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Trauma in Cape Town Jonathan Simpson (10-12) on an intensive medical elective trip to South Africa Also in this issue: Adventures in Haiku | Rory Allan Memorial Prize | Steve Watkins

Issue 103 | Summer 2018

ONA Magazine Issue 103 Summer 2018


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 Autumn 2018 issue is 17 September 2018. 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 Steve Watkins Retires Trauma in Cape Town Adventures in Haiku A History of the RGS in Its People Rory Allan Memorial Prize Obituaries


Welcome to the 103rd issue of ONA Magazine. Looking back over the first half of 2018, there is much to report. The year started with the inaugural Row the Tyne charity fundraiser in February. This was a landmark event organised by Old Novo and Deputy President of the ONA Joel Dickinson (91-01). Hundreds of athletes competed against each other on static rowing machines in a race to row the length of the Tyne. Joel masterminded the whole event which raised an astonishing £25,000 for a charity very close to his heart. Continuing the theme of ‘firsts’, the Rory Allan Memorial Prize was launched earlier this year by friends and teachers of the late Rory Allan (03-10). The standard of submissions was outstanding and I would encourage you all to read the winning submission which is published on pages 14-16. This was quickly followed by yet another hugely successful London ONA Dinner at The East India Club in March. The event was a sell-out once again, and our thanks go to Max Hill QC (72-82) for entertaining us with memories of his time at the school, as well as fascinating insights into his role as Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. Our congratulations go to Max on his recent appointment as Director of Public Prosecutions. A great achievement by one of our ONs. June saw the re-instatement of the annual RGS XI v ONA XI cricket match – a close game, which the ONA won by 18 runs. See page 5 for the full match report. Our thanks here must go to Chris Ward who was instrumental in the organisation beforehand and smooth running on the day. I hope you enjoy this issue, that you have enjoyable summers and that I see as many of you as possible at the 93rd Annual Newcastle ONA Dinner on Friday 12 October – further details on the back page.

Chris JJ Wilson (97-02) ONA President


ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Summer 2018

News and Congratulations Our congratulations go to…

School War Memorial

David Greensmith (67-77) who was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List for services to the administration of justice and to the UK Scout movement. Christian Gardner (00-07) who was awarded the Young Achiever of the Year 2017 Award by the professional independent body, Chartered Insurance Institute of Newcastle. Annelise Brown (née Tvergaard) (05-07) who has married Howard Brown. The wedding was attended by ONs Morgan Pretswell (05-07) and Kooyeon Kim (03-07). ‘We were married after being together nearly eight years and have relocated to Newcastle. I’m now working at Ryder Architecture. Howard is a Police Sergeant and he’ll be moving up in the next few months.’

Julian Yates (79-86) who has been appointed the Chair of Harry Fletcher Brown Professor of English at the University of Delaware.

Lauren Shelmerdine (née Jones) (06-08) who writes: ‘I attended RGS and was Head Girl in my final year. I just wanted to let everyone know of my recent marriage to Louis Shelmerdine, a Maths Teacher at Max Hill QC (72-82) who has recently Gosforth Academy. It was on 29 July been appointed Director of Public 2017 at St Mary’s Church, Ponteland Prosecutions following his role as the with the reception at Vallum Farm, Government’s Independent Reviewer Matfen, Northumberland. I attach a of Terrorism Legislation. Max will take picture with other ONs from left to up his new position from 1 November, right as seen: Laura Clifton (06-08) on a five-year term with a pledge to (ex Deputy Head Girl), Andrew Hall “restore public trust in the Crown (01-08) (Master of Ceremonies), Prosecution Service”. myself and Alexandra Gardner (07-09) (Bridesmaid)’. Max Hill QC delivering his speech on life as a

As this is the year of the centenary of the ending of WW1, and the school is holding a service on Remembrance Day (Sunday 11 November), the CCF thought it appropriate to renovate the fascia of the organ, which is the Memorial. It is also the memory that many alumni carry with them of the Main Hall, and visitors will ask to see it again. The work involves cleaning and repainting the pipes and cleaning and polishing the woodwork. The names on the Memorial will also be regilded this summer with thanks to a kind and generous ON. The ONA have joined with the CCF to help with this work, and the school has agreed to meet the balance. If anyone is interested in supporting this work please get in touch with Jane Medcalf by email at Mike Barlow (53-64)

Barrister at the RGS Lower Sixth Enrichment Lectures, 2016

Au Revoir to Chris Ward The ONA say a fond farewell to Games Teacher, Chris Ward as he moves on to teach Games and History at St Bede’s Catholic School and Sixth Form College. Huge thanks to Chris, who was at school for this academic year and his father, Graham Ward (74-81) for organising two fantastic events; John Elders Memorial Match at Christmas and to Chris also for organising the ONA Cricket Team. Ed. See you both at the ONA Dinner!


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.

The Mike Perry Kitchen Plaque

Bursary Campaign Appeal Update A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to the Bursary Appeal, which has raised over £65,000 to date. We are delighted by the response. If you still wish to make a donation, it’s not too late.

Please contact Jane Medcalf by email at campaign@rgs. Your support is appreciated.

Personal Details and Data Protection As we are all aware new data protection rules (GDPR) came into force on 25 May this year, and ONs should have received a letter regarding contacting you in the future. As part of the requirements of GDPR the school has produced a new Privacy Notice that can be accessed on the RGS website under the Policies section. The school knows that a very special relationship exists between the RGS and its former students and teachers, therefore we very much wish to


continue to keep in touch with you. To do this we would like to keep basic details of your time at school, such as attendance dates, what you have been doing since leaving the school and your contact details. A copy of the letter and consent form can be found at We very much hope that you will complete the consent form, so that we can continue to keep in contact with you.

ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Summer 2018

Novos RFC were proud to unveil ‘The Mike Perry Kitchen’ plaque earlier this year. Mike Perry (49-54) kindly left the club a considerable sum of money, after his sad passing in 2008. The club finally decided to spend his bequest on a brand new kitchen in late 2016. The appropriateness of using Mike’s money on the kitchen was that he cooked all his life. Mike joined the Army Catering Corp for three years immediately after leaving school. That, as well as the club Supper Nights, when he was the key man in Jim Lewin’s (47-56) team. So long as he was fed a few rums, which he would drink sitting on a keg of beer, no one else was allowed near the cooker to do the gammon, pineapple, peas and chips, which were always on the menu. At school, Mike was famous for being an expert at ‘the plunge’, whereby one would dive in and see how far one could swim without making a stroke or taking a breath; nobody could match him! The plaque gives thanks to Mike, a man rarely without his pipe (affectionately carved into the wood), who for many years rarely went on holiday, so that he could be involved in the bar administration every Monday, Thursday and Saturday. This, in spite of the fact that he suffered from epilepsy and was never able to drive. Novos RFC officially opened the kitchen on 27 January 2018 before our home game against Guisborough; Audrey Perry (Mike’s sister) was the guest of honour. By Chris Ward Novos RFC

ONA Now and Then

As I look back on my first year here at the RGS, it is striking at just how important the ONA has been in it. There are the obvious dinners and events (and most enjoyable they have been too) but it has been the wider meetings and encounters that have meant so much. Every school talks about the community and the wider ‘family’ but I can honestly say that this has been more than just rhetoric here. I’m sure there is more we can, would like to and will do, however, I do believe that our collective sense of pride and belief in the school puts us in an excellent position.


