In Conversation Withâ€Ś Dr Keir Shiels (93-00) talks about his time at RGS and BBC fame! Also in this issue: Keep on Tri-ing | Delicious Decadence | Peter Taylor Lecture 2013
Issue 89 | Autumn 2013
ONA Magazine Issue 89 Autumn 2013
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com 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 2014 issue is 9 December 2013. Copy may be carried over to a future issue. Special thanks to David Goldwater (51-62) 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 now available online Please note that the magazine is now circulated both in hard copy and by email to many members of the Association. Each edition is added to 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. Design www.infinitedesign.com
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President’s Welcome News and Events Delicious Decadence ONA Now and Then ONs in Print Second Row to High Sheriff’s Chaplain Keep on Tri-ing A History of the RGS in Its People In Conversation With… Peter Taylor Lecture 2013 Naval Reunion Obituaries
It’s no secret that the announcement to introduce girls to the Sixth Form was a controversial one. Everyone had an opinion! Well that was 12 years ago and since then, the school has taken steps towards full coeducation. This summer marked yet another notable milestone as the female leavers of 2013 were the first to have attended the senior school right through from age 11. Who better to document this milestone than Kate Jarvis (02-04), current Head of PSHE at RGS and former member of the Sixth Form? Kate’s account of life for girls at the RGS is on page 5. We’re a year on from London 2012 but the Olympic spirit is still very much in the news. One person who probably has a lot to say about the Olympic ‘legacy’ is Stephen Addison (01-08). Stephen has recently represented Team GB at the European Sprint Triathlon Championships in Turkey. Read about his experiences on pages 8 & 9. Many of you will have seen the BBC Series Junior Doctors: Your Life In Their Hands in which our very own Keir Shiels (93-00) was one of the principal doctors followed by the documentary. Keir was back at RGS earlier this year and recent leaver Stephen Thompson (06-13) took the opportunity to ask him a few questions. On pages 12 & 13 you can find out about life as a doctor and the impact of newfound celebrity! From one famous doctor to another; the work of Dr Thomas Addison (1805-1812) was the subject of the Peter Taylor Lecture held in January. On page 14, Professor Sir Christopher Edwards catalogues the life and times, albeit concisely, of the late Dr Thomas Addison who left the school over 200 years ago and his great colleague at Guy’s Hospital, Richard Bright. I regularly meet Old Novocastrians who I wasn’t acquainted with at school and this is no surprise with my role on the Committee and the fact I live in Newcastle. It’s somewhat more of a coincidence when ONs cross paths in other scenarios, like on a warship, for example. This is exactly what happened with HMS Quorn as Lieutenant Commander Simon Kelly (82-92) explains on page 15. Finally, I’d like to draw your attention to the very back page. You’ll find details of the ONA Dinner (for which you should hopefully have received a separate RSVP form) and an invitation to the RGS Senior School Carol Service by the Director of Music, Zlatan Fazli´c. The Guest Speaker at this year’s dinner is Sir Brian Briscoe (56-63) who has had a distinguished career in the public sector. I hope you enjoy the magazine and, as ever, we’d love to hear from you!
David Westwood (95-02) ONA President
News and Events We are delighted to have heard recently from…
The Tyburn Tree, both on Sospiro Records, with a major tour of The Tyburn Tree in March 2014, starting at the Barbican in London.
Our congratulations go to…
He was Professor of Saxophone at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama from 1984-2012, and his teaching continues at Canterbury Christ Church University later this year, where he is to establish a specialist course at Masters level in Saxophone Performance.
© Ian Dingle
John has just won an Ivor Novello Award and the Royal Television Society’s award for Best Soundtrack for his musical score for Lucian Freud – Painted Life on BBC2, and is the composer of the theme to BBC1’s Silent Witness.
Stephen Addison (01-08) who recently competed in the European Sprint Triathlon Championships for GB Team in Alanya, Turkey (see page 8). We wish him luck in his next endeavour when he competes in London at the 2013 ITU World Aquathlon Championships.
John Harle (65-74) Since leaving RGS in
1974, John was Solo Clarinettist in the Band of the Coldstream Guards, a Foundation Scholar at the Royal College of Music (where he made history by achieving 100% in his final degree mark) and a French Government Scholar at the Paris Conservatoire.
www.johnharle.com Jonathon Hayward (86-88) Since leaving
in 1988, I moved to university in Bristol, then to London. My father retired from his job at Durham University in the mid-1990s, and with them moving to the South East to be nearer their grandchildren, I had limited reasons to visit the North East. I started He is the most influential saxophonist in with Andersen Consulting (now the classical field, with a career in America firstly and then in Britain, including Accenture) on leaving University, and then his controversial performance of Harrison left in 2000 to start a new management consultancy. This we originally called The Birtwistle’s Panic at the Last Night of Structure Group, but it was re-named in the Proms. 2009 to be Baringa Partners. Married in 1993, and one daughter called Sally who His work in the past twenty years has led was born in 1996. to work in the jazz and pop fields, as well as being a composer of over 100 film and TV scores, two operas and many concert works. He was a founder member of the Michael Nyman Band and has subsequently worked with artists from Elvis Costello to Gavin Bryars, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett to Leonard Bernstein, Andy Sheppard to Herbie Hancock and Adrian Utley to Ute Lemper. He was Sir Paul McCartney’s artistic advisor for six years. This year he is collaborating on two albums with Marc Almond (Soft Cell) as composer and co-lyricist – Art Music and
Eleni Papadopoulos (08-10) who has been selected to compete in the World Paratriathlon Championships this September. She emailed us and told us that she, ‘narrowly missed out on the World Swimming Championships by 0.18s this year and decided to do a triathlon in July for a bit of a laugh. I actually beat the European Champion in my category becoming British champion at my first ever competition. I was told around three weeks ago that I had been selected for the team and I will be racing on Friday 13 September. I thought I would let you and the school know as you’ve always been interested in my sport. I’ve still not given up full time swimming but really want to see how things go at triathlon!’ Alex Newman, former Geography
teacher who has been appointed Deputy Head of Newcastle School for Boys. Matthew Ridley (04-11) who recently
appeared on BBC2’s University Challenge where he represented Trinity College, Cambridge. Jonathan Ferstenberg, former teacher, on his appointment as Head of Senior School at Kings Priory School in Tynemouth.
