) & Birch c.1959

In 1958, in a war on wasps, one Scout claimed a record of nineteen with one blow. The Troop travelled abroad for the first time in 1934, setting up camp 400 miles from Portsmouth in Belgium. The camp menu included Ardennes Jambon (ham) which scouts tried to eat both cooked and uncooked, but which was finally given to the cat. During inspection visits by the Commissioner, Bruce Poole was well known for his talent in diverting attention away from any areas in camp that fell short of the required standard.

John Fawkner-Corbett and Chri s Owens at Lakeside, South Win dermere, returning from a 3-night hike from Hawkshead to Coniston, Langdale, central Fells, Ambleside & Lake side base camp c.1960

In 1968, having arrived at a Brittany beach to discover that the sea had gone out two miles, PGS Scouts were photographed and appeared in the French press in a varied collection of hats and assorted towels tied around their waists, providing proof that the English really are mad. Scout Master Mr Ensor encouraged Scouts’ singing lessons in the late 1930s in the belief that scouts should be encouraged to make music as well as noise around the camp-fire. One PGS scout won an axemanship competition in 1943, and went on to a career with the Forestry Commission.

r s from the Rive d in West Cowe ke ar ab m se di ), n (major Camp; just ajor), Henderso Easter Trek Cart , Messrs Dore (m c.1957/8 ld fie an St d Medina car ferry an ts Balmer, Rabbet ), or aj (m s en Ow

Colonel Wyllie, the son of famous maritime artist William Wyllie, trained PGS Scouts in seamanship on board the Implacable (renamed Foudroyant) which was moored in Portsmouth Harbour until 1949. The Implacable was a French ship which had taken part in the Battle of Trafalgar. At Bossington Camp in 1936, eel traps were set in the nearby river and Headmaster Mr Stork survived a meal of eel pie. “British Bulldogs” was the favourite Scout game in the early 1960s, and was described as one of several “terrifying” games played with “immense gusto”.

Mess Night at School, featurin g Mr Barry Dodd (his pipe), (Back row) John Owens, Roger Pope, Chris Fyson, Richard Dore , David Fawkner-Corbett; (front row) David Owens, Mike Dore, Rupert Cox, Julian Birch & Bill Henderson c. 1961

knerBowers, Peter Talbot, John Faw Kestrel Patrol – Patrol Leader visiting slave, with ns, Owe s Chri re, Moo r Corbett, Rupert Cox, Pete work, Preston Candover c.1956 Robin Cox doing all the donkey-

Derek Cannon and Phil Ventham on ‘first-class c.1958

hike’, Zeals House, Mere



OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010

Portsmouth Grammar School •

k c a r T e d i s n I Heard but Weather Forecaster

OP Rick naturally right for T4!

not seen -

Sarah’s voice sounds the world over

Channel 4 presenter Rick Edwards has always enjoyed making people laugh – he says it’s a trait which made him popular with his peers in the Sixth Form at PGS, but perhaps not with his teachers! ‘I wrote a play for the house drama competition and hosted it but I didn’t want to be in it!’

Despite saying he wasn’t the most exemplary pupil, Rick did brilliantly at his A Levels and won a place to read maths at Cambridge, changed to natural sciences after a year, and became a stand-up comedian with the university’s world famous Footlights. Rick with pop sensation Katy Perry

It’s undoubtedly an attribute which has helped him become one of the country’s most popular young television stars as part of the T4 team. Rick has co-presented the E4 music show which led him to the flagship youth music series Freshly Squeezed, the Hollyoaks Music Show and a new game show Relentless, all for Channel 4. He was also a DJ on radio station Xfm.

‘Going to PGS made going to university a lot easier, especially a university like Cambridge because I had such preconceptions about the place. It eased the passage because I had gained such a lot of confidence and that has helped at work too.’ In his last year at Cambridge, Rick narrowly missed out on becoming a T4 presenter and he remained unconvinced that a nine to five office job was for him.

He joined Portsmouth Grammar for his A Levels in 1995 and says the confidence the school inspired in him has helped him ever since.

He says he tried his hand at several ‘bits and pieces’, including a brief spell as a model, which he hated, and as the audience warm up man for Ruby Wax’s BBC daytime show. (He also tutored her children).

‘The school has a thriving drama department but that was never really my thing. I’ve never wanted to be an actor but I have always enjoyed talking to people and making them laugh. I used to love reading in front of the whole class.

Ruby suggested Rick apply to Princess Productions for a place on their post graduate scheme which he did, and was accepted, working for the company behind the scenes in development and production.


But having narrowly missed out on the chance of joining the T4 team to Vernon Kay during his last year at university, he still had his heart set on a career as a presenter. He successfully auditioned to front the E4 music show which led to him to his current role. At the moment Rick – a movie buff - is the focus of a Facebook campaign to take over from Jonathan Ross as the host of Film 2010, and, he has said, of 2011, 2012, 2013 and so on! With celebrity status and a Press profile as a leading pin-up presenter, Rick seems to be living the dream, but he is extremely modest. “Such a large part of my career has been luck. I’d be kidding myself to think otherwise. There are hundreds of people who could do my job – and that helps keep me grounded. Where I am is not a reflection of me but of my circumstances. I’ve been in the right place at the right time.’ And despite his fame, Rick stays firm friends with fellow former pupils Gordon Black, Lucan Chan, Nigel Yates and Steve Sargent. ‘I made some great friends at PGS and we still meet up whenever we can considering that we don’t all live near each other anymore.’. Rick Edwards OP (1995-1997)

Sarah Strange (née Sealey), one of the first girls at the school to continue to the upper sixth, had no idea at the time that she would now be the voice of a Russian spy in a Nintendo Wii game, or the voice of ‘Darling Perfume’ for Kylie. With a passion for acting, Sarah starred in most of the school’s drama productions during her seven years at PGS, starring in the title role of Dolly in the musical of the same name.