One of the things that I have most enjoyed in the last few weeks of term has been the appearance of several ONs in School Assembly. Making sure that the links between the ONA and the current students are strong is so important for the future. It was therefore a very special pleasure to welcome back Luke Hughes (05-10) to present the Rory Allan Memorial Prize and to listen to what Phillipa Sanders (Year 11) had to say in her essay. It is fabulous that such debate and engagement with the world is being encouraged in an age when the perils of ‘fake’ news appear to be all too real. But the ON involvement did not end there, it was great that Kate Harman (née Appleby) (06-08) was also able to say something about the work and role of the ONA to the students before presenting Henry Haslam (Upper Sixth) with his award for an Outstanding EPQ (Extended Project Qualification). Henry’s originality and inventiveness, let alone entrepreneurial skill, in his work on recycling plastic was quite something and thoroughly deserving of the award. I would like to thank the ONA for supporting these awards and I hope they become a regular feature of school life and will continue to be presented in this way. The final ON visitor to Assembly was Thomas Bilclough (06-17) who came to address the school after his return from his travels on his GAP Year and present the new Bilclough Cup on behalf of all three of the Bilclough brothers who had been at RGS. Having met Tommy at the ONA London Dinner it was lovely to catch up with him again and give him his chance to address the school that exams robbed him of last year. I would also like to put on record here my thanks to Jane Medcalf and the ONs who were present on RGS Day to spread the word and sell ONA merchandise. Sadly, not all of my meetings with ONs have been under such pleasant circumstances. I have commented before that it is always a sad duty to say farewell to the ONs who have passed away and I have been to a number of memorial services in the last few months. Whilst very sad, these have also been occasions when we have been able to celebrate their lives and achievements of the ONs and it was so

noticeable how prominent a part their time at the RGS was to them. For some, like Ashley Winter OBE (64-74), their active involvement with the school went on much longer. Indeed, Ash’s crucial role in the Bursary Campaign carries with it not only the thanks of the school but most definitely those of the students who received bursaries as a result of it. And whilst on the topic of the Bursary Campaign may I also add my thanks to those who have supported it and continue to do so. As the famous campaign ad goes, ‘every little helps’ and the money really does help us provide life-changing opportunities for the boys and girls who get them. In David Goldwater’s (51-62) latest piece on A History of the RGS in Its People he reminds us of the importance of individuals and teachers. It may be true that the size of the school can make it less intimate but we only have to look at the great inspiration of teachers like Steve Watkins (89-18) to know that so much of the personal and individual care does continue. If my year began with the demolition of the old swimming pool (the source of so much comment at ON Dinners!) then I am pleased to say that it is ending with the arrival of the builders to start putting up the new building which includes the new Library, Art block and so much more. We hope to have it completed for the start of the academic year in September 2019. But you do not have to wait for that to come back and visit. I hope that some of you will be able to join us at other events next term including a special memorial service to mark the centenary of the end of the WWI where the restored organ and memorial will be rededicated. This will take place on Sunday 11 November and further details will be available closer to the event. As ever there is so much more for you to read here from Haiku and cricket to surgical procedures in Cape Town. And in very recent news I would also like to add my congratulations to Max Hill QC (72-82) on his appointment as Director of Public Prosecutions. The rich variety and tapestry of ON life goes on! John Fern Headmaster

ONA Now and Then 1st XI v ONA Cricket Report The roaring sun beat down on Jesmond CC on Friday 13 June as one expects of the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) on the first day of the Boxing Day test. The wise old heads of the ONA pulled rank and elected to bat first on a dry wicket and rapidly paced outfield. The 1st XI, buoyed by spirited performances against Leeds Grammar School and the MCC earlier in the week, opened the bowling against a strong top order. By Chris Ward, Games Teacher.

Rob Peyton (06-16) and Charles Anderson (03-12) went out the blocks like Red Rum at Aintree in 1977! Both openers sprayed the ball around the Jesmond Ground, akin to chasing an unreasonably high run rate at the death of an IPL game. 36 runs were scored from the opening four overs and one would not have looked foolish for suggesting that it could be a long afternoon for the 1st XI. However, this gung-ho style of play inevitably couldn’t last as Peyton, chasing his fifth four in as many balls, attempted to drive a rather wide delivery from Rory Hanley (Lower Sixth), leaving Parth Mannikar (Upper Sixth) a simple catch in the slips; dismissing Peyton for 20. Anderson followed, playing a volley, but was absurdly bowled by Atul Ramesh (Upper Sixth) as the ball nipped back between pad and bat from a length. Andrew Doig (05-12) took up the innings and batted with an ease and style rarely seen in schoolboy cricket. He played almost nonchalantly and the swift velocity of his drives racked up an ever quickening score for the old boys. Doig retired on 59 but the score continued to tick over, courtesy of a very safe and steady 32 from Richardson; a cautious style Geoffrey Boycott would applaud. Indeed, Nick Richardson (03-13) responded to friendly jeers in the bar after the game with a perfectly timed retort, “You can’t score runs back in the shed”. Matthew Haigh (05-12), Luke Hudson (12-17), Rob Thirlwell (06-16) and Jamie Guy (05-12) added the extras giving the 1st XI a tough, but achievable chase of 218.

The school attempted to follow the fast-paced lead of Old Novos, though in the opening skirmishes two (almost) identical shots were top edged, shooting high into the sky and were caught at point; gifting Guy two wickets from the Cemetery end. Old Novos fielded with three slips and a gully for most of the innings, which seemingly was to allow Howard Snaith (01-11) and Haigh the opportunity to stand still for prolonged periods of time! Doig, Ruaidhri Fletcher (07-16) and Peyton bowled with much pace, but at times were costly as byes raced to the boundary, allowing the school a way back into the game. Archie Elder (Upper Sixth) and Mannikar steadied the ship for the school; both putting Old Novos through a tricky half an hour period. Dan Whitaker (05-15) bowled straight and full, but would later feel the wrath of the 1st Team as they chased an ever increasing run rate. At one stage the school looked like inflicting a great comeback, however Piers Davison (15-17) stepped it up a gear. Davison, hurled himself at the wicket with such force, I imagine that, come close of play, the groundsman found the remnants of his plastic spikes, leather, laces and goodness knows what else! The school however used this new found pace in attack to their advantage, hitting the bat’s sweet spot to hit much needed boundaries. Eventually however, Davison broke down the middle order, taking three wickets in as many overs, leaving the school’s task too great. The school finished on an admirable 200-8, ending a great day’s cricket. Both sides enjoyed the day and we shall hope this annual fixture continues after its unfortunate hiatus from the calendar in recent years. Fortiter Defendit Triumphans!


ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Summer 2018

Steve Watkins Retires ONA Magazine catches up with retiring Maths Teacher Steve Watkins (89-18) on 29 years loyal service at RGS and his plans for the future.

Above: Spartans 2016 after the presentation of the Spartan’s helmet Below: Steve Watkins (L) with Dave Smith during a Games Afternoon


What year did you start at the RGS? January 1989 and was blown away with the academic prowess of the Maths Department and in the early days it was an extremely daunting feeling, as I was working alongside some brilliant Mathematicians, such as Peter Mitchell (8003), John Porritt (79-93), John Douglas (56-94), John Hewitt (78-90), Pauline Perella (82-03), Tom Hall (6798) and of course Bill Gibson (63-69 and 74-15). Saying that, I have learnt a fantastic amount from them all and those early days helped me in my teaching of the subject and laid the foundations to enable to me teach up to Further Maths. I became Head of Middle School taking over from Jim Lawrence (60-94) in September 1994, which coincided with James Miller (94-08) starting as the new Headmaster. As well as being Head of Middle School and teaching Maths, what else have you been involved with at RGS? Typically RGS, I was given various responsibilities before I became Head of Middle School, which were: Master in Charge of the Dining Hall and House Master of Collingwood. When I started at the school, lunchtime was very traditional, in terms of a member of staff sat with and was responsible for a group of boys. This soon changed to a servery-style of lunch, but still nothing like we have now. Another role of being Master in Charge of the Dining Hall was setting up the Dining Hall for Parents Conferences’ which involved shifting all the tables and chairs and putting out table names; how times have changed! My role as House Master was organising teams for House Competitions and in those days there was only the traditional sports such as rugby, Miller Cup, cricket, House Swimming Galas and of course Sports Day; again nothing like the extensive House Competitions in place now. My main involvement throughout my time at the school has been sport, especially rugby and cricket. I have been in charge of the U12, U14 and U15 cricket teams with U14s winning

the County Cup a few times. The U14 team of 1991 was a particularly talented team extremely well captained by a certain Michael Smalley (85-95), Econonics Teacher and I must admit that they knew a lot more about cricket than I did! In the autumn terms I was given the role of coaching the 3rd XV and thoroughly enjoyed my time working with these players. In the early 90s the school regularly put out three teams, with the 3rd Team being made up of players who loved playing rugby, but weren’t always committed enough to play higher teams. The matches were taken very seriously and the level of commitment was outstanding, but whether win, draw or lose, all players came off the field with a smile on their faces. The 3rd XV, a bit like the present day Spartans, developed such a strong team spirt, that it became like a club within a club; forming their own identity, and in order to recognise this, a special 3rd Team tie was produced for match days with the motto Ne Te Confundant Illegitimi 3rd XV, although I doubt if it would be allowed now! A special thanks must go out to Paul Ponton (71-09) (1st Team Coach) and John Armstrong (72-03) (2nd Team Coach) who I worked closely with at this time, and certainly learnt a lot from, especially the occasional de-brief at the end of a match at Northern RFC. About 1996/97 the role of Head of Middle School became more demanding and certainly more time consuming. As a consequence, I regrettably had to stop my involvement in the rugby and cricket, which was a great shame, as it gave me an opportunity to see students in a different environment away from the rigours and pressures of a classroom. At this time, there were only three Heads of Year; Tim Clark (84-17) (Head of Lower School), the late Howard Baker (77-12) (Head of Year 11 and Sixth Form – very sad that he passed away last year as he was an incredible man), and myself with no assistants. The pastoral structure was slightly restructured in the mid-90s with Dave Smith (80-11) becoming the Head of Discipline which was the early beginnings of the present excellent pastoral structure in school. I have also had the pleasure to go on various trips abroad, including watersports and skiing trips to Ovronnaz in France. In those days it used to be a coach to Ramsgate, then ferry to Calais and then coach to Ovronnaz; about 26 hours in total! When Andy Watt (Head of Rugby) joined the school he somehow persuaded me to referee the occasional Spartans game, which at the time was being run by Daryl Baker, (IT Technician and U16 Rugby Coach) and when I stepped down from being the Head of Middle School, I was given the responsibility of taking over from him; what shoes to fill! I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the involvement with a great bunch of lads – being presented with a Spartans helmet in assembly was a fantastic gesture. The following year I helped Alex Brown (Games Teacher) with the U15 Rugby Team which involved a successful trip to Langley School, Norwich and in Easter 2017, an inaugural tour to Romania. What will you miss about the RGS? Being at the school for 29 years it has being a major part of my life and I have got to know so many people from all aspects of school life. Naturally this will be a massive miss and will take some getting used to when September 2018


ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Summer 2018

comes around. Also another massive miss will be the students and going into a classroom and just teaching; an experience I have thoroughly enjoyed over the past three years since stepping down as Head of Middle School. Do you have one particular memorable moment from your time at the RGS? There have been so many, it is difficult to select one, but there is one particular poignant occasion that stands out and that was being given the opportunity to personally remember Neil Goldie (89-03) at Neil Goldie – A Celebration held at the school (October 2003) – what a teacher, what a character and what a personality. Not connected with memorable moments, but in the 29 years I have been at the school there have been some incredible changes: – Seeing the school structurally develop from when I started to what it is now: STC, PAC, ATP, sports halls, sports facilities, swimming pool, The Miller Theatre and the new admin area. Of course there is still more to come. – Overseeing, along with Sarah Longville (Assistant Head of Year at the time) the integration of girls into the lower year groups, in particular the first 14 girls into Year 9 in September 2006. At the time, this seemed a radical move, but now after 12 years of the school being fully co-educational it was absolutely the correct decision. What are your plans to do when you retire? I have played golf badly over the past 25 years and now want to spend some time trying to play the game to a reasonable level, as in hitting the majority of balls straight and a reasonable distance, with my ultimate aim being able to beat Tim Clark! My wife has a couple of allotments and I will be spending more time doing various labouring tasks and might even turn my hand to growing produce, if allowed! Staff are aware that I am a passionate supporter of Welsh rugby, but usually only see them play once a year. In retirement I will hopefully have the opportunity to see them a lot more, especially in Rome and Paris. I also enjoy photography and do much of the cooking at home, but would love to develop these skills a lot further by attending evening classes. On tour with the U15 Rugby Team Romania, April 2017 – thoughtful coaches?

