Staff Deaths


Andy Funnell, Maths teacher 1969-1976

Andy Funnell has died following a battle with cancer. Andy taught maths at Habs from 1969 - 1976 where, alongside John Crampin,  he introduced many boys and members of the staff to the joys of the huge mainframe computer that appeared to work on punched paper.  Most never did quite understand exactly how it worked but one typing error meant you had to start again from scratch and waste half a ream of punched card. Andy and John  made the staff computer  lessons great fun.

Andy was also a useful sportsman and several times played centre forward for the staff team playing the senior boys at soccer in some very enjoyable lunchtime matches.

Andy married his wife Kathy during his time at Habs, they had a son called Jamie.


Basil Flashman 29 October 1926 to 4 March 2014

 basil flashman.jpg

Born in Northern India Basil came to England at the age of 6 on his own by boat to join his widowed mother in England.  He attended Bembridge School on the Isle of Wight as a boarder. After a school life which included wartime evacuation to the Lake District, his working life began as a journalist for the Gravesend and Dartford Reporter but in 1944 he was called up to the Army where he served with the Intelligence section in Cairo and India. While in India he learnt to play Hockey, which he later developed at Habs, and will be remembered by many for the starring role he played in staff v boys matches over many decades.

After the war Basil returned to college (where he became college boxing champion) and trained to teach at Westminster school achieving a distinction and a pure "A" for teaching practice. He began teaching in 1951 at the Grange School Ealing (with a class of 55 pupils in his first year) and then moved to Habs Prep School in 1957.  The Prep School moved to Elstree along with the main school in 1961 and was housed in what was known as the BBC block. It had been constructed for BBC wartime use and was reputed to have a concrete roof so thick that it would withstand a direct hit from a one ton bomb so it was perhaps an ideal site for 150 energetic Habs prep boys. Basil liked it because it brought the Prep school onto the same site as the main school, allowing the prep staff to integrate more fully with the Staff Common Room. Basil was appointed Headmaster of the Prep School in 1966.

After 22 years in the BBC block Basil was rewarded with a magnificent new Preparatory school which was formally opened by HRH Princess Margaret in June 1983. This new school building, complete with its own classrooms, assembly hall, changing rooms and playground allowed Basil to have the school he had dreamed of and to encourage new ventures in music and sport including its own orchestra, choir and concerts.

After 32 years at Habs Basil retired in 1989. Not only had he overseen the new building but he had led the Prep School camp for 25 years in succession and the Prep ski trip for 22 years in succession. He had become a legend in his time for his terrible jokes nestled within a great sense of humour, his huge powerful motorbike, the elaborate models he inspired the boys to make from cornflake packets and the like, and for the care he took over every child in his school.  He was awarded the Freedom of the City of London and became a Freeman of the Haberdashers Guild. 

Following his retirement from Habs Basil founded Manor Lodge School. He remained at the school until it had reached 300 pupils and by which time he was 70. Despite taking a little time off for holidays across the world he then joined the advisory committee of the Brewers Livery Company, the committee of the Herts County Educational Foundation, The Watford Probus committee and the governing board of several schools.  He was on the Governing board of Harperbury Hospital education centre, Chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme for South West Herts, Chairman of the Citizens Advice Bureau for Borehamwood  and the Hertfordshire Educational Trust. He returned to Habs on numerous occasions for School plays and Carol Concerts.

Basil’s funeral will take place at Aldenham Church at 2.30 Friday 14 March 2014.  Basil’s family welcome all who wish to attend.  A reception will take place at Aldenham Golf Club.

The family have established a UK Charity ‘The Basil Flashman Education Trust’. It will have as its primary focus, life-changing educational opportunities for children in the developing world. The charity will take up registration with the Charity Commission once donations reach the legal threshold of £5,000.  All donors are eligible to be members of the charity and, as such, will receive accounts and the reports of the trust and have the right to attend general meetings. The trustees will be chaired by  Basil’s son in law Nic Journeaux (a senior partner of the law firm Carey Olsen)  an experienced trustee of the Busoga Trust which has a 30 year track record of excellent work in water and sanitation in Uganda. Full details of the Basil Flashman Education Trust and how to donate are available by e mailing Nic at The charity aims to have an internet presence shortly.

The school will be hosting a service of commemoration in due course.  In the meantime, on behalf of the school and its wider community, I extend my sympathy and support to Basil’s family.  He will be missed.

Peter Hamilton



Margaret Taylor (1916 - 2013) - Passed Away Saturday 10th August 2013

Margaret expressed the wish to be cremated quietly. A Service of Thanksgiving for her life was held at 2.00pm on Thursday 26 September 2013 at St Michael’s Church, St Albans, AL3 4SL. Margaret requested no sombre colours or flowers but donations instead to St Michael’s PCC ref. Margaret Taylor Font Restoration.

Keith Dawson paid the following tribute to Margaret at the Service of Thanksgiving for Margeret's life held at St Michael's Church, St Albans on Thursday 26th September 2013. 

I thank Margaret’s family, and especially Jenny and Alison, for asking me to say just a little about Margaret and her long association with the school that she knew and loved for 66 years. How wonderful that today there is no cause for sadness and every reason to rejoice. Margaret lived a long, rich and beautiful life. She made the world a better and a happier place for having been in it. What more could we wish for?

Two-thirds of a century is such an improbably long time that I find that I need some mile-stones and staging posts to get a sense of the epic quality of Tom and Margaret’s life in schools. When he came as Headmaster to the School in Hampstead in the summer of 1946 Tom was a youthful 38 and Margaret just 30 but Tom had already been Head of the City of Bath School for 6 years, so Margaret began her life as a head’s wife at the ripe old age of 24. When I first met her in 1963, Tom had been a head for nearly a quarter of a century but Margaret was still only 46, and her association with HABS was to continue for another 50 years.

Half of Tom’s years at HABS were spent at Hampstead. During that time the Taylors lived away from the school and Margaret led a busy life bringing up a family of five girls and, at long last [!], a  boy, Jeremy, whose birth was celebrated by the Headmaster granting the School a day’s holiday. [Try doing that these days!] Even so, John Lear remembers that Margaret soon gained a reputation for being particularly helpful to others. Rodney Jakeman recalls her supporting athletic events at Chase Lodge. He also remembers some of the Taylor girls joining expeditions of the canoe club, organised by the redoubtable  John Dudderidge.

The move of the School to Elstree in 1961 was, arguably, the most important event in its history. It was certainly Tom’s greatest achievement, creating as it did the opportunity for HABS to become one of the leading schools in the country.

For Margaret the move was a seismic change. The setting for their new home was very beautiful but in those early days the new buildings were raw and un-lived in. They needed to be made into a real home, for the School and for the Taylor family. We all have Margaret to thank for the wonderful way she helped to create both these homes, as a wife, mother and daughter [her father, Professor Swinnerton lived at Elstree in his latter years] - and for us, the extended family, in the School.

When I arrived at Elstree two years after the move I found the whole atmosphere of the place thrilling. It was enterprising, dynamic, forward thinking, outward looking and it changed my life. But it was also, crucially, a close, friendly community. You felt you belonged and that people genuinely cared about and for you.

Margaret was at the heart of this.

In some ways she was quite scary to a young couple still a bit wet behind the ears. She was strong and tough-minded, down-to-earth and straight from the shoulder. She didn’t put up with fanciful ideas or pretension and she had a clear, penetrating eye that kept you up to the mark. We soon found that she was also kind, generous-hearted, full of sparkle, vitality and a zest for life. Without in any way thrusting herself forward, she was a model and an inspiration for us all.

Marjorie and I were among those who became for a time specially close to Margaret and her family because we lived in the boarding house in Aldenham House for four years. Margaret kept a friendly and benevolent eye on our babies and infants and welcomed our 2 year-old Eleanor to the Head’s house where she enjoyed the sand-pit and milk and biscuits. There was also the dressing up box and the chance to become a nurse or a pirate from the scraps of colourful jumble that Margaret kept for these occasions.

Of course Margaret had a much bigger box [whole rooms in fact] from which she used to conjure costumes for school plays. For many years she was a key member of the team responsible for the School’s exceptional drama productions. On the legendary play tours to Germany in the 1960s:    [9 performances in 6 different cities in 12 days] Margaret was one of us: dedicated, creative and supportive, not least back-stage. Thespian tantrums, hysteria - even broken bones during a performance - didn’t phase her. She was a rock of comfort and calming good sense.

Margaret was just as involved in many other areas of school life. She was present at just about every significant school event. She took an active part in the MENCAP summer camps and other community work, she hosted the world class musicians [Barenboim, du Pre, Ashkenazy, the Menhuins] when they gave pre-London concerts in the School Hall at Elstree. Most of all, she knew a great deal about what was happening in school, both officially and unofficially. She and Tom cheerfully welcomed to their house lots of boys and every member of staff and their partners. She made us feel glad to be there, part of the school family, wanting to be involved. And all this time she had the rich personal life that kept her perennially young in heart.

Margaret’s friendship and support for the School continued for four decades after Tom’s retirement in 1973. She was one of the first people we met when Marjorie and I came back to Elstree in 1987 and we were pleased to welcome her to almost every school event in our time there. Peter Hamilton has recorded how this continued to the end of her life, remembering her extraordinary, sparky speech, at the age of 95, during the 50th anniversary celebrations of the move to Elstree and thanking her for becoming the first Patron of the School’s Foundation campaign.

We shall always remember Margaret and keep a place for her in our hearts. Her indomitable spirit remained with her to the end. Phillip Parr recalls visiting her in St Albans Hospital when she was very ill indeed and seemingly asleep. “‘Hello Margaret, it’s Phillip’. No response. ‘How are you my lovely? [Then, daringly] ‘You always were my favourite girlfriend.’ And that much loved and familiar voice rang out loud and clear: ‘I’m very glad to hear it!”

No-one has been a better friend of Haberdashers than Margaret Taylor. We all rejoice, we thank her - and we love her.

The following eulogy was given at the Service of Thanksgiving by the Reverend Kenneth Padley.

Margaret Swinnerton was born the youngest of three sisters in Nottingham on 29th November 1915. She grew up in a house of ideas and conversation. Her father was a professor in the University. Her school wanted her to take a degree in domestic science, an idea which Margaret ridiculed, cookery never resting among her prodigious list of talents. Instead she went to Birmingham to train as a physiotherapist. These medical skills remained throughout Margaret’s life. For example, she whiled away the hours of her convalescence last winter at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Welwyn by showing the staff that she understood the exercises required of her at least as well as they did.