But, she says modestly, it was being in the right place at the right time which led her into an interesting and fulfilling profession not in film, theatre or television but as a voice-over artist. After leaving PGS, she had two stabs at university before deciding it was not for her and began her working life in London as a runner in the film industry. ‘I have fond memories of school and in particular of Mr Hampshire and my English teacher Mr Elphick-Smith who was my shining light. He would always help me with my prose whenever I was auditioning for a Shakespearian play,’ she recalls. Sarah went on to work as personal assistant to the managing director of film post production house Pepper and in less than two years was poached by one of its sister companies, the sound studio Scramble. There she helped with client liaison and started to do voice-over work, which she quickly found she was very good at. Despite Sarah saying she fell into her job as a voice over artist, she has been dedicated to pursuing her dream. ‘I decided to give it 100 per cent and I haven’t looked back. It’s hard work but thanks to the blessing of the internet, I have had work from all around the world – America, Australia, the Netherlands and China. ‘So many people don’t enjoy what they do but for me working is a real pleasure and I am truly enjoying life’. Sarah Strange OP (1991-1998)

The first in a regular feature where Opus talks to OPs in interesting and unusual professions and poses questions to discover What’s it really like? Charles Powell OP (1990-2003) has been a Weather Forecaster for the Met Office in Devon since 2008. He currently works with Public Weather Service where he produces scripts, text and graphics for the Met Office website, and is also a media spokesman who issues warnings when severe weather is likely to cause disruption to members of the public.

What convinced you to pursue a career in meteorology? I remember telling Mrs Giles, the then Head of Geography at PGS, about how I wanted to get into weather and forecasting back when I was 15 or 16 years old. She gave me some good advice and plenty of support, and it has certainly helped get me where I am today. I’d had a fascination for extreme weather since the age of ten and used to stay up at night watching thunderstorms. I guess that you could call me a weather geek and it’s certainly rewarding to feed that geekiness on a daily basis! Are we in line for a hot summer? It’s still a little early to say with a great deal of confidence, but our competitors have already said it will be the hottest summer for a few years. To avoid the risk and embarrassment of getting my fellow OPs to rush out and buy outdoor cooking equipment only to be disappointed, I’d say watch this space! Have you ever considered going in front of the camera as a forecaster? Yes. It’s something that I’m trying to get more and more involved with. I’ve done a few screen tests, some radio work and even been on BBC’s Weather Idol – yes, really! It’s a very competitive environment though. What does a weather forecaster consider to be the best kind of weather? It’s always great when it’s dry and sunny, because it’s quiet at work! There are fewer warnings to issue, the phone is quiet - but - you are trapped inside a building. It’s exciting when there is lots of snow, or it’s blowing a gale, but the press and public inevitably get anxious too and things can get hectic. Ideally, you want it to be dry on your days off and wet when you’re on shift! What’s the best and worst things about the job? The surprised reaction I get from people when I tell them what I do for a living never fails to amuse me and it’s nice to have a 3-day weekend between shifts. However, the shifts themselves are 12 hours long and we have to work four in a row - two days and two nights. It also means that you have to work weekends, bank holidays and Christmas! Who is your meteorological hero/heroine? That’s a tough one. It’d be easy to say Michael Fish, but it’s not, so I won’t. However, he has put up with a lot since his famous blunder - although, thanks to the miracle of editing, few remember his actual words of warning that night! A lot of the presenters are very charismatic and have the hardest job getting the message across to the nation, so I definitely look up to them. If I had to pin down a favourite, it would probably be BBC Breakfast’s Carol Kirkwood. Are you allowed to put a bet on for a white Christmas every year? I think it would be frowned upon, mainly because we are in such close contact with the Bookies during that time of year, but also because it would be mortifying if we lost the bet! What’s the strangest reaction you’ve ever encountered after declaring what you do for a living? A few people think that working for the Met Office means I work for the Metropolitan Police, some think that a Meteorologist works with Meteors, but the strangest response I got was at a building society counter in Birmingham. The bank clerk replied to my occupation of Meteorology with the words, “Oh, that’s to do with clocks isn’t it?”.


OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010

Portsmouth Grammar School •

Shakespear of Arabia William Henry Irvine Shakespear OP was very much a man of his time. Born in 1878 in Britain’s imperial heyday and a year before the Boy’s Own Paper with its ripping yarns was first published, Shakespear spent his early childhood in India, where he learnt Punjabi from his family’s servants. In 1887, Mrs Shakespear and her three sons left Bombay, arriving in England several weeks later. She took rooms at Hartington Terrace in Portsmouth and enrolled the boys in the local preparatory school. In 1889, at the age of 10, William was enrolled as a day boy at Portsmouth Grammar School. When she was satisfied that her sons had settled in, Mrs Shakespear returned to her husband in the Punjab. William was now a boarder at the school’s boarding house in St Edwards Road, Southsea, Prescote, run by Mr Pares, a teacher at the school. Two familiar names appear in the class lists at the same time as William Shakespear, whose subsequent careers could not have been more different. Cyril Garbett became Archbishop of York, and Percy Westerman became probably the most prolific and popular children’s author of the 1930s. Both men went on to enjoy fame, long careers and a ripe old age. William was an unexceptional student, but did well in languages and geography.