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Delicious Decadence By Kate Appleby (06-08) decided to follow my dream of running my own business, being in the fortunate position of not having to beg a bank for a loan! It wasn’t the smoothest of paths that led up to the opening of my very own shop! From my dad realising an entire kitchen wall had to come down and be rebuilt, to the coffee machine breaking just two days before opening, anything that could go wrong went wrong! The weather wasn’t exactly on my side either, with many days lost as a result of the snow.
I baked my first cake at the age of 10. It was a fairly standard Victoria Sandwich as I recall, nothing special about it at all, and yet that was all it took for my love of baking to take off. Twelve years later, I own Delicious Decadence, and I get to spend every day baking!
Finally though, on 14 February 2013, Delicious Decadence opened its doors at 2 Newlands Road, Jesmond, serving home-baked cakes, made-to-order sandwiches, breakfast, freshly ground coffee, speciality teas, and luxury hot chocolates – including the Chocoholic, which has to be seen to be believed! I also take orders for special occasion cakes and cater outside events.
Now, standing in a kitchen with an oven on at 240 degrees, on the hottest day of the year, covered in icing sugar and I left RGS in 2008, after two brilliant years, and went on to trying to finish off an order of cupcakes, I do think I might be study for an MA in Social Anthropology at St Andrews slightly mad! Quite frankly though, I wouldn’t swap what I do University, graduating in 2012. Now, there is one question for anything! Life is too short not to take a chance on that fills all undergrads with a fear unrivalled by anything else, something. It might be the scariest thing you’ve ever done, I “What are you going to do after graduation?” When asked know this venture is for me, but it might just turn out to be the this, I would look at the questioner, smile politely, and say I best thing you’ve ever done, as I hope this will. hadn’t quite decided, while all the time thinking that if I told them what I actually wanted to do they would probably tell me to come up with a more realistic idea. If I’m honest, at times even I thought my dream of owning my own bakery and coffee shop was somewhat fanciful. However, when I did finally tell people this, it wasn’t negativity that I was greeted with, but rather a huge amount of support and the resounding notion that I should do whatever it is that makes me happy. In 2005 I learnt the hard way that life is too short not to spend your life doing something you enjoy and are passionate about. I was involved in a car accident that I was lucky to walk away from (although in actual fact I was flown away from it by the amazing crew of the Great North Air Ambulance). Having been left with epilepsy, and therefore life-long medication, I was awarded a fairly substantial insurance payout in 2012, and it was at this point that I
ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Autumn 2013
ONA Now and Then
A great result all round It has been, as they say, a good year. We had great A level and GCSE results this summer, a credit both to the hard work and motivation of our boys and girls (at A level, the first cohort to have been coeducational since the age of 11), and to the inspiration and sheer quality of the teaching they receive. Moreover, back in July the Sunday Times named us Best School in the North 2013, the accolade was based on our 2012 results, so we might make a claim to consistency, too. You can see more detail of the results on the school website. If you bump into any members of the support staff over the next few weeks, don’t ask them how their summer was! They’ve worked like fury while we teachers have been sunning ourselves in various parts of the globe. The builders have increased the capacity of the kitchens and of the junior school in Lambton House; turned first floor offices into a new home for Classics (presumably those rooms were originally classrooms); and (most noticeably and spectacularly) created a new suite of offices and a reception area.
A Level students on the day of their results: (L-R) Vladimir Vankov (08-13), Andrew Louw (03-13), Ellen Barton (06-13) and Harry Goodwin (11-13).
We’ve created a new reception area by glazing and roofing the area inside the Plender Gate, an imaginative and intensely practical use of a dead space. We can ONs may regret the loss of the Plender now greet visitors in a courteous and Library – though I can report that the civilised way: in comfort, indeed, giving Plender bookcases live on, renovated them immediate access to whichever and moved to the English office and aspect of the school’s administration they classrooms – but it makes a very smart, light and attractive open plan office. At the need. It’s all about quality of service, and care for those with whom we work. We front of the school we’ve brought all the have also taken the opportunity to provide administration of the school together at an accessible route with power operated last. The old oak-panelled headmaster’s office was handsome, but dismally isolated doors from the front entrance through the main building to the Science and from the running of the school – and now Performing Arts centres. becomes a much needed conference room. As a result we hope to be more Finally, one particular group of ONs might efficient, effective and responsive to the be fascinated to know that this autumn will needs of all – students, parents, staff see the revival of a club that ran almost 50 and ONs.
years ago. Enthusiastic student Andrew Craddock (56-66), with the support of Frank Budden (Head of Maths), founded the Society of Royal Grammar School Youths to bring the ancient skill of changeringing to the students of both RGS and Central High in 1964-66. Current ringing Physics teacher Dr Rachael Houchin, with the help of Geoff White (56-64), will lead the club on Friday evenings at St. George’s Church, Jesmond and present them with what she describes as “a never-ending cerebral challenge!” Bernard Trafford
ONA Now and Then
First among equals Kate Jarvis (02-04) relives the historic introduction of girls to RGS when she joined a year later in 2002. As anyone who has experienced those first day nerves upon starting a new school will acknowledge, moving schools is never easy. A move to RGS had an abundance of things in its favour – wonderful facilities, an excellent reputation, not to mention the chance to make history and be amongst the first female students to walk the school halls. However, it was to be a daunting experience to begin with too – upon starting at the school in 2002 there were only 42 girls in attendance. Many of my year group were apprehensive: would we fit in? Would we find it hard to settle in a school that was still in the fledgling stages of becoming coeducational? Of course there were existing tales of those ONs who were opposed to the loss of tradition and the admission of girls into a boys’ school, but there were few hints of that within the school either from peers or staff alike. As for tradition, if anything the girls were keen to uphold it and take part in many of the activities on offer such as the Miller Cup and Sports Day whilst also giving the boys a run for their money at Prize Day. There continued to be a healthy spirit of competition whilst at the same time a supportive atmosphere.
of girls joined the year below, the idea of being in the minority seemed farfetched and this has continued as time has progressed. This is not to say it did not take time for the boys to adjust to girls joining them at school, but for most, it was a welcome change. Having taught at RGS for over five years now, I have had a great insight into the school and it is very clear to see that it is truly coeducational. This year’s Upper Sixth leavers are the first to have been boys and girls together since Year 7 and the number of girls continues to rise each year. Many of the staff who have taught at the school when it was both single sex and coeducational would say RGS continues to become a kinder and more civilised place, where girls can be girls and boys can be boys whilst understanding the other half better.