Trauma in Cape Town

ape Town was the chosen location for my seven-week placement in orthopaedic surgery. South Africa allowed me to experience diverse and interesting trauma in an Englishspeaking country. I worked at New Somerset Hospital which is a medium-sized, public, secondary centre that serves a drainage area of northern, western and central Cape Town. I stayed in the residences on site, settled into the city area with the help of other elective students, and had a fantastic time in the hospital, as the doctors were so friendly and involving. In addition to the great volume and variety of broken bones requiring treatment, there was a significant burden of advanced tuberculosis on the ward which had spread to the patients’ spines, large joints and brains. My time in theatre provided a good mix of operations for me to assist with – fixing lots of different fractures and helping out with elective procedures. It was interesting to learn about the techniques used for

fixation and to be involved with the intraoperative discussions and deliberations. I experienced the surgical treatment of many high energy and complex fractures that are not frequently seen in the UK. The hospital had very good, up-to-date equipment in orthopaedic theatres, especially for trauma cases, which was the bulk of the workload. There were, however, differences to UK hospitals: sterility in theatre was not as strict, waiting times for fixation were longer, joint replacements were performed much less frequently, and the disparity between public and private healthcare was very marked. The trauma profile of South Africa differs from that of Britain. South Africa experiences high levels of mortality and morbidity due to violence and injury; this is supported by alcohol misuse and a lack of money, employment, education, justice and investment in social infrastructure. Many patients were admitted to the ward with injuries from violent attacks; these involved blunt trauma and penetrating wounds from sharp weapons (e.g. large Panga meat knives/machetes). Open wounds, malnutrition, HIV, diabetes and smoking were common diseases and patient factors in South Africa that influenced fracture management and healing. Wound infection was a common issue throughout the surgical departments. With my strong passion for research, I conducted a five-week study whilst on placement to analyse the demographics and disease burden of trauma patients admitted to the ward. An outreach hospital visit to a small town up the West Coast also presented many varied learning opportunities. Overall, I had a brilliant time in Cape Town and in New Somerset Hospital. My exposure to the surgical fixation of complex fractures from violent incidents and high-energy trauma was excellent! The experience in South Africa will benefit me greatly over the coming years as I begin to apply for foundation and surgical training. Once again, thank you very much to the ONA; your generous financial support helped me to travel to South Africa and to make the most of a fantastic placement.

Jon taking time out of his busy schedule

New Somerset Hospital, Cape Town

Thank you very much to the ONA for your kind financial support. It assisted me greatly in being able to afford to travel to Cape Town and to conduct my medical elective. By Jonathan Simpson (10-12).




Adventures in Haiku Keith Jewitt (70-77) talks about his debut haiku collection, In a Magpie’s Eye: the Jesmond Year in Haiku.

Keith at his book launch at Blackwell’s book shop, Newcastle upon Tyne

Far went they forth from the School of the North” – these unforgettable words from The School Song are both a statement of historical fact, and an exhortation to future generations to continue going forth. I always try to do the opposite of what is expected of me, and in one respect I’ve succeeded – because I’ve spent my whole life moving closer to the school. I lived with my parents in Tyne Dock; then Benton, the first home I bought was on Osborne Road in Jesmond, then four years ago, I moved to a flat only 200 yards or so from the RGS. Why is this relevant? Because my flat has a wonderful and inspiring view over the garden attached to Newcastle’s Mansion House. Like most people who have outgrown work, I have plenty to fill up my time, but a portion of each day is always devoted to watching what is going on in my little-known urban paradise. After a while I started to record my observations in haiku, a 400-year-old Japanese poetry form which was popularised in Britain by North Eastern poet, James Kirkup. I use the ‘traditional’ haiku structure which I first encountered at RGS in 1972 and which is still taught in many schools. The opening haiku in my book tells the reader roughly how this works: Write down what you see in seventeen syllables no more and no less.

Then I make it more precise: Five in the first line seven in the second, and five more in the third. Many modern haikuists favour a looser structure, but I decided that I needed the discipline of this traditional approach. I also confined myself to the traditional haiku subject – observations of nature including, where possible, markers of the passing


ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Summer 2018

seasons. Finally, out of sheer laziness, I decided to work only in Jesmond, bounded to the south by the Civic Centre and to the north by Matthew Bank – my area therefore includes the RGS. I set myself the challenge of trying to see the Jesmond year through the eyes of its non-human inhabitants – mainly the animals, the trees and the birds. I spotted small conflicts over territory: birds nesting and then either raising young or abruptly going away; trees looking almost dead through the winter, then suddenly bursting into leaf. Best of all, I spent hours watching a family of Kestrels, feeding their young all spring and teaching them to fly in summer. Each time I gathered some potential raw material, I noted it down on the back of an envelope – a primitive form of recycling. I then worked on the envelope sketch until it was moulded into haiku form. When I had accumulated 100 or so haiku (NB: haiku are like sheep – the singular and plural are the same) I began to think that they might make a book. At this point, the task changed – in addition to recording each moment, I was also trying to build a considered collection telling the story of a whole year. Oddly, when I took stock of my material, I found that the summer months were under-represented, possibly because so much is hidden by trees. As a result, I spent the summer of 2017 being extra-vigilant, especially on my daily shopping trips up Osborne Road, when I am often accompanied by Crows and Jackdaws. Finally, my collection was more or less complete, so I asked one friend (who is a leading Poet) to read it and another friend (who is a part-time Publisher) to publish it. Both, astonishingly, said yes. This all sounds far too easy doesn’t it? It was in fact at this point that the hard work began. My Poet-friend urged me to remove anything which read like ‘Telegraphese’ – a concept which I am just old enough to understand. He also strongly advised

me to remove my original highly irreverent epilogue, saying, “This is the sort of thing Larkin might have got away with – but only just”. Then a long argument broke out with my Publisher over the title. Throughout the writing process my working title was The Haiku Diary of a Geordie Gentleman, which is a pretty exact description of the book’s contents, but the Publisher rejected it. I resorted to asking my other friends what they thought of it, with varying results. Eventually my wife settled the first phase of the argument by commenting that it sounded more like a range of table mats than a book! Now, having abandoned my original title, I had to find a new one. In a Magpie’s Eye aims to tap into all of the different meanings of the word ‘Magpie’. First, because of our football strip, all Novocastrians are Magpies. Second, the Magpie is a gatherer of miscellaneous objects. Third, the real-life Magpie is present in Jesmond throughout all four seasons – always finding new ways to survive, always looking as though he/she has a plan. I’m going to finish by quoting two haiku conceived just a few yards away from the RGS. First, the spring at Eslington House: Eslington House pink shockinger than puce, blossom of a tree in heat. Second, a winter haiku at Jesmond Metro station: Unfancied by birds, Metro tunnel tree shows its berries to the sun.

