We are sorry to announce that the following Old Haberdashers and former staff have passed away;
- Jim Leighton Davies
- Roy Avery
- David Chapallaz
- Diana Robertson
- David Scott
- Barry Goater
- Geoff Hickman
- Dick Newman
- David Griffiths
- Dr Peter Barry
- Michael McLoughlin
- Jack Hurst
- Dick Benbow
- John Carleton
- Margaret Flashman
- Keith Cheyney
- John Rolfe
- Roger Wakely
Jim Leighton Davies, who passed away on Sunday 1 January 2023 aged 74, taught Geography and sport (as well as early years Senior School rugby) at Habs Prep from 1973 until the mid-1980s and will be fondly remembered by all those fortunate enough to encounter his enthusiastic approach to all he did. This included the many happy summers taking Habs Boys to their summer camps in Dorset, where his siblings would often contribute an extra pairs of hands.
Jim came from a truly musical family, his father John having taught Music at Habs Westbere Road from the 1950s until the school moved to Elstree, and he himself was one of the first students at the newly instituted Yehudi Menuhin Music School. However, having been diagnosed with dyslexia (when little was known of such conditions), Jim completed his education at Carnegie Tutorial College and went on to study for a BEd at Goldsmiths.
His initial teaching roles were in Lewisham. One of these being notable for the headbutt he received in the playground from one of his soon-to-be students which resulted in Jim spending his first day at that school having his teeth `fixed’ by a local dentist.
However, the elysian fields of Haberdashers soon beckoned, and Jim proved to be one of the many excellent appointments made by Headmaster Tom Taylor in 1973 in his final year at Habs. Jim seems to have embraced all that Habs offered, forming close and lasting friendships with colleagues and was well known for his Renault sports car, which other staff reputedly envied!
He took great delight in the success of his former charges and used to laugh that he had once taught a young pupil by the name of Sasha Baron-Cohen: who was apparently extremely, and disconcertingly, funny even as an eight year old.
After Habs, Jim taught in a number of primary schools in the London Borough of Brent (and was Headmaster of one), before retiring to Westwood, Bradford-upon-Avon.
Former Habs Head of History, Roy Avery, who passed away aged 97 at his home in Bristol on 17 January 2023, was not at all impressed by the school when he went for interview at Westbere Road. He had decided that the post-war grime of the North London suburbs was not for him and his young family. However, fortunately for Habs, then Headmaster Tom Taylor was able to promise him that within two years the school would have relocated to Elstree and the Aldenham estate – a far more attractive proposition.
Thus, it was that in January 1960, Roy and his wife Marjorie and their children Alison and Jonny (OH 1976) became part of the Haberdashers family. For five very happy years, Roy led the dynamic History department at Westbere Road and Elstree. He then stepped seamlessly into the role of Headmaster of Harrow County Grammar School and stayed there with huge success until 1975.
However, the city of Bristol was set in his DNA, first as a schoolboy at Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital, then (after Magdalen College Oxford where he was awarded a Sheppard exhibition) as a student in his teacher training year where he met Marjorie. He was so happy to join the Bristol Grammar School family as a young teacher in the 1950s and thrilled to complete the circle, coming back from London to become Bristol Grammar School’s Headmaster in 1975 until his retirement in 1986.
At Habs, Roy not only oversaw and led by example a department of remarkable historians (among them Robert Irvine-Smith and Ian Lister) but also engaged and nurtured a younger generation of teachers. This included Keith Dawson – whose recruitment in 1963 then set in place a chain of events which would eventually lead to Keith becoming Habs’ Headmaster in 1987. This unerring skill and judgement of character continued at his later schools, where the likes of Michael Cook (Teacher of English, Head of Middle School and Housemaster of Strouts) proved to be another of his astute appointments.
At Elstree, he drew great satisfaction from encouraging young ambitious students to reach their potential, opening the door to new opportunities. A warm, generous gentleman, modest about his own remarkable achievements and so very interested in and proud of others he would often say that he was a firm believer in the dictum `Unhappy is the teacher who is not surpassed by his pupils’. It was a never-ending source of joy that many of his students chose to keep in touch with him long into his retirement.
Although he himself had a very young family, Roy threw himself completely into life at Habs, never being one to clock-watch or begrudge time spent with students outside the classroom. A keen sportsman, Roy was a regular umpire and coached School Cricket XIs. He sang in school choirs and was a pioneer in leading student trips to the USA.
With Professor Swinnerton (Tom Taylor’s father-in-law) and an enthusiastic group of students he undertook the excavation of Penne’s Place (see photo) and was himself the author of the seminal 'The Story of Aldenham House' and the highly regarded publication dealing with the infamous Elstree Murder of 1823.
The entry in Skylark, Haberdashers’ school magazine, for the Winter of 1965 informing the community of Roy’s departure to Harrow County not only summed up Roy’s contribution to the School, but also to those lucky enough to have known him.
His experience as a History teacher will be greatly missed, and many may find the absence of his quiet friendliness an even more noticeable loss.
Roy’s Funeral and Party
Roy’s funeral service will take place on Tuesday 21 February at 11.30am (those attending are asked to be in their seats by 11.20am) at St Paul’s Church, St Paul’s Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1LP.
For those who may be driving there is parking available on the Bristol Grammar School site, accessed via University Road. Otherwise, the West End or Clifton Down public car parks are the closest.
The service will be followed by a party (Roy was very definite about this) from 1pm in the Great Hall of Bristol Grammar School, which will last about two hours before the family depart for a private committal ceremony.
If you are intending to attend the funeral and party, Roy’s family have requested that they be informed by 12 February. Roy’s daughter, Alison, may be contacted at email@example.com
Roger Llewellyn (OH 1983)
Director of the Habs Foundation
Born in London on the 13th November 1937, David was a child of the war, living his early years in Hampstead Garden Suburb. This included a Luftwaffe bomb landed in the front garden one night – fortunately without exploding.