For me, RGS always made me feel I was truly seen as an individual and this gave me the skills and confidence to forge my own path in life. For many others it was being part of a challenging and stimulating environment encouraging them to work outside of their comfort zone and giving them the confidence to undertake a variety of personal challenges. However, when speaking Equal opportunities were undoubtedly to fellow female ONs the overarching theme is that they are all truly grateful for in full swing and the girls flourished the lasting friendships and relationships alongside the boys under the watchful eye of Dr Hazel Jones-Lee and the rest developed throughout their time there with both staff and students alike. of the staff. By the time we moved into Upper Sixth and an even bigger cohort
ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Autumn 2013
L-R Georgina Cook (02-04), Kate Jarvis (02-04), Alex Jordon (02-04) and Sally Squires (nee Jennings) (02-04).
“It was to be a daunting experience to begin with too – upon starting at the school in 2002 there were only 42 girls in attendance.”
ONs IN PRINT
History in the making – thanks to RGS teachers Tony Boullemier (57-64) gives glowing praise to RGS history teachers from the 50s and 60s in his new book published this autumn.
t the end of The Little Book of Monarchs, I acknowledge my indebtedness to the motivation of some marvellous history teachers at the Royal Grammar School… including ‘Jabber’, ‘Wilkie’ and ‘Happy Ned’.
I wrote The Little Book of Monarchs because I’m on a mission to improve children’s knowledge of our glorious past. They don’t seem to teach history like they did in my days at the RGS. They concentrate on certain topics like the Tudors or World War ll, without placing them in context.
For the uninitiated, that would be Mr Alec Bruce, Mr Richard Wilkinson and My book gives the full chronological narrative since 1066 with each reign condensed into Mr Michael Oakshot. five bullet points on one page. It’s subtitled: English history with a smile on its face, History days were always happy at the because every monarch is illustrated by a RGS because Jabber, Wilkie and really clever cartoon that will help kids Happy Ned were inspirational. They remember who’s who and who did what. I were simply wonderful at bringing the hope it inspires them to study further and to past to life and making sure we love the subject as much as I do. remembered and understood it. They gave me a lifelong interest in the subject. It should be a really easy reference book I trained as a news and sports reporter in and far quicker than looking something up Newcastle on The Journal. I then joined on the internet. Parents and grandparents may buy it for themselves as much as for the Daily Express where I rose to chief the kids. And of course it will be just the job sub-editor and then launched my own for quiz enthusiasts. newspaper in Northampton. My wife, partners and I built it into a group of 16 Preview copies have gone to lecturers, titles before selling it to the company teachers and authors. Among the first to that own The Journal. praise it was TV historian, author and academic Suzannah Lipscomb. Since then I have followed my many sporting interests and carried on my She said: “It’s pithy, precise and lively. A history studies, visiting more than 50 wonderfully accurate and fascinating little European battlefields and obtaining an guide to English monarchs.” adult history qualification.
This is my second book. Six years ago I published an acclaimed historical novel Leonie and the last Napoleon. Set mainly in Paris, it is based on a diary he inherited from his French great-grandmother who knew Napoleon lll very well and experienced all the cataclysmic events of the French Second Empire. The Little Book of Monarchs (ISBN 9781783060856) is £7.99 and can be ordered through good bookshops or the publishers at www.troubador.co.uk/shop.asp Further details are available on Tony’s website: www.boullemierbooks.co.uk
From Second Row to High Sheriff’s Chaplain Timothy Duff (51-59) on a partnership spanning 60 years and on supporting RGS Bursaries. In the Autumn term of 1951, I was playing rugby on a junior pitch near the then Pinfold, under the somewhat idiosyncratic tuition of Colonel Robinson – ‘Cappo’ to us, ‘Potson’ to an earlier generation. By a curious combination of circumstances, I was sent over to join those playing on the main pitch and put into the second row of the scrum, alongside George Scott (50-58). Thus, in the II’s XV, began an association which continued up the school, though by the time we attained the 1st XV I was in the back row of the scrum, while George had graduated to the pivotal position of stand-off half, fly-half in modern parlance. My interest in the game has continued, and my descent has made me and my family keen Scottish supporters at Murrayfield. My elder son John Duff (76-86) was out in Australia following the whole of the recent Lions’ Tour there. After school, though George and I both qualified as solicitors, our only contact for many years was the occasional chance meeting, particularly on the touch-line when his son G Quintin Scott and my son James Duff (both 78-88) formed twothirds of the front row of school teams. However three years of study and training, in the midst of a busy life in the Law, then led to me being ordained in the Church of England. Twenty years later I had the great pleasure of learning from George that, subject to the Queen pricking his name through vellum in the traditional manner, he had been nominated to be High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear. He asked if I would be Chaplain for his year of office, and I was delighted to accept. Her Majesty duly obliged, and so a partnership which began over 60 years ago has resumed in another form, as shown in the photograph (opposite) taken at George’s installation. Needless to say, George is discharging his shrieval duties with enthusiasm and ability.
ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Autumn 2013
I have always been very grateful to the RGS for so many things, not only the breadth of interests and opportunities it offered me at the time, but also what my education has led to in later life. I was a scholarship, or free place boy, my tuition fees being met under the Direct Grant scheme. There was no means-testing for such places, but I was the eldest of four and it is far from certain that my parents could have afforded to pay the fees themselves. I agree absolutely with what David Goldwater (51-62) wrote in the ONA magazine Issue 86 that, though not himself a Direct Grant boy, he enormously valued the social mix of the school. The only way for that to continue in the present economic and political climate is through RGS Bursaries. So come on, all you old boys, and now old girls, who do not yet support the Fund! If every one of you gave £100 a year, the effect would be colossal.