Keith Jewitt’s In a Magpie’s Eye: the Jesmond Year in Haiku is available from Blackwell’s bookshop in Newcastle, from the Laurel Books website and from Amazon.


The school in the 50s often reflected an RF Delderfield novel, or James Hilton’s Goodbye Mr Chips. Many of the school staff had attended the RGS or started their careers there, recruited by Ebenezer Thomas (22-48) as men returned from WWI. Impossible today, many aspects of RGS life would remain hidden from public knowledge in those days. Members of the RGS ‘family’, overseen by ER Thomas, were, in many cases, actually related. Their social lives were intertwined; Rene Robinson recalling an era when at least 75% of her and Guy’s friends were his fellow teachers and their wives, who enjoyed mixing at their frequent social events.

by David Goldwater (51-62)

Born in Newcastle in 1910, George Pallister was a quiet and gentle, yet most effective Teacher of Biology. The Woodwork and Biology Block was an independent structure on the south side of the School Field, where the Sports Hall is situated. In bad weather, journeys there could mean a good soaking! Budding carpenters turned right into William ‘Bill’ G Elliott’s (52-82) domain, with its aromas of timber and fishy glue, or upstairs to the Biology Department, where a smell of formalin permeated the air. Bill recalls regular co-operation between him and George. Requiring a single Catfish for dissection from the local Fishmonger, an entire crateful was delivered. With Bill’s assistance, most of the staff and their families enjoyed a fish supper that night. A delivery to Jesmond Station of a batch of mice for dissection was collected by boys and left by Bill for George overnight in the toilets. Cleaners were horrified the next morning to discover a host of rodents.

In April 2018, a most unusual meeting took place in the Bureau, a small room formed behind the school’s old main entrance. Rene Robinson, the widow of Maurice ‘Guy’ Robinson (34-72); Laurence Pallister (53-63), son of George Pallister (22-66) and Pat MacDonald (née Thornton), daughter of ‘Bill’ Thornton (49-76), all met to discuss the careers of three very different, yet closely connected members of the RGS staff.

Laurence took for granted, as the son of a teacher and pupil at the school, that he remained the discreet keeper of family secrets. Lips would remain sealed as he overheard startling gossip drifting by as George did the washing up. Unknown to all but Laurence’s closest friends, George’s sister was married to Laurence ‘Larry’ Watson (30-71).

L-R: David Goldwater with Laurence Pallister, Pat MacDonald (née Thornton) and Rene Robinson during a visit to the school


Many ON medical careers were launched in the Biology Block under George’s tutelage. He had a keen interest in medical history and wrote monographs on Thomas Addison (1806-1812) and John Adamson (unknown1803) as well as Evacuation (1971), a personal account of the school’s evacuation to Penrith. Rene remembers the Robinsons keeping hens behind the house there and their feathers being fashioned into hats for wedding outfits. She still has friends in Penrith. George died in 1991. Maurice Guy Robinson was a man with enormous enthusiasm for his subjects, English and Latin, the joy not always shared by his unruly pupils. Bryan Stevens (44-49) feels particularly indebted to “MG” or “Streamlined”, as he was nicknamed. “He seemed to glide past you, hair swept back like the styling of a ‘modern’ car of the 30s or 40s. Encouraging lively debates and drama in the school theatre, he led his classes with endless patience and occasionally a little sarcasm. Faced with the lack of talent often displayed by boys who, despite their worst instincts, seemed nevertheless to appreciate MG’s ability to extract a flickering response from the ragbag of adolescent manhood before him.” Bryan’s forthcoming collection of his own verse owes much, he says, to MG’s inspiration all those years ago. A lifelong Ornithologist, he made many pre-WWII visits to the Camargue region in Southern France. I, myself, can still recall MG’s exaggerated mannerisms and even his voice – like a loud whisper. His giggling mockery entertained us on a daily basis. After the authoritarian Headmaster ER Thomas was replaced in1948 by Oliver Mitchell (48-60) with his softer approach, inter-staff social activities and lifelong friendships were encouraged. Later, under the leadership of Headmaster Alister Cox (72-94), a dormant ONA was re-formed by the late Arthur Jowett (48-54) (see page 15), with MG as its Secretary for many years. He died in November 1981. W ‘Bill’ A Thornton was known as “Spike” and at our meeting, Rene Robinson recalled how she and “Guy” (as she always knew MG) became great friends with Bill and Emma Thornton after their move from Liverpool to Tyneside. In those days, a Schoolmaster was not highly paid and Bill supplemented his income by writing short stories for Punch magazine in 1952. Fourteen Prose Pieces and Some Verse and Fifteen Prose Pieces followed, text books produced in collaboration with A ‘Tony’ R Tomkins (5559). Pat, a Newcastle Central High School girl, remembers posting each one for her Dad. “I have fond memories of taking each one to the postbox and giving the envelope a good luck kiss to send it on its way. It was always exciting when he received the acceptance note by Punch.” A novel by Bill, Possit was published by Victor Gollancz in 1962. A well-disguised ‘soap’ about school life at the ‘Sir Arnold Boak Grammar School’; its characters were modelled on RGS staff, including the memorable Colonel Robinson (27-58). Pat recalls, “I remember our great pride in him becoming a novelist”. A second novel never advanced beyond the draft stage. His school year revolved around the theatre productions of the XXI Club. Props made by


ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Summer 2018

Top - bottom: ‘Bill’ Thornton’s novel, Possit, published in 1962; ‘Bill’ Thornton at the potter’s wheel in Humshaugh; Maurice ‘Guy’ Robinson in the Camargue; Laurence Pallister circa. 1930s

colleague, WG Elliott were always in demand. Emma ‘Pip’ Thornton and Bill moved to Humshaugh, where she and Bill enjoyed retirement working in their pottery studio. Bill and Betty Elliott still display one of Pip’s small pieces in their lounge. My hour or so ‘reunion’ with Laurence, Rene and Pat was a poignant reminder of how the school has evolved from the more intimate ‘family’ of a past era into the very different modern academic institution of today. If people would still like a copy of Bryan Stevens’ monograph, Newcastle Royal Grammar School in the 40’s then please send a self-addressed envelope, size C5 and stamped 67p to Jane Medcalf at the school.

Rory Allan Memorial Prize Friends and teachers of the late Rory Allan (03-10) recently established a writing prize in his memory, kindly supported by the ONA. Rory was a prolific writer, with a natural gift for the comic and the polemical, be it in the form of an essay, a letter, or a text message.

Presentation by Luke Hughes (05-10), Rory’s friend to runner-up Rachel Rees (Lower Sixth) and Phillipa Sanders (Year 11)



e asked RGS students to submit up to 1,500 words on the question, Should Politicians Tweet? We were hugely impressed by the quality of the responses. Prizes were awarded to ‘the most intellectually stimulating, the most amusing or the most opinionated’ of the entries. Here we publish the winning entry by Philippa Sanders (Year 11) with congratulations also to Rachel Rees (Lower Sixth) for winning the Runner-Up prize.

Should Politicians Tweet? The simple answer is most probably no. First of all, I’ll address the already-present elephant in the essay: President Donald J Trump. In the past year, Trump sent 2,608 tweets. He has been critical 135% more than he has been complimentary. So far, Trump has called one of the most dangerous tyrants in the world ‘Rocket Man’, claimed that his nuclear button was ‘bigger’ and ‘more powerful’ than the aforementioned man’s, and has informed the world that he is a ‘very stable genius’. That was just this week on Twitter. Twitter’s cardinal abuse outline is that exhibiting behaviour that harasses or intimidates a person or a group of people will result in the offender being suspended or banned. Trump has intimidated both individuals and groups

throughout his gross career on Twitter and yet is still left (relatively) untouched by the Twitter team. Kim Novak, a 50s film star and near-recluse, was coaxed to go out by her friends to the Academy Awards and was promptly thrown in for a tailspin as Mr Trump tweeted ‘I’m having a hard time watching. Miss Novak should sue her plastic surgeon!’ Even his Republican chums condemned him as he referred to Mika Brzezinski as “Low IQ crazy Mika” and stated that she was ‘bleeding badly from a facelift’. In terms of group condemnation, Trump has a curious habit for retweeting anti-semitic memes and, of course, actually caused the Pentagon to admit that they are afraid he might engender nuclear war. The explanation Twitter gives for not banning him is that his tweets fall under ‘newsworthiness’, a defence that wasn’t afforded to actress Rose McGowan, who was suspended for doxing – the practice of broadcasting private information – while leading a worldwide conversation on sexual abuse during the Weinstein scandal. The real reason why Trump is still allowed on Twitter is because he is, according to Forbes, worth about $2bn to the company in brand-name recognition from news companies. To me, that seems just slightly inequitable. Twitter approves of ‘freedom of expression’ and ‘allowing users to express diverse opinions’, but is it suitable for Trump to be wielding his freedom of speech like a grim scythe over the world if he regularly threatens war and discrimination? On the one hand there is one orange man’s raucous opining, on the other is the peace and equality of millions, and in between there is Twitter. The fact that Trump is prioritised is my first reason against Twitter politics: Twitter is an uneven playing field for any sort of reasonable debate because the person who has more followers and who generates more for the company itself will always prevail, no matter how much drastic misinformation he propagates. No-one has ever accused me of being UScentric about this issue, and that is because I am averse to Twitter politics on this side of the Atlantic, too. British politicians on Twitter are extremely boring. Any British politician’s Twitter account is rife with party-political point scoring, retweets from either the Mirror or the Telegraph and extremely anodyne and insipid comments about their daily life as they realise they have to at least pretend to be human for the public. I remember scrolling through former Minister for the Olympics, Tessa Jowell’s Twitter feed and my eyes being scalded by tweet after tweet about ‘Productive meeting!’ and her daily updates on the efficiency of her filing system. While that may seem jejune, my worst tweet would have to be from MP Gordon Henderson, who actually prompted my brain to switch itself off and then back on again after I read his tweet that he


ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Summer 2018

Wishing that British Twitter politics had personality may be a step into the absurd, but wishing that each tweet didn’t include some form of kowtow to superiors or a link to the government website isn’t. At the moment, modern British politics looks like a massive grey wall of triteness and a quick glance at Twitter confirms that.

‘Enjoyed the fresh pressed apple juice brought in by [his] secretary, Jessica’ and that he wonders if he can make juice from the pears in his lovely garden? Then there’s Nigel Farage: his Twitter feed is just endless retweets of Trump’s meanderings and pictures of the UKIP puppeteer drinking beer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad Theresa May didn’t accompany her infamous ‘*cough*’ tweet with a threat to begin a nuclear war. However, I also don’t condone the banality of tweets by British politicians. Wishing that British Twitter politics had personality may be a step into the absurd, but wishing that each tweet didn’t include some form of kowtow to superiors or a link to the government website isn’t. At the moment, modern British politics looks like a

massive grey wall of triteness and a quick glance at Twitter confirms that. However, the behaviour of politicians is not solely responsible for my disapprobation of Twitter politics. It is my belief that politicians do not truly know how to use Twitter to the best effect, and thus anything they come up with on the platform is outdated and static. Political communication via social media has the potential to allow for increased dialogue between political representatives and the public and the opportunity to sculpt a more communicative and involving democracy, but our politicians are clearly incapable of this sort of communication thus far. The Prime Minister’s Twitter feed is inundated with missives that simply outline policies and provide no scope for consultation or interaction with the public: ‘We’re putting £5.7m into creating a new national forest’ and ‘The NHS is delivering for people’. Instead of inviting people in, it seems to simply report what has already been decided. Rather than using Twitter to establish a two-way dialogue which bypasses the media and provides a direct connection with citizens, May merely reinforces the existing old media model of one-way communication and sound bites. Of course, there will always be the consequence of offensive and unconstructive replies to political posts, but by continuing to use web 2.0 communication platforms in a web 1.0 manner, political figures further frustrate an already disaffected public. When politicians continue to use a two-way radio as a megaphone the public will rightly feel

ignored. Perhaps, instead of providing links to press releases, politicians could provide links to consultation pages. Maybe representatives could make greater use of structured question and answer events in order to give the public a chance to have their say and highlight their particular concerns. There is no doubt, however, that politicians need to reassess their use of social media as an avenue to new democratic and civic engagement. Should politicians tweet? No. Twitter itself is a morally dubious association that does not know whether it wants to be a social platform, a technology company or a news agency, and thus is virtually incapable of regulating the power politicians have online for fear of loss of visibility of their hodgepodge website. Additionally, the propensity for politicians to undermine the usefulness a social media network like Twitter has by tweeting out boring notes about their great day out with such-and-such MP and linking an article to the work they’ve done instead of explaining it and leaving it open to involved discussion is bleak and discouraging for a young person such as myself to look at. Politicians on Twitter don’t actually say anything that I couldn’t have gotten from two minutes scrolling through the BBC News app. The value Twitter has as an interactive media source is negated by the blinkered laziness of politicians both in and out of power, and I would love for them to stop telling me about themselves. However, they will keep on tweeting, and I will continue to ignore them completely.

ONA Prize presentations, April 2018: (L-R) Henry Haslam (Upper Sixth) winner of Outstanding EPQ; presented by Kate Harman (née Appleby) (06-08); Rachel Rees; Phillipa Sanders and Luke Hughes


Obituaries Captain Frank Simm RN (36-43) Born 20 June 1925, died 30 November 2017, aged 92

Arthur Ronald Jowett (48-54) Born 12 July 1937, died 23 December 2017, aged 80

Frank attended RGS from 1936 to 1943. The education he received during that time stood him in good stead and although he pursued a career orientated towards science, maths and engineering, he also developed an abiding love of music, literature and poetry from his school days. After leaving school, Frank went on to study Electrical Engineering at St John’s College, Cambridge and after completing an accelerated degree, joined the Royal Navy in 1945. For a clever, ambitious and adventurous young man, this proved a perfect career choice and the next 30 years proved the opportunity to explore the world and visit places he would never forget. A total of three years was spent aboard naval warships (HMS Defender and HMS London – late 50s and early 60s) sailing literally around the world and other postings included many happy years in Bath, time in a nuclear submarine, the joint armed forces establishment at RAF Medmenham and finally, command of HMS Vulcan situated on the north coast of Scotland at Thurso.


Having retired from the Royal Navy in 1977, the next eight years were spent living in Hampshire and working with ex-naval colleagues at Marconi Underwater Systems (part of BAE) and after retiring from work completely, the rest of Frank’s life was spent in that part of the world. He was, however, always keen to re-engage with his Northumbrian roots and in 2002 bought a small property in Morpeth, which he would visit as often as possible. Sitting on the terrace overlooking the River Wansbeck was one of his life’s great pleasures. Throughout his life, Frank pursued excellence not only in his work life but also in the sports he so enjoyed. He ran for both the school and the Royal Navy, he played squash to a very high standard, he climbed (and ran) up and down mountains and in older age, cycled and hiked. He was married twice, to Ann (died 1997) and Celia (died 2012). He had one daughter Jane, and three grandsons for whom he was a huge inspiration.

I was sorry to hear of the death of Arthur Jowett (48-54), especially as, though not many people will be aware of it, the ONA is considerably indebted to him. Since the early 70s, when the Association was, frankly, in the doldrums, Arthur came forward and volunteered his services as Honorary Secretary – a post, shall we say, which was not greatly sought after. It was really an impossible job for one man, especially one gainfully employed, but Alister Cox (72-94), who had arrived a year or two earlier, saw how the land lay, and worked with Arthur and myself and one or two others to put things to rights. He saw that a full-time Secretary was needed, and pursuaded MG Robinson (34-72), Head of English, who was near retirement, to take on the job at the school with proper secretarial help. MG Robinson started up the magazine, known originally as The Novocastrian News to replace the rather outdated newsletter which had constituted the only previous organ of communication. ONs gladly sent him their articles and items. Arthur stayed on as Secretary, North East Affairs (while MG Robinson was General Secretary) but he had stepped into the breach just in time. He stayed in that capacity until 1983 and was President in 1983-84. Something of an eccentric, he ran a number of small businesses – insurance consultancy, printing, driving school and others. He regularly attended the ON lunches when he would relate the details of whatever controversy he was currently involved in. He was one of a kind.

By Jane Mills (née Simm)

By Bryan Stevens (44-49)

ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Summer 2018

Obituaries Frederick ‘Fred’ Godson (51-58) Born 6 April 1940, died 7 October 2017, aged 77

he was held in high regard by clients. Outside of work, Fred had many interests, principally cricket but also many forms of music, travel, crosswords, food and wine. He had firm views on food, and liked choosing the wine for meals. Another great interest was Mazda sports cars, as I discovered some years ago when he called on me in one, a bright red model. Fred was born in Nottingham, came to I wondered if my friend was suffering the North East in 1946 and entered the a delayed mid-life crisis, but no, it turned out he had long been an enthusiast. Senior School in September 1951, a direct grant or scholarship boy, along His latest model had alas only been driven once before illness overtook him. with just over 30 of us in Form II2. Fred was a stalwart of Percy Main To the end of his life he could recite in Cricket Club from 1953, a player then alphabetical order all of our names. a well-respected Umpire and All I can remember are the first three: Administrator, both for the club and the Baxter (51-58), Bormond (49-59), wider cricketing world. Visiting him in Bryson (51-59), and these only hospital a few days before his death, through hearing Fred recite all the I smiled on noticing that topmost of names when in recent years he, John his bedside reading was The Laws Scott (51-58), Michael Oakley (49-59) and I, all II2 entrants, had twice- of Cricket. Outside of the cricket season, and yearly lunches together. Sadly, only particularly in retirement, Fred was a Michael and I are left standing, John boon to the travel industry worldwide. having died in May last year, with Fred Our twice-yearly lunches had to giving a tribute at the funeral but succumbing to double pneumonia only coincide with the days he was in the country; the synchronisation was not a few months later. always easy. He was a solo traveller, Fred and I were both from the his marriage in 1971 to Anne having coast area, and soon became friends. ended some 20 years ago. From school he went on to Kings Fred was a kind, thoughtful man, College, Newcastle (then part of somewhat private, but well-liked and Durham University), then joined the accountancy firm of Price Waterhouse held in considerable respect, as the numbers visiting him in hospital and in Newcastle in 1961, qualifying in 1965 and staying with the firm until his attending his funeral showed. He had old-fashioned standards of behaviour retirement in 2000. and expected them of others. I had the If ever a man was suited to his sad privilege of conducting his Funeral chosen profession, Fred was. He was organised, very much a man of routine, Service, and was not surprised to find that the preparation for it had been and with a memory for details. He done years ago. Though not a recalled how his first experience of churchgoer, Fred was quite clear about accountancy was keeping the cash the venue, the hymns to be sung, and book and collecting the money for a the order in which they were to be sung. Coronation street party in 1953. Specialising in trusts and personal tax, He leaves a daughter, a son and two


grandchildren. His friends have good memories of a man who was organised to the last. By Timothy Duff (51-59) Neil Aitkenhead (45-55) born 1936, died 13 January 2018, aged 82. David Boll (38-49) born 1931, died 14 May 2108, aged 87. David Curd (44-51) born 1933, died 23 January 2108, aged 84. Dennis V Gallagher (43-47) born 1932, died 15 December 2017, aged 85. John Harrison (40-47) born 1929, died 15 May 2017, aged 87. John ‘Clive’ Hilton (40-42) born 1929, died 13 April 2018, aged 88. Stuart Hall (58-66) born 1946, died 27 March 2018, aged 71. John Hodkin (44-47) born 1933, died 26 December 2017, aged 84. John K Laidler (47-57) born 1939, died 16 February 2018, aged 78. John ‘Byran’ Middleton (50-56) born 1938, died 2 January 2018, aged 79. Stuart G Morrison (42-49) born 1931, died 2 February 2018, aged 86. Edward J Reynolds (44-49) born 1933, died 6 January 2018, aged 84. Walter Robson (48-56) born 1937, died 26 January 2018, aged 80. Ian Thompson (52-62) born 1943, died 17 April 2018, aged 75.