At this time the school ran a museum and encouraged OPs, many of whom were serving in far-flung outposts of Empire, to donate artefacts and curiosities for the boys to enjoy as an educational resource. The Portmuthian from 1884, for example, acknowledges the donation of “a kaffir pipe”, “a preserved snake in spirits”, “two Patagonian bone spear heads”, “a petrified cat’s skull”, “ a Pondo head rest formerly belonging to Damas, King of Pondo”, “a curious nut from Demerara” and “a necklace of birds’ bones”. These strange things from strange lands, brought a glimpse of the mysterious, outside world

into the drab and dull life of the Victorian schoolboy. At the age of 14, William was elected to the Museums Committee. After leaving PGS in 1893, William was sent to a college on the Isle of Man. From there he went to Sandhurst to train as an army officer, and then to India as a 2nd Lieutenant. By 1901, ambitious and hungry for responsibility, he took up the post of an Assistant District Officer in Bombay. At this time, plague had hit the Bengal province, and 100,000 people had perished. Nothing had been done to track down its source.

William initiated a massive rat-killing campaign, organising as many soldiers as could be spared to systematically work their way through the Bombay slums with traps, sticks and guns, killing tens of thousands of rodents. William’s reputation for getting things done was growing and in 1904, he was appointed Consul at Bandar Abbas, Persia (Iran). It was at about this time that he started to take an interest in the exciting and mysterious land of Arabia, and learnt to speak Arabic fluently. In 1907, after almost nine years of unbroken duty, Captain Shakespear went to Karachi and bought himself a new 8 horse power Rover, a beautifully upholstered model costing £250. At

and even more challenging – a journey across the great central deserts of Arabia by camel and by foot. And so began the first of seven epic, pioneering treks into the Arabian interior.

Armed with his sextant, diary and camera, he intended to record everything he saw, becoming the first person to comprehensively chart areas of Northern Arabia.

that time, motor cars were a rare sight in England, but even more so in India. William decided to use his new vehicle to travel overland to England, through Persia and Europe. With little experience of driving, or of the mechanics of the motor car, he set out on what he knew was a hazardous escapade, across countryside, deserts and mountainous areas where there were few roads. Inevitably, William was to experience many punctures on his epic journey. Through Persia, Turkey, Macedonia, Greece, along the Adriatic Coast to Italy, his fame went before him.

News spread of the mad Englishman’s arrival in his “iron horse” and crowds gathered to line the streets through towns and villages. By the time he reached England, he had travelled around 4000 miles across Asia Minor and Europe, one of the most remarkable journeys of the early years of motorised transport. Throughout his journey he had collected information on the lands and peoples he had encountered, which he dutifully passed on to his superiors. In 1909 he was transferred to the post of British Political Agent in Kuwait. Having developed a taste for travelling and exploration, William began to draw up plans for something more significant

Britain was keen to keep open all routes across Asia to India, the “Jewel in the Crown” of the British Empire, and William’s pioneering role in discovering new routes was invaluable. William began to learn the ways of the land and the badawan (Bedouin) tribes. As an accomplished photographer, he recorded many aspects of Arabian life for the first time. It was while he was on these expeditions that William met ibn Saud, an Arab sheik who was to become the future founder of Saudi Arabia. The relationship was to grow into a great mutual trust and friendship, and by the time of the First World War, William was asked to garner support in the region. A rival tribe, the Rashidis, supported Germany’s allies, Turkey. In January 1915, the two tribes clashed at the Battle of Jarrab, just north of Riyadh. What happened to William is not known for certain. One account suggests he was taking photographs and spotting for ibn Saud’s sole artilleryman, when he was shot in the thigh, the arm and then the back of the head. According to The Portmuthian, in an account said to have been given by the gunner, several Rashidis bodies were found next to William’s

suggesting he had shot them before being killed. According to Wikipedia, “the victorious Rashidis cut off Shakespear’s head”, an account which does not seem to be supported by any other source.

Captain Shakespear became a legend in Saudi Arabia, and stories of his exploits are still well known there today. In Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Lawrence describes how lengthy stories of Shakespear “magnificence” were recounted to him over desert campfires. In this country he is largely forgotten, eclipsed by the adventures of the more glamorous Lawrence, aside from a biography by Victor (HVF) Winstone, and, of course, in his old school where his name appears amongst the fallen on the First World War plaque in the Sixth Form Memorial Library. The school is pleased to announce that Susan Buxton, the mother of two OPs, has been commissioned by the school to research and write a monograph celebrating Captain Shakespear’s life and achievements.



OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010

Portsmouth Grammar School •

Streets ahead

Lost and Found

In 1959, Gerry Thompson was returning from hospital after suffering a rugby injury when he spotted an impressive, pewter tankard in a junk shop window.

When OP Tony George (1946-1953) contacted the Development Office in the hope of being reunited with old school pal and best man at his wedding, John Kemble (1945 -1953), he felt that it was a bit of a long shot after a separation of more than 50 years and several other attempts to locate him through other organisations.

With a thirst-quenching quart capacity, he immediately thought it suitable for rugby club post match refreshment sessions and happily handed over the 18 shillings (90p) for it. The tankard served its purpose well throughout the 60s until, as is the way of the world, Mrs Thompson commandeered it as a rose vase. Recently, Gerry, curious about the engraved inscription on the tankard approached the PGS Archivist about its history, and it was established that sixteen year old A W Street, who came second in the half mile race, was a very busy lad on that Sports Day in 1894. The Portmuthian records that he also played in the school football team against Mr Hastings XI and acted as a steward. Victorian class lists show that Arthur William Street’s strongest subjects were Latin, Mechanics and Trigonometry, and the Admissions Register reveals that he was one of four brothers who attended PGS.

Arthur left the school for university, evidently not having been hampered by the quaffing of large quantities of ale during his studies. Apart from revealing some idea of the value placed on being “good at sports”, as well as, perhaps, attitudes to underage drinking at the time, this impressive trophy raises an interesting question. One wonders what capacity of tankard the winner received!

“ It was very much a last ditch effort that I emailed the PGS Development Team. Their response was impressive.” He was therefore delighted to discover by return that John was one of the thousands of OPs that the Development Office keeps in regular contact with.

Tony’s details were passed to John and they have since enjoyed regular email and telephone contact. Tony now lives in the U.S where, although he retired some years ago, he still works both as a Senior Vice President and as a participant in International Standards Committees. John followed a career in Municipal Engineering and became a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1984. He is also now retired. The pair are hoping to be reunited in June this year when Tony visits the UK and the Development Office wish them a happy trip down memory lane. Tony said ” John and I were contemporaries and good friends during our time at

PGS. We knew each other’s families and shared a variety of experiences from the classroom, the cricket field, early tentative social events involving the opposite sex, an interest in engineering, and the first acquisition of decrepit and marginally safe motorcycles and cars. We both went to London University at the same time to study engineering - John to Queen Mary College for Civil Engineering and me to University College for Mechanical Engineering. Following graduation, John was the best man at my wedding. John may not remember, but I played my very first game of golf with him and one of his relatives. He is therefore responsible for committing me to a lifetime obsession!”

Hold the Front Page! Many thanks to all OPs who have contributed memories, photographs and ephemera to the School archive. The collection has also added a few items courtesy of e-bay, including a wonderful copy of Time magazine from 1944 featuring a popular public figure of the day, OP Cyril Garbett. Garbett was awarded the “Teacher’s Bible”, a School prize for Scriptural Knowledge in 1892. He went up to Keble College, Oxford in 1894. Ordained in 1901, he served as Vicar of Portsea, Bishop of Southwark, Bishop of Winchester and Archbishop of York from 1942 until 1955, when he retired on his 80th birthday and was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order.

John recalled: “Following our studies for our respective degrees, we both worked in London for a time and I remember many journeys in Tony’s car to Portsmouth at weekends to see our respective girlfriends, visits to motor racing events at Goodwood and even a New Year Ball at Arundel Castle. From then on, we seemed to lose contact until now!”

Our Reunite Service If you have any Victorian PGS trophies, School Archivist John Sadden would be delighted to hear from you. His contact details can be found on the Contents Page of this edition of Opus.

unfortunately ny of our former pupils As the years go by, ma er and in touch with each oth have difficulty keeping stance, lose um circ d an ss of addre often, owing to changes d to help with are always very please contact altogether. We in touch whenever we can; we are reuniting “lost” alumni always do Portmuthians and will with thousands of Old Please don’t old classmates for you. our best to locate your nce in you would like our assista hesitate to contact us if ul to receive lly, we are always gratef finding old friends. Equa l not been the alumni we have stil any information about ment ase contact the Develop successful in locating. Ple or email development@ Office on 023 9236 4248



OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010

’Dear Me‘

Portsmouth Grammar School • Sir Richard Johns

If you were to write a letter to your 16-year-old self, what would it say?

Opus asked four former PGS pupils to pen such a letter. They provide a unique insight into the teenagers who would grow up to be Sir Richard Johns, John Aitchison, Brian Edney and Ian Osterloh. Brian Edney

Dr Ian Osterloh

Brian Edney was a pupil at PGS from 1948-1958. He gained a First Class degree in Geography (with Economics) and emigrated to the USA some 30 plus years ago. Brian has spent his entire career in high tech businesses including optics, electronics and fibre optics. Over a period of nearly 15 years he built-up a leading global business in opto-electronics for Schott Glass, part of the German group, Carl Zeiss before retiring in 2001. He now lives in Silverthorne, Colorado, and is still active in business (a nanotechnology company), Silverthorne’s Economic Development Advisory Commission, Alpenglow Chamber Music Festival as well as charitable activities, and outdoor sports. He continues to maintain links with PGS by funding travel grants for sixth form pupils.

Dr Ian Osterloh attended PGS from 1965-1971. He completed degrees in Chemistry, Advanced Analytical Chemistry, qualified in Medicine and started his career as a doctor. He has had 20 years of successful leadership experience in the pharmaceutical industry. When working for Pfizer he held prominent roles in Clinical Drug Development and Regulatory Affairs and played a key role in the development and registration of VIAGRA™ and the regulatory approval of three other key products in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Dear Me Who would want to listen to any advice from a septuagenarian, let alone take it! For what it’s worth I’d like to share with you, my younger self, some observations, in no particular order …. China and India are fast becoming major influences on what goes on in the world so learn Mandarin. Don’t worry about Hindu as all educated Indians speak good English and use it in business discussions because of the multitude of Hindu dialects. Avoid and be sceptical of bigots, zealots and pompous asses— they use the media to great effect to the detriment of intelligent communications. Never give press interviews as your words will be twisted to meet the interviewer’s agenda, not yours. Have some long term goals but be prepared to be tactically adaptable to achieve them. When asked to undertake a task which may not appeal ---do it. Speaking as a former employer of thousands of people, those prepared to do so tend to get noticed and make progress. Notwithstanding the previous point, always have fun at what you do. Make the best of a situation---even cleaning toilets has a certain therapeutic value! Remember and cherish your friends, whatever their position in life. Finally, and the most important advice I could ever offer, never, ever neglect your family. It’s a wonderful feeling to be successful in whatever career or calling you might follow but not at the expense of neglecting your nearest and dearest. Being an absentee spouse, offspring or sibling is not a choice. I would probably have been divorced if my wife could have afforded the legal fees many years ago! Oh! Only use the courts as an absolute last resort.

Dear Ian I could try to give you advice like - “Try not to worry about so many things. Most will turn out to be unimportant. Make sure you enjoy things as much as possible ….” - but I know this is difficult to follow, so instead I will concentrate on a few practical points. You are likely to meet lots of interesting people after you leave school, but memories of friends, and interesting social or work experiences soon fade and can go completely over the years. So try to keep a diary - even if you don’t complete it every day, jot down the names of friends and of interesting events. Also get a camera and take more pictures of friends and family and places you visit. Do join a choir as soon as you get a chance. Singing in a 4-part choir can be great fun as well as providing the possibility of gaining more friends. Also have another go at persuading your parents to get a piano or keyboard. At sixteen it is not too late to start to learn to play - even if you will never reach the level of a Benjamin Grosvenor. As you have managed to reach the dizzy heights of O Level French, try not to let your knowledge of the language slip from your grasp completely. In other words try to find ways of reading/speaking it every year. Ability to speak French will come in useful later. Don’t worry about your lack of sporting prowess. You can still find or form a cricket team to match your abilities if you go about it the right way, and you will probably enjoy the game even more than those who take it very seriously. Finally, when you start to play squash make sure you wear not only goggles to protect your eyes but also a well-fitting gum shield. This will enable you to avoid the unpleasantness of several tooth fractures, multiple trips to the dentist, the harrowing experience of root canal treatment, and the need for dentures or expensive implants. It will also enable you to avoid the embarrassment of various parts of the dental prostheses flying out of your mouth during important meetings and at other inconvenient moments. (It might also be wise to choose your opponents more carefully or give them a wider berth.)

Ian PS Be yourself and follow your instincts!

Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Johns GCB, KCVO, CBE, was a pupil at PGS from 1953-1956 and harboured an ambition to become a fighter pilot from an early age. After completing his training at RAF College Cranwell, Sir Richard enjoyed an illustrious career in the RAF which culminated in his appointment as Chief of the Air Staff in 1997. Following his retirement from the RAF in 2000, Sir Richard became Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle. He retired for a second time in 2008, but still finds time to serve as a PGS governor.

Dear Me, You have developed considerable skill in doing the absolute minimum necessary to scrape through exams. But you will soon find out that there is more to life than being good at cricket and rugby so I advise you most strongly to apply more energy to your academic work, in particular mathematics. But you are not very good at listening, particularly to unwelcome advice, so I fear that more than a few years will pass before you understand the meaning of hard work and develop the required application. Is that really you I see strolling down the sea front smoking an illicit fag? That is really stupid and you will be fortunate to live to regret your folly which over the years will cost you lots of money, will damage your health and demand a great effort of will to break the habit once you recognise your inanity. You have already formed the limited but praiseworthy ambition to be a fighter pilot in the RAF- this probably as a consequence of reading too many Biggles books rather than those requiring your attention in the English syllabus. Whatever you do, please remember that flying aeroplanes is a relatively safe occupation, but crashing them is decidedly dangerous. As a pilot you will be working at the pointy end so in most foreseeable circumstances you will be the first on the scene if you prang. So while enjoying the thrill of flight, break the habit of your short lifetime and work your hardest to become more than averagely proficient in your chosen profession of military aviation. That’s the easy bit and I have no doubt that your first big fright in an aeroplane will underline the fundamental truth that the day you stop learning is the day to quit. Do understand that a military career will require you to develop personal qualities vital to success within a profession of unlimited liability. While integrity, courage, energy, determination and foresight are all so important, do not loose your sense of humour. At times it will be sorely tried, but humour brings with it an understanding of the ridiculous and a sense of proportion. With the passing of the years you will face increasing challenges that will test your mettle. You will no doubt enjoy the experience of overcoming them, but do let your pleasure be evident to those entrusted to your care. Blessed with one life on earth, it’s plain daft if you don’t do your best to enjoy it and to make the most of it for the common good. So to repeat the point, be seen to enjoy your work and your life because nobody in my experience likes working for a miserable b….r. My advice is offered with the humility of one who instinctively mistrusts the familiar axiom that with age comes wisdom. But from the vantage point of old age I commend to you the wise words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who wrote “Remember to live and dare to be happy”.

Have a wonderful life,

Good luck,



John Aitchison John Aitchison attended PGS from 1977 to 1984. He has pursued a remarkable career as a wildlife cameraman and photographer and has worked on many BBC programmes including Big Cat Diary, Springwatch, Yellowstone and South Pacific. John’s photographs and films have gained international renown.

Dear John Perhaps my advice won’t seem too relevant to you yet, I’m almost three times older than you after all, but here it is… If I remember rightly you’ve been watching Life on Earth on TV and have just realised there’s a job called “wildlife cameraman”. It seems hard to imagine ever being one doesn’t it? But even the most improbable things can happen gradually, stage by small stage, if you set your heart on them and persist. You see, no matter what your project is, the world is full of people with the knowledge and skills you’ll need to make it happen and if you ask them nicely many will be keen to help. You just have to work out who they are and ask, so try not to be shy. I know that’s hard so here’s a trick. When you are talking to someone new, try to notice something about them, ask them “why?” and listen carefully to their answer. Before you know it you’ll both be having a great conversation. At school you’ve just had to choose between arts and sciences and sometimes it seems life will force you to make that same impossible choice but if it really mattered I wouldn’t be here, in the Falklands, composing images of penguins with a camera so clever that it has no moving parts and its own internet address. Being a careful observer will always work, in biology, in painting and in crafting words just as it does in filmmaking, so carry on noticing the small things and searching the world for patterns. Learning doesn’t finish when you leave school. In fact it never finishes because there’s so much pleasure in understanding how the world works and in making your own modest discoveries. Having satisfaction in this and in your work is better than a life judged by what you own or what you earn. Make the most of these days when time still moves past you at a reasonable pace. The ten years ahead will probably be the freest of your life so get out there and enjoy yourself and if you are ever vexed remember what the Romans said - “walking solves it”. It really does. Do what your Dad taught you and keep diaries of your travels and what they mean to you. Looking back they won’t just show how far you’ve been but how far you’ve come. There are many millions more people alive since I was your age, with all the extra pressures that must bring. Many places and animals have gone beyond repair. You won’t be able to ignore this I’m afraid so try to make a difference if you can, instead of standing by and watching the beauty fade. Family matters! It’s easier for me to see how much your Mum and Dad are doing for you. Some of it you won’t realise until you’re a parent too. They’ll never ask you for thanks but they will appreciate it all the same. And give your Dad a hug – he’d like it really. Take care! You’re a lucky man.




OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010

Portsmouth Grammar School •

In memoriam In Memoriam Edward Aylett Cushen (1925-2009) We are indebted to Mr Cushen’s sister, Mrs Joan Rees, for this appreciation of his life. Edward Eylett Cushen died on 4 October 2009. He attended PGS during the evacuation to Bournemouth in September 1939. Ted sat the Higher School Certificate in 1943 and was awarded a State Bursary to read Mechanical Sciences at City and Guilds College, Imperial College, in the University of London. He gained a First two years later after completing a wartime degree. After graduating he was a college apprentice with Metropolitan Vickers and was sent to Turkey to work on a power station there. Ted married Joan, who has predeceased him, and they had a son and a daughter. Ted worked for China Light and Power in Hong Kong before retiring first to Manchester and then to Exmouth where he enjoyed the sea and sailing.

Morley Howarth Freeman, OBE (1916-2009) We are grateful to Hilary Smart, Morley Freeman’s daughter, for this appreciation of his life. My Father, Morley Howarth Freeman, died on 22 December 2009 following a brief period in hospital. He attended PGS from September 1924July 1933. He obtained his BSc. (1st. Class) in Special Mathematics and was awarded the Drew Gold Medal for Mathematics at King’s College, London. He then did a a Teacher’s Certificate and taught for two and a half years before joining the Meteorological Office in April 1940. He was mobilised as Flight Lieutenant RAF in 1943 and was, involved in all major operations undertaken by Bomber Command. After the War he continued working in the Meteorological Office. His principal achievement was to be in charge of

the Meteorological Office on Christmas Island during the H-bomb tests in 1957, for which he was awarded the OBE. As Assistant Director responsible for Synoptic Climatology he was responsible for launching the Long Range Weather Forecasts in 1967. His final positions were Deputy Director (Communications) in 1972 and then Deputy Director (Forecasting) in 1973. He retired in 1975. His retirement was spent doing much charity work with organisations such as Abbeyfield and lecturing and teaching in the USA. He was active in his church and a staunch member of the choir. He had a passion for Bridge. His family was always very important to him and after the passing of his wife, Dorothy, in 1993 he continued to keep close to his two children, five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

staff of Maria Gray College in Twickenham. Then he was appointed as Head of Humanities at the about-to-be formed Fareham Park School. He retired early at the age of 55. David thoroughly enjoyed his work and, from the number of ex-pupils who kept in touch with him and Jenny, he was much liked and respected. They had a very active and interesting life in retirement and made very many friends. David had a number of contacts by e-mail on intellectual subjects. Although brought up as a Methodist, he became, actively, a Humanist – though he remained a member of the Hymn Society. He died from Cancer of the Pancreas on 19 June 2009, aged 80.

A thanksgiving service was held on 13 February 2010 which was a joyful celebration of a wonderful life.

We are indebted to David’s brother, Bernard Gosden, for this appreciation of David’s life.

He did his National Service as a Sergeant in the Army Education Corps. and was at Downing, Cambridge, reading Classics, graduating with a good degree. Then he went to Exeter Training College for teacher training (where he met his wife, Jenny) and he started his career and his married life in the West Country teaching classics at Beaminster Grammar School. Subsequently he taught at Scarborough Grammar School, the Southern Grammar School at Portsmouth and spent four years on the

He was a talented man, he drew in pencil and charcoal, painted in watercolours and was a maker of furniture and a wood carver, making many beautiful articles, birds, seals and horses. He also created astonishingly beautiful pictures in marquetry. He originated “The Kinch Formula” for when embarking on a project - “for any job undertaken, estimate the time it will take, then apply the Kinch Formula, i.e. double it for it will always take twice as long”.

Robert James Kinch (Bob) (1920-2009) We are indebted to Bob Kinch’s niece, Caro Steward, for this appreciation of Bob’s life. Bob was born in May 1920 in Winter Road, Portsmouth, where his mother had a drapery shop. He went to Milton Road Primary School and then joined PGS in 1932 where his brother Gordon was already a pupil. After matriculation at the age of 16, he took the

Major David Linaker (1931-2009) David Linaker attended PGS from 1942 to 1949. After leaving school he served with the Royal Tank Regiment and later was President of the Newcastle Branch of the RTR Association for many years. His interest in the RTR led him to write about aspects of military history e.g. uniforms and cap badges. He was also a long standing member of the London Branch of the OP Club for many years. He passed away on 29 October 2009. A Thanksgiving Service took place in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne on 8 April 2010.

He had a wide circle of friends both locally and in other parts of the country and he used to enjoy visiting them in his car. Although he never married, he took great delight in being accepted into the families of his friends and he had many godchildren, in whom he took a great interest. Bob died in May 2009 and is survived by his sister in law Joan, his niece Caro and his nephew Victor.

greeted a new challenge with enthusiasm from baking cakes to writing his books about aviation. Interacting with the young was always something that Roy relished. A regular attendee at OP Reunions, Roy was never happier than when not only recounting stories of his own school days but listening to current pupils tell of the opportunities that they now have. He may not have had the distinction of becoming The Oldest Old Boy, something he would have relished, but he was certainly held dear in all our affections and will be greatly missed.

Colonel Graham F Smart RM (1946-2009) Graham Smart died peacefully at his home on Dartmoor, aged 63, on 18 June 2009. His years at PGS paved the way for his very successful career in the Royal Marines.

Among his many interests were local history, natural history - particularly birds, he was a member of the RSPB - poetry, music and politics. He was a frequent member of the audience at The Kings Theatre, Southsea at concerts of the Southern Philharmonic Orchestra, which later became the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. A keen gardener, his window boxes and hanging baskets were a joy to behold, and his garden was always a riot of colour in the summer months. In his youth, he skied and ice skated - at one time he had lessons at Richmond Ice Risk from the lady who later taught Jayne Torville - and he played badminton and tennis. In later life he took up golf and bowls and continued to follow the fortunes of Portsmouth Football Club. He enjoyed board games, particularly Scrabble.

David Gosden (1929-2009)

David attended PGS from 1937-1945 and was evacuated first to Sparsholt House and then to Southborne. He did well at school academically, but apart from Cross Country Running, did not shine at sport. In his final year, David was House Captain of Whitcombe.

entrance exam for the Civil Service and joined the Ordnance Survey in 1937 as an Assistant Clerical Officer. He remained with the Ordnance Survey all his working life, working in Chessington and Southampton, retiring in 1980 as a Senior Executive Officer.

In 1965, as a Troop Commander in 42 Commando, he saw active service in the jungles of Borneo as the Indonesians attempted to crush the fledging Federation of Malaysia. During 1965 he also met his future wife, Hilary, in Singapore. They had two sons, Giles and Guy.

Roy Powell (1922-2010) Thanks to Sue Merton for this appreciation of Roy Powell’s life. Roy Powell died on 24 January 2010. He started his lifelong relationship with The Portsmouth Grammar School in 1934 when, as an eleven year old boy, he won a scholarship and walked nervously under the arch for the first time. He was a natural scientist from early on with an inquisitive mind. He left school aged 16, eventually working in the scientific world developing radar for the Royal Navy. He married Phil and eventually settled in Portsmouth where he renewed his links with PGS. Recruited for the PGS 2004 fundraising campaign. Roy turned his hand to all manner of things from phoning OPs to stuffing envelopes by the thousand. He was a great favourite of all who worked in the PGS Development Office because of his cheerful disposition and willingness to help. Roy never stood still and always

Graham was deployed to Northern Ireland in 1976 and was located in Lenadoon, West Belfast on the sectarian divide. Following a succession of ever increasing staff appointments he became Chief of Staff, British Defence Staff, Washington D.C. where his intellect and great sense of humour made a considerable impact on testing times for U.S./European relations. Having retired from the Corps. Graham went on to become a successful manager in the Health Service.




OPUS • Issue 2 • Spring 2010

Portsmouth Grammar School •

Forthcoming events

In memoriam In Memoriam John Upfold (1929-2010) John passed away peacefully at home on 13 March 2010. John attended PGS during World War II. He was a keen Old Portmuthian, attended many events and his reminiscences were included in the PGS publication ‘Action This Day’. A Remembrance Service to celebrate John’s life was held at Sheet on Friday 26 March. Having left PGS he went to train as an architect at Southern College of Art. He followed his course and obtained

deferment for National Service, later serving for 2 years as a Royal Engineer which was the closest he came to being an architect at that time. He was invited by the architects practice in Petersfield that he was with prior to being called up to contact them on his return. He enjoyed the work and was fortunate enough to work for some of the theatrical greats of that era such as Sir Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers. He remained there retiring as sole partner.

cars and was invited by the Monte Carlo Auto club to participate in the first of the vintage Monte Carlo Rallies. This he duly did, driving a 1924 3 litre ‘Red Label’ Bentley. He came 56th out of 168 competitors. He met and married Brenda in 1952 during National Service. John also leaves two sons and three grandchildren who were a source of joy and delight to him.

John had always enjoyed vintage motor

Monday 10 – Friday 14 May 2010 PGS Scouts Archive Exhibition, David Bawtree Building

Friday 25 June 2010 Annual OP vs PGS Cricket, Netball, Rounders and Tennis Matches, Hilsea

To mark 80 years of Scouting history at PGS a special exhibition from the Archives will be on display. Viewing by appointment only. Please contact Sue Merton at or telephone 023 9268 1385.

(Cricket 1pm, Netball 1pm, Rounders 4.30pm, Tennis 4.30pm)

Thursday 20 May 2010 PGS Guest Speaker: ‘The Long Haul’, Alex Hibbert OP, David Bawtree Building at 7.30pm


‘It is as well the likes of Alex Hibbert stride amongst us with eyes fixed on the furthest horizons, because without them we are a spent force” Pen Hadow, Polar Explorer.

OP Engagements / Marriages / Births ALASDAIR AKASS (PGS Development Director) and EMILY-JANE TOLAND (PGS Head of Biology) were married in the West Country just before Christmas 2009 and enjoyed a white wedding in more than one way – it snowed as they left the church.

Kate Glennie (nėe Anderson; 1999 Leaver). Congratulations and best wishes to Kate on her marriage last August. She was thrilled to have so many old friends from PGS at the wedding. Kate works as a Development Manager at Birbeck College, University of London, fundraising for their major projects and lives in East Dulwich with her husband.

PAUL SICKLING (1995 Leaver) and wife Emma had a beautiful baby girl (Rebecca Louise) in February 2010. The family live in Queensland, Australia.

SARAH STRANGE (née Sealey; 1998 Leaver) and husband Alastair became the proud parents of a beautiful daughter, Emily Rose, on 29 December 2009.

EMMA RESOULY (née Hall, 1999

Tuesday 1 June 2010 Inaugural Meeting of the PGS Golf Society, Rowland’s Castle Golf Club

Leaver) and Sam Resouly (1997 Leaver) had a lovely daughter, Flora Grace, on 22 January 2010, a grand-daughter for governor and Chairman of the PGS Education Committee Susan Resouly.

All past pupils, staff and parents are welcome to attend the first outing of the newly-formed PGS Golf Society. Format: 18 hole Stableford with full handicap. A three course dinner will follow at the Clubhouse. Meet at 12.45, tee-off at 1.15pm. Cost - £30 (Golf only), £45 (Golf and Dinner). If you would like to attend please contact Alasdair Akass as soon as possible at or telephone 023 9236 4248.

JESSICA BARKER and TOM HANCE (both 2006 Leavers) became engaged in October 2009. Jess recently returned to PGS on a Gap Year placement in the History Department.

Join us for a fascinating evening lecture from Alex Hibbert OP, extreme sportsman and global adventurer. His Trans Tiso Greenland Expedition holds the distance record for being the longest ever fully unsupported polar journey in history. Admission free but booking essential. Please contact Sue Merton at or telephone 023 9268 1385.

For further announcements and news of Old Portmuthians, please visit and look at ‘OP News’ in the Development section of the PGS website. To update the school and other OPs of your news, please complete the electronic form on the ‘Contact Us’ page in the Development section of the PGS website.



Sat u boa rday 4 rd H Dec Tick M e ets S Warr mber £65 dev i o r w – PG . e tele lopme More i ith Six S Celeb n n pho r t ne 0 t@pgs. fo from ies Trib ation B 23 9 org. a ute u Ban ll on 236 ds. 424 k or 8



It is hoped that more OPs and their families than ever before will support the annual midsummer clash of school teams vs OPs in Hilsea’s 125th anniversary year. If you would like to represent the OPs, spectate or need further details please contact Liz Preece at or telephone 023 9268 1392. High Tea will be provided. Wednesday 30 June 2010 MCC Cricket Match, Hilsea at 11.30am

commemorate 100 years of prefects at PGS. We shall be contacting you in due course. If you were a prefect at school and have not yet registered, there is still time to sign up! Please complete and return the detachable card at the back of Opus. Why not make up a lunch table of the prefects from your year group? We are intending to celebrate the life of Surmaster Neil Blewett at this event, who oversaw Prefect training. Cost - £15 (including lunch), £5 of which will be donated to the PGS Bursary Fund created in Neil’s memory. Please complete and return the reply card at the back of Opus or telephone 023 9236 4248 for further information. Friday 1 October 2010 PGS ‘Question of Sport’, David Bawtree Building at 7.30pm

PGS has maintained strong links with the MCC over many years and members of the PGS 1st XI enjoy the challenge of their annual fixture with the club. OPs and their families are welcome to spectate. Please contact Alasdair Akass at or telephone 023 9236 4248 for further information. High Tea will be provided. Friday 9 July 2010 PGS Sports Day, Hilsea at 10.30am We will be staging many of the traditional athletics events this year but also bringing back to Hilsea some of the more historic events that have taken place over the last 125 years such as tug-of-war, over-the-hay bales, sack races, tripod races and the slow bicycle race. Side stalls and refreshments available. All are welcome to attend. Please contact Alasdair Akass at or telephone 023 9236 4248 for further information. No parking is available at Hilsea Playing Fields for this event; please use the free parking facility at Hilsea Lido. (Note: In the event of inclement weather there is a reserve date of 12 July.) Saturday 11 September 2010 PGS Prefects’ Reunion, David Bawtree Building at Noon Thank you to all those who have registered their interest following notification in the last issue of Opus of a reunion in 2010 to

Former pupil Roger Black MBE and a team of professional sportsmen and women take on staff and pupils in a battle of sporting knowledge to help celebrate the 125th anniversary of PGS sport at Hilsea. Booking essential - a limited number of tickets are still available. Please complete and return reply card at the back of Opus. Ticket price £5. Friday 8 October 2010 OP Club Autumn Supper, David Bawtree Building at 7.30pm The OP Club Autumn Supper will be held on 8 October at 7.30 pm for 8.00 pm in the David Bawtree Building. Music will be provided by the PGS Swing Band. Cost of Supper is £12. Booking by 5 October 2010 to or telephone 023 9273 4606. Payment will be collected on the night. Saturday 11 December 2010 OP Club Annual Dinner, David Bawtree Building The Annual Dinner will be held on 11 December at 6.45pm for 7.30pm. Further details will be provided in the next issue of Opus, but for now, please put the date of this extremely popular event in your diary. Saturday 11 December 2010 Annual OP vs PGS Rugby and Hockey Matches, Hilsea from 11.30am This annual event precedes the OP Club Dinner. For further details and to represent the OPs on the pitch, please contact Liz Preece at or telephone 023 9268 1392.


Portsmouth Grammar School

Opus, Issue 2  

Twice-yearly magazine produced by the Development Office for Old Portmuthians, parents and friends of the school.