I have always been very grateful to the RGS for so many things, not only the breadth of interests and opportunities it offered me at the time, but also what my education has led to in later life.
Tyne and Wear High Sheriff, George Scott (50-58) and his Chaplain, Timothy Duff (51-59).
Stephen Addison (right) with fellow competitor and university friend, Oliver James.
Keep on Tri-ing by Stephen Addison (01-08) I started triathlon due to a friend assigning me as vice-president of the newly formed Newcastle University Triathlon Club. I decided that if I was going to fill this role properly I should probably get round to doing one! With this in mind, I tried to do a bit of cycling and running on top of the swimming training I was already doing.
his plan didn’t go quite as well as hoped; standing on the start line of my first race I became very aware that this hour and half (or thereabouts) of racing ended with a 5km run… I had run 1.2km as my longest so far. Despite getting worse throughout the three disciplines, I had fallen in love with the sport. That was two years ago. The difference between that first race and the triathlete that I feel I can refer to myself as today is huge. One of the main differences is that I have gone from ‘All the gear, no idea’ to ‘Even more gear, some idea’! More seriously though, I had gone from swimming on a national level and thinking that would be the peak of my sporting career to racing in the GB colours at the European Sprint Triathlon Championships. My aspirations to represent Great Britain actually started at that first triathlon I completed, when a friend qualified to represent GB at the Europeans that year in Israel… I decided then that, if he could do it, with another year of training why couldn’t I? I qualified to go to Alanya, Turkey in September 2012 at Rother Valley Country Park; the race itself didn’t suit me particularly, having a hilly cycle, but I swam well and headed out onto the bike ready for a struggle.
Having ridden the course the day before, I knew what to expect and pulled through. Last up was the run; my worst discipline. I did however manage to run a PB and decided that, even if I hadn’t qualified, I had given it my all. The qualifying athletes get an email notifying them whether or not they have, so I had a few nervous weeks during which I decided I mustn’t have made the cut… then out of the blue I got my, ‘You have qualified to represent Great Britain’ email. Needless to say, I was pretty ecstatic. Fast forward to this June and I had been competing well, having slashed 3 minutes off my run time and finishing 17th at the National Sprint Championships in Nottingham. In the weeks leading up to the race there seemed to be problem after problem; initially the airline overbooked the bikes onto flights by approximately100 bikes! There were also issues regarding receiving kit on time. Fortunately the team manager and the travel company, Nirvana worked round the clock to come up with solutions and everything went smoothly, for the athletes at least. Some poor guy had to drive the bikes overland to Alanya though! By the time I arrived in Alanya my bike was there, re-assembled waiting for me, and I was proudly wearing my GB kit, feeling very proud to be representing my country. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the ONA for helping to fund my kit as I know I wouldn’t have been stood there prerace with quite the same feeling of elation if all I’d had was my trisuit. This way I felt like a part of the team as we walked through the streets during the Parade of Nations. As I’m sure you can imagine, I don’t get much training in the North East at the 30°C + heat we were experiencing. Adequate hydration was going to play an important role and I drank my way through 36 litres in the first three days! The fourth day was race day; thankfully my age group was starting nice and early at 7.00am, hopefully letting us avoid the heat… unfortunately this was a bit naive as it was still 34°C at the finish. The ice baths were well received! The Great Britain Age Group Triathlon Squad.
ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Autumn 2013
Stephen completing the run section of the European Championships Triathlon.
The race itself went well; the sea swim was beautiful, though thankfully this didn’t distract me too much and I was fourth out of the water. Next onto the bike leg – a flat two-lap out and back. Interestingly, half of the course was brick-paved and very bumpy but it was great being able to really push on traffic-free roads. Next up was the run; this was where the heat would take its toll on me… and it did! Suffering round the two-lap hilly course meant that my time wasn’t as fast as I’d hoped in the end but for now at least, I can still tell the grandkids that I came 16th at the European Championships – I am now training to qualify for the 2014 Championships in Kitzbühel; I need to work on my hill-climbing before then! Upon landing back in Britain and turning on my phone, I received an email letting me know my Great Britain journey is not over yet… I will again be representing the red, white and blue in London at the World Aquathlon Championships in September (like a triathlon but just a swim and run). This will be held in the city centre near the Olympic triathlon course and will be a great experience competing in front of a large home crowd. Despite having plenty more I could write about I need to go and prepare for my next race at Castle Howard in Yorkshire tomorrow!
A HISTORY OF THE RGS IN ITS PEOPLE In this article, David Goldwater (51-62) concentrates on one iconic character.
I am grateful as ever to many ON readers who have enthusiastically responded to my call for personal reminiscences. John Cawood (54-61 & ONA President 94-96),
retired solicitor, now living in the Lakes, looked after Ma Steven as legal advisor in her retirement years up to her death. He found her a very likeable lady. He recalls: She told me that it was the adverse accounts of boys’ behaviour in town seeking lunch that led ERT to determine to have in-house provision. After being interviewed and offered the post of school cook, she declined the post on the grounds that the kitchen facilities were old fashioned and inadequate, the coal for the stoves being kept in the kitchen! The head invited her back saying that he wanted her to take the job. She repeated her reasons for declining. Would she take the job if she could go out and order a totally refurbished kitchen? A few months after taking up her post the school evacuated to Penrith and Jeannie stayed at home with her parents until the school returned to Eskdale Terrace. I regret I neglected to ask her what happened to her summoning bell for second sittings.
Miss (Ma) Jean Steven
Roy Large (48-58), retired vicar living in Jesmond,
I questioned in the first of the RGS People articles ‘wherever do we begin?’ The real quandary is where do we end? Ten was always a ludicrous number to aim at; hence the change of title. No vote, nor any winner. The great story of the RGS over almost five centuries will endure in its people: heads, teachers, students and staff. We resume our story with Miss (Ma) Jean Steven – the school cook – appointed by ER Thomas in 1931, a legendary predecessor of today’s Head of Catering, the remarkable Barry Bulch.
recalls how he and his peers were taught to hold cutlery in a way which allowed tables to be laid quickly and efficiently. ‘When I went to see her in her care home near the end of her life, despite her own consistently high standards, I was dismayed to observe that the home was sadly lacking in that area, for example, the tea cup standing on an odd saucer, something she must have deplored. I remember that her hair, worn in a severe bun, often sprouted a pencil above her right ear.’