Ashley ‘Ash’ JG Winter OBE (64-74) Born 30 October 1955, died 30 March 2018, aged 62

commercial organisations and charities. When Ash ‘retired’ in 2007, be became busier than ever. The list seems endless and eclectic, and appointments include: President of the Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of Business Link Tyneside, Chairman of the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear, Board Member of The University of Northumbria, High Sheriff of Tyne & Wear, and most recently Chairman It is with great sadness that I write to report that my friend and elder brother of the North East Ambulance Service. Ash was also involved in numerous Ash, passed away on Good Friday, charities. He didn’t just talk the talk. 30 March 2018 at the age of 62. Ash was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer Ash gave the most precious commodity, which was his time. in early January, and the end came He rolled up his sleeves, and gave more swiftly than any of us could up his evenings and weekends to have anticipated. support a variety of worthy causes. Having a brother four years Ash was awarded his OBE in June older than me at the RGS had its 2003 for services to the business advantages and disadvantages, but there were definitely more of the former community. When Her Majesty the Queen asked him what he had been and less of the latter. doing to deserve his gong, he Ash loved every minute of his time responded with typical humility: “I was at the RGS and thrived in the just doing my hobby jobs Ma’am.” environment. He was a particularly Along with others, including David enthusiastic member of the CCF Naval Goldwater (51-62) and former Cadets and became a Leading Headmaster James Miller (94-08), Seaman while in the Lower Sixth; an indication of his natural leadership skills Ash was a key player in the founding of that he put to good use in later life. Ash the RGS Bursary Campaign in 2002 was also an accomplished water polo and went on to become the first Chair. Ash loved his cars, and as a player, and always described the sport teenager would buy old bangers, as: ‘Far more violent than rugby’. Ash was delighted, as was I, when do them up, and then sell them on at a profit. He was always destined for his good friend Chris Thompson a career in the motor-trade! That (64-74) and our sister Bev (Central passion continued throughout his life Newcastle High School (66-76)) and his most recent purchase was a married in December 1977. magnificent SS100 (a forerunner of After completing his BA Hons Jaguar), which he adored. Along with in Economics and Accountancy at his lovely wife Gill, Ash and friends Newcastle University, Ash joined the family business of Pattersons the Ford enjoyed open-topped tours of the UK and Europe. Dealers in 1979. When he joined A Service of Remembrance was Pattersons, the turnover was less held at St Andrews Church, Corbridge than £20m; when he eventually sold the business in 2007 the turnover was on 11 April 2018, attended by over 300 people including Headmaster over £250m and they employed 375 John Fern and David Goldwater staff. A phenomenal achievement by (51-62). ONs from Ash’s year anyone’s standards. included: Trevor Nicholl (64-73), In his early career Ash was Richard Tomiak (64-74), Andrew appointed as a Trustee, a Board Protheroe (64-75), Dave Crawford Member, or Chairman of countless


ONA – Old Novocastrians Association Magazine Summer 2018

(64-74) and Chris Thompson (64-74). Many other ONs were also in attendance. Ash is survived by his wife Gill, children Kelly, Mark and Lucy, and sister Bev. We are all going to miss him terribly. By Rex Winter (68-78) I was devastated to hear of Ashley’s most untimely death. He was very much one of the good guys and he will be sorely missed by a very large number of people. I shall always be very grateful to him for his role as first Chairman of the Bursary Campaign. To this he brought his great ability (which he wore very quietly and lightly), his concern for the underdog, his understanding of why social inclusion is so important to the RGS, his knowledge of North Eastern business, his huge range of contacts, and his ambition for the region. He was very generous of his time and always cheerful, supportive and good company. Chairing volunteer committees demands a special skill and he was expert at keeping members happy and committed. I was (privately) rather dubious about the size of our initial target; I have, I am delighted to say, been proved wholly wrong, with the campaign raising millions more than I had expected. That is a testimony to the very strong foundations that Ashley laid. The large number of RGS students who have been able to attend only with the support of bursaries are the people who should be really grateful to him. A very good man. By James FX Miller (94-08), retired Headmaster

ONA Diary dates Northern Counties Club Luncheon Last Friday of every month, Northern Counties Club, 11 Hood Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6LH Anyone interested, please call 0191 488 7459.

The 93rd ONA Annual Dinner Friday 12 October 2018 RGS, Newcastle upon Tyne Guest Speaker: To be announced Price: £39/£29 (£29 if you are aged 25 or younger or aged 80 and over). The price includes the drinks reception, dinner, and a choice of wine on the table.

to reserve seats please contact the Development Office at

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 diners, and parties of less than eight will share the table with others to complete the octet. If you would like

Wednesday 3 October 2018.

The deadline for reserving seats is

ONA Annual General Meeting Thursday 15 November, 5.15pm, RGS, Newcastle upon Tyne

Please note 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 provide an email address.

ONA Merchandise To order from our range of merchandise, please send a cheque payable to ONA, confirming your delivery address and contact details. For further details please email: RGS Community Choir The RGS Community Choir is looking for new members following on from their fourth successful year. The choir meets every Thursday (term time only) from 6.30pm until 8.00pm in the RGS Performing Arts Centre. There is no cost involved to participate and members will receive all vocal scores free. Good voices and enthusiasm required. Potential singers can join the choir in September. For more information, please contact Zlatan Fazlić (Head of Performing Arts and Director of Music) at z.fazlic@rgs.newcastle.

Scarf 100% double thickness wool £35

Tie 100% pure silk, slip-stitched, fully lined £29

Bow Tie 100% pure silk, ready made £29

Cufflinks Polyester ties are also available.

T Bar, enamel gilt plated, school crest £29

RGS ONA - Issue 103  

Trauma in Cape Town Jonathan Simpson (10-12) on an intensive medical elective trip to South Africa

RGS ONA - Issue 103  

Trauma in Cape Town Jonathan Simpson (10-12) on an intensive medical elective trip to South Africa