In 1937 Margaret married a promising young teacher called Tom Taylor. Over the following years they were blessed with six children: Katrina, Elizabeth, Alison, Judith, Jeremy, and Jenny. Margaret had a deep love for her whole family and followed their divergent lives with interest. They in turn blessed her with no fewer than 31 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Work took the family successively to Guiseley in Yorkshire, Bath, and then in 1946 to Cricklewood when Tom became Headmaster of Haberdasher Askes boys school. This role was Tom’s lasting legacy where he is remembered for moving the school to Elstree. Haberdashers became one of the deepest and enduring commitments of Margaret’s life. She threw herself into task of headmaster’s wife: entertaining staff at her own expense, undertaking international trips for example with the school play and orchestra, and continuing her involvement long after Tom’s retirement in 1973, most recently in 2011 as guest of honour at the old boys dinner on the 50th anniversary of the new school buildings.

Margaret and Tom moved to St Albans in 1974 from which base she pursued her diverse interests deep into retirement. Through her love of history she served as a cathedral guide and undertook Roman digs; she became the first female president of St Albans Architectural and Archaeological Society. Her love of people and especially children was evidenced through her charitable work for Save the Children Fund and through her support for playgroups such as the St Michael’s Tiny Tots. She had a skilled artistic bent, and was adept both at painting and the piano. She kept fit through gardening, walking, and swimming. She had an unstoppable vivacity for life which belied her age. At 92 she could be found white water rafting on the Colorado and there is a photo from a similar period of Margaret in America up a ladder repairing the roof of a heritage log cabin. She was driving until the age of 95, benevolently chauffeuring to church those whom she termed ‘elderly people’.

Margaret faced impairments, operations and accidents over recent years with stoicism and strength. Since last December she fought off norovirus, c. difficile and double pneumonia before finally being settled in Oaktree Manor Nursing Home where she received excellent care from the dedicated staff during her last few weeks. She died at Oaktree on the afternoon of Saturday 10th August.

Personally, it was a huge privilege to have known Margaret for the last 1% of her extraordinary life. I remember distinctly at my induction last summer and on several subsequent Sundays that this little old lady kept sidling up and talking at my midriff, ‘I’m the oldest you know, I’m the oldest’. Margaret was tremendously and rightly proud of all that she had achieved in her 97 years. She had of course intended to live to a hundred, a milestone that many in this room firmly expected her to make. ‘I’m the oldest you know’. And yet of course by introducing herself in that way, she was speaking volumes of her deep-seated faith. She was telling me - what she later explicitly confirmed - that the God in whose providence we both believe had sent me to conduct her funeral. ‘I’m the oldest you know’. I’m going to hand over now to others whose appreciation of Margaret goes back somewhat further.

Jon Corrall interviewed Margaret Taylor in 2011 after she was the Guest of Honour at the OHA Annual Dinner in May. Please follow this link to see the article about the interview on our website.


The following information was issued by the School and Margaret Taylor's family.

Dear Members of the Habs Community (from Peter Hamilton, Headmaster)

It is with much regret and sorrow that I advise the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School community of the recent death of Margaret Taylor, who passed away in the company of her family on Saturday 10 August 2013.

A lady of boundless enthusiasm and extraordinary vitality, Margaret Taylor played a pivotal role in helping to elevate a well-respected London school into one of the leading independent schools in the nation.

She was only 30 when her husband, Dr Tom Taylor, himself only 38, was appointed as Headmaster of The Haberdashers' Aske's School, Hampstead. He quickly concluded that the extent of war damage to the school, its limited location and lack of easily accessible sports facilities, made a new location essential. It is rumoured that Tom and Margaret spent many a happy Sunday afternoon driving around Hertfordshire looking for a new location before finally alighting on Lord Aldenham's estate. As a result, in 1961 the school moved to a potentially ideal campus at Elstree and later adopted its current name, The Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School. Dr Taylor retired in 1973 and died eight years later. The school which he did so much to revive is now recognised around the world as being one of the leading British independent schools, with an outstanding reputation for academic excellence, a remarkable range of extracurricular and sports activities, and a strong and sup portive multi-cultural community, all within magnificent grounds and facilities.

Throughout his time at Haberdashers', Tom always relied on the steadfast support of his wife Margaret, and between them they built up a reputation that extended far beyond the walls of the school. Her involvement in so much of the school's life brought Margaret great fulfilment. Though the mother of a large family herself - 5 daughters and 1 son - she always had time for others, especially the staff and their children. She showed kindness and understanding toward everyone she came across. Her dedication to the boys at this flourishing school with all its activities were noteworthy. She helped make the costumes for school plays, including those travelling to Germany touring the country in two minibuses. She was a warm hostess for visitors and staff in their home in the grounds. She was a source of strength for all, always supportive and encouraging, and was held in the highest respect.

Margaret's support for the school remained undiminished throughout the years after Tom's death in 1981. She was a constant attendee of school plays and concerts, and her speech at the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the move to Elstree when she was 95 remains a high point for all. Equally, her willingness to be the first Patron of the school's fundraising campaign proved hugely important in establishing the credibility of the Habs Foundation. Her passing will be felt deeply by thousands of old boys, teachers and parents. They will never forget her humour, her strength, her enthusiasm and vitality.

Margaret Taylor was a committed Christian all her life, a deeply spiritual lady and a very active member of the congregation of St Michael's Church, St Albans - the city where she lived in retirement. She had a remarkably wide range of interests and never lost her energy and enthusiasm for life. She was a qualified physiotherapist, an accomplished artist and a very competent pianist. For many years she was much involved in the establishment and running of children's playgroups. She was a keen and knowledgeable archaeologist, notably in the excavations of Roman remains in St Albans, and was an active member of several of the city's societies. She was a widely travelled lady and after attaining the age of 82, found time for many years to work with a daughter doing voluntary historic renovations for The National Parks & Forests of USA & Alaska - particularly enjoying the projects in The Tetons mountain range. She retired as a St Albans Abbey Guide only when she reached her 95th birthday. Throughout all, she never lost her love of gardening and continued to swim every day from Spring to Autumn until toward the end of 2012. Margaret will be enormously missed by her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and by her many friends.

Margaret expressed the wish to be cremated quietly. There will be a Service of Thanksgiving for her life at 2.00pm on Thursday 26 September 2013 at St Michael’s Church, St Albans, AL3 4SL. Margaret requested no sombre colours or flowers but donations instead to St Michael’s PCC ref. Margaret Taylor Font Restoration. This is the church where she worshipped for over 30 years.

The school will also host a Margaret Taylor Memorial Concert in due course, when gifts to the Habs Foundation will also be accepted in support of Music at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School. Further details will be announced in due course.

John McNair - Head of Modern Languages 1950 - 1966

John Mcnair

I am writing to let you know of the recent death, at the age of 93, of my father, John McNair, who joined the Haberdashers language department atWestbere Roadin 1950. He was with the school for 16 years, becoming Head of Department, Head of the Sixth Form and Careers before leaving in 1966 to join the Department of Education at Mancheste rUniversity.

As an old boy myself, we came together to the reunion event in 2011, and he was very pleased to see the school thriving, and to meet ex colleagues and some former pupils, who remembered him warmly.  He was instrumental in raising the status of Spanish as a modern language to study, against considerable scepticism in the early 1950s. Some of the highlights of his career at Habs included taking a party of sixth formers on a cycling tour of Spain in the early 50s, with the late Len Moody (a very adventurous undertaking in those days!); singing in Gilbert and Sullivan performances at Westbere Road, and performances of the Mozart Requiem at Elstree, and pioneering the introduction of audio visual techniques in language teaching. He taught many pupils who went on to remarkable careers, but was particularly proud of John Rutherford, the distinguished Hispanist and translator of Cervantes, who first studied Spanish with my father, and remained in contact through his life.

I attach the obituary which I have written for his funeral.  In April, there will be a memorial event to celebrate his life and work (and he remained active in education and public service to within a month of his death). It will be held in Todmorden, where he spent the last 30 years, and where his work as a founder of the University of the Third Age, of Todmorden Easy Theatregoing, as a School Governor and volunteer for the CAB created a network of hundreds of friends. Any former colleagues or pupils would be very welcome to attend (enquiries to me at this address).

Stephen McNair

14 The Street

St James


Norfolk NR12 7AW

Tel: (0)1603 737 830

Mobile 07594 590 572


John McCracken McNair

14th July 1919 – 4th March 2013

John McNair was born in Liverpool in 1919, the son of Charles Stuart McNair and Elizabeth McCracken, and with three sisters, Mollie, Elizabeth and Christine. He was brought up in a strongly Presbyterian home, and although he later chose to leave organised religion, he retained the strong moral sense of those days throughout his life. He was educated at Alsop Boys School and won a scholarship to Queen's College Cambridge, where he read Modern Languages (French and Spanish), and rowed for his college.

In 1938, while working as a guide for the Holiday Fellowship he met Rene Brookes, with whom he shared a passion for hill walking, music and theatre, and who he married in 1942 while on leave from the army, the beginning of a deep partnership built around a strong set of shared values and interests which lasted 65 years

He graduated in the first year of the War, and as a conscientious objector he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. However, he then changed his mind about the justification for war, joining the Intelligence Corps and then the Seaforth Highlanders, serving in North Africa,Holland and Germany, and attaining the rank of Major. He was awarded the Military Cross for rescuing one of his men under fire, but after the war, with characteristic modesty, he never used his army rank, or talked about his achievements.

At the end of the war he trained as a teacher, living with his parents in Giggleswick in the Yorkshire Dales, and then with Rene's mother in Bridlington, where their first son, Stephen was born, and then in Sidcup, Kent. In 1948 they moved for a year to Grenoble in France, where he taught in the Lycee, and where their daughter, Barbara was born.

Returning to England in 1950 they moved to Wembley where he joined the languages department of Haberdashers Aske's School (then in Hampstead). He began a long involvement with the Labour Party, and was active in the Pedestrian Association. He coached the school rowing teams, and took an active singing part in school productions of Gilbert and Sullivan.

In 1955 the family moved to Hatfield New Town, where Stephen and Barbara grew up. Haberdashers grew and thrived and he became in turn Head of Department, and Head of the Sixth Form. In 1957, Stephen joined the school as a pupil, and for the next seven years they shared the daily commute. John and Rene were both active in the Labour Party and Oxfam. He was a Group Scoutmaster, organising fetes and dog shows, and an active member of the St.Albans Bach Choir, memorable for performances of the Bach B minor Mass, and its Christmas concerts. Family holidays continued the passion for walking and camping, in the Lake District,Scotland and Wales, and in France and Spain where they spent long summers keeping up his language skills. They were pioneers of canal cruising holidays in the 1950s.

In 1966 he was appointed a Lecturer in Education at Mancheste rUniversity, and they moved to Alderley Edge. Stephen had left home to begin his own career in education, and in the early 1970s, Stephen and Margaret produced two grandsons, James and Andrew, who spent happy holidays with their grandparents. Barbara left home in 1968, becoming a physiotherapist, working for some years in Zimbabwe, and adding two daughters, Grace and Thandi to his grandchildren.