Ma Steven’s refurbished Dining Hall – lunch has always been a significant social occasion in the life of the school.
ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Autumn 2013
WG ‘Bill’ Elliott (Staff 1952-88) In Ma Steven’s
days, it was the custom for pupils to sit in Hall before lunchtime and await instructions from the member of staff on duty, then to walk in an orderly manner towards the Dining Hall. On many occasions, the member of staff concerned would either be preoccupied with The Times crossword or lost in conversation, having completely forgotten his duty. The staff Common Room door would suddenly be flung open and a booming voice would shout, “Who is on duty today!” The culprit would then be seen to scuttle away like a frightened rabbit!
Newly enlarged Dining Hall (from the NOVO supplement, 1933). Now the school Library since 1968.
Henry Spall (49-58), writing from the United States,
recalls: Ma Steven was a stalwart manager of the lunch programme. She had to deal with post-War rationing, but still managed to serve up meals that reinforced the boys’ energy and development. Ice cream (Walls) was not available until the early 50s. Ma doled out this luxury with a stern warning, “Ice cream today, but everyone to have pudding first”. Shades of Pink Floyd! Playing cricket on a quiet Saturday afternoon in Jesmond, we saw a different kind of Ma – smiling, kinder, and serving excellent teas to the teams. Michael Hogg (46-54), now living in Union Hall,
County Cork, recalls: When I attended the RGS a number of staff members were unique characters. One of the most memorable was Ma Steven who ruled the kitchens and Dining Hall with a rod of iron. The Dining Hall was one big room, set out with long tables, each holding about 12 pupils, six on each side, with one prefect in charge at the head of each table. The prefect was responsible for doling out portions of whatever was the main dish of the day, and the students then helped themselves to the rest of the meal from dishes spread out along the centre of the table. Throughout my time at the RGS I was the smallest, lightest boy in the class, always making a conscious effort to increase my size by eating well. Ma Steven would appear from the kitchen every day at some point during the lunch and patrol the room to make sure everything was to her liking. One day she came to our table, suddenly leaned over grabbing my plate from in front of me. Holding it aloft, at the top of her voice she shouted, “Look how much this boy Hogg has on his plate, just look!!” She then proceeded to carry my plate round the room to emphasise her point, finally putting it back down in front of me. Fortunately this experience didn’t put me off that meal or any other!
ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Autumn 2013
Brian Beeley (46-53), retired doctor writes from Tunbridge Wells: Looking back at Ma Steven, it is clear that her devotion to duty – even to us boys – was outstanding. She made meals high spots of the school day and we enjoyed cutting into our blocks of Wall’s ice cream as noisily as possible. But she would stand no nonsense from her customers. I developed a special regard for Ma Steven (we referred to her as ‘Miss’ only to her face). One day she approached the lunch queue – I think I was in the third form – and asked whether a few boys could help her with some task in the dining room. I heard myself volunteering immediately! As a result, I have come to believe, Ma Steven gave me favoured treatment, when the occasion arose, throughout the rest of my stay at RGS. There were occasional extra portions and she would go out of her way to accommodate my requests about some club tea which I might be arranging when I was in the Sixth. Ma Steven is not forgotten.
In a tribute to Miss Steven’s retirement in the December 1956 issue of NOVO, it was noted that, after her arrival, the number of boys staying for lunch at school increased rapidly from 140 or so (largely out of necessity) to four or five times that number, because they wanted to. The expansion of the Dining Hall (see photographs) became a matter of urgent necessity and it became a very attractive place indeed (what had it been like before?) Shortages in food and power supply were overcome by her efficiency and self-discipline, as well as that stern hand over which she ruled both pupils and staff. “What pleasure Miss Steven has given, and found, in our special functions! A Toast List invariably found its focus in a very attractive meal and a Prefects’ Dance without one of Miss Steven’s marvellous suppers would have been almost unthinkable. Nor must the countless meals served on Saturdays, summer and winter, to our own and visiting teams be forgotten…she will be remembered for a long time to come.” Unfortunately, after extensive research it has not been possible to source a photograph of Miss Steven. Does anyone have one?
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? Most of my former teachers at RGS would tell you that I can’t say a ‘little bit’ about anything… I was at RGS from 1993 until 2000, where I worked hard and played harder. I was chairman of the Debating Society, played the electric violin in the “Jazz Band” and acted in every play there was going. After a few weeks with the National Youth Theatre, I went to Cambridge and read Natural Sciences, specialising in Experimental Psychology. Since graduating, I’ve worked in research (various conditions including Neurodegeneration, Autism and Synaesthesia) and managed a wine merchant’s (long story) before starting medical training in 2005. I am now a paediatrician working in Great Ormond Street’s neurosciences department. How did you decide to enter a career in medicine? I decided to go into medicine because I found research very slow and dull. My favourite part of my research job was seeing patients. The remaining four and a half-days a week was soulless screenwork and form-filling. Transferring to a scientific career where communication skills are more central was a natural progression and medicine seemed the best choice.
In Conversation With...
Dr Keir Shiels In February 2013, paediatrician Dr Keir Shiels (93-00) of recent BBC fame, Junior Doctors: Your Life In Their Hands returned to school at the invitation of MedSoc. Stephen Thompson (06-13) took the opportunity to interview Keir.
I entered medicine on a graduate-entry programme, which is an increasingly popular way of training. Graduate programmes are four-year medical degrees (same syllabus, you just lose all your holidays). Some are open to people with science degrees. Others are open to people with any degree. It is an intensive and relentless way to learn; but it is very fulfilling. I’m glad I waited to study medicine. I wasn’t ready at 18 to engage with the subject matter – I was still too much of a loose cannon. I needed to mature a bit more before I was prepared to sacrifice a few hobbies and knuckle down to some graft. How did the RGS support you in your ambitions? It is not as unusual a question as you may think. When I decided to apply to medical school in 2005, my first port of call was
RGS. Although it had been five years since I’d left, the school was still very supportive. Mike Downie, who had been the “Jazz Band” roadie as well as the head of the careers office, helped me with my UCAS form, as if I were still a student. RGS Medsoc has kept inviting me back to speak too: so that is a form of support too. Did you encounter any problems in your progression from RGS to medical school? The financial implications of doing yet another degree five years after leaving school and not having a settled income for nearly a decade after leaving school was incredibly daunting, but I survived! As I’ve said, I think that I needed the extra few years to shed a little of my boundless overenthusiasm before training. I’m a better doctor for having waited. What was the experience of being on Junior Doctors: Your Life In Their Hands on BBC Three like? To be honest, I was filmed doing my job, and if the cameras hadn’t been there, I’d have still done the same things, so it wasn’t a hassle. I only did the show because I’d already spent a year as a doctor and so I knew some of the pitfalls that I shouldn’t fall into. I just pretended that the cameraman was my consultant or a member of my family and behaved as though I was being watched. Because I was. Nothing was faked and nothing was edited for story purposes. What you got was the real stories of the seven of us, which was great.
Dr Keir Shiels (93-00) (centre) with students following his recent presentation to MedSoc.
a patient to was an Old Novo. My first SHO was an Old Novo. And I shared on-calls with an Old Novo who was the son of an RGS teacher. I’m sure it’s something to do with medicine attracting high-achieving polymaths with good communication skills and an ability to fit social activities in between a full schedule.
sports team without letting down a group of people. That said, there are plenty of new things that I’m able to fit in and I get to see friends relatively regularly. It’s just not as free-and-easy as it was at university.
I have once or twice been in the position of treating former RGS teachers. RGS may send lots of students to medical school as a sort of health insurance for their staff. They certainly get first class treatment if they used to be your form teacher.
Where do you hope to see yourself in 10 years time? I’d like to be a general paediatrician in a city hospital, hopefully with responsibility for medical education. I’ve spent a lot of my non-clinical time teaching. I’ve learned about great teaching by osmosis from RGS, and it’s something I thoroughly enjoy.
How did you find the transition between university life and a job in a hospital? Medically, it was far better than I feared. The days of unsupported juniors working 100-hour weeks while their consultants play golf is long over. The It is slightly confusing when people stop me in the street to inform me of who I am. I expectations placed on the new fresh still don’t know how to respond to, “You’re doctors are reassuringly few. The Keir off Junior Doctors”, as the opening to a registrars and senior nurses are very supportive and the transition is actually conversation. But I’ve made some great very easy. friends through the show and wouldn’t be lecturing at various medical schools The biggest struggle is finding time to around the country were it not for have a hobby or social life. The regular BBC Three. So I’m pretty happy with evenings, weekends and nights interfere the outcome. with my ability to be a reliable member of a team. It’s difficult to go from a world Obviously if they’d showed me in a bad where I fitted my work around my play light, I’d have the exact opposite opinion. rehearsals to one where I cannot commit even to a bit part because of my Why do you think so many RGS inability to get to rehearsals or students apply for medicine? performances. If I want to be in an amMedicine is rife with Old Novos. My first dram play I have to take holiday to do it. I consultant at the Freeman was an Old Novo. The first radiology registrar I referred can’t do a language course or join a
What advice would you give to potential medics at RGS who are thinking about applying to medicine? Make sure it’s what you want to do. Get as much direct work experience on wards, with physicians, with nurses as possible. Medical interviews are like a job interview. The panel needs to know that you understand exactly what it is you are letting yourself into. Being a nice person and being good at science isn’t enough. Everyone applying for medicine ticks those boxes. Likewise having helped in a special school or old people’s home is on the CV of most candidates. To stand out, you have to link your experiences to real-life hospitalbased medicine. Also, read a journal now and again. All candidates will be able to talk about whatever’s been on ITN or Radio 4 recently. Get ahead of them and read some up-to-date stuff. It needn’t be too in depth, but open the BMJ now and again, and say as much on your application.
ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Autumn 2013
Peter Taylor Lecture 2013 Thomas Addison (1793-1860) and Richard Bright (1789-1858) In January 2013, the school hosted the Peter Taylor Lecture presenting A Study in Pathology: the work of Thomas Addison. By Professor Sir Christopher Edwards.
rofessor Christopher Edwards, former ViceChancellor of Newcastle University, spoke about the nineteenth century physician and scientist Dr Thomas Addison (1805-1812), one of the “Great Men” of Guy’s Hospital and a leading nineteenth century pathologist. Thomas Addison is one of the most famous Old Novocastrians. His father was a grocer in Longbenton and after being at the Parish (Rutter’s) School he was sent to the RGS in 1805. He left there in 1812 to become a medical student in Edinburgh. He subsequently became consultant physician at Guy’s Hospital. In 1855 he published his famous work, The Constitutional and Local Effects of Disease of the Supra-renal Capsules, the adrenal glands. This condition is now known as Addison’s disease.
Addison’s great colleague at Guy’s Hospital was Richard Bright. Bright became famous for the first description of kidney disease. He arrived in Edinburgh as a medical student in 1808. He then went off on Sir George Mackenzie’s expedition to Iceland and subsequently wrote Fig. 2 the chapter on the flora and fauna of Iceland. He then spent some time on the wards at Guy’s before returning to Edinburgh to be granted his doctorate in medicine. Library in Edinburgh. There was Thomas Addison attending the Chemistry course (Fig.1). There also History does not relate whether Addison and Bright met attending the same course was Richard Bright (Fig.2). It when they were students in Edinburgh. On the face of it would seem very likely that they must have met at that time. this seems unlikely. Addison was a first year medical Medicine almost certainly benefited from this strange student; Bright was in his final year. Addison came from a coincidence. relatively poor background; Bright from a rich banking family in Bristol. Bright was an extrovert; Addison was History sometimes repeats itself. Exactly 200 years after much more reserved. Bright went on the expedition to Iceland and had his problems with the weather the volcano under the In investigating this I discovered that when Bright went to Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland erupted and air travel in Iceland there was a period of very stormy weather and he Europe was brought to an almost complete standstill. Of had great difficulty in getting a boat back to Scotland. He much greater import was the Laki volcanic eruption in ended up by spending about three months there. This, Iceland which took place between June 1783 and coupled with the time that he spent as a student at Guy’s, February 1784. This had a devastating effect on the raised the possibility that he might have missed part of his Northern hemisphere with widespread crop failure. The preclinical course that he had had to complete before he famine resulting from this is thought to have been an could graduate. I therefore looked through the course important factor in the genesis of the French Revolution attendance records for 1812 that are held in the University in 1789.
Naval Reunion HMS Quorn trained, maintained and commanded by Old Novos.
t is, as is often observed in these pages, a small world. And so it is unsurprising but nonetheless notable that Royal Navy Minehunter HMS Quorn has been influenced in the last year by not one but three Old Novos as part of her ongoing deployment to the Arabian Gulf. Quorn’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Simon Kelly (82-92) takes up the story. I assumed command of the Second Mine Countermeasure Squadron’s Crew 8 in July last year. The crew were at the time embarked in the Hunt-Class Minehunter HMS Cattistock, operating around the UK. Unfortunately I had narrowly missed Cattistock’s visit to Newcastle some weeks earlier, but joined in time to take the ship to Bristol for their Harbour Festival. From August to November the ship conducted operational sea training in Portsmouth and Faslane, Scotland, and it was during this training that I bumped in to the first Old Novo. Lt Mark Webster (92-01) was one of the navigation training staff based in Faslane, and was instrumental throughout the generation process in training and developing my navigation and watch-keeping team above and beyond the level needed to be deployed to an operational theatre.
Lt Cdr Simon Kelly (82-92) (left), Commanding Officer of HMS Quorn welcomes Vice Admiral Sir Andrew Mathews KCB (69-76) for an evening reception on board HMS Quorn.
ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Autumn 2013
HMS Quorn (foreground) with Royal Navy Minehunter HMS Shoreham and two US Avenger Class Minehunters on operations in the Arabian Gulf.
Following successful completion of training we handed Cattistock over to one of our fellow crews, before flying out to Bahrain to take over HMS Quorn early in January 2013. Once in theatre we were joined again by Mark, who flew out for a four-day assurance check to help us settle in to our new ship and base port. Although all Hunt-Class ships are identical in design each has it own idiosyncrasies, and it takes a little time to adjust to the subtle differences – very much like stepping through the looking-glass. Following the handover process we set straight to work with a busy programme of maritime security patrols, mine-hunting training and wider regional visits, ensuring the maritime community within the Gulf continue to see the Royal Navy and UK as a positive influence in the region.
the support they require from the UK. Vice Admiral Mathews represents the Royal Navy’s interests in defence procurement and is also Chief of Fleet Support on the Navy Board. As a result he is always keen to see that his work within defence reaches the teams on the front line, so during his trip we treated him to an informal evening reception on Quorn’s upper deck, at which he had an opportunity to meet the crew and hear their feedback on the support his teams in the UK were providing.
Crew 8 remained in theatre until midJuly, and then handed over to a new crew before returning to the UK for some well-earned leave. Unfortunately I left the crew at this point, but with the silver lining that I then assumed command of the First Mine Countermeasure Squadron’s Crew 2, The deployment has seen us working based in Sandown-Class Minehunter with navies from around the globe, HMS Pembroke in Faslane. The upshot always seeking to share our best practice with regional partners. We also of this is that I have become the first receive a great deal of support from the Commanding Officer to have commanded both classes of UK whilst we are deployed, including regular visits from the higher command, minehunter, and can look forward to working with Mark again as I and it was one of these visits that brought the third Old Novo into Quorn’s generate my new Crew ready for deployment back to the Gulf in 2014. story. Chief of Materiel (Fleet), Vice Admiral Sir Andrew Mathews KCB (69 -76) visited Bahrain in March as part Simon lives in Petersfield, Hampshire of a visit to ensure the Royal Navy ships with his wife Samantha, an officer in and personnel in the Gulf are receiving the RAF.
Obituaries Walter Donald Finnie (38-42) Born 25 September 1923, died 25 April 2013, aged 89
He was evacuated with school to Penrith during the war years, which is where he met his future wife Una (married in 1950). He very much enjoyed some of the RGS reunions in Penrith. He went on to The Queenâ€™s College, Oxford where he graduated in History, though his university years were interrupted by wartime National Service in the RAF when he undertook ground duties mainly in India.
Reformed Church, and was a serving elder there for many years. After Unaâ€™s death, he enjoyed travelling, and his many and varied hobbies. He was an accomplished artist, needleperson, and calligrapher. Musically gifted, he belonged to several choirs, and loved the theatre, opera and concerts.
Walter was always a very devoted His first history teaching post was in family man, and friend to many. He is Millom, before moving on to survived by his two daughters Vicki Rutherford Grammar School, and and Caroline, three grandchildren, Manor Park School in Newcastle, and first great-grandchild, Max (born where he became Deputy Head. In 6 March this year). Although he is addition he marked history papers for greatly missed, we are thankful that several external examining boards, and he enjoyed a long and productive life, Walter went to the RGS when his family moved from Kent to Whitley Bay. in connection with this, enjoyed two and we have many happy memories We have photos of him playing the role trips to Africa, and many meetings in of him. London. He was very involved in of Miranda in an RGS production of church life at Jesmond United The Tempest. By Caroline R Pollard Walter playing Miranda with his RGS cast in the school production of the The Tempest.
Leonard Maurice ‘Sammy’ Franks (32-38) Born 3 April 1921, died 11 November 2011, aged 90
Sammy Franks was one of the world’s foremost cancer scientists, working for most of his career as a leading histopathologist at The Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF). Here he was able to develop his long-term interest in tissue culture. A man of irrepressible humour, one of the most recurrent stories in the many tributes to his life described his dry and impish sense of humour. Whilst listening to lectures, he would appear to fall asleep within a short time, but seemed to have heard every word. He would comment provocatively that at the end of a lecture, “he felt like a drowning man coming up for the third time”. More senior ONs might find this a resonating observation. Serving in Italy during the Second World War as a Captain in the RAMC, Sammy would later relate his experience with the Sixth Armoured Division were “much less stressful” than general practice.
He went on to become a doyen of prostate pathologists and a pioneer in the application of cell culture and electron microscopy in cancer research. He was a founder member of the Royal College of Pathologists, elected to the American College of Pathologists and participated in the formation of several British, European and international societies. Sammy continued to support and develop his research students during their careers and and contributed much in the administration and training of clinical fellows and scientists at the ICRF. One of his PhD students described him as, ‘a human being with a capital H’. In retirement, an enthusiastic fly fisherman in the Welsh streams near his small cottage near the Brecon Beacons, he leaves three sons, his wife Mary having died earlier in 2011. By David Goldwater (51-62)
Eric William Robson (44-53) Born 11 July 1935, died 12 May 2013, aged 77
Eric has been a wonderful friend ever since our school days at Newcastle Royal Grammar School. He was a noted long-distance runner and enjoyed life there. The best man at my wedding, Eric and I have walked together in Northumberland, played bowls and golf and visited one another’s families in St. Bees, Newcastle, Guisborough, and later in Hastings. We enjoyed our time at Cambridge together, members of the Christian Union, or steering a punt on the River Cam… He was involved in various charitable endeavours, founder of an ecumenical coffee shop and bookshop, the Iain
Rennie Hospice at Home, and the Beaconsfield Abbeyfield Society and care home.
Robert ‘Bob’ Douglas (48-56) Born 1937, died 20 June 2013, aged 76
Bob Douglas, formerly known to his contemporaries as ‘Dant’, died very suddenly on holiday on 20 June. Head Prefect in his final year at the RGS, he did his National Service in the RAF, learning Russian at Crail and being posted to Berlin at the time of the Cold War. He then went up to Christ Church College, Oxford and took a degree in History, going on to teach in Darlington and Keighley Grammar Schools before becoming Vice-Principal of Tynemouth Sixth Form College. At his various schools Bob actively encouraged cricket and cross-country running, and delighted in taking parties of pupils to the Lake District. He retired from the college when he realised he was spending more time in the office than in teaching young people. He leaves a widow, son, and granddaughter, and many good memories among his school friends. By Donald Buchanan (48-56)
Francis ‘Frank’ Bradford (37-44) born
His faith also informed his ethical approach to his business life, first at IBM, then as director at Hoskyns, Root and Lloyd Savage. Eric enjoyed many meditative Christian retreats, completing a degree in Christian Spirituality after his retirement. He died at Easter of extensive cancer after a bravely fought long illness, surrounded by his loving wife, children and grandchildren.
1926, died 24 April 2013, aged 86. John Fowler Milne (36-44) born 1927, died 16 April 2013, aged 85. Stephanie Charlotte McLean
(06-08) born 1990, died 11 July 2013, aged 23. David Barclay (37-46) born 1929, died 20 June 2013, aged 84. Charles Kenneth Halton Imison
By Eric ‘Spike’ Middleton (45-53)
ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Autumn 2013
(25-35) born 1916, died 27 June 2013, aged 97.
ONA Diary dates The ONA Annual Dinner Friday 18 October 2013 RGS, Newcastle upon Tyne Guest Guest Speaker: Speaker: Sir Sir Brian Brian Briscoe Briscoe (56-63) (56-63) 6.15PM AGM in the Conference Room 6.15PM AGM in the Conference Room 6.30PM Drinks reception and presentation to retiring reception and presentation to retiring 6.30PM Drinks teachers in the School Hall teachers in the School Hall 7.30PM Dinner and speeches in the Dining Hall 7.30PM Dinner and speeches in the Dining Hall Sir Brian Briscoe read Geography at Sir Brian Briscoe read Geography at Cambridge. He was a Planner in Derbyshire, Cambridge. He was a Planner in Derbyshire, Herefordshire, West Yorkshire, Hertfordshire Herefordshire, West Yorkshire, Hertfordshire and Planning Officer, Kent in the late 80s. and Planning Officer, Kent in the 80s. Chief Executive, Hertfordshire inlate 1990, Chief Chief Executive, Hertfordshire in 1990, Chief Executive, Local Government Association Executive, Local Government Association (LGA), 1996 – 2006. Chairman, High Speed (LGA), 1996 –Grandpa! 2006. Chairman, High Speed 2 Ltd. Proud 2 Ltd. Proud Grandpa!
Carol Service Tuesday 10 December 2013 St. George’s Church, Jesmond
Price: £28/£23 (£23 if you are aged 25 or younger, or aged 80 and over). Price: £28/£23 (£23 if you are aged 25 or younger, or aged 80 and over).
Dear Old Novos,
The price includes the drinks reception, dinner, and a choice of wine on the table. The price includes the drinks reception, dinner, and a choice of wine onno thefixed table. Dress Code: Formal (Optional Black Tie/Evening Dress). There will be Dress Code: Formal (Optional Black Tie/ Evening Dress). There will be no fixed table plan; however, it will be possible to reserve seats. Tables will seat eight table plan; will be possible toshare reserve will seat eight diners, andhowever, parties ofitless than eight will theseats. tableTables with others to complete the diners, and parties of less than eight will share the table with others to complete octet. If you would like to reserve seats please contact the Development Office. the octet. If you would like to reserve seats please contact the Development Office.
On behalf of the Music Department, I warmly invite you, your family and friends to the RGS Senior School Carol Service which is to be held at St. George’s Church, Jesmond, on Tuesday 10 December starting at 7.00pm. The service will last approximately one hour and will be followed by drinks and mince pies in the hall next to the church.
The deadline for bookings is Wednesday 9 October 2013. Please note The is Wednesday 9 October 2013. Please that deadline no ticketsfor willbookings be issued. Once you have reserved and paid for your place,note we that no tickets will be issued. Once you have reserved and paid for your place, we are unable to refund your money. If you require confirmation of your booking, please are unable to refund your money. If you require confirmation of your booking, please provide an email address. provide an email address. For further details please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Seasonal readings have been chosen to appeal to the whole family, and music will be provided by the Blue Blazer Choir, Senior Choir, String Orchestra and the Brass Quintet. I do hope that you will be able to come along and join in what promises to be a joyful celebration of Christmas and an uplifting end to the term. Yours sincerely, Zlatan Fazlic´ Director of Music