After the war the family settled in Norwich and David had his first formal schooling – by that time he was 7 or 8. He did pretty well becoming head boy at City of Norwich school before heading to Nottingham University to study Geology. By all accounts he had a great time – largely playing hockey and enjoying the good things student life in the late 50s had to offer – and I believe just scraping through before a PGCE at St Edmunds Hall, Oxford.
David enjoyed teaching stints at Stamford and then at Haberdashers from 1964-1968. It was at Habs he met his great friends John Rolfe and David Walker. The David’s took students on epic field trips to Norwegian Glaciers and visits to Carlsberg factories (the industrial geography bit I believe?).
David was brilliant at friendships – perhaps it was the challenges and transience of his war time experience – people he met even then remained friends throughout his life.
It was around this time he went on a skiing trip to Mayrhofen in Austria - and met his future wife Liz who he married in Malmesbury Abbey in 1966. They lived in St Albans until 1968 when David moved from Habs to a post at Luton Sixth Form College and Liz to Lister Hospital in
Stevenage. David left the Sixth Form College in 1990 and developed a furniture restoring enterprise. Liz remained at Lister Hospital in a senior nursing position being awarded MBE for Services to Nursing in the Millennium honours.
Later they moved from St Albans to Ickleford where they made the village their home and threw themselves in to being part of the community. David's loyalty and commitment remained beyond reproach. He was Chair of the Parish Council, Governor of the village school, school fetes and bonfires nights and of course always rounding up the troops for the weekly churchyard grass cutting.. At home David focused on his wood working and antique repair – he was amazing at it.
David was stubborn at times but that also meant he had an amazing ability to bounce back. Often in the last few years when he was poorly, we would speak wondering which way we thought he was going to go but he always seemed to find a way to recover and even at the end he thought he would pull through. David died in July 2022.
Eulogy author: Paul Hayler
The school has lost a dear colleague and friend with the passing of Diana Robertson on Monday 28 November 2022.
Originally from Aberdeen, Diana studied Maths and Statistics at Aberdeen University before entering the teaching profession. She taught for nine years at George Watson’s College in Edinburgh and after starting a family she returned to teaching at Craigholme School in Glasgow. When Diana’s husband took a job in the City of London, the family moved south and Diana joined Habs in September 1994.
Diana brought a bubbly enthusiasm to her lessons, and quickly became one of the Statistics specialists in the department. When Doug Whittaker was succeeded by Dr Ian Jacques as Head of Maths in September 2000, Diana took over the job of organising the Maths department for Open day, and this evolved into Diana organising the whole school Open day provision, which as we all know is a mammoth task. When the school decided to create the role of Director of Admissions in 2006, Diana was a perfect fit for the post. Her eye for detail and her instinct for what parents were looking for revolutionised the admissions process and made the 11+ entrance round a less stressful event for the students.
After she retired in 2016 following 22 years of teaching at Habs, Diana and her partner Paul concentrated on enjoying their time together (and continuing to host the Maths department for end of term events at their home in Radlett) until Diana became ill last year.
We will miss Diana’s zest for life and her unfailing good humour. In predictably stoic fashion, Diana fronted up to her illness and looked adversity in the eye. She never complained but decided that she and Paul would move down to the south coast to Worthing to enjoy the seaside and time with friends while it was possible.
To paraphrase Robert Burns, Diana was:
The friend of man, the friend of truth;
The friend of age, and guide of youth:
Few hearts like hers, with virtue warm’d,
Few heads with knowledge so inform’d:
If there’s another world, she lives in bliss;
If there is none, she made the best of this.
Written by Mr Andy Ward (Head of Maths)
Chaplain and Head of Religious Studies, 1973 to 1980
David Scott, Habs much-loved Chaplain and Head of Religious Studies from 1973-1980, died on 21 October at the age of 75. He had been suffering from dementia for several years, and since 2019 had been living in a care home in Kendal.
As David’s successor as Habs Chaplain, David Lindsay, has said
David will always be remembered by former pupils and colleagues with huge affection. More priest and pastor than schoolmaster, he endeared himself to just about everybody in the school - a gentle, caring, and most lovable man, who was also a fine wordsmith.
David Scott was born in 1947 in Cambridge. He was educated at Solihull School, then studied Theology at Durham University and underwent theological training at Cuddesdon College, Oxford. After ordination, he spent two years as curate in Harlow New Town, before becoming one of Tom Taylor’s last appointments - having initially been encouraged to apply to the post of Chaplain and Head of Religious Studies by his former Headmaster at Solihull, Bruce McGowan, who had already been confirmed as the new Headmaster of Haberdashers. Bruce and David then began their time at Habs in September 1973, as the first of a wave of highly successful appointments linking Bruce’s former School to his new one.
As Chaplain, David led the school assemblies for seven years, often dealing with tricky and controversial subjects, but always with good humour and wit. Famously, at the start of one such assembly he jumped out of a large cardboard box to illustrate a point. Depending on which of the students who were present that day are relating the tale, this unexpected turn of events either amused or horrified the Headmaster and Second Master, Dai Barling. I am sure others reading this will know the exact reaction.
As Head of Religious Studies, David initiated and encouraged discussions with students on a vast range of topics and his influence should not be underestimated. He was the prime mover in the introduction of parallel courses in Jewish Studies and his enthusiasm did much to ensure a steady stream of senior boys studying Religious Studies/ Theology at A Level, while many Year 11/Fifth Formers were encouraged to take the subject for O Level. His five-minute crash courses for new students in learning each other’s names are legendary and his lessons could sometimes be at odds with more senior members of staff who sadly mistook for impropriety the loud sound of laughter and fun from his classroom.