John spent 17 years at Manchester, training language teachers, in the UK, and for the British Council in Nigeria and Sierra Leone. He completed an MEd degree, and became National Secretary of the Modern Language Association, and then Secretary of the International Federation of Language Teacher Associations (FIPLV) . With Len and Hannerl Moody, old friends from St Albans, they embarked on a long planned project to walk the Pennine Way (sadly abandoned mid-way through ill health). In the final years before his retirement he undertook a major project to study the education system of Spain in the aftermath of the fall of Franco. With Rene he spent five months touring Spain in a caravan, visiting schools and colleges, interviewing policymakers and educators about the Spanish education system. The resulting book "Education for a Changing Spain", was the first on the subject (in any language). Although its publication in 1984 was supposed to coincide with his retirement, the Spanish Government persuaded him to return to work as a consultant as they reconstructed their creaking education system.

In 1984 he was diagnosed with cancer, and had his bladder removed. He rapidly learned to live with his "disability", and characteristically became an active volunteer for the Urostomy Association, later becoming Regional Secretary for the North West, providing support and advice to countless cancer sufferers. With Rene, he moved to Todmorden, to be close to walking in the Pennines, but remain in reach of the University library in Manchester. Barbara returned from Zimbabwe with two daughters, Grace and Thandi, and John and Rene found a new lease of life as very active grandparents.

In retirement he rapidly threw himself into local life. With Rene he joined the Hebden Bridge Citizens Advice Bureau as a volunteer adviser.  He became a volunteer reader for the RNIB, recording material as varied as the complete poems of Walter Scott, a Spanish textbook, and some fairly racy French poetry. He was also a reader for the Todmorden Talking Newspaper for the Blind, which he continued until a month before he died. He became a School Governor, and then chair of the Governors of Todmorden High School. He joined the Calderdale social car service, driving people to and from hospital, a job which continued until he gave up his licence in his late 80s. Once again he was active in the Labour Party (for whom he campaigned at every general election from 1952 to 2010), and he joined the Todmorden Choral Society.  They travelled widely, in Europe by caravan, and in the USA, Canada and Zimbabwe.

Identifying a lack of opportunity for people in Todmorden to get easily to the theatre, with Jack Bednall and Hugh Neems, he helped found Todmorden Easy Theatregoing, taking coachloads of people to theatres across the North and beyond, and he was still producing the TET Newsletter, and managing its mailing lists until days before his death.

In 2007, after a long illness, Rene died: the end of a long and very close relationship. During her last months, first in Halifax Royal Infirmary, and then in Millreed Lodge in Todmorden, he was constantly by her side, talking, reading to her and playing music. Characteristically, they had planned for the event, and her lessons in cooking and gardening gave him the skills to live independently at home until the last few weeks. He came late to domesticity, and gardening, but, partly in tribute to her, he learned to prune, plant and harvest, to freeze and to make jam. In his last month he made the new year's marmalade, as she had done throughout her life.

The 2000s brought another generation, with Andrew's daughter Hope born in 2003. In 2011 he appeared as the proud grandfather when Grace married James, and in 2012 they produced a second great grandchild, Blake.

During the later Todmorden years, although his health continued to deteriorate (losing a kidney to cancer, with a hip replacement following a fall, and with severely declining hearing), his energy continued almost undimmed. He finally retired from the Ramblers Association at the age of 87 because he felt he was holding people back on longer hill walks. At the age of 92 he took part in a town twinning visit to Bramsche. His last edition of the Talking Newspaper was at the end of 2012. Throughout this period he had immense support, moral and practical  from friends and neighbours, especially Howard and Julie Lord, Marian Bednall, Doreen and Hugh Neems, together with a much wider network, many of them quite unaware of his age.

At the age of 87, again recognising a lack of opportunity, this time for adult education (the field where Stephen had made his career) he founded the Todmorden branch of U3A (the University of the Third Age). This became an overnight success, and one of his proudest achievements was when its membership passed the 300 mark at his last U3A meeting, a fortnight before he died. He was particularly active in the Music, Poetry, and Philosophy Groups. Challenged by a fellow member to run a session on philosophy and language he spent much time researching a presentation which finally led to a five week course in linguistic philosophy, almost certainly a first for any U3A branch.

In 2012 Barbara (herself newly retired) and her partner John moved to Todmorden to be closer.  As he became less steady on his feet, and his hearing deteriorated, she accompanied him on hospital trips, they rescued him after falls, and helped him make the house easier to manage. At the end of the year his health deteriorated, and he spent some time in hospital, but in early February he returned home, confident of recovery and full of plans. In mid February 2013, days after a hearty pub lunch in Wensleydale with Stephen and Margaret, and shortly after his monthly U3A meeting, he fell ill again. Doctor Wild, who had been a supportive GP and friend through more than 20 years of increasingly complex health problems, gave him the news that he was dying. John received this with characteristic equanimity and turned his mind to planning funeral arrangements. On his last weekend his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren gathered round his bed. We gave him a toast, and he replied with a speech about his pride in us all, and his satisfaction with his life. Two days later he died peacefully at home, with Barbara and Stephen at his side.

John McNair was a truly remarkable man. He was a modest man of great achievements, who devoted his 93 years to making the world a better, and fairer place, devoting limitless energy and optimism to helping others. He never thrust himself into the limelight (though he was privately pleased when people thanked him). Since he died many people have said that he was a true gentleman. He will be much missed by a host of people, as a father, grandfather, great grandfather, neighbour, friend, organiser and teacher.

Memories of John McNair

From Colin Blessley

I would like to mark the loss of a great man, who, unbeknownst to him, had a major influence on my life.

Your father, as Head of Department, was highly instrumental in my following a Modern Languages degree course at the University of Bristol, which then allowed me to pursue a professional career in which languages played a significant role, notably Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian, and ended up with my residing in Spain for more than 30 years..

He was my principal Spanish teacher through to A Level in 1964.

One aspect of his responsibilities at the Haberdashers which is not mentioned in your excellent document is that of Careers Master. I recall him providing me a lot of advice.

I was fortunate in participating in a three week-long School exchange programme to Barcelona in 1961, led by your father. The outward and return journeys were major logistical feats and I seem to recall that your father was sole team leader, with some pretty unruly students in his charge. I kept a diary of that trip, accompanied by some very amateur photographs (none of your father, I regret to say) and the entry for Monday 3 April 1961 reads: “ In the morning I went with Jaime [my exchange host] to see Mr. McNair at the Plaza de Cataluña and had a long talk with him and he was very helpful in every way. After, at the P de C station he treated us both to a Coke [probably, my first ever]......At the fight I saw Mr McNair leaving La Plaza de Toros Monumental, though he didn’t see me.” One of the high spots of the trip was an organised tour to the Codorniu “cava” winery outside Barcelona where, unsurprisingly, we indulged heavily in the free post-tour tasting, all the time being studiously ignored by the leadership team. There was another official trip to the Montserrat, where, at a stop-off, Sandy Lockhart demonstrated an uncanny ability to drink wine from a “porron” (I do have a photograph of this exploit).

I repeated the trip the following year to the same family, with your father again shepherding the flock, although, being by now a mature 14, I did not keep a diary! The photographs showed greater maturity in subject matter and an improved photographic technique.

Since leaving the School in 1965, I do not recall having seen your father until 2011, but was very pleased to see him at the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the Haberdashers’ move to Elstree. We had the opportunity for a brief chat, when I let him know that, almost half a century earlier, my studies of languages had shaped my life.

Memories from contemporary Habs teachers

Many thanks for letting me know of John McNair's death. He was an excellent colleague and I particularly remember his lovely speaking voice. Just before he left I worked with him as an assistant careers master, and then I became his successor as Head of careers. The 'careers library' was a shelf in his room - the room near the 6th form common room where much later Leo Guidon did all his work on the timetable

All good wishes

Roger Wakely

Formidable man, John McNair! I remember him well being in awe of him in the 1960s. Powerful intellect, gimlet eye, educational radical, not one to mince his words - and a colleague to look up to. A good, long life.

Best wishes

Keith Dawson

Thank you for passing on this message. John McNair was a great head of modern languages, totally unflappable (not surprising as a former major who was awarded an MC, though this was not widely known)

John Carleton


My contact with John McNair was brief, as I filled his vacancy when he left Haberdashers' in December 1965 to take up his post atManchesterUniversity.  He interviewed me, and then was very helpful during a day's 'induction' visit I made towards the end of that term.  One advantage of 'replacing' a Head of Department mid-school year was that I had his time-table for a couple of terms! 

I recall during my brief encounter with him a sense of profound respect, awe even, that surrounded him in the Department.

Dick Norton


DOUGLAS WHITTAKER 28th April 1940 - 11th December 2012


Doug’s funeral took place on Thursday 20th December at West Herts Crematorium.

It was conducted by the school chaplain, Jan Goodair to a packed congregation of his family from Liverpool plus Habs Staff and Old Boys.

Jan provided some lovely memories of Doug’s younger days from the family. Notably that Doug walked himself home halfway through his first day at primary school declaring that “it wasn’t very interesting so I’ve come home”.

Jim Tarpey gave a summary of Doug’s career from a pupil at Liverpool Institute for Boys (the year behind Paul McCartney and George Harrison), to Christ Church College Oxford. Then to teaching at Habs, Bedford and Atlantic College before returning to Habs in 1968 where he spent the remainder of his teaching career.

Doug became Head of Maths in 1973, Section Commander of the Navy Section in 1976 and Contingent Commander in 1985; building the CCF up from 180 members when he joined to some 300 when he left. Doug’s belief was that to help run the CCF you needed leaders but that you can’t promote leadership unless you give students he chance to lead, so he was willing to trust his students and take the chance. This was high risk, sometimes too high, but the policy was vindicated by the future leaders he generated though the CCF.

Doug’s lessons were always interesting. They may have appeared disorganised at times but pupils got very excited in his lessons. Calculations on the minimum amount of foil needed to wrap a kit kat may not have been wholly on the syllabus but they attracted pupils to his practical and challenging style of maths teaching.

Doug ran a morning briefing session for the staff in his large department. Some of what he said in those meetings was indiscreet but he got the message across and the briefings were very much part of Doug’s character.

John Wigley reminded of us Doug’s travels across the world from one polar ice cap to another and to every continent in between. Doug was not only an expert at getting to exotic places in the quickest way, but even more of an expert in getting there the cheapest way. It became tempting to use Doug as an unofficial travel agent because he was so knowledgeable.

In the UK Doug would visit the Tate Modern, Tate Britain,Royal Academy and Victoria and Albert Museums to see special exhibition, all of which gave his conversation an energy and vivacity that we all recognized. His knowledge made it very difficult to argue with him, John described such discussions as akin to skating on thin ice on boiling water, you were always in danger of sinking beneath the counter argument.

Finally, John reminded us of how very brave Doug was. All through his school life he followed a brave line, taking risks in his stride – and as he came towards his own death he was equally brave

As Jan Goodair had said at the beginning of the service Doug led a full and fulfilled life woven into the lives of so many others.

Appropriately the hymns Doug chose were those sung on the first and last day of each term at Habs “He who Would Valiant Be” and “Jerusalem” and Doug had asked for donations in his memory to be used to develop Adventurous Training for pupils at Habs. Cheques should be made payable to “HABS Foundation” and sent to Phillips Funeral Services,68 Alma Road, St Albans, Herts AL1 3BL. All donations will be spent on Adventure Training.

Simon Boyes 11th February 1950 - 25th January 2012

Born on 11th February 1950, Simon began his 33 year career at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in September 1976.  He progressed through roles such as Head of General Studies and Careers until he was promoted to Senior Master under Keith Dawson and then Second Master under Jeremy Goulding.  For a time he was acting Headmaster following Mr Goulding’s move to Shrewsbury.

Simon will be missed by his former pupils, who will recall a first-rate teacher of Chemistry; by his former colleagues, who will grieve a man who was a model of kindness and efficiency and who was always willing to offer support.  He was as an outstanding Second Master and will be remembered by all those family and friends whose lives he touched.

An Appreciation of Simon Boyes by Jon Corrall

In an age where we see too many people ‘on the make’, I was fortunate to work with more than my fair share of colleagues who were selfless, generous and always willing to help. Simon was, even in this top set of good citizenship, a primus inter pares, a model of kindness, consideration and endless patience. If you think I exaggerate, ask anyone who knew him. 

I had the privilege of working closely with Simon for my last 12 years at Habs. On the retirement of John Carleton in 1997, Simon became Second Master and I became Senior Master. Until the arrival of Simon Hyde a few years later, Simon Boyes and I shared responsibility for the major areas of school life; he all things academic, including timetabling and ICT, I extra-curricular activities, pastoral care and discipline. We had very different personalities and very different roles, and we complemented each other remarkably well, even though it became clear that with growing complexity the School needed to spread the management load at a senior level. 

Simon and I always had adjacent offices, situated next to the Staff Common Room, so that colleagues had the best chance of making contact. With the boys you could generally tell whether they were waiting outside for Simon to help or for me to punish from the expression on their faces. He always had a queue of boys and staff, and he unfailingly did his very best to find solutions to their problems, offer helpful advice and encouragement. There are people who always manage to make you feel better after you have spoken to them. Simon was such a person, and that was achieved not only through his natural kindness but also because his advice was unfailingly practical and effective. He was never censorious, and if you made a mistake, his concern was to find the best solution as quickly as possible - something at which he was remarkably good. 

Lest you think that benevolence somehow replaced academic rigour, I need to point out that Simon was one of the cleverest people I have known. He had an amazing ability to ‘see round corners’ (Keith Dawson’s memorable phrase), and a sharpness of intellect which allowed us to see to the heart of any problem. He had such an easy manner and was utterly without pretension that he did not  project himself as ‘the clever Haberdasher’, but I can assure you he was, and his simple charm and lack of vanity made him in many ways more effective as colleagues and boys were not afraid to approach him for help. In a crisis, Simon was the man you wanted around as he remained calm and incisive, analysing with remarkable speed what action was needed. He combined a lightness of touch with a focus on the essential and the most effective way forward. 

Simon was an optimist who always thought positively and always tried to see the best in people. He was as a result a great chap to have around, and it is in the nature of our roles that we were indeed around for a large proportion of our waking hours. He was also virtually never absent through illness, and I could never match his 6 am morning jog before coming to school. It is because he was always there to help, always dependable, always the one to turn to if you had a problem, (in Habsspeak the supreme ‘go-to man’) always prepared to drop what he was doing in order to help, that the news of his untimely death has shocked us all. It is particularly hard to bear that he should have worked so hard for so long, and that his well-deserved retirement be cut so cruelly short. 

Simon was fortunate that he not only enjoyed a successful professional life but also an extremely fulfilling family life. Of his four children, Guy and James attended Habs’ Boys’, where they were involved in all aspects of School life, Guy becoming School Vice Captain. Elizabeth and their children will be devastated and perplexed, as we all are, at the cruel injustice of Simon’s illness. But it will not surprise them to know that Simon enjoyed the greatest esteem and universal  respect, and that he won the affection of all who knew him.

Simon Boyes an Appreciation by John Carleton

Late in the Summer Term of 1976 Haberdashers’ desperately needed a chemistry master for the Autumn term. Simon and Elizabeth Boyes were completing a post overseas and wished to return to the UK. There was no time for an interview and so Simon was offered a temporary post. In a matter of weeks, we realised that we had struck gold. Simon was an outstanding colleague with an original and penetrating mind and a real schoolmaster; the temporary post was confirmed without more ado. A first class scientist who kept well up to date, not only on Chemistry but on a wide range of scientific fields and readily shared this knowledge with his colleagues, inspiring many stimulating discussions to the benefit of all concerned.

A master of the art of lateral thinking, he enjoyed a challenge and was capable of producing innovative solutions to what many people would regard as totally intractable problems and furthermore they would gladly accept his suggestions without rancour. If someone sought his advice it would be freely and thoughtfully given. On occasion when what needed to be said was perhaps not what the recipient would wish to hear, Simon would not avoid the issue, but would make his comments in a manner which was informative, supportive and non-confrontational.

He was always busy, but if anyone asked “do you have a moment?” the answer was always “yes”. Loyal, kind, caring, mindful of the needs of others, he was adept at maintaining a harmonious atmosphere at all levels within the school. He had a mischievous sense of humour and was master of the bon mot, but never at the expense of someone else.

Above all he was a first class school master, giving freely of his time and energy to aid students, colleagues and support staff. In the laboratory his constant aim was to inspire his pupils with an understanding and enjoyment of the subject at the appropriate level for their age. To his work in General Studies and Careers he brought caring and innovative approaches. It was abundantly clear that he enjoyed the universal respect of his students as well as that of his colleagues.

After his retirement he became a member of the local branch of the University of the Third Age, joining the Cryptic Crossword Group, where he quickly and typically made his mark. In his final weeks of life, though in considerable discomfort, he still spent time creating new cryptic puzzles to send to his most appreciative group.

Simon was a personal friend both in and out of school over more than 30 years. It was a privilege to have had his constant and unfailing support and guidance in the Chemistry Department and in in the senior management team. He gave so much to the School over so many years and was looking forward to exploring new avenues in an active and fulfilling retirement, shared with his wife, Elizabeth, their children and grandchildren. His early and distressing death has taken away an outstanding man, selfless, kind and caring, who had given much to so many He will be a great loss to us all.

Our thoughts are with Elizabeth and the family.

John Carleton

Second Master 1982-1998


Alan Wood

10.2.1926 - 30.08.2011

On 27th March Alan Wood failed to answer the phone when a neighbour rang, and he was found on his bedroom floor, having suffered a crippling stroke. He had been lying there for nine hours, making treatment very problematical. Passed for three months between three hospitals for specialist treatment, he spent August in a care home in Watford, and died there on 30th of that month, aged 85. His funeral took place at the West Herts Crematorium, Garston on Monday 19th September 2011.

He was for many years housemaster of Strouts, and knew his charges very well. He was retired for perhaps 15 years, devoting his time to several hobbies, including travel. Music, astronomy and electronics were particular interests. He became extremely competent on the computer. Keith Dawson wrote that Alan was a very fine man: straight as a die, understated, highly intelligent and a first rate schoolmaster in the widest, old-fashioned sense.


The Chapel at West Herts Crematorium was full today. Although very few people were expected, as Alan had no surviving family, he clearly had plenty of people who wanted to pay their final respects.

Alan was born at Billericay on February 10th 1926. His degree in mathematics came from Jesus College. He was teaching at the Royal Commercial Travellers School by the early 1950s so that may have been his first job. He was clearly very popular there as one can tell from the ex-pupils, now in the 70s, who attended.

Michael McLoughlin remembered Alan as the man who helped the whole Habs Maths Department to meet the challenge of teaching computing when many of them had little knowledge of it themselves. He also remembered Alan’s frequent friendly use of the word “ouch” when someone made a mathematical mistake, “ouch” because it really hurt Alan that one of his pupils could make such a silly error. Despite his severe stroke Alan continued to solve square roots in his head until a few days before he died


Alan Bell

Died August 30th 2011

Alan was born on 13th April 1929. He was a top academic and sportsman while a schoolboy going onto Loughborough College to study PE and Maths.

He did his National Service in the Intelligence Corps, he was demobbed in Egypt at his request where he took a job teaching in the school  that King Hussein’s son attended. He was incarcerated in Egypt as a spy when problems arose between UK and Egypt and as a result he was expelled from the country in 1951

He was the winner of the first ever “Gillette man of the Match” award for his 106 not out for Hertfordshire v Essex in the Gillette Cup.

He came to Habs in 1960 helping with the some of the best sports teams Habs ever put out and remembered for his Canal Boat holidays, educational cruises and for organising the European Summer School for Young Musicians.


Bob Tyler

Died March 2011

Bob Tyler died, two months after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

He taught at Habs for 17 years from 1971 – 1988, first as Head of German from 1971-82, then as Housemaster of Joblings from 1976-82 and later as Head of the Middle School from 1982-88.

Bob was always popular with staff and boys, hard working, good humoured and fair; with a strong singing voice and a strong supporting voice on the Rugby touchline too.


Perry Keenlyside


Rod Tearle


Bruce McGowan

Bruce McGowan was one of the distinguished band of young men whose university education included an enforced gap for active military service in the Second World War. As an officer in the Royal Artillery, he gained a breadth and depth of experience, which later influenced his approach to school mastering, to the great benefit of his pupils and his colleagues.

By the time that he came to Haberdashers' Aske's, Bruce had already experienced sixteen years of headship in two other schools, and this was to stand him and his new school in good stead, as the seventies were a time of change, both at Elstree and on the national scene. The year after his arrival, our sister school moved from Acton to join the boys' school on the "other side of the wall'i Though the two schools were run separately, there were many opportunities to be explored for joint activities, which he did his best to encourage.

In 1976 the government of the day abolished the Direct Grant scheme, a source of finance, which had enabled parents with limited income to afford places for their children in a fee-paying school. The decision was taken to become fully independent and it is to the credit of both Governing Body and Headmaster that the transition was seamless; academic standards were maintained and financial provision for those in need continued to be made available.

Being headmaster of a large school requires a certain gravitas, which he possessed, but he was determined not to be remote. With a sharp mind and a very keen sense of humour, he welcomed the cut and thrust of intellectual debate with both his colleagues and his pupils. He would visit many lunchtime societies and participate. Players would regularly see him on the touchline after school and at weekends, musicians and actors would know that he would be at every performance and at a good many rehearsals too. Likewise, he joined many school visits and C.C.F. camps, at home and abroad and led a number of expeditions himself. Former pupils would remain in touch, (including many from his previous schools) and he was a strong supporter of the Old Haberdashers' Association, who invited him to be their President in 1978.

He knew that he was answerable to others but bore the responsibility for what took place within the School. A number of committees regularly met to advise on academic and pastoral matters, but he never hid behind these when taking a decision. Improvements were made to the conditions of service of both teaching and non-teaching staff, helping to maintain a strong team. Better understanding between staff and governors was enabled by means of social activities.

Physical facilities were not ignored. He presided over a building development programme that included the Taylor Music School (1975), the Bates Dining Room (1980), the Sime Preparatory School (1983), the Design Centre for Art, Craft and Technology, the Chapel in Aldenham House and the Bruce McGowan Sports Centre (which the school governors named in his honour, as a tribute to his enthusiasm for sport and physical fitness).

His abilities were recognised in the outside world. He was a governor of several schools, a member of the Public Schools Commission in 1968-70 and heavily involved in the Headmasters' Conference over many years, being its chairman in 1985.

Throughout this time he was actively supported by his wife, Pat, who was at his side on all social and most official, public occasions. In their own home, they entertained staff, pupils and friends of the School after plays, concerts and numerous other occasions — events at which everyone, young and old, felt welcomed and at ease.

After retiring in 1987, he continued to take a keen interest in the fortunes of the School and, together with Pat, loyally attended plays and concerts. He was actively involved in voluntary work with several educational ventures, including being chairman of the Church Schools Company, a group of eight independent schools. Retirement also gave time for travelling and seeing their four children and five grandchildren, distributed about the globe. Sadly, retirement was curtailed by an ailment, which Bruce had known about for many years. He died, on 24th May 2004, at home in Woodstock.


Stuart Moore


John Dudderidge (teacher at Habs from 1931 to 1969)

died on 23rd January 2004 aged 97.

The first obituary is taken from the British Canoe Union website. The second obituary has been found on the Cambridge Canoe Club web site. An obituary about his life as a schoolmaster at Habs will be added, hopefully, in due course.

From the British Canoe Union web site:

"John Dudderidge was a founding member of the British Canoe Union, the governing body for canoeing and was a notable figure in the administration of the sport, both nationally and internationally for 45 years.

Canoeing was included in the Olympic programme for the first time in 1936. Dudderidge had acquired his first canoe three years earlier, and he was among those who recognised that it would be necessary to set up a national governing body, if a British Olympic team was to travel to Berlin. As with many sports Canoeing had started in Britain in the 19th Century when the Royal Canoe Club was founded by John MacGregor and continued with a number of clubs around the kingdom, but with no overall control. The British Canoe Association was founded in 1933. In 1935 Dudderidge became Racing and International Secretary, and set up a training squad, which were invited to train at Royal C C. In 1936 the British Canoe Union was founded, taking over competition from BCA, affiliating to the IRK and BOA, and Dudderidge took a team of three to Berlin. In 1938 he took a larger British team to Stockholm to compete in the First World Championships. At the Congress of the IRK (later rebranded as International Canoe Federation) held at this time he was elected to the Board of Management as one of two members for Europe, a position he retained until retiring in 1980.

At the outbreak of war in 1939, Dudderidge was appointed Hon.General Secretary of the BCU when the existing officer was called up to serve in the Forces. He guided the Union through the difficult war years and held this post until 1959, when he was elected President. Somehow, he also found time to assist in the foundation of Richmond Canoe Club at Richmond on Thames, now one of the leading clubs in competitive canoeing.

By 1946 the time had come to revive the International Federation, which had been a somewhat German dominated body, known as IRK (Internationale Repraesentantschaft fuer Kanusport). Out of the ruins a new international body emerged, the present ICF, and Dudderidge was at once elected Vice-President with responsibility for organising the 1948 Olympic Canoe Regatta, held at Henley, to be followed by the World Championship programme and the Congress. Dudderidge undertook all this with characteristic enthusiasm and inspired the many volunteers required to do the work. Not content with this work load he persuaded a firm which had previously specialised in manufacturing aircraft propellers to provide, as a gift, the dozen racing kayaks required for training the British team.

John W. Dudderidge was born on 24th August 1906 in Sheffield. He was educated at Magnus Grammar School, Newark on Trent and University College, Nottingham. After two years as Assistant Master at Manor House School, London, the rest of his professional career was spent at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School at Hampstead and Elstree, where he was Head of Physical Education 1931 to 1956, on the Science Staff 1956 to1969 and Housemaster 1956 to 1966.

It must be remembered that Dudderidge worked for sport development at a time when there little or no government funding. He believed that those who had enjoyed the privilege of participation in a sport should be prepared to plough back some of that enjoyment and help others, in particular young people, to find similar satisfaction.

After the war, therefore he set out to promote Canoeing in schools, beginning with his own; persuaded the Outward Bound Schools to include canoeing activities in their curricula; encouraged developments in the Scouts and other uniformed youth organisations as well as in the Youth Clubs, and when the Central Council of Physical Recreation was given Bisham Abbey as a National Training Centre he pressed for canoeing facilities to be included, offering to run courses there and find other canoeists to help. He also sought to interest the Youth Hostels Association in setting up youth hostels to cater for travellers by water. It was through this involvement in youth activities that he came to realise that if the Union was to cope with the growing flood of would-be canoeists it would be necessary to train people for the work of teaching the basic skills, and conceived the idea of setting up a Coaching Scheme under BCU. He then began to organise training courses in various parts of the country in collaboration with local canoe clubs, and from these courses he appointed selected people as coaches on whom to build up the Scheme. Pioneer courses were held in Sheffield, Leamington, Bradford on Avon, Ham Dock and other centres. When the Coaching Scheme was on its feet he handed over the Chairmanship to his colleagues who developed it to its present stature.

Ever enthusiastic for canoe touring, Dudderidge travelled widely at home and abroad; taking the opportunities offered by his official duties as an ICF Official at Olympic Games and World Championships in many parts of the world, he made a practice of staying behind when teams returned home, to find out more about the host country and its rivers. In 1965 he began a long dialogue with land-owning and angling interests in the hope that a policy of collaboration and reasonableness rather than confrontation might lead to the opening up of more private waters to canoeists, or at least prevent further restrictions. He was for many years the Chairman of the Access Committee formed to handle this work and found that English Law on property rights severely hampered progress. On one occasion he was called to address a committee of the House of Lords on this issue. This is still the case and the work he started continues.

Dudderidge’s unfailing cheerfulness brought friends and recognition in many countries and the mere recital of awards and offices held indicates the wide spread of his interests. He received the BCU Award of Honour in 1961, with the Award of Merit from the ICF in the following year together with the OBE “for services to sport.” In 1977, after seventeen years as President of the BCU he was given the title “President of Honour”.In 1980 on retiring from the Board of the ICF he was presented with the Gold Medal and Honorary Life Membership. He represented Canoeing on the Council of the British Olympic Association 1938-1980, Member of the Executive 1969-1973, Deputy Chairman 1973-1977 and Vice President 1977-2004. As competitor or official he attended every Olympic Games from 1936 in Berlin to 1992 in Barcelona.

In his nineties, having retired to Cambridge, Dudderidge was still active with his local canoe club. He retained his independence and zest for living and at the age of 97 took his first gliding lesson, which thrilled him greatly. He married Evelyn in 1936 who predeceased him. John Dudderidge is survived by his two daughters, Hilary and Ruth, and two sons, Philip and John."

From the Cambridge Canoe Club web site:

Farewell to a distinguished paddler

John Dudderidge OBE, Honorary President of Cambridge Canoe Club since 1995 died on 23 January 2004 in Cambridge. Many members of the Club will be familiar with John and Aileen on their trips out on the River Cam in their open boat, and though over the last few years they were grateful for help to launch the boat, once on the water they were off and away. John’s vitality and interest belied his age, and perhaps Club members will have seen a newspaper photograph of John celebrating his 97th birthday last August with a flight in a glider.

John began paddling before there was a national canoeing governing body. This caused a problem in the run-up to the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin and the BCU was set up in that year so that a group of six paddlers were able to compete for Britain in the new discipline of canoe racing. JD raced with A. R. Brearley in the category ‘folding pairs’ (we think that this was with a single-bladed paddle).

In 1946 JD represented Britain at the creation of the new International Canoe Federation (ICF) replacing an older continental-based Internationalen Representation fur Kanusport.

The 2nd edition of the Canoeing Handbook reads ‘The establishment of the BCU Coaching Scheme owes much to the work of John Dudderidge, who travelled extensively in 1959 and 1960 selecting people to organise coaching on a regional basis…’

‘Later he produced a set of standards for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award’ and more advanced coaching awards.

‘The contribution that JD has made to the sport, the Union and the ICF is immeasurable. His personal involvement in so many different aspects has been greatly responsible for the development of canoeing. The OBE was awarded in 1963 and in 1964 the Award of Honour of the ICF. At the Moscow Olympics in 1950, John was presented by the ICF with a specially struck gold medal in recognition of his devotion and unique service, which has led to the growth in strength and stature of the pastime founded in the ‘pleasure of the paddle’.

John and his wife moved to Cambridge in the late 1980s, but as his wife became increasingly ill he had little time for personal canoeing. After her death he made contact with Cambridge Canoe Club and soon after was elected our Honorary President. It was always a great pleasure when he attended Club events. He remained interested in the sport, in changes in canoeing administration, in all manner of canoeing events and in individual paddlers. John was always happy to present the Cam Marathon and Hare & Hound prizes and to make a speech afterwards. His sympathy for the loser in a competition will always be remembered. He argued that because of the loser the paddler who won had a better race, and it was up to the chaser to make sure that the winner deserved his title. John was always keenly interested in young canoeists as well as older ones, and was often seen in earnest conversation with paddlers about experiences on the water. His optimism and positive outlook inspired many of all ages.

Aileen, his companion in later life, proudly told us that she was taught to canoe by John in 1937. She lost her husband shortly before JD’s wife died, and as John and she had a lot in common they used to spend their time together. An admirable arrangement, except that sometimes it was hard for Aileen to live up to John’s physical activity and desire for a paddle after an afternoon of hard gardening!

The Club has lost an eminent friend and supporter as well as an Honorary President, who took time in his later life to serve our Club and local canoeing. He will be missed with great affection by all who had the pleasure of knowing him. To John’s family and Aileen we send our sincere condolences in their sad loss.

A Memorial Service in the Quaker fashion is planned for 2 pm on Saturday 27 March at the Wesley Methodist Church, King Street, Cambridge and all will be welcome. 

May & Bill Block


Denis Goddard


Eric “Tec” Carrington (Master 1944-81)

From the time of Eric Carrington's appointment to the School History Department in the autumn of 1944 until his death in mid-September 2002, a considerable period of that time - 37 years to be exact - was devoted to life in the School in one form or another.

Using his own background in the game, he soon made his mark on Junior Rugby (Lower School Rugby I believe it was referred to then). His next appointment was to be 'Instructor in Drill and Physical Training' in the recently formed A.T.C. Both of these activities he enjoyed, and later became the Commanding Officer of the C.C.F. until his retirement in 1981.

Eric Carrington was a large man with a good stock of his own ideas under his belt. He showed a good sense of humour enjoyed by his pupils, if not necessarily by all his colleagues. Yes, if he liked something or somebody, he said so, and if he didn't he made his feelings quite obvious.

Eric's reactions to the change in the form of the School Magazine in 1961 were those which are not really quotable here!

After Pearl, his wife, and his family bought the Riviera Lodge Hotel in Mawgan Porth, Cornwall, he stayed on in Radlett and operated from a various number of residences.

His attitudes and manner, however, remained constant, and his contributions to life in the School are undoubted. I shall miss him, too, as a friend of many years.

Geoff Hickman

His son, Mike Carrington (1953-1958), adds the following:

"He had a hangman's noose or a set of stocks (both made by his pupils) in the corner of the room whilst he taught History! I well recall them as I spent 3 years in his History class. His knowledge of the subject was astounding. He seemed to know everything. People were always trying to catch him out. I tried for years and never really succeeded.

In his younger days he was a useful sportsman, representing his college at Cambridge at rugby and cricket, as well as being a handy tennis player. Despite being a life-long smoker, his physical strength stayed with him until past age 80.

During the war, he was at Dunkirk and the memories stayed with him for the rest of his life, although he never spoke of it to me or the rest of the family. 

His devotion to the school and his pupils seldom wavered, and he constantly bought marking, reports, CCF work etc back home with him.

He did indeed have strong opinions about certain things, and did speak his mind. I didn't always agree with him, but in these days of political correctness when so many people speak with forked tongues, I think I still prefer his way.

In the early 1990's, he was made a Freeman of the City of London, and this seemed to please him.

He enjoyed classical music and in his youth was actually a good pianist, but he kept that talent well under his hat and ceased playing altogether in the early 60's. He detested nearly all pop music, but there was one exception to this rule. He had several Jim Reeves albums and listened to them constantly."


Tommy Sanderson


Simon Stuart (teacher at the School between 1962 and 1977)

Died on 19th September 2002 after a long illness.

His son, Corin, writes:

"He was an English teacher at Haberdashers from 1962 or 3 until 1975 when he took a sabbatical to write his second book, 'New Phoenix Wings'. He had written his first book, 'Say' while still teaching. He returned to teach in 1976, but soon decided he wanted to devote his life to writing and left in Winter 1977. (I'm not 100% certain about these dates).”

Simon Stuart - enjoying the sunshine at home, Xmas 2000

Address given by The Revd Mark Oakley, a close family friend and 
Vicar of St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden on 1st October 2002.

"You may not be able to see, but I am blushing slightly. Simon did not want any pious extras at his funeral. He wanted the funeral service taken from the Book of Common Prayer with its simple, stark, beautiful resonances. Simon wanted other words to be reserved for a later memorial service. But you know as well as I do that people like Simon are never laid to rest easily. There is too much affection and admiration in the air; this love, respect and friendship needs to be captured here and given voice to and, with Simon’s family’s agreement, some things do need to be said before we lay Simon next to his father in the churchyard.

This churchyard, of course, is just a couple of miles away from where Simon was born and where he grew up, the youngest of four boys (the two eldest are remembered on the war memorial in this church). After Eton Simon went up to Trinity, Cambridge where he began to deepen his love of English literature, a love that lasted a lifetime. He was able to translate that love, and to generate it in others, through his gifts as a teacher. And it is for those gifts that so many have had cause to be thankful. Recent letters have made it clear: Simon inspired, encouraged, was charismatic as he led you deeper into the necessities of literature. His mind was a storehouse of quotations, and these remembered texts were not kept there to be used to show off but because they were a part of his understanding and his being. We are laying to rest a great teacher, a teacher and a writer, with an incredibly energetic, encyclopaedic, searching mind.

Simon was not just a person of ideas, though, he was a practical lover of the environment and the earth, well before others were, and his love of Windyridge and his remarkable vegetable garden, of the world’s life-forms from dragonflies, grasses and birds to spiders, bees and mushrooms, made itself known in detailed careful work as a naturalist. It seems only right then that Simon’s coffin has been made out of wood that fell in the estate, from larches planted by Simon himself. And it is to the earth that his body is committed.

Simon lived with much illness through his life, first falling ill in 1958. He spent years on dialysis and he was always so very grateful to all those who helped him stay alive and who looked after him when he needed it most, including those who worked with him at Windyridge. Special mention must be made, of course, of the donor of the kidney that gave Simon another 15 years of life and therefore a gift that reached out to the whole family. The donor and the donor’s family are very much in our thoughts and prayers today.

Simon always said that he couldn’t bear the thought of not seeing his children grow up and the transplant happily took away that fear. Everyone here knows how much Simon loved his boys, and how they loved him, and it is a great witness to their relationship that Simon’s loves and interests have become their own loves too. Indeed, those of us who know Thomas, Corin and Tristram know that Simon justly died a proud man, a proud father. And we surround them, and Deborah and Pat and his family, with our love.

Simon: loving, interested in people, Windyridge host, engaging, analytical, sometimes severe, widening the view onto Chaucer, Shakespeare, architecture, music, natural history, sometimes contradictory and difficult, but always alive with ideas and passions. A charismatic talented teacher, an environmentalist, a husband and father, a friend. Simon, during his National Service, served in Malaya and in one incident gave his water-bottle to an injured enemy soldier, and then helped him to rest. Simon always joked that this incident would get him into heaven. Simon believed that death was “one long dark sleep”. I hope that he will forgive this priest for one pious extra. It is a hope – that he sleeps now in peace where, in the words of John Donne, “ there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity.”

Let us, then, lay Simon in the earth in peace."


John Welbourne


Nick Clark-Lowes

D.N. Clark-Lowes, who taught chemistry at Haberdashers' from 1963 to 1980, died last July at the age of 88.

Educated at Oundle, where he was Head Boy, and at Balliol College, Oxford, Nick had a mind to be ordained but found he could not accept the 39 Articles. Instead he chose to become a school master.

His early career was soon overtaken by the war. Commissioned into the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, he was evacuated from Dunkirk and later saw action in the Western Desert. Speaking to the boys about his experiences in North Africa, attention was always riveted when he spoke of the time a shell went between his legs and took the legs off the man behind him. Although he undoubtedly showed great courage and determination in the war, he spoke of it only occasionally and, once it was over, was entirely forward-looking, focusing on his teaching career.

In 1941 Nick was married to Audrey, the daughter of his Prep. School headmaster. By the end of the war he had one child and by 1953 he and Audrey had a family of four sons. In 1946 he joined Shrewsbury School where he is remembered for his extraordinary toughness; a man apparently oblivious to heat or cold, a leader of expeditions and camps in the hills and mountains. He rose to the position of Senior Science Master.

In 1954 Nick was persuaded to take over the headmastership of Hillbrow School, his father-in-law's Prep. School at Featherstone Castle in Northumberland. Despite hard and devoted work, it was difficult to make a success of a small family-run prep school (Hillbrow had 45 boys). Such schools were becoming a thing of the past by the end of the 1950s and in 1963 Nick moved to Haberdashers' Aske's School where he taught Chemistry and Religious Education for the rest of his career. His two younger sons attended Haberdashers.

His lack of interest in matters sartorial led the boys to give him various more or less affectionate nicknames. He was an excellent teacher though unusual; having spilt a few drops of acid on the demonstration bench he would be seen absent-mindedly wiping them up with his handkerchief.

Equally, stains on the ceiling and frequent experiments with highly toxic gases would struggle to pass the present-day health and safety regulations. Scores of Haberdashers will remember Nick with affection, in particular Rear Admiral Tony Higham who helped prepare a number of these exciting demonstrations. He was a man who always saw the good side of mankind and this will be the lasting memory of colleagues who taught with this remarkable man.

Always a Christian, he was fascinated by the realms of science and religion and their interaction and became increasingly interested in psychic events; some would say this sprang from his encounters with ghosts in the battlemented towers of the Norman Featherstone Castle. For ten years he was librarian of the Society for Psychical Research. Asked about the role of religion in his life he replied that it was very central. He was more concerned with the upbringing of children than the teaching of chemistry. He liked to think of himself as more a schoolmaster than a teacher.


Michael Fitch (taught at the School 1964 – 1993)







Michael Fitch, who was Head of English at Elstree from 1964 to 1993, died in November 1999 after a long and trying illness which he usually described, with characteristic understatement, as 'very inconvenient'. He was a great teacher, especially of clever boys, and his leadership over almost thirty years established the English Department at Haberdashers' as one of the best in the country. His much too early death is mourned by generations of his pupils and colleagues who were privileged to be counted among his friends.

Born in 1931, as an only child whose father died tragically young, Michael was always by disposition somewhat solitary and private. After infancy and prep. school in the West Country, Michael and his mother moved to London. He attended St Paul's as a Foundation Scholar, during and after the war of 1939-45. He left with enduring memories not only of frightening war-time bombing but also of a quality of education that remained his yardstick throughout his life.

As an Exhibitioner at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, he read English and History. History was almost as great a passion for him as literature. David Griffiths, who was Head of History for much of Michael's time at Elstree, remembers that 'his fascination with both the French Revolution and the Troubles in Ireland was very apparent and he was disarmingly (alarmingly! - Keith Dawson) well informed. His range of knowledge fascinated Stuart Moore as much as it did me and the three of us would regularly be ensconced in the same seats in the Common Room pursuing some arcane point that interested Michael probably more than us. I am told that we looked like a trio of old crows 'sitting on the wa' but were never separated, which says much for the considerable respect - even awe - colleagues felt for Michael.'

After Cambridge, Michael's National Service was as an Education Officer in the R.A.F., mostly in Cyprus - at a dangerous time. Those who knew him in later years might be surprised to learn that he enjoyed these two years. Later, for six years, he commanded the R.A.F. section of the C.C.F. at Dulwich College, resigning in 1963 because, as he explained in his application to Haberdashers', 'I was beginning increasingly to doubt the value of this form of activity, except for a limited minority of boys'.

By the time he arrived at Elstree as Head of English at the age of thirty-three, Michael had nine years' experience at Dulwich. He had completely redesigned their school magazine, editing it for five years, and he had produced school plays, including an excellent 'Richard II' in 1963, a prelude to a string of memorable productions at Elstree.

Above all, he was already an outstanding teacher with his own clear ideas about what was important in teaching his subject and its (central!) place in a proper education. This was just as well. In-comers to Haberdashers' have to prove themselves to boys and colleagues alike, especially if they are appointed as head of department, and in the early 1960s the Common Room had its full share of the sharp-eyed and sharp-tongued. Michael certainly had more than one passage of arms in his early days but soon gained respect (very clearly here was someone to be reckoned with) and liking.

Michael had no formal training as a teacher and he was highly suspicious of educational theory. His ability as a teacher was instinctive and flowed from his intellectual and cultural interests, which were both broad and deep. In later years he often claimed to be out of touch. 'Of course', he would say, 'I know nothing these days', seeming to believe it. He would then launch into a penetrating analysis of the latest novel or film (he was an avid filmgoer), or tell of his recent visit to the new exhibition at the Royal Academy or the Tate. He had usually seen any play worth seeing well before colleagues and friends, and he was generous with invitations to the theatre, booking ahead for what he knew these particular friends would enjoy. Theatre-going to Michael was always an occasion, beginning or ending with good food and wine, and memorable talk.

For such a private man, Michael had an unusual talent for making and keeping friends, over a long time and great distances. Every holiday, a postcard would come, not with a scribbled conventional greeting, but with a witty and detailed analysis of the relationships between his fellow guests or a wickedly accurate description of the holiday location. Living on his own, he took particular interest in his friends' families - wives, children, brothers, sister-in-law and beyond. He had a special talent with young children and awkward adolescents, who began by finding him forbidding, discovering only later the mischievous twinkle that so many of his pupils recall.

Michael Fitch has left an enduring legacy. At the start of Robert Bolt's play 'A Man For All Seasons', Sir Thomas More tells the young Richard Rich that the Dean of St Paul's is prepared to offer him the post of schoolmaster at the new school. Rich, looking for preferment at court, is bitterly disappointed, but More presses him. 'Why not be a teacher? You'd be a fine teacher. Perhaps a great one. Rich is unconvinced. 'And if I was who would know it?' 'You, your pupils, your friends, God. Not a bad public that...' Thank you, Michael.






On his retirement in 1993:






'PROPRIETY VERGING ON MISCHIEF': an appreciation of Michael Fitch

Michael Fitch came to Haberdashers' in 1964 as Head of English. He retires in July. Colleagues and former pupils remember his years here...

Twenty years past, those of us fortunate enough to have Michael as both form master and English teacher considered ourselves fortunate indeed, both for the guiding, generous way he treated us as adults (whether we cared to be or not) and for the elegant, effortless way he communicated a deep enthusiasm for his subject. Michael projected the image of mild authoritarian - a facade we knew guarded a smile of delighted wickedness and genuine care. That wickedness surfaced, as is often the case, in the theatre. "A HANDbag?" enquired Michael's Lady Bracknell, as the then youthful Keith Dawson (playing Jack Worthing) stood on in wonder and a cold assembly hall rang with laughter...

Having worked with Michael for several years I have come to respect him as a first-rate schoolmaster and value him as a true friend. Respect is due in no small measure for the intellectual rigour he brings to every task or problem and for his immense literary, historical and critical knowledge. We have always enjoyed and occasionally been humbled by the sharpness of his wit: pupils who bound uninvited into the English office, or those less than enthralled by 'Great Expectations', his fellow teachers, even (dare 1 say it) headmasters, have all felt the edge of his tongue in some exquisitely phrased quip. Yet he is as capable of laughing at himself as at others, and is supportively sympathetic to anyone facing personal distress...

TIME: Chilly Sunday in March, late morning. Place: School Hall, cold as only the Hall could be. Dramatis Personae centre stage: cast of Royal Hunt/Merchant/ Shrew/AYLI/Tempest/Murder/Alchemist etc. preparing for a run-through.

Dramatis Persona peripheral: JSRW jumping on and off the stage, mostly to keep warm, but also trying to organise the crowd, keep the principals busy - and see the wood through the trees.
Dramatis Persona magisterial: DMF, sitting in his favourite position in the front row of the balcony, scarf wrapped, sheepskin coat buttoned, thermos of special warming liquid in front of him, watching intently, taking notes, seeing the shape, tracing the subtext, intervening where necessary, and afterwards at lunch discussing at length: a rigorously critical sounding-board, an unerring artistic long-stop, without whose judgment and support over a dozen and more plays, drama at Haberdashers' would, for me, have been immeasurably impoverished.

.. His contribution to staff drama was unforgettable. Summoned through steely lorgnette and august corsage by "Prism, come here! Where is that baby?" I had no need to act; 1 simply quailed. Similarly, when directing, there was little to do; one just built in his improvisations. His appearance in 'The Real Inspector Hound' as a turbanned char, feather-dusting on the trot, made drudgery divine for those watching. Once, when rehearsing this 'ballet' - to his own hummed accompaniment - he was disconcerted by switching on an unresponsive wireless set. Instinctively he thumped it, jolting an inert Richard Baker into announcing that a murderer was on the loose. "Keep that", I shouted from the balcony. His resumed cleaning, executed with a blinkered zeal, and taking him to within inches of the murderer's prone victim, was one of the funniest parodies I have ever seen. The third time I saw him on stage was as Hallam in 'Penny for a Song'. It was difficult to believe that lines with such Fitchean resonances had not actually been written for him. "Tell me", he says, wishing to read some Wordsworth, "do you know of a secluded place in the vicinity of this house to which I can retire for a while... for the purpose of performing my usual literary chores of the day?"...

It wasn’t like being taught, more like entering a charmed circle where things were worded differently. My introduction - "Why are you so languid?" the glasses lowered, eyes suddenly arranged into that merry theatrical squint - caused consternation in an untidy 15 year old. No schoolmaster had ever asked me such a thing. I wasn't sure what 'languid' meant, and had never dreamed that 1 might qualify for such a tricky, or interesting, description. There were plenty more of those over the next 7 terms, most, but not all, of them applied to people in books. The world had never seemed such an enthralling place before, and it hasn't done since...

Michael is a cerebral experience. The force of what he has said and how he has spoken is memorable. His report writing has a directness and perception that must have been as revealing to the students concerned as entertaining and informative to other readers. My particular favourite was an UCCA reference beginning "This boy is almost as clever as he thinks he is..". Neither shall I forget the look that briefly tenanted Michael's passive public face, a mixture of disbelief, despair and resignation that greeted the luckless colleague's remark that Shakespeare's 'King Lear' presented no great intellectual challenge. But above all he has been for many, students and colleagues alike, a stimulating draught of the best that our culture can offer...

... Michael, I have to revisit you inside 100 words! And really all the time since - still not out of range of your insights into my adolescent self and still, whatever I do, working words (even teaching English for a while). When I think of you, though, the literature is only part of it (I don't know that we particularly agreed on books), and I'm back with my early feeling - flattering, demanding, yes life-directing - of having been taken seriously. The things this has led to I acknowledge mine! But the difficult gift was yours...

... By traditional methods he ushered his pupils into the world of literary candour. They were shown the respect of being capable of feeling and analysis, even the occasional apercu... The very clever and the very unruly were kept in control by the withering stare and the ironic tongue. These weapons were put on display at the beginning of the year but thereafter were only wheeled on for amusement. There was no phoney pretence that the teacher/pupil barrier did not exist and the mutual respect established resulted in intense work and superb results, but above all a lifelong appreciation of literature...

... Sixth Form English with Michael Fitch was rarely dull. My 6B year involved an exhilarating plunge through English literature from Everyman to Eliot - not just the set books but a range of authors, whom, but for Michael's guidance, I might never have sampled. He could be a sharp critic, but is also a true enthusiast for his subject.

While literature can and does give one fresh insight into the human condition, it offers, above all, the chance to recharge one's imaginative batteries. Whatever one's profession, poetry and novels can still provide solace and inspiration. It is to Michael more than anyone else to whom 1 owe the habit of reading good literature for pleasure - a gift for which I shall owe him lifelong thanks...

... In our imagination, Michael belonged to an age altogether more rich and strange than the blandly positive one we inhabited. His last visit to church seems to have been to St Stephen's, Chelsea, where T.S. Eliot was a sidesman, so as to place a coin in the collecting bowl that Eliot handed him. We associated him with first productions by Beckett at the Royal Court, with 'Horizon', with the world of Desmond MacCarthy and Cyril Connolly. What did he use to sip from his flask in between those seemingly interminable close (and closed) readings from Shakespeare? Only a refined cocktail or some pre-war eau de vie would have matched our imaginings. We never found out...

...One of my favourite memories of Michael concerns the time he came to visit us in Scarborough and we nearly drowned him in the North Sea, nearly got him shot on the moors above Haworth and were not able to arrange for him to sunbathe on the leads at Castle Howard. As for Haworth, we told him it was almost as far from Scarborough as it was possible to go and still be in the same county, but he petulantly refused to look at the map, saying "It's all in the same county; it can't possibly take three hours". So we went. The North Sea nearly got him at Boggle Hole, walking from Robin Hood's Bay to Ravenscar (look at the map!), whilst the custodian at Castle Howard, overwhelmed by visitors following the success of 'Brideshead Revisited', let us go almost anywhere but where Michael hoped to go - up on the leads where Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons had sunbathed...

Our best and most revealing times were, perhaps, on the 'Twelfth Night' German tour (1969); myself as stage manager sharing some of the burdens of a two week round of schools and theatres with (among so many others) Michael and Keith Dawson, the co-producers. I remember Michael bearing with unruffled poise the strains of improvised staging, minibus packing, autobahn travel and bilingual chat far into the wine-tasting nights.

At one hotel, somewhere on our itinerary, I recall someone coming out with the quotation: "1 never saw anyone take so long to dress, with such little result".

Memory is a treacherous beast, but 1 think the speaker must have been Michael, with reference to himself. 1 always regret that I missed his actual stage portrayal of Lady Bracknell...

.. To the theatre with Michael on many occasions, but most memorably to see Peter O'Toole as Macbeth. O'Toole was mesmerisingly bad - somewhere out beyond laughter - but the rest of the cast was just plain awful. We'd been sniggering intermittently from the start but then there came the line "And so his knell is knolled" delivered with such stiff, weighty pomposity that we both let out a combined, uncontrollable guffaw. Sitting in front of us were a father, mother and two young sons, all in their best theatre-going clothes. No, you never laugh in 'Macbeth' except at the porter (who, on this occasion, had his work cut out), so four disapproving heads swivelled round in unison and glared at us. Michael, trying to straighten his face, was a picture, and that picture recalls for me now what I have always so much enjoyed in his company: a sense of propriety verging on mischief, his artfully constrained relish for the absurd, the occasional absolute surrender as on that evening at the Old Vic...

This year’s production of 'Twelfth Night' brought back vivid memories of our joint production at Elstree in the late 1960's. Sharing play production, like marriage, is a relationship 'not to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, nor wantonly...' as Michael was wise enough to know, and we rather carefully parcelled out the scenes. Leaving me to deal with "Sir Toby and the lighter people" he set about the real challenge of making the courtly scenes and the verse live, with wonderful effect. Only those who've done it know what skills and relentless determination are needed to help young actors really perform and Michael did this marvellously; I'm sure they will have remembered the experience to this day.

Those who saw it will also remember his brilliant Lady Bracknell in an all-male staff production of 'The Importance of Being Earnest' in 1970. Played dead-straight, it was scintillatingly intelligent and fresh - no tired echoes of Edith Evans for Michael. The famous 'handbag' line was a revelation: long pause, fixed stare, then a slowly raised eyebrow and in a 'how interesting, take me with you' inviting tone... "A handbag??" Deadly accurate and very funny...

Contributors in order of appearance:

Ivor Benjamin, Michael Lempriere, Stephen Wilkins, David Griffiths, Robert Sandall, Stuart Moore, Michael Bird, Ben Brown, David Lidington MP, Mark Archer, Marjorie Dawson, Michael Palmer, John Mole, Keith Dawson





Alan Jackson


Clare Anderson


Mike Palmer


Wilf Hewitt and Victor Todhunter

After the last edition of News from Elstree when we reported the sad deaths of Wilf Hewitt and Vivian Todhunter, we received the following letter of tribute from Peter Oppenheimer (O.H. '56).

"I was sad to read the death of two Common Room 'characters' from the 1950s, both mathematicians: Wilf Hewitt and Vivian Todhunter ('Victor' was a sobriquet').

"Their personalities were very different. Wilf was a kind of dynamo, covering the blackboard with derivations to the accompaniment of high-speed verbal patter. He wore rubber finger stalls to protect his skin from being worn, and sucked lozenges to preserve his throat. He was a great enthusiast for Corps camps, where he acted as first-line-of-defence medical officer. His principle was that boys were afflicted at camp by only two ailments: blisters and constipation. If it wasn't the one, it must be the other. This principle generally worked pretty well, though I do have a vague memory, possibly libellous, of him dosing up with laxative a boy who turned out to be suffering from sinusitis.

"Mr. Todhunter was entirely different, reflective and quietly versatile, rather flamboyant. His versatility extended, apparently to doing The Times crossword before the start of morning school, though his pupils were not aware of this. He was, an amateur linguist and language textbook illustrator. As a side activity within the School he taught a group of us Russian up to 'O' level in our final year(s). I owe him a great personal debt for this. It helped me to get on to the Russian Interpretership course in my National Service (in the Royal Navy). One of the friends I made on the course turned out to be the (half-Russian) brother of my future wife. Moreover, since the collapse of Communism my knowledge of Russian has been a significant factor in my professional activities, reinforcing my well-established love of the language and its culture with frequent visits to Moscow and other parts of the country".


Bob Packer


Joan Pridmore


Dick Hewson

Dick Hewson joined the Staff of Haberdashers' in 1938 to take charge of the Geography Department. At the outbreak of war he joined the Army and was engaged in active service in Asia.

On his return he quickly established himself in the School, coached one of the most successful school boxing teams in the country, and became Housemaster of Hendersons. He attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel as Commanding Officer of the Combined Cadet Force; under his vigorous leadership the Band won numerous trophies and the Shooting Eight saw many successes at Bisley.

School 'holidays' were in fact among his most active periods, for he was very keen on all farms of outdoor pursuits, In addition to organising the Summer Camps for the Army Section, he introduced generations of Middle School boys to Alpine skiing slopes and passed on his own considerable mountaineering skill to cadets in Snowdonia, the Lake District, Ireland, Skye and Norway. He recorded these excursions on film, in earlier years in superb black and white and later in colour with his cine-camera which he used with great effect to supplement his teaching.

A quiet, modest, friendly man, he was admired and respected by all who came into contact with him, not least by the members of the Old Haberdashers' Rifle Club, of which he was President, but above all by his fellow officers and colleagues.

It was a great credit to his personal fitness that he still climbed and enjoyed skiing whenever possible Being talented musically he was, on his retirement in 1970, allowed the time and opportunity to take up playing the violin once again.

After such a hectic and fulfilling working life Dick enjoyed a long retirement. To those at Haberdashers' our memories will remain of a man who was very much a man's man, a fine academic, a gifted schoolmaster whose care for the boys in his charge, usually In the open air, was uppermost in his mind. He was always kind to people - a true gentleman, a pillar of strength on the school community for almost the whole of his working life - he literally gave his life to the School.


Maurice Willat (teacher at Habs 1955-1981)

Maurice Willatt taught Economics and Politics at Haberdashers' from 1955 to 1981. He was a fine man and an outstanding teacher. In 1927 he went up from Newcastle-under-Lyme to Jesus College, Cambridge, and four years later began his teaching career amidst the depths of the Depression. During the Second World War he served with the army in India and afterwards was headmaster of Elmhurst School in Somerset, from where he joined Haberdashers'.

Maurice came from a world which we have lost and he brought some of its magic to our own. No one who taught with him can easily forget his memories of Cambridge before the spies and of India under the King-Emperor, or his discreet diplomacy and his personal example. No one who was taught by him can surely forget his erudition and his wisdom, or his ability to cast new light upon academic and intellectual problems.

Maurice was not only an officer and a gentleman, but a scholar and a sincere Christian. In Chaucer's s words “he loved chivalry, truth and honour, freedom and courtesy ... he was a very perfect gentle knight." We shall not see his like again and we shall be the poorer for it. His wife and family will be in our thoughts and prayers.


Bill Prior


Dai Barling (Taught at the School 1942 – 1982)

The news of the death of Dai Barling - mercifully peaceful - on June 6th, 1990 called forth many affectionate and admiring reminiscences of a great teacher and friend. He had retired in 1982 but was often remembered. As the news spread to generations of former pupils and colleagues, so the tributes came: tributes to the unique impact and influence of this remarkable individual on those who belonged to Haberdashers' in his time.

Known as "Taffy" to the boys and "Dai" to his colleagues, he was one of three sons of a miner in Aberdare. Having studied French at the University of Birmingham, he began his teaching career in that city. A conscientious objector in the Second World War, he was required to relinquish his post at a local authority school and worked for a while on the land. He came to Haberdashers' in 1942. Wartime conditions at Westbere Road were far from ideal (early duties included fire-watching), but Dai's initial enthusiasm for the school never faltered and for forty years Haberdashers' enjoyed the total dedication of this most loyal servant.

Dai will be remembered by so many boys as a fine teacher of French, equally respected by the undistinguished struggler and the brilliant high flier. Whatever other duties fell to him, Dai maintained his love of the classroom. In his teaching his own immaculate French, his affection for France, his delight in words and his unfailing precision both inspired and impressed his pupils. In the sixth form he taught French literature with panache and vigour: he rendered the conventions of earlier centuries accessible to modern pupils and he created for his classes a framework of ideas within which they could learn to criticise and to understand. Dai was also heavily involved in the teaching of Religious Education and in later years helped to establish a new and demanding 'A' level course.

Dai served as Head of French, was in his element as Housemaster of Joblings for eighteen years and was master in charge of Rugby. A fine athlete in his youth, he is also remembered as a very fast and agile member of the Wasps 1st Team. In 1964 he became Senior Master and then in 1968 Second Master. He was a superlative organiser of special events: he led countless school parties to France, he master-minded the memorable School Fete in 1967, he instituted the regular visits of the National Blood Transfusion Service, he learned to drive in order to be able to supervise the move to Elstree in 1961 ("the great migration"). He was a champion fundraiser, typically enlisting the assistance of a group of boys (some of whom he had first met in the Detention class) to collect large quantities of waste paper, proceeds from which were used to help charities and to finance a series of wonderful holidays for mentally handicapped children, which he led together with his wife in Aldenham House in the summer holidays.

He had been appointed to the staff by Dr Abson and went on to serve as deputy to two headmasters: Tom Taylor and Bruce McGowan. He spoke movingly of Dr Taylor's many achievements and qualities at the memorial concert in his honour. He quickly established a close rapport with Mr McGowan and thrived on the team work which enabled the Headmaster, Dai and Leo Guidon as Senior Master to employ their various skills and talents for the benefit of the school. Dai became a friendly father figure with his well-chosen, quietly spoken words of encouragement and advice for everyone who worked at Elstree. He loved to see old boys of the school and former colleagues and valued highly his many lasting friendships. He played a significant role in the social side of our life, for many years as Secretary and subsequently Chairman of the Common Room.

A committed Christian, Dai enjoyed a wide circle of fellowship outside the school. In his younger days, he had mounted a soap-box near Marble Arch to preach the gospel. He often drove hundreds of miles to fulfil a preaching engagement. He had a strong intellectual interest in religion as well as a deep personal faith. Indeed, if one were to take the invidious course and select one feature about Dai which would be worthy of the greatest respect, it could well be that he was a man equally unafraid to subject his faith to the analysis of his own formidable intellect and to ensure that every aspect of his private and professional life should be exposed to the high demands of that faith. His life of faith and enquiry led to a number of publications and invitations for him to speak and to teach. The school was a regular beneficiary: his assembly addresses and his assembly notices served alike to encourage all members of the school to adhere to high moral standards in all of their activities. He fostered the school's sense of community, expounded the trust and interdependence which make our life together and he offered compassion, forgiveness and help to anyone whose activities might undermine the best interests of our society.

Dai often spoke of the blessings he enjoyed in his life, especially the blessings of a happy home. He spoke of the close-knit tribal life of his family. He and Mollie had three children: Peter, Anne and Judy, all now married with children of their own. Sadly, his wife died in 1979 after a long illness which required Dai to devote himself unstintingly to her care. The happy and fulfilled couple who had shared everything for so long were able to discuss rationally what the future would hold. It was decided that Dai would postpone his retirement and after the parting he threw himself as energetically as ever into the life of the school. Sustained by his faith and his family, Dai lived through the sad days of bereavement. He became ill himself and underwent an operation but bounded back as resilient and dynamic as ever.

The affection in which he was held was clearly demonstrated at his retirement assembly. On that occasion, as so often before, he held more than a thousand boys in the palm of his hand. They gave him two standing ovations, eloquent testimony to the love they felt for him. He told them of his plans for retirement. He had married again some six months earlier and he and Joy, who was able to join him at the assembly, were looking forward to life in Newton Abbot, to active involvement in local church affairs and in charity work, to the freedom to spend more time with the family and with friends, to the care of a beautiful garden, to reading and to writing. Dar and Joy were blessed with eight years of great happiness. They had both suffered the loss of their first partner and delighted in the pleasure of their new life together. To Joy, to the children and grandchildren, we offer our sincere condolences at this time of sorrow.

Let the last words be his. In his concluding remarks in the funeral oration which he gave for a young friend whom he had known both as a pupil and as a colleague, Dai gave an indication of what he admired in others and his words could surely not be bettered in our attempts to describe our own debt to him:

"He did so much by his influence and actions alike, to make the world a better place. May his passing provide for all of us who had the privilege of knowing him the inspiration to emulate his example, which he set with such humility and steadfastness. Thanks be to God".

Stephen Wilson


Michael Hepworth

It was with shock and sorrow that the Common Room and School learnt of the sudden and unexpected death of Michael Hepworth in March of this year. Although he had left the School in December 1988 to become Head of Mathematics at The Parse School in Cambridge he retained personal and professional links with friends here.

A competent and dedicated teacher in mathematics, he will be remembered here also for his youthful mien and the remarkably wide range of his talents beyond the classroom as linguist, musician, and water sportsman, all of which talents he gave cheerfully and unstintingly to friends, the school and beyond. An excellent teacher and colleague, a good friend, and a sad loss to all.

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