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A Life Without Limbs Zaamin Hussain (01-11) and Matthew Walton (04-11) on a unique medical elective Also in this issue: Keep On Keeping On | ONA Now and Then | Choirs at Work

Issue 99 | Spring 2017

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ONA Magazine Issue 99 Spring 2017


ONA Magazine is the magazine for the Old Novocastrians’ Association Editor: Jane Medcalf All correspondence should be addressed to: The Development Office, Royal Grammar School, Eskdale Terrace, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4DX Telephone Development Office: 0191 212 8909 email: The Editor reserves the right to edit, alter or omit all submissions to the magazine. Copy may be carried over to the next edition. The Editor’s decision is final.



We are always looking for articles and news from Old Novos to include in the magazine, so send your contributions, via email (if possible) to: or to the Development Office at the school. Please include relevant pictures if possible. They will be returned as soon as the magazine has been printed.



The deadline for acceptance of copy for the Spring 2017 issue is 6 March 2017. Copy may be carried over to a future issue. Special thanks to David Goldwater (5162) for his research and contributions to the ONA Magazine, particularly on his search for A History of the RGS in Its People.

The ONA Magazine is available online Please note that the magazine is circulated in hard copy and on the ONA website shortly after circulation. By submitting an article or news for inclusion the contributor is accepting that it will be available through both formats and will also be accessible beyond the Association membership through internet search engines or any member of the public viewing the ONA website. Please note that the ONA Magazine content does not necessarily reflect the views of the school or the ONA and is based on personal experiences, recollections and memories of its contributors. Design

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President’s Welcome News and Congratulations ONA Now and Then Keep On Keeping On Choirs at Work A Life Without Limbs Obituaries

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Welcome to the 99th issue of the ONA Magazine! I am delighted to have been elected President of the ONA at our recent AGM. It has been a pleasure to see the Association grow from strength to strength in recent years and I am excited to be able to continue this development. Considerable thanks must go to all those who have contributed to this growth, most notably Chris Rutter (92-02) who has worked tirelessly as President over the last two years. The new academic year started with a bang as Headmaster, Dr Bernard Trafford, announced that he will retire this summer, after nine years in the role. On behalf of the Association, I would like to thank Bernard for all his efforts and contributions to the development of the ONA. We look forward to welcoming his successor, Mr John Fern, in due course. The 91st annual ONA Dinner was again the highlight of the autumn with another maximum capacity crowd enjoying the school’s hospitality, a delicious meal prepared by Barrie Bulch and his team and a fascinating insight into life as a Lord from our guest speaker, Lord Beecham (53-62). I am also pleased to report that the raffle on the evening raised a splendid £958 for the Bursary Campaign. The Dinner was also our first opportunity to welcome the new Bursar, Dr Mike Pitkethly, to the school as we bade farewell to retired Bursar, Richard Metcalfe. Another highlight of recent months was the second annual John Elders Memorial Rugby Match on 27 December 2016. A large crowd assembled at Sutherland Park to see superb hosts, Novos RFC take on an ONA XV in a game which, I am delighted to report, saw the ONA retain the trophy in a 7-39 win over Novos. See page 5 for a full report. The annual London ONA dinner takes place on Friday 10 March at The East India Club. As the day before the Calcutta Cup, it is fitting that our guest speaker for this event is former Scotland international and current RGS head of Junior School Sport, Jim Pollock (67-77). We are expecting another sell-out event this year. Tickets are selling well – we welcome ONs of all ages (with reduced price tickets available for undergraduates) and look forward to seeing many of you there. See the back cover for details. Finally, the last Friday of the month (except December) sees the Old Novocastrians’ Luncheon at the Northern Counties Club in Newcastle. These lunches are open to all ONs, so please do come and join us.

Chris JJ Wilson (97-02) ONA President


ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Spring 2017

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News and Congratulations We are delighted to have heard recently from…

Philip Leach playing King John

Sunday league football

Philip Leach (67-74) who writes:

The Old Novocastrians FC came into existence in 2013. Having taken part in the Old Novos games, John Gregson (95-02) and I could see there was a core group of ONs still in Newcastle keen to play, so we approached the school who granted us the use of the name.

‘I retired as senior partner of Saunders Roberts Solicitors, Evesham, in 2015 after 32 years with the firm to pursue my long-standing involvement with drama. Having acted professionally with Worcester Repertory Company in a number of productions in recent years, including performing at the International Shakespeare Festival in Romania in May 2016, I have just finished playing the title role in King John with the Rep at Worcester Cathedral. Our first night was on the 800th anniversary of his death and the run of eight performances was in front of the high altar with King John’s actual tomb part of the staging, so he was literally in the audience.’ Jim Lawrence (60-94), retired chemistry master, who returned to school with a few staff photos, causing some heightened interest amongst the current staff! Jim enjoyed a tour around the school, bumping into some familiar faces and was particularly impressed by the new sports facilities; envying the new swimming pool, vastly improved from the Sutherland Swimming Bath, the one he remembers from his teaching days. Jim still swims regularly!


Our first season was played in the North East Sunday League. In the second season we won the Annsley Merelle Ward (01-02), one

of the first girls to join the RGS, who writes: ‘After several years in the IP litigation team at Magic Circle firm, Allen & Overy LLP, I recently joined Bristows LLP. Bristows is the leading IP litigation practice in the UK and Europe, acting for clients such as Google, Samsung, Novartis, Cadbury and L’Oreal. My practice area focuses on patent litigation in relation to cutting edge technology, particularly in the life sciences and technology, media and telecommunications fields. Coincidently, the joint head of our patent litigation team is an Old Novo – Brian Cordery (80-90) who was Head Boy in 89-90. Thought it was a nice coincidence!’ She notes that

Sportsmanship Trophy. After two years we joined the Cramlington and District Sunday Football League, where we finished top of the Fair Play League! This year we are making progress, from a social team to an actual football team. By Jamie Hansell (92-02)

Brian boasts he can still recite The School Song! Two ONs recently returned to school to delight the Lower Sixth with their take on two thought-provoking topics, The Year That Changed the World… and Conflict and Disaster in the Modern World. Colonel Bibek Banerjee QVRM (78-85), cardiovascular surgeon and Army Reserve Officer, and Tom Rowley (01-08), journalist and special correspondent at The Telegraph gave lectures to the Lower Sixth as part of a series of Lower Sixth Enrichment Lectures. We look forward to Nick Bell (95-01), VicePresident of Content at Snapchat, who is next up in the spotlight.

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Join us on Facebook and LinkedIn There are plenty of Old Novos social media groups around, but we have our own groups. Join us by becoming a fan of the Old Novocastrians Association pages on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Appeal for ON email addresses Where appropriate, we would like to stay in contact with you by email. Please email with a current email address where we can contact you.

Spotted recently… Dr Simon Barker, head of English, recently spotted three Old Novos in various performances, including Ben Rowarth (00-10), composer and director of the vocal ensemble Renaissance, at Hexham Abbey Festival of Music and the Arts; Will Featherstone (94-04) in Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, and also playing the central character, Dan, in Emlyn Williams’ Night Must Fall; and Niek Versteeg (06-11) at Northern

Stage in The Season Ticket from the novel by Jonathan Tulloch, adapted for the stage by Lee Mattinson. Miss Sarah Davison, English teacher recently spotted Faye Castelow (02-04) in Aphra Benn’s The Rover at The Swan Theatre, Stratford-uponAvon, performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). Aoife Kennan (11-13) in episode 1 of the ITV series, Victoria, playing the character of Abigail Owen.

Our congratulations go to… Dakis Hagen (87-97) who has been

appointed as Queen’s Counsel. John Camm, physics teacher and Combined Cadet Force (CCF) Officer recently retired from the CCF after 26 years of service, 23 of those at the RGS.

Final camp, John Camm at Wathgill

Former Chair of Governors, John Fenwick CBE, who was honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the North East Entrepreneurial Awards run by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum. Timothy Kirkhope (53-62) who joined

the House of Lords as Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate on 7 October 2016.

Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate and his wife at the Ceremony of Introduction, House of Lords

Cricket news I am writing to seek support from all in my role as the Chair of Newcastle Cricket Club CIC ( Many of you would know it as Northumberland County Cricket Club. I have been involved in the Club since 2012 and was elected as its Chair in 2014. The Club became a Community Interest Company and a one hundred percent owned limited company, the former being the main driver of generating income to support our adult’s, junior’s, women’s and girls’ cricket. Both companies are on the Company House register. Our 1st XI plays in the North East Premium League (came second in the season gone). In addition, the club provides an excellent venue to different community projects such as the Jesmond Elders, the Rock Project (run by an Old Novo) and the Jesmond Parish Hockey Club. The school is a regular user of the club during its cricket season. We are looking for non-executive directors with skills in marketing, finance and business/commercial. If you are interested, please contact me on either 0793 2687 869 or Finally, if your company/organisation has any surplus laptops, flat screen computers or tablets, please get in touch. By NS Ahmad (72-75) P.S. All my school friends and 1st XI members would know me as Nad.


ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Winter 2017 Spring 2016

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ONA Now and Then As this remarkable school continues to go from strength to strength (as, arguably, it always has!), it’s good to see evidence of so much lively interest and enthusiasm in the ONA. On the opposite page you can read how the John Elders Memorial Match between Novos and ONA is clearly now an established event, played keenly but with great good humour, in the best of spirits and appropriately honouring a great man. It doesn’t get much better than that: and how wonderful that John’s son, Neil Elders (68-78), was there to support the match and present the trophy created in memory of his father. I’m just sorry I couldn’t be there, but a family wedding had taken me to Australia!

Welcome to what will be, I guess, my penultimate ONA Magazine! People keep asking me if I’m counting the days to retirement: but RGS life is far too busy and fulfilling for that!

We had a splendid ONA Dinner here at school in October, at which we celebrated a number of notable anniversaries. An important one was the 15th anniversary of girls joining the RGS for the first time: how good it is to see, in these pages, ON women making their mark. There’s an excellent two-page article by Alexandra Wynne (06-08), and there are mentions elsewhere of other female ONs.

It’s a hallmark of ONs that they tend not to forget their old school. It will be a delight to welcome internationally-renowned saxophonist John Harle (65-74) back to his old school, 15 years after he last performed here: how typically generous that he wants to include his old school as part of his prestigious 60th birthday tour. Typical of John, typical of the RGS. So much to enjoy and, as ever, a great deal to be proud of.

Speaking of dinners, my last ONA Dinner Bernard Trafford will be the forthcoming London event on Headmaster 10 March: what fun it will be to share the podium with Jim Pollock (67-77), ON, exinternational and colleague, a man with a wealth of stories, humour and experience to share. I’m told there will be a record number of female ONs at that event too. This is looking good… We don’t make this magazine too long – yet its pages are stuffed with evidence of high achievement, loyalty and that great virtue – instilled (I am certain) in school, as well as at home – of applying one’s gifts in order to make a difference. There is evidence enough in the obituaries and tributes marking those ONs no longer with us, written inevitably with sorrow but rightly marking the passing of characters of distinction.


And then there are people like Zaamin Hussain (01-11) and Matthew Walton (01-11) doing incredible work with prosthetic limbs in Bangladesh (you might want to support them!): and, if you have children of the right age, buy ON Paul Bajoria’s (73-83) beguiling Printer’s Devil trilogy. I first came across that series of children’s novels before I came to the RGS, read them avidly and passed them on to my godchildren: I arrived in Newcastle and discovered Paul as both ON and current parent. I’m glad he says he’s writing another one: I’ve been telling him he should!

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ONA Now and Then

John Elders Memorial Match

Joint team photo: yuletide spirit ahead of the game!

Neil Elders, John’s son, presenting the John Elders Memorial Trophy to the ONA winning side

This was the second game to take place in memory of John Elders (57-82 and 92-96) since his passing in May 2015; there is now no doubt that it will place itself in the rugby and social calendar for many years to come.


ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Winter 2017 Spring 2016

A large crowd assembled at Sutherland Park on a mild December afternoon to watch Old Novos (clad in school colours) take on Novos RFC; both institutions close to John’s heart. The ONA presented a strong side, with four ex-school captains and a whole host of school rugby Colours – evident for the sea of maroon in the clubhouse after the game! Old Novos played with youthful exuberance, akin to their school days no doubt; however some hairlines, midriffs and aged Colours blazers gave an indication as to how long ago that may have been! Old Novos raced into a quick lead scoring three tries in the early exchanges; Matthew Lowes (02-12) and David Watchorn (09-11) setting the tone for the ONA. Novos weren’t too disheartened and managed to work the ball up the pitch and kept their opponents in check with some hard running. Throughout the game, yuletide spirit was displayed with the sharing of port between both teams and the match officials (Adam Morrison (98-05) taking part as touch judge). The game itself ended 7-39 to ONA, and Nick Richardson (03-13) was presented with the inaugurated trophy,

by John’s son, Neil Elders (68-78). Neil then went on to present the rugby club with his dad’s Barbarians tie, his Northumberland County Cap, his RFU blazer badge from the victorious 1972 South Africa tour and an England tour shirt from the New Zealand tour of 1973. There seems to be an appetite for rugby between Christmas and New Year and this game certainly didn’t disappoint, especially when The School Song was bellowed out in the clubhouse in the evening! Novos RFC are now enjoying a resurgence with the school on and off the pitch, as more and more old boys have joined a club established by them, for them. And, as John Elders commented on in his centenary booklet for the school in 1977, ‘Novos is still your club (all RGS boys are Associate Members) and the opportunity is there from the age of nine to play firstly mini rugby and in later years in the school XV’s and eventually the senior XV’s. Give it a try!’ Thank you to all those who played and attended; we’ll see you again in 2017! ‘Fortiter Defendit Triumphans!’

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Keep On Keeping On If you’re one of those people who has always believed you’ve got a book in you, never bin those early efforts, says writer and BBC producer, Paul Bajoria (73-83).

The Printer’s Devil trilogy: a mystery of convicts, murderers and the shady inhabitants of the London underworld


f there were such a thing as a Pulitzer Prize for Procrastination, I’d be a shoo-in. Many’s the time in recent years, therefore, that I’ve had cause to be grateful in retrospect to my 24-yearold self for knuckling down and writing a book when I had a brief interlude with nothing better to do. I’d come back to Newcastle from Canada where I’d taken a Masters in 20th century literature – and I was living at home while I worked out what kind of career I might conceivably be qualified for. I’m sure my parents were exasperated that I seemed to be spending hours on end sitting at the dining table writing a novel, instead of poring over the careers ads and firing off application forms in all directions. (In my defence, I was doing that too, some of the time.) But the story – an oldfashioned adventure for children set in 1820s London, mainly in the dark – had taken shape in my head while I was abroad, and this seemed as good an opportunity as any to let it come out. Of course, in my naïveté, I harboured more than a flicker of hope that it might interest a publisher, and that in the end I wouldn’t need to bother too much with the application forms.


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Long before I’d finished it, my job-hunting efforts were starting to bear fruit and in my spare time was rapidly diminishing. I pressed on with the book anyway, got it into a finished state I was happy with, and went about sending the manuscript to a succession of publishers who, surprise, surprise, all sent it back. After a year or more of regular, polite rejections, I was so busy working in radio, by now embedded in the allconsuming activity of a BBC newsroom, that I sort-of stopped caring, and put it away in a drawer. Fast-forward 12 years. I was listening to a long radio interview with an author called JK Rowling, who was exactly my age and who was causing a stir with her new children’s novel about a boy wizard, which she’d finally had published after years of poverty and persistence. The stupidity hit me again of allowing the story I’d spent months of my life working on to continue going yellow in a drawer. I read through it with new eyes, somehow found time to re-write large chunks of it, and sent it straight to the same literary agent who had ‘discovered’ Jo Rowling. Something clicked. Maybe my re-write was cleverer; maybe the Harry Potter phenomenon meant publishers were now more prepared to take risks on children’s fiction. Whatever it was, within a few months I was revising it yet again, with the agent’s encouragement and supervision. My kids were tiny, I’d become used to surviving on very little sleep, and daily life was feeling like a dream for quite a lot of the time in any case – so some kind of parental super-hormone was almost certainly playing its part too. A year or so later I had a publishing deal, not only here but in America, and Italy, and Germany, and Spain, and Brazil, and Greece, and Thailand…

Paul at Maida Vale studios, BBC, London

“The stupidity hit me again of allowing the story I’d spent months of my life working on to continue going yellow in a drawer. I read through it with new eyes, somehow found time to re-write large chunks of it, and sent it straight to the same literary agent who had ‘discovered’ Jo Rowling. ”

This being the 21st century, no-one would be content with just one book, it had to become a series – trilogies were particularly fashionable – and The Printer’s Devil was followed by The God of Mischief and The City of Spirits, in which I surprised myself by resolving the apparentlyimpenetrable mystery, and bringing the emotional quest of the characters full-circle, in a way I’d certainly never originally planned.

Peter Snow, Robert Robinson, Paul Gambaccini, Stuart Maconie and Russell Davies. Writing fiction is devilishly hard to fit in around all of this, but you’ll see why I haven’t wanted to give it up, however well the books have been going. It was especially gratifying to spend a few years in the 90s working closely with the late Geoffrey Wheeler (45-48), a veteran broadcaster of the days when BBC announcers really did wear dinner dress – who was never at a loss for an anecdote about RGS life in the 40s and was always keen to hear news of the school. (On my 50th birthday some colleagues presented me with the Radio Times listings for the day I was born, and there was Geoffrey on the Light Programme, presenting ‘all-round entertainment for the whole family’ in The Record Show at eight o’clock that morning.)

I hardly need to write ‘spoiler alert’ before mentioning that I didn’t exactly find success on the scale Jo Rowling did – but, contrary to what many readers believe, even writers who are household names often work full- or part-time at something else in order to pay the bills while the next story emerges. I’m fortunate in having another hat to wear, as a producer on Radio 4, and have spent 20 years working with all-time great broadcasters like David Frost, Jenni Murray,

John Lennon, in what’s otherwise one of his more mawkish songs, noted that, ‘Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans’. I know that if I hadn’t seized the moment to spill that first book onto paper, all those years ago, ‘life’ would have taken over and it would probably still be unwritten. As it is, my next novel is taking shape, and I feel entirely confident there’ll be another after that, and another after that, until I’m too ga-ga to string a sentence together.


ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Spring 2017

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Choirs at Work I left RGS in 2008 and set about fulfilling my life-long dream of training as a classical singer. I spent four years at Birmingham Conservatoire of Music and some time studying at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Lyon before taking up scholarships at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London and with Genesis Sixteen (The Sixteen’s choral training programme for young singers) in 2013. By Alexandra Wynne (née Bickerton) (06-08) © Graeme Braidwood

Lunchtime performance in the grounds of Oxford Saïd Business School


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ince 2013 I’ve spent three years building a portfolio career and like a typical musician, I wear lots of different hats. When I’m not running choirs, I’m singing in them or performing as a soloist. I love to teach singing and between my work for the King Edward VI School Foundation and Birmingham Junior Conservatoire, I teach 30 singing lessons a week. I’m passionate about working with young people and I find teaching exceptionally rewarding.

The best part about my job is that I am able to see people at their most relaxed and happy, enjoying a real sense of community.

I started running choirs during my undergraduate degree. The first time I took a rehearsal I was terrified but I remember the amazing feeling of being in charge and from that moment on I had the bug. It had never been my intention to set up a choir company, although looking back, with two parents both being business lecturers, it makes sense that it was inside me somewhere. I had been freelancing for two years out of music college, when I heard of the Birmingham Skills for Enterprise and Employability Network (BSEEN) programme which Birmingham City University was running. After a Dragon’s Den style pitch during which I took in a quartet of trained singers (we proceeded to blast the panel off their chairs given that we were in a room the size of a small cupboard). I was awarded business funding and access to business mentors who would help turn my skills as a musician into a business, working with organisations to promote wellbeing through singing.

It seems a lot longer than eight years since leaving RGS and a lot has happened in that time. Looking back, I was fortunate to be part of such a strong school music department with staff such as Gill Blazey (02-16) who always encouraged me to sing and without whom I probably wouldn’t have auditioned for music college. I’m not sure what the next chapter has in store but I’m certainly grateful to be doing what I love and I hope, inspiring my students to do the same.

Choirs at Work Ltd, the company I went on to set up, has been running for two years now and so far I have worked with organisations all over the UK including Oxford Saïd Business School, The Law Society and Macmillan Cancer Support. Some of the choirs meet every week and some are formed for a conference or team build. The idea isn’t that everyone is a brilliant singer, but that they can come together, meet colleagues from other departments and try something new. The choirs are used to promote the organisation, to fundraise and of course, to have fun and unwind. Singing releases endorphins and increases oxygen in the blood so it’s great for both mental and physical wellbeing. Organisations report returning to their desks after an hour of singing with increased productivity and a clear mind which helps them to tackle the day ahead. My work is always varied – one day I will be singing Handel’s Messiah and the next I will be teaching lawyers to sing Pharrell Williams in four part harmony – it’s certainly different! I run nine choirs a week and all of them require something different from me which is great.


ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Spring 2017

I married my husband, conductor David Wynne, in 2013 and we’ve recently moved to a village called Moseley, just outside of Birmingham city centre. We work together on projects a lot and actually met when we were both booked to sing for the Pope during his visit to Birmingham in 2010 – our friends think we win the award for the strangest way a couple has ever met!

For more information on Choirs at Work Ltd please visit or email

RGS Community Choir Do you enjoy singing? The RGS has its own Community Choir. We rehearse on Thursday evenings (term-time only) between 6.30pm and 8pm at the school. We are always looking for new members to join us. No audition required, but singing in pitch desirable. No cost; just lots of fun! Please email Jane Medcalf at j.medcalf@rgs. if you are interested. RGS Community Choir and St George’s Church Choir in a joint Sunday afternoon concert at St George’s Church, Jesmond in June 2016

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Shiblu is a 16-year-old boy, who was born without a limb, and has never walked. He can only crawl or be carried. Here, in his farm compound, his family watch with interest as we take a cast of his stump, which would allow us to build a prosthetic limb with a perfect fit.

A Life Without Limbs By Zaamin Hussain (01-11) and Matthew Walton (04-11) ‘If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.’ Ellen Johnson Sirleaf 10


fter leaving RGS in 2011, we embarked on a journey together through medical school. Sometimes, with the hours spent in the library, endless lectures, and relentless exams, it is easy to forget why we made that decision. But then, every so often we are reminded how there are very few careers that can transform lives in the way a medical career can. This strongly resonated with us during our medical elective in Bangladesh. Our elective is something we had looked forward to for years, for which we had vast aspirations. We dreamt of doing something unprecedented, which would have an impact on some of the poorest people in the world, lasting long after we had finished our work in that country. This was not to be a small undertaking for two medical students.

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Educating the youngest generation in Bangladesh about our mission to set up a sustainable prosthetic limb clinic for amputees. Teaching lessons at the local school allowed us to rapidly spread the message to hundreds of families.

Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries. Almost one third of the population lives below the poverty line, with many in extreme poverty. Two thirds of its territory is less than five metres above sea level, making it one of the most flood-prone countries in the world and highly susceptible to other natural disasters such as cyclones and landslides. Amputations can occur for a number of reasons: natural disasters, poor housing construction, unsafe transportation and farming practices which result in frequent accidents. Poor access to healthcare, including swift antibiotic treatment, sadly means that the only realistic option for many is to amputate their injured limb.

We first came across the Naya Qadam Trust, while attending a lecture given by its founder, Dr Viquar Qurashi, a UK-based orthopaedic surgeon. He has pioneered a technique to craft prosthetic limbs costing thousands in the UK, for less than the price of a basic mobile phone (£30), by using locally-sourced drain pipes and rubber tyres. Such limbs have helped amputees across the world, in regions of conflict and catastrophe, to walk again. We soon came to realise that a vast global health problem exists – there are over 40 million amputees living in developing countries worldwide, and only five per cent have access to a prosthetic limb service. For these people, their disability is compounded by the loss of livelihood for themselves and often their entire families – consigning many to a lifetime of begging in order to survive. Furthermore, affected children have limited access to education, become marginalised in their society, and endure enormous suffering.


ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Spring 2017

With scarce support for amputees, Bangladesh was potentially a country that we could have maximum impact in. Following a period of intense planning with Dr Qurashi, we arrived in Dhaka on a mission to set up Bangladesh’s first prosthetic limb clinic. Bangladesh during the monsoon season meant constant stifling heat and humidity. After a few days of the lively but congested atmosphere of Dhaka (Bangladesh’s capital), we headed 200km north, to a rural village in the Jamalpur District, where a small community hospital known as the Sircer Pasha Welfare Trust provides basic healthcare for more than 300,000 patients in the area. Here we were struck by the natural beauty of the country as the village and the Welfare Trust are located on a river with unspoilt lush countryside surroundings. We were warmly welcomed by the healthcare team, and immediately got to work. The plan was to assess the feasibility of establishing a clinic like this, and lay the initial foundations in terms of its infrastructure, management and accounts.

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He had suffered physically with stunted growth, and also psychologically, having been bullied throughout his childhood. He could only move around by crawling or being carried. Seeing Shiblu’s plight made us resolve in our minds the need to see this project through to completion, so that this boy could walk, just as we all take for granted. On a practical level, we took initial measurements for all the patients, and used plaster of Paris to mould a negative stump. This would allow us to craft a prosthetic limb with a perfect fit. We then began to contact local PVC pipe and rubber tyre companies that could supply materials to make the limbs.

On a remote island, vast distances from the nearest medical centre, we set up a satellite clinic

Phase two of this project will begin in February when we will send a larger team out to the clinic, to build and fit limbs for more than 100 amputees, including the patients that we met during phase one.

to offer medical help to those that hadn’t seen a doctor in months, and took the opportunity to spread the word about the amputee service. Women and children waited in line for their precious chance to discuss their medical problems.

The first step was to identify amputees in the area. Without internet and widespread phone access to spread the message, this was not as simple a task as it may sound, and demanded creativity. Firstly, we visited a local school to introduce ourselves and to enquire if any of the children knew of any amputees. We then travelled with the healthcare team to several remote island villages with the dual purpose of spreading the word about the amputee service, and also to offer people who had not had access to a doctor in months, the opportunity of a consultation in makeshift clinics. The more interesting ways in which we spread the message were announcements at the village mosque; broadcasts by megaphone whilst travelling through the village on a cart; and by asking a highly respected freedom fighter to join our cause! To our delight, over the coming days, amputees began steadily arriving at the clinic, some travelling vast distances. When we learnt of patients who were unable to get to the clinic, we travelled by motorbike or boat to see them. Listening to people’s life stories and the devastating impact that having an amputation had had on them was incredibly humbling. Many had once had prosperous livelihoods in industry or farming, but had suffered terrible accidents, and now resorted to begging in the street. One patient in particular remains in our minds – a 16year-old boy called Shiblu, born without a limb.


After successful completion of this phase of the project we plan to expand the service to encompass a larger area of Bangladesh, and in the long term, we hope to be involved in expanding these services to any country that needs them worldwide. Having seen the massive demand in such a small region, it is easy to imagine how enormous the problem is globally. For too long it has been unrecognised and needs to be addressed. The BBC have been fascinated by our project and will be broadcasting a documentary in early spring, upon completion of the next phase. Meanwhile, Naya Qadam Trust is welcoming donations to fund the manufacturing of limbs for this project and the charity’s future. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the ONA for their unwavering support. Their generosity has provided us with a transformative experience, and has ignited a new passion in us, to use our leadership skills that were first established during our years at RGS, and possibly change the lives of hundreds or thousands of amputees around the world who currently lead a life without limbs. We would love to hear from ONs that would like to help offer any assistance at all for the development of this project in the long term. Please contact Zaamin at and Matt at

18258 RGS ONA Issue 99.qxp_v 06/02/2017 09:41 Page 13

Obituaries Nicholas Wright (42-50) Born 20 March 1932, died 30 September 2016, aged 84

By the time Nick retired in 1992, numbers were down to 200. He did not approve of the present situation where it is increasingly difficult to get psychiatric patients admitted to hospital, where hospitals can be many miles from their home and where patients are often moved from one hospital to another. He also regretted the frequent changes in consultant that patients now experience.

activities – theatre and music, travel and cruises, winters spent in South Africa. Wherever they went they readily made friends. He loved the Lakes and now stayed near Loweswater, with manageable walks, no big peaks and not crowded. It was very Nick to have worked out this exact adjustment to his changing capacities.

In discussion Nick was independentminded, in which he must have Nick was the first visiting psychiatrist to owed something to the school, always HM Prison, Winchester. His expertise, eager to encourage independent coupled with a clarity of thought and thinking. His views were clearly but expression, brought him a large not aggressively stated. He struck medico-legal practice and he featured a humorous quizzical note. The in many high-profile murder trials. He effect was of a clear cool rather also served on the Parole Board where detached light, dispersing fog and Nick became a consultant psychiatrist. he argued against the injustice of many clearing up muddle. indeterminate sentences. He joined the school in Penrith in the There came a darker side when he Middle School. I have a vivid memory Nick and I had lost touch with each learned in 2010 that he had incurable of him romping around with the spirited other during our middle years but prostate cancer. The time left to him glee and bright intelligent eyes that recovered it when we attended the was spent actively, his pleasures remained with him all his life. But we continuing much as before. He did not were also aware of a shadow. He was reunion in Penrith in 1999 to mark the express concern for himself, rather a in 11 different billets and did not settle 60th anniversary of the evacuation. Half a dozen of us who lived in the mild surprised pleasure that he was in any of them. After returning to South East took to lunching together lasting so well. Newcastle his spirits recovered. Perhaps his war years were one factor regularly in London. He leaves his wife Rosemary, his sons in his choosing a career in attending Nick would enter, always at ease, Alex and Ian, his stepchildren Saira and to the distress of others. always in much the same manner, Jeremy, and four grandchildren. a friendly glint in his eyes. He had Later he concentrated on his studies become remarkably urbane – used By David Boll (38-49) and his interest in sports and became to the world, socially confident and a school Prefect. He won a County experienced, and exceptionally at Scholarship to Cambridge where he ease with himself. read Medicine. He was appointed consultant psychiatrist at a major hospital in Basingstoke in 1966 and also provided the psychiatric service for Winchester. When he arrived the hospital had about 1,300 in-patients.


ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Spring 2017

He lived in Winchester where he played rackets at Winchester College and later real tennis, and won the British Open Real Tennis Senior Doubles Championship in 1983. He enjoyed Contract Bridge. He and his wife Rosemary shared many

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Obituaries Rory Allan (03-10) Born 23 September 1991, died 21 September 2016, aged 24

From the moment Rory Allan joined RGS in 2003, from Newcastle Preparatory School, it was clear that he was a formidable character. His wit, charisma and charm made him popular with teachers and students across the school. As a younger student, Rory sang in the school choir, and enjoyed tours to Italy and Prague. On the Year 7 tour to Italy, in a typically impulsive act, he spent the greater portion of his remaining spending money on an antique duelling pistol. He was also a talented pianist, and nights with friends would often end congregated around the keyboard. He was an integral member of the Debating Society throughout his time at the RGS, successfully representing the school in competitions around the UK, and running workshops and training for younger members as Chair of the society.


During lunchtimes he would hold court, gleefully inviting discussion and argument on any topic, whether solemn or frivolous. Occasionally, his taste for polemic would work its way into long emails. In one such email to a teacher warning against the deification of rugby, Rory begged forgiveness for its length, pleading, ‘It’s all meant in the spirit of vivifying moral discourse’.

crack of dawn every fortnight for chemotherapy. All the while, he pursued his academic work and maintained his friendships with continuing vigour. His love for highland reeling, long dinners and champagne was never diminished. He remained at Christ Church to complete an MSt and work towards a doctorate in late 19th- and early 20th-century historiography.

Rory was one of the academic highflyers in his year, with a full complement of A*s at GCSE and A Level. He enjoyed spending time rummaging through the school Archives in his role as Archive Prefect, and was dedicated to his study of History, running the school’s History Society, and returning on a number of occasions to give talks after he had left.

For an essay on his idol, the Northumberland-born historian, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Rory won the eponymous Dacre Prize while at Christ Church.

In 2010, Rory went up to Oxford to read for a degree in Modern History at Christ Church (or, as he would correct, ‘The House’). Christ Church was a perfect fit for Rory. He lived in Palladian halls and studied the subject he loved. While he thrived intellectually, becoming a scholar after his first year, Rory was not confined to tutorials, lectures and the library. He enjoyed a notably wide and active social life, hosting memorable parties in his eccentrically decorated rooms. As at RGS, he quickly formed a set of very close friendships, including with his tutors, but made a deep impression even on those who encountered him only briefly. He was diagnosed with cancer at the end of his first year, but remarkably he elected to continue his studies, travelling back up to Newcastle at the

Only months before he died, Rory had an essay published in a collection about the life and works of Trevor-Roper entitled Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Historian (2016, ed. Blair Worden, published by IB Tauris); a satisfying achievement, given the value he placed on, and joy he took in, crafting a wellwritten thesis, essay, letter, or even text message. As Richard Davenport-Hines put it in his Telegraph review of the book, ‘Rory Allan’s account… has dashes of Trevor-Roper’s puckish urbanity’. Rory bore the burden of his illness with grace; his concern was always directed at his friends and family. In a characteristic act, a week before he died and against all sensible medical advice, Rory insisted on travelling down to London to bid farewell to his friends. Rory was the brightest star at the RGS, and remained so at Oxford. He treasured his school years, and remained very close to his classmates and teachers who will miss his love and friendship dearly. By Luke Hughes (05-10) and Hugo Wallis (03-10)

18258 RGS ONA Issue 99.qxp_v 06/02/2017 09:41 Page 15

Cyril ‘Oggie’ Wright (47-59)

Donald Grant (32-42)

Born 28 september 1939, died 21 November 2016, aged 77

Born 28 April 1924, died 29 August 2016, aged 92

final game for the club was for the 3rd team in 1979. Oggie’s favourite Novos game was, without doubt, against the Northumberland President’s XV in 1963, to showcase the opening of the clubhouse extension. Old Novos played a side packed with Northumberland County players and the odd smattering of full internationals from Ireland, Scotland and England; Oggie regularly recounted how well he played in this game!

It is with great sadness to report that Cyril ‘Oggie’ Wright passed away in November after a long battle with cancer. Oggie’s unquestionable love for (Old) Novocastrians RFC was perhaps first demonstrated as a school boy at RGS, as he played with distinction in the school’s 1st XV earning himself school Colours in 1957; Oggie proudly presented his school Colours cap to the club in 2015, which sits contentedly in the club cabinet. After school, university beckoned for Oggie, which took him to King’s College (now Newcastle University) to study Dentistry. Oggie played for Old Novos from his Sixth Form school days: however, he moved to Medicals to play with his college chums. His passion for Novos was too great, however, and he returned to the club in 1963 from which he stayed; though he always wanted to know how Medicals were getting on. Oggie, an intimidating and well-set second row, was a welcome return and he continued playing for the 1st XV until 1977; his


Oggie was instrumental in turning around the club’s fortunes in the mid-70s with a close eye on club proceedings. As Novos President, between 81-83, Oggie forged links with RGS school boys to fuel the club’s successes for the rest of the 80s and early 90s. Oggie, a skilled dentist, was also known to stitch up cuts to players faces after a game in the club kitchen…he would try to do this before his sixth pint of the afternoon! He was always there to lend a hand to his club, devoting much of his time through his various voluntary roles and even giving donations to his club when it was in desperate need. Despite his courageous three-year battle with pancreatic cancer, Oggie still made it to Sutherland Park to cheer on his boys; the last time was only three weeks before he died. On leaving the club that evening, I asked him how he had managed to battle such a debilitating and painful condition for so long – he responded, “Sheer determination”. These words encapsulated a man that never gave up and continued to support the club he loved, despite the struggles bestowed upon him. By Chris Ward, Novos RFC

ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Spring 2017

Donald (centre) playing rugby in Ipoh

It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of the death in August of my father. He was evacuated to Penrith in 1939 where he was Head Boy and met my mother Rosalind: they married in 1949. Following Edinburgh and Oxford universities he joined and thoroughly enjoyed the Colonial Service in Malaya as a forestry district officer, including playing rugby for a victorious Scotland v The Rest of the World! He returned to Scotland to farm where he and Rosalind brought up their three children. He was always very proud of the RGS and his happy time with the school. By Roger Grant

18258 RGS ONA Issue 99.qxp_v 06/02/2017 09:41 Page 16

Obituaries John Reed Cawood (54-61) Born 22 November 1942, died 15 August 2016, aged 73

John particularly enjoyed making domiciliary visits throughout the Tyne Valley to write wills and conduct family law business which remained his interest throughout his professional life. He became a partner in 1968 and senior partner in 1995 until his retirement in 2000.

John was buried in sight of Skiddaw following a service at Crosthwaite Church, Keswick attended by over 400 family and friends who gathered to pay tribute and give thanks for a life of kindness, loyalty and service.

He was an excellent communicator and became mentor to many legal probationers, some of whom went on to become partners in the same firm.

a mutual interest in walking and the Lake District, the romance flourished: they married the following year. Val gave up her career when Matt, the first of three children, was born. Matt is in business with West Cumberland Farmers, Lucie qualified in Law and then retrained for the Church and James, actor and playwright, now works in recruitment. John often said that had he not chosen the financially safer option of law, then he might have enjoyed the acting profession. He was a fine orator.

He served for many years as Chair of Governors at Central John enjoyed the outdoors particularly Newcastle High School and the in the company of Val, family and friends Northern Counties School for the Deaf, and preferably with a dog. Duffus, a and was also closely involved with the Scottie dog, the first of several that they Old Novocastrians’ Association: being owned, was bought in Harrods pet John was born in a Jesmond nursing department and became the subject home, a surprise undiagnosed younger President from 94-96. matter of many a cartoon with which twin to his brother, Harry, and with an John met Valerie Buckle, district John illustrated letters, greetings cards elder sister, Charmian. midwife and trainee health visitor, at and ‘little books’ which are treasured by a party in 1969 and, having discovered their fortunate recipients. The Cawood family lived in Gosforth. Following primary school education at John’s much loved Scottie dog, Duffus featured in a series of treasured cartoons illustrated Edgefield he entered RGS in 1954 and developed life-long friendships with by John himself peers and also teachers particularly Bill Tunstall (37-78) and Jeff Knowles (56-80 and 80-84). A keen tennis player, gold medal ballroom dancer, gifted pianist and a voracious reader he started to maintain a file and entered a comment for every book that he read. Leaving school in 1961 the brothers’ education widely diverged. Harry won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, London and became a renowned solo and orchestral violinist and music teacher. John pursued a career in law and joined John H Sinton and Co., Solicitors, Jesmond, serving five years as an articled clerk. He attended law school in Guildford and graduated in 1966.


18258 RGS ONA Issue 99.qxp_v 06/02/2017 09:41 Page 17

John Anderson (46-53) born 1936, died 2 January 2017, aged 80. Charles Derek Cooke (33-40) born 1921, died 22 October 2016, aged 94. Ernest Dale (38-47) born 1929, died 6 October 2016, aged 87. Jeffrey Howles (45-48) born 1930, died 6 September 2016, aged 86. Jack Lindsay (67-87) former physics master, born 1931, died 27 December 2016, aged 85. Michael ‘Mike’ John Rennie (5464), born 1946, died 9 January 2017, aged 70. Brian Robinson (34-36) born 1919, died 21 December 2016, aged 97. RGS schoolfriend and book dealer, David Steadman (55-65), introduced John to the world of Beatrix Potter via a first edition of The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and he became a true bibliophile and amassed a very special collection of first editions and Beatrix’s artworks and correspondence which sold at auction in London shortly before his death. Some time before retirement, the Cawoods fulfilled a long held ambition by buying a property in Keswick, the better to enjoy hill and fell walking. John celebrated retirement by walking from Sienna to Rome in the company of his friend, Tim Brown who had been articled with John. Shortly after retirement John was diagnosed with a sarcoma which required extensive surgery and post operative therapy, and he was grateful for the care he received from the Freeman Hospital. He made light of his medical condition and continued the long walks and the enjoyment of gardening and their house became the focus for many gatherings with their children,


children’s spouses, seven grandchildren and assorted visitors. Together, John and Val walked the South Downs Way, Peddars Way and the Coast to Coast. Welcomed into the Keswick community, John and Val joined the Music Society and Book Club. John became a Trustee of The Beatrix Potter Society and received invitations to be a guest speaker on his favourite topic from various organisations. He gave the Presidential address at a Beatrix Potter annual conference. A founder member, and later director, of Keswick Community Housing Trust which provides affordable housing to local residents. He was especially proud of the success of this organisation which has helped many less fortunate families. John gave a lifetime of service to his family, friends, profession and to the community and always with infectious humour, compassion, wonderment and wisdom. By Scott Green (52-63)

ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Spring 2017

Colin D Solomon (71-76) born 1958, died 24 August 2016, aged 58. Robert EO Waddell (37-45) born 1927, died 23 September 2016, aged 88. Malcolm John Watson (50-61) born 1942, died 3 December 2016, aged 74. Allan Curtis Wilson (36-43), born 1925, died 29 October 2016, aged 91. Correction (Issue 98) Page 15. WA Simpson (47-56) was the author of the full obituary of the late Derrick Andrew Frenz (54-57). Bryan Stevens (44-49) was incorrectly quoted. Page 4. The Headmaster incorrectly stated that Sarah McDonald (06-11) was, ‘Currently European 1,500m champion’. Amused by this, Sarah stated that she wished she was!

18258 RGS ONA Issue 99.qxp_v 06/02/2017 09:41 Page 18

ONA Diary dates Celebration of the Saxophone – John Harle (65-74) Wednesday 22 March 2017, 7pm The Miller Theatre, RGS

The President of the ONA, Chris Wilson

The London (97-02), invites you to join him at the London ONA Dinner. Annual Dinner Friday 10 March 2017, 7pm Guest Speaker: The East India Club Jim Pollock (67-77), head of Junior School Sport and 1st XV coach at the RGS.

An ex-Scotland international rugby player, Jim will entertain us with stories of his youth, his days as a teacher at Kenton Comprehensive School and memories of his international playing days. He will reflect on where the school stands now in relation to Sport and looks ahead to the future. He hopes to add to what is already a thoroughly entertaining evening with his own brand of humour. It promises to be a good night!

RGS ONA is proud to present this concert which includes the premiere of a new work written by Bernard Trafford, Headmaster. All profits from the concert will go to the Bursary Campaign. Contact Jill Graham at

Details can be found on the ONA website at http://ona.rgs.newcastle or by telephone on 0191 212 8909. Deadline for reservations is Friday 3 March 2017. The price for the dinner is £64. Subsidised tickets for undergraduates are £44. Secure a place by sending payment by cheque, made payable to Old Novocastrians Association, providing your name, address, email, years at school and dietary requirements. We can also accept a bank transfer. Please email for further details.

Find our Facebook page at: Old Novocastrians Association

ONA Merchandise Special Offer Tie and cufflinks £50 Bowtie and cufflinks £55 If you are coming to the London ONA Dinner, you can order a combination of a tie or bowtie and cufflinks for a special offer; only available to dinner attendees. Please email to enquire regarding payment and delivery options. We can offer postal delivery or collection at the event.

Ona issue 99  
Ona issue 99