As a counsellor, David was always approachable to students and staff of any faith or none, with any advice he was able to give being both positive and thoughtful. He had a genuine interest in all members of the Habs community; students, fellow teachers and the support staff who provided the infrastructure to make the School the unique institution it was (and remains), was a wonderful listener and was able to convey often difficult messages in a clear, incisive and always supportive manner.
At Habs, along with Richard Brett, he was the instigator, writer and producer of the first Junior School Plays, also writing the celebrated Captain Stirrick (later filmed by the Children’s Film Unit) and after his time at the School a number of plays for the National Youth Music Theatre, - including Bendigo Boswell, which was televised in 1983. He, himself, was a very accomplished actor, appearing in a number of Habs Staff plays to great acclaim, in particular Hay Fever and A Penny for a Song.
Having striven for a Social Services alternative to the Combined Cadet Force while a pupil at Solihull, David became a very active member of the Friday afternoon Special Service Unit (now called School Community Service) at Habs, taking groups of students to visit people with learning disabilities at Leavesden Hospital, where his gentle and attentive humour was greatly enjoyed by all.
Meanwhile, David’s poetry attracted national notice when his ‘Kirkwall Auction Mart’ won the Sunday Times/BBC poetry competition in 1978. This was to be followed by A Quiet Gathering (1984), his first collection of verse, and then by Playing for England in 1989 and, among other works, How Does It Feel? (1989), a collection of poems for children. It was no surprise that his talents made him an ideal speaker for Radio 4’s 'Thought for the Day’ and was very much in demand as a preacher and speaker outside the school.
Leaving Habs in 1980, he became vicar of Torpenhow and Allhallows in Cumbria, and in 1991 moved to Winchester to become the Diocesan Warden of the School of Spirituality and Rector of St Lawrence with St Swithun-upon-Kingsgate.
He was made an Honorary Canon of Winchester Cathedral and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Winchester and continued to publish volumes of outstanding poetry. In 2008, he was awarded an Honorary Lambeth DLitt by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams - himself a fellow poet.
David retired, with his wife Miggy, in September 2010 to Cumbria.
David’s funeral will be on Thursday 24 November, at Saint Mark’s Church, Natland, Near Kendal, LA9 7QQ, at 1pm. All are very welcome, but should you be able to attend, Miggy requests that those who are coming let her know beforehand (to have an awareness of numbers expected). Her email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Should anyone wish to send a card or letter to Miggy, her address is:
Mrs M Scott,
The bare facts state that Barry Goater (who has passed away shortly before his 92nd birthday) taught Biology at Haberdashers between 1954 and 1988 and was Head of department for 30 years between 1958 and 1988. However, these facts could never fully pay tribute to the influence Barry had over generations of Habs students enthused by his love of the natural world, athletics and most especially running.
Barry was born in Southampton and attended Peter Symonds School in Winchester from where he went to study for a BSc in Botany at University College, Southampton. He already had a fervent interest in the study of Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) as this had been a family hobby shared with his beloved grandfather, who would allow the young Barry to accompany him collecting specimens.
Leaving Southampton in 1952, he then spent two years in the Royal Air Force completing his National Service and while there in 1954 had the accolade of being the Corps’ Half Mile running record holder and champion.
Shortly afterwards, Habs’ Headmaster Tom Taylor appointed him as a master teaching Biology, the first of his many roles at Haberdashers. Within four years he had been made Head of Department, while also taking over from Geoff Hickman as master in charge of cross country. The Goater Cup, the major inter-school cross country race, which was first held in 1963 and continues to be run to this day, remains a lasting tribute and reminder of his devotion to this sport. He spent 21 years as a Senior Officer in the School’s RAF section and set up the School’s Ornithological Society, taking boys and staff to nature reserves up and down the country in search of rare and sometimes exotic birds.
In 1988, Barry took early retirement, having spent 102 terms at Haberdashers, thereby qualifying him to be respectfully called a 'Termite', being one of the few Habs staff to have completed 100 terms at the school. (Although unable in recent years to attend the annual Termites celebratory lunch, he always requested that his very best wishes be given to his fellow members of this august fellowship.)
But this early retirement was not so that Barry might improve a golf handicap or take an academic interest in carpet slippers, but rather so that he might devote time to the study of European Lepidoptera, travelling widely in Europe between Portugal, Lapland, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria - but mostly in Spain and France. In 1989, he was made both a Freeman of the City of London and the Haberdashers Company and from 1992 was appointed a Visiting Fellow at the University of Southampton. He was the President of the British Entomological and Natural History Society and having written and co-authored hundreds of learned papers on Lepidoptera he was awarded the Butterfly Conservation Marsh Award in 2005 for services to Lepidoptera Conservation.
Former colleagues have said that the four things Barry held the most dear were 'Family, Habs, Cross Country and Moths'. There was never any doubt that 'Family' held sway, but there might be considerable disagreement as to the following pecking order. Visitors to the family home in Bushey found rooms bedecked with family cross country and athletics trophies and nets hanging with moth pupae. At times he was able to combine all three interests when leading a cross country practice run, as recalled in a recent tribute provided by the son of Vincent Williams (OH 1981) whose own death sadly predeceased Barry by a few months:
"My father, Vincent Williams, spoke of a man called Barry Goater. Barry was his running coach at secondary school, whilst on the side being an expert on butterflies and moths. He’d take the kids to the south coast for pre-season training and have them run along treacherous cliff tracks under the pretence of `improving coordination’. On one of these death-defying jaunts, my dad spotted a particularly striking butterfly. Barry, giddy with excitement at my dad’s discovery, improvised a container with a pinched pint glass in which to take it home. Barry left a lasting impression that spawned a lifetime love of running."
In the early years (1955 to 1962) of his time at the school, Barry took parties of Habs students to the Beaulieu Road Station area of the New Forest to work on biological research projects. These were then written up by the students and detailed accounts, called 'The Beaulieu Tomes' were kept by Barry which have recently been archived in the Hampshire Record Office, in Winchester. In Barry’s clear hand The Tomes record the factual details of these projects, ranging widely from all the boys present flora to bird distribution, to butterflies, moths, newts, leeches and bryophytes (mosses, liverworts and hornworts). Barry has since been hailed as the first person to bring biological field work into the national curriculum, as well being the inspiration for the careers of many a Habs student in nature conservation, ecology, and environmental concerns. One of the many students who benefited from these residential trips to Beaulieu Road was the celebrated author of `Waterlog’ and `Wildwood’, Roger Deakin (OH 1961). In 'Wildwood', Deakin wrote
"A formidable lepidopterist, ornithologist and all round naturalist, Barry infected us all with his wild enthusiasm….he was the instigator of an extraordinary educational experiment."
This infectious enthusiasm also bore along many students who initially had no great interest in things scientific or the natural world. For a curious Habs student there could have been no greater pleasure than to accompany Barry on a walk around the school’s grounds as he pointed out the plants and trees unique to the vestigial remains of the old Aldenham estate (once said to have rivalled Kew Gardens for its wide variety of flora) or to sit in a bird hide with him at Fen Drayton trying to spot a Red-necked Grebe.
Fiercely competitive, Barry was a demon player on the Staff Common Room billiards table, and his noisy playing would sometimes annoy not only those in the rooms below in the Craft workshops (Geoff Hickman, Dick Benbow, John Lear and Charlie Dinsdale among them) when a hard ball landed on the parquet flooring with a thud, but also Laurence Broderick next door in the Art Printing room.
Our thoughts are with Barry’s sons and their families at this sad time. Generations of Habs staff and students have much to be grateful for, to a truly inspirational man whose enthusiasm expertly and kindly carried others along with him.
If the only legacy to Geoff Hickman, who peacefully passed away on 7 July 2022 (a month before his 95th birthday) were the numerous small tables, magazine holders, trays and picture frames made over the space of thirty years by generations of boys in the School’s Woodwork shop, this would surely be enough to justify his position as a celebrated and fondly remembered teacher at Habs.
However, Geoff occupied a more unique role in the history of Haberdashers Boys School, as pupil, teacher and Housemaster
Geoff joined Habs in 1937 at its Westbere Road site in Cricklewood. When part of the School was demolished by a bomb in 1940, he moved with the other junior boys to the Chase Lodge playing fields in Mill Hill where the changing rooms were used as classrooms - only returning to Westbere Road one day a week when the senior boys swapped places and went by tram to the alternative school accommodation.
Before Geoff left school in 1945 to do his National Service in the Royal Navy, he played for the 1st Cricket XI and was a Calverts House platoon sergeant in the Junior Training Corps – the precursor of today’s CCF. Returning to `civilian life’ in 1946, he returned as a pupil for a further year, becoming both 1st Cricket XI captain and Captain of the School.
After two years’ training at Trinity College, Carmarthen, Geoff was invited to join the School’s staff in September 1949, with responsibility for teaching woodwork, metalwork and `small bookwork’. Outside the classroom, he devoted his time to the development of cross-country running at Habs, coaching the 2nd Cricket XI and helping to run the School’s CCF Naval section, initiating training courses in Gibraltar and Malta .
Following the move to Elstree, in 1966 he was appointed Calvert’s Housemaster, a role he held for eleven years and which greatly benefited from his quiet, kind and unassuming nature. One of Geoff’s last actions as Housemaster, before handing over to Paul Hayler, was to appoint his successor’s first House Captain, Deputy House Captain and House Recorder. Paul was told by Geoff
"They aren't necessarily the ones I would have chosen for my own House officials but they are the three I think will work best with you. I think you will get on well with them and that they will fit in best with your style of leadership."
As Paul reports, this judgement was absolutely right, and the team was just what was needed to ease the transition of Housemasters.
Meanwhile, Geoff was not idle in the Woodwork shop. He constructed and transported the stage-sets required for the annual tour of the senior School play to cities in Germany; was official supervisor of the School printshop for nearly twenty years; and, as the needs of the School developed for precision craftsmanship, he made various tables (especially for the Brett Study Hall), furniture for the Staff Common Room, cabinets, memorial woodwork, library tables and the altar in the School chapel. He was a superb craftsman, even if he had managed accidentally to `plane off’ a part of one finger.
He struck up a notable friendship with fellow legendary staff member, Eric `TEC’ Carrington, and they regularly lunched together discussing the inadequacies of modern youth. They had cleverly worked out how to get quicker waitress service in the Staff Dining Room and their table was therefore where younger colleagues would also gravitate, but with the knowledge that they would be assailed with strident opinions on hair length and drainpipe trousers.
After a bout of ill health, in 1979 Geoff was offered early retirement by the then Headmaster, Bruce McGowan, which he gratefully accepted. He then relocated to Suffolk, and finally moved to Oxfordshire to be closer to his son, David (OH 1973) and daughter-in-law, Ann. Throughout the last 40 years, he maintained a great interest in the life of Habs and was frequently in touch with the School, visiting when able and taking great delight in the new equipment available in today’s equivalent to his Woodwork shop – the Design and Technology department.
Geoff’s steady influence over generations of Habs students should never be underestimated. The time and space afforded in the Woodwork shop, allowed pupils to benefit not only from Geoff’s sound advice on technical matters, but also life-skills. I also suspect that many reading this will still have the small table made in that workshop, well over 40 years ago…
1945 1st Cricket XI: Geoff Hickman seated far left
Richard Harry Newman, more familiarly called Dick, was born on 8 January 1920 and lived with his parents at 79 Wembley Park Drive, Wembley Park. His father bought a laundry in Acton (Schoolbreds) and it was assumed that Dick would follow his father into this business.
Dick’s earliest memory was of being taken in a pram by his mother to the 1924 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. From 1927-1931, he attended The Gables Primary School in Wembley which was run by a Rev. J.H Kerridge. On 29 September 1930, his father registered him for a place at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School then situated a short walk from Cricklewood Station on Westbere Road. His first day at Habs was on 21 September 1931 (he was placed in Calverts House) and he then spent the next six years there before leaving on 31 July 1937 without many qualifications (he described himself as not a model pupil).
Dick enjoyed his time at Habs, particularly the co-curricular life of the school. He was in the School Shooting Team helping win tournaments at Chase Lodge (the School’s Sports Ground) and also enjoyed archery. To get to school involved getting the 8.31 train from Wembley to Kilburn and then, with a number of other boys, walking for just under an hour to get to Westbere Road in time for Assembly and Prayers at 9.30am. At weekends, as there was Saturday school, to get to the Chase Lodge Sports Ground at Mill Hill for Saturday sport or shooting involved getting two buses from Wembley. The school day ran from 9.30am and stopped at 4pm, after which many stayed until 6.05pm when the school officially closed (in order to get their homework out of the way for the evening).
Dick was in the first cohort of the newly formed Cadet Corps at Habs, joining in 1935. Looking back he reflected that if he had his time again, he wouldn’t have joined the Corps as they did too much drilling ad marching, and in hindsight Dick felt very uncomfortable with militarism. But not quite as much as those boys who wrote in paint in large letters on the School’s front steps `The Corps means War’ – which proved very difficult to remove. The Corps was run by a Sergeant Major from the Guards Regiment (who used choice language Dick had not heard before!) while the uniform they wore was from the Royal Signallers Corps from the Great War.
Dick’s favourite teacher at Habs was Mr Knight who taught Chemistry. He was noted to be very patient, never gave the answers to questions, but coaxed and encouraged the boys to get to the right solution on their own. He remembered Dr Henderson (who gave his name to one of the school’s houses) dying during the time he was at Habs, and camping on the South Coast with Head of the Lower School , Rev. Blunt. Getting pocket money on these trips was referred to as `visiting Blunt’s Bank’.
Dick asserted that there was never any bullying during his time at Habs, but on one occasion the school’s boxing champion decided to `take him on’ during a lunch break.. As a younger member of the school, his knocking to the floor of a larger, older and more practiced protagonist raised his profile and earned him the respect of the school community no end.
Dick left Habs on 31 July 1937, his father having agreed to pay for his ticket on a trade ship going through the Mediterranean (with the proviso that he then join the family laundry business on his return). Leaving England, on board he soon found the ship skirting Spain and the Spanish Civil War’s naval blockades and also looking after the ship’s accounts. (He couldn’t believe how little the ship’s apprentices were being paid.)
In November 1937, Dick returned to England and joined his father’s laundry business as planned. However, the lure of the sea was too much and before war broke out in September 1939, Dick had trained as a ships’ Radio Officer and joined the SS Voco as a paid employee. On his first voyage, the first port of call was Philadelphia and on the way there saw his first floating mine in the North Atlantic.
He spent one year on the SS Voco, still not officially called up, and then joined SS Glazedale where he was one of three radio operators on a vessel transporting cargoes of wheat from the US to UK.
He then joined the ‘coaster’ SS Adjutant (which had a lovely, friendly crew) initially transporting cargoes of beans. The SS Adjutant sailed to the Clyde and was loaded with naval ammunition, then went in convoy to Gibraltar. On the morning of the invasion of North Africa, Dick’s ship was sent to Algiers, then travelling on to Tripoli and Malta in convoy with a tanker and two destroyers.
The SS Adjutant then went to Palestine and Egypt, - on the way Dick witnessed the British preventing Jewish refugees in their small vessels disembark at Haifa - before being sent out to the Pacific in a big tanker and completing three or four more trips across the ocean.
At the end of the War, Dick returned to England and his father once more wanted him to take over the laundry in Acton. This, however, did not work out, so Dick began his own business.
In 1951 he married 'a wonderful girl from Ealing', Audrey Venables, whom he had met at the Badminton Club. They had four daughters Jane, Sally, Mary and Vicky in the space of six years, of whom he remained very proud. He said he had 10 grandchildren and 'too many great grandchildren to count’.
At the age of 54, and then living in Southgate, Dick’s wife spotted an advertisement for Blue Badge Guides required in and around London. This piqued Dick’s interest and having completed the required training, Dick was a Blue Badge Guide for the next 17 ½ years, being employed by travel agents to take groups of tourists around London or beyond. He was equally at home with small or large groups and when requested would take them by car (which he drove himself) or coach to the likes of Salisbury, Winchester, Oxford and Cambridge - where longstanding forged relationships with the porters allowed him and his groups special access to parts of the colleges closed to others.
Dick’s relationship with his alma mater, Haberdashers, continued to the very end of his life. He was frequently in touch with the Director of the Habs Foundation, Roger Llewellyn, by email or phone, with whom he shared the biographical details stated above. Having had the new developments around the School explained to him, he admitted to being 'very impressed' by the direction in which the School was travelling. Having suffered a fall, it was much to Dick’s regret that he was unable to drive and collect Roger from the local train station for his final visit in June 2022.
Completely attuned to modern technology, Dick not only emailed regularly from his iPad, but also played online chess with opponents around the world. When Dick sadly passed away on 29 June, on opening his iPad the chess board popped up – in the middle of a game with one of his older grandsons.
David Griffiths, the much loved and inspirational Habs former Head of History and Head of Sixth Form passed away peacefully on Wednesday 23 March 2022 aged 85 in Watford General Hospital. He had suffered a serious fall last week at home in St Albans from which he never recovered.
David grew up in the suburbs of Cardiff and while showing himself to be a natural academic all-rounder at his boarding school, Malvern College, his passion for the study of History led him to win a place to study the same subject at Queens’ College, Cambridge – which he duly took up after spending his two years of National Service in the RAF.
He might have become a full-time academic but the lure of imparting his enthusiasm and joy to others for all things historical and after a year’s PGCE took him firstly to teach at Embley Park School in Hampshire, closely followed by his appointment as Head of History at Silcoates School, Wakefield while still only on his 20s.
At the invitation of the then Headmaster, Dr Tom Taylor, David joined Habs in September 1968 and very early the true width and depth of his vision and interests were recognised when he was approached to assume responsibility for Sixth Form General Studies (now termed Enhancement & Enrichment) and the Special Services Unit (known now as the School Community Services). He also coached a Rugby XV and led numerous school trips to West Africa, Italy, Eastern Europe and - a much celebrated one closer to home - to Northumbria and Hadrian’s Wall in 1969.
In 1977, Bruce McGowan appointed him not only Head of History but also a Boarding House Master and it was his job ultimately in 1983, along with David Davies, to oversee its closing. He remained Head of History until 1989. In these 12 years, David is said to have been widely regarded by Oxford and Cambridge tutors as the finest Head of History in the country. Indeed, in 2000, soon after he was appointed to Habs, our current Head of History, Stephen Clark, wrote to his Oxford History tutor to thank him for his reference. The tutor wrote a note back that simply said "Haberdashers, well done! The one with the buses and the brilliant Welshman."
In 1989, David became Head of Sixth Form - a role he imbued with wisdom and great sensitivity until he retired in 1996. Many a Habs student who passed through Sixth Form in this time has commented on David’s sympathetic ear, his thoughtfulness, sound advice as well as being a source of endless support. One Sixth Former simply summed him up in two words, saying David was a ‘diamond geezer’ and no one could gainsay this estimation.
In the short time since his passing, the Habs jungle telegraph has been alive with tales of David’s endless kindness, wit, friendship, intellectual curiosity, generosity of spirit and, most of all, humanity. There have been reports of his prowess as a musician, singer and composer; rave reviews of his performances in Habs Staff plays (his Governess, Miss Prism in `The Importance of Being Earnest’ was a particular triumph) and the Griffiths’ family’s assistance in the organising and running of the annual residential holidays for children with learning disabilities (the precursor of today’s annual Habs Mencap days) which cemented him long and affectionately in the memory of the many dozens of participants.
Many generations of Habs students and staff owe so much to him. All who were taught by David at Habs, or who were fortunate enough at some time to have been in his orbit, will have their own special memories of him, and while remembering these we should be thankful to have known a truly wonderful man – a gentle man and a gentleman.
Our thoughts are with Flora, his ever supportive and wonderful wife and their children, John and Fay, and grandchildren Zuzanna, Matthew, Helen and Oliver.
In retirement, David was a popular and much sought-after volunteer guide at St Albans Cathedral, and it is highly appropriate that his funeral should take place there. This has been confirmed as being on Friday 22 April at 10.30am in the Lady Chapel of the Cathedral. (For those who do not know the Cathedral this is accessible via the Visitor Centre and is next to St Alban’s shrine).
All are very welcome to the service and the reception directly afterwards which will be in the Abbot's Kitchen (the Cathedral Cafe).
David’s family have requested that in lieu of flowers should anyone wish to make a donation to do so, please, to the DEC Appeal for Ukraine: www.dec.org.uk.
We were deeply shocked and saddened to learn the news that our former colleague and friend Dr Peter Barry passed away on Monday 13 December, having suffered from motor neurone disease. Peter taught mathematics at Habs for 36 years from 1982 to 2018.
Having been educated at Cardinal Allen Grammar School in Liverpool, Peter secured a place to read mathematics at Imperial College, London. After completing his BSc. in 1975, he went on to be awarded a distinction in his masters in 1976, before embarking on his Doctorate which he completed in late 1979. Peter then started work with EMI electronics as a Systems Engineer in the Electronic Warfare Products group, whilst attending evening study classes to learn about the applications of various computer languages, at a time when computers were very much in their infancy.
Peter was a perfect role model of how to control a classroom. He was one of those colleagues who would happily take on any ability of any year group, and obviously his expertise with further maths and STEP students was invaluable. Peter also acted as our Year 11 coordinator for many years, writing and re-writing whole year courses for IGCSE and Additional maths which made life so much easier for Year 11 teachers and students alike. Peter was meticulous in producing solutions to exam papers and his written solutions even surpassed those of Stephen Charlwood for neatness, which anyone who knows Stephen will tell you is no mean feat!
Peter was an experienced middle school tutor, and as with his teaching, he was not afraid to speak plainly and directly if anything did not meet his high standards. Peter advised countless students who went on to study Maths and engineering successfully at university. I will never forget Peter’s four-word report appraisal of a GCSE Maths student whose efforts left a lot to be desired: “No effort, no chance!” Sometimes, Peter’s intervention with Year 8 students spurred them on to see mathematics in a different light, as was the case with one Michael Broadwith, and it was no surprise when Mike completed his epic Lands End to John O’Groats ride in 2018 that he asked to have Peter make the presentation to him on the Quad in front of the whole school.
Aside from Peter’s love of his academic subject, he was very committed to activities outside the classroom, both at Habs and outside school. At University, Peter played college chess and football, and was a member of cross-country and athletics teams, as well as being involved in water polo, Thai boxing, and squash, which he continued to play at Habs right up until he retired. Peter was Head of Athletics at Habs for many years, and the success which the school has enjoyed in recent years is due in no small part to the enthusiasm and dedication which Peter put into the role in his time at the helm.
Conversations over the last couple of days have reminded us of small things – the fact that Peter would only ever wear a short-sleeved shirt, whatever the weather; how in the early days of mobile phones, he would wear his on a belt clip like a gunslinger, and that he would only ever drink black coffee and eat a packed lunch in M01 whilst carrying on producing worksheets and model solutions to past papers. We miss Peter holding court at morning break in the corner of the common room talking with friends about the issues of the day, putting the world to rights.
Many will know that Peter suffered the sadness of the loss of his son Peter Jr. (who was an Old Haberdasher and a fine athlete like his father) just last year, prior to his own diagnosis of MND in February 2021. Our thoughts are firmly with Peter’s family who have endured so much over the last two years.
We are sorry to have to inform the wider Habs community of the passing of Michael McLoughlin, the highly respected former teacher of Mathematics and Housemaster of Meadows, who died on 22 July 2021 aged 89, after a short illness.
Michael McLoughlin joined Habs in 1976 from Douai School where he had taught Mathematics for ten years while simultaneously holding the post of Head of Theology and being a priest and a member of the monastic community at Douai Abbey.
Michael had done his National Service at Sandhurst, read Mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge, and subsequently obtained a PhD in Theology from the University of Louvain, so he was therefore entitled to be called Dr McLoughlin; but, typically self-effacing, he chose not to use this title at Habs. (Throughout his life he maintained a scholarly interest in theology and until very recently continued to write articles on the Gospels.)
Michael immediately threw himself into the life at Haberdashers' and embraced all opportunities which became available to him – just as he encouraged his students so to do.
He taught Mathematics with skill and success. His innate modesty concealed the fact that he could have coached French, Latin and Ancient Greek. His commitment to the co-curricular life of the School was total. For many years he ran the Aeromodelling Club, while his Electronics Club inspired and enthused generations of Habs’ boys long before Electronics was more formally taught.
He assisted with Philosophy courses in Sixth Form General Studies (now Enhancement and Enrichment) using his thesis that the existence and applications of mathematics encourages belief in the soul – a difficult idea that he was more than well qualified to address. On a weekly basis, he drove and accompanied Habs boys to Harperbury Hospital to visit patients there as part of the Friday afternoon School and Community Service activities.
On the retirement of Eric 'TEC' Carrington in 1981, Michael was appointed Housemaster of Meadows, a role he fulfilled until 1997. Two more different people in this position one could not have imagined, but Michael’s hard work, sincerity and gentle nature inspired confidence and trust from the members of his House. Michael was known to be a key exponent (and proponent) of 'pastoral care', long before the term became fashionable in schools and colleges, and his quietly spoken, sympathetic words of counsel were appreciated by all.
At a time when Habs was one of only three schools in the entire country to have a computer (many will remember the main frame 'beast' which inhabited a room on the upper floor of Phase Three), Michael helped to enthuse students in this new-fangled technology and any number of OHs may now recognise that their subsequent careers in IT were inspired by his considerate and thoughtful encouragement.
When Michael retired in 1997, after 21 years at the School, Habs lost a truly popular and excellent teacher who endeared himself to students and staff alike.
At the request of Michael’s widow, Patti, if anyone would like to write any messages of support and sympathy, could they please be sent to email@example.com from where they will be forwarded to Michael’s family.
With thanks to the late Doug Whittaker, upon whose 1997 Skylark article this piece is written and Dr John Wigley for correcting, enhancing and improving the words above.
We are sorry to inform the Habs Community that Mr WJ (known to all as Jack) Hurst, former Habs’ Head of Languages from 1968-1991, peacefully passed away on 26 March 2021 aged 91.
Jack was appointed as a teacher of languages in 1961 when the School moved to Elstree. It quickly became evident to the Headmaster, Tom Taylor, and senior colleagues that a truly exceptional teacher and polymath had joined Haberdashers. He became Head of Spanish in 1964, Head of French in 1966 and Head of Languages in 1968 – a post he held with great distinction until his retirement in 1991.
Jack was a first-rate teacher whose passion for his subject was boundless and generations of pupils benefited from his infectious and compelling enthusiasm for languages. Former colleagues also remember him as a true friend, and a lovely, generous man with a real zest for life.
Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time. If you should wish to express your condolences and sympathies to Jack’s family, please send them to Foundation@habsboys.org.uk and they will then be conveyed to his three sons (who also attended the School) and their families.
Former Head of Habs’ Practical Design, Dick Benbow died on 13 January 2020, having celebrated his 81st birthday on Xmas Eve.
Dick joined Habs in February 1968 from City University where he had been Chief Technician for almost three years, having fulfilled similar roles at Hatfield College of Technology and the Borough Polytechnic (before which he did his National Service as an Armourer attached to the 1st Battalion Royal Regiment).
At Habs, he was initially recruited into the Handiwork Dept, but the then Head of Science, John Bausor, persuaded Dick to use his considerable skills and knowledge to increase the application of practical science in the School's curriculum. When a new block was added for Physics and Geography in 1974, it included a special workshop for the new subject 'Practical Design' and Dick was made Head of this department. The workshop had a range of basic equipment and machinery, including a vehicle inspection pit to teach car design and maintenance.
With Dick, the boys also designed and built digital clocks, audio electronics, and the basic electronics of computers and many other items with a technical content, as part of the School's curriculum-broadening X and General Studies periods, with the workshop being open at lunchtimes for keen boys to continue their individual projects.
When Art and Craft moved into what had been the Prep School (in the old BBC Block), Dick's work transferred to the Design and Technology department and electronics became an optionally examined subject in the Science Dept. Dick was a superb Design & Technology teacher. His technical knowledge across multi materials was vast and though he was a strict disciplinarian in the workshop, he had the most wonderful (and wicked) sense of humour which he generously shared with his colleagues.
He was also an incredibly loyal supporter of the CCF Navy section, not only running that cohort for a number of years but devoting much of his holiday time accompanying cadets on a number of Adventure Training Expeditions, Range Firing weekends and Sailing Courses.
Dick suffered a heart attack in February 1992 and decided to take early retirement a few months later. Meanwhile, in 1981 his wife Lillian had begun working in the School Shop and remained there until she retired in September 2003.
Dick was a consummate ‘family man’...he cherished his marriage to Lillian and was enormously proud of his children, Stephanie and David. Following his heart attack, Lillian nursed him back to rude health and made sure that he kept up his daily exercise and routines, such that he was still playing golf at the beginning of December.
As many of his former colleagues have said already, Dick was equipped with plenty of advice and help to those who were less practically inclined. He was one of the many excellent teachers who did so much for the School's reputation and in the process inspired generations of Habs Boys.
It is with great regret that we have to inform the wide Haberdashers community of the passing of John Carleton, the School’s highly respected former Second Master, who passed away peacefully in the early hours of 15 April 2020. He had been suffering from dementia for three years.
John Carleton was born in Paddington Green General Hospital, early in the New Year of 1938. When the Second World War broke out and the Blitz began, John was evacuated with his mother to his grandmother’s house in Wales. Here the family stayed for the duration of the hostilities, before returning to West London but not without John having assimilated a distinctive Welsh accent (at times….) – which many of his teenage charges at Haberdashers will recall.
He attended St Clement Danes secondary school in Hammersmith and then in 1956 went to Exeter University to read Chemistry and whilst there met his wife Janet.
John was appointed to the role of Chemistry teacher at The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, by Headmaster, Tom Taylor in 1960 and very quickly proved himself to be a first-class educator. Passionate about his subject and an outstanding classroom practitioner, he earned the respect of boys and colleagues alike, while also providing guidance, support and care for those who were lucky enough to find themselves around him.
In 1966, Tom Taylor approached John to become Head of Chemistry, and never one to shirk a challenge (he was already the School Liaison Manager for the construction of the new Phase Two Science Block – which has since been replaced by the Aske Building) John embraced the opportunity.
In 1970, John became acting Head of Science and was confirmed in this post in 1972. Under his tutelage, science flourished at Haberdashers with the recruitment of a group of young colleagues whose wish to adopt new methods of teaching was matched by John’s steadfast encouragement of innovation. Many Old Haberdashers of that generation owe so much to John and his refusal to settle for second best, always gently coercing his Sixth Form pupils to strive for the `outstanding’ and not just for the ‘very good’.
On the retirement of Dai Barling in 1982, John was an immediate first choice for the role of Second Master at Habs. As Bruce McGowan’s right-hand man for five years, he effectively ran the School during Bruce’s Chairmanship of the Headmasters’ Conference in 1985. When Bruce retired in 1987, John again was a great ally, friend and source of support to Keith Dawson, and his wise and sage advice helped to ease Jeremy Goulding (as John’s fourth Headmaster at Haberdashers) into his new position in Aldenham House in 1996, before himself retiring in 1998.
In retirement, John and Janet kept in close contact with Habs and were enthusiastic supporters of School Music and Drama as well as attending the near annual gathering of the Termites (Habs members of staff who had spent 100 terms or more at the School). They also enjoyed travel and spent much time in France, a country they loved and knew very well.
A dedicated family man, John was intensely proud of his children Andrew and Louise (who both attended the Schools at Elstree) and their own families, based in the UK and Germany.
In Keith Dawson’s own words:
“He was one of the best friends the School can have had in its long history. John had the essence of Habs in his bones and he gave more than a professional lifetime to serving and supporting it. He was straight as a die, a firm and trusty friend who could be relied on to speak difficult truth when necessary.
The boys he taught admired him and spoke of him decades later with warm affection; those he hadn’t taught respected him as an understated but resolute disciplinary rock who kept a tight ship without any hint of vindictiveness.
John was also a man of rare, hidden talents. My wife, Marjorie, vividly remembers his coming to the rescue when someone helping in the Head’s House had locked her car keys in her car. With deft, and evidently practiced, use of a credit card John had the driver’s door open within 20 seconds. Jaws dropped, awestruck.”
David Lindsay, Habs former School Chaplain, recalls:
“John gave his life to Habs – a fine teacher, a superb administrator, but, more than that, a thoroughly decent man with a caring and compassionate heart”.
Finally, for those of us who were fortunate enough to be taught at Habs during John’s long time there, the words of David Thomas, his erstwhile colleague at Westbere Road, ring clear.
“He was all that a schoolmaster should be.”
(With thanks to the late Simon Boyes on whose valedictory piece in 1998’s Skylark this tribute is based)
Margaret, the wife of Basil Flashman, the much respected and fondly remembered Headmaster of the Habs’ Prep. School, passed away on 8 May 2020. She was 91 years old.
Having spent the War years as pupil at the Haberdashers’ School for Girls, Margaret re-joined the School at Acton in 1968 proving to be a popular and inspirational teacher of Domestic Science, as well as an appreciated and approachable colleague. For a number of years, she also taught the joint Boys’ and Girls’ Schools Sixth Form General Studies (now termed `Enhancement & Enrichment’) Domestic Science course. After twenty years sterling service to the Girls School, Margaret retired in 1988.
Basil, meanwhile, had been made Headmaster of the Boys’ Prep. School in 1966 and, as the Head’s wife, Margaret was in her element. She maintained a great enthusiasm for meeting people, hosting School occasions and making new Prep. parents feel welcome via newly initiated cheese and wine parties and coffee mornings with mothers – all vital to the building of the Prep School’s reputation as a caring and sociable institution. Margaret was a wonderful ambassadress for the School and was known as such throughout the Habs community. Such was the affection for the Flashmans that when Basil retired in 1989 the Prep. parents gave them a superb evening reception, which they were driven to and from in a specially provided Rolls Royce.
Basil died in March 2014. Margaret is survived by her son David and daughter Geraldine (both of whom were educated at Elstree) and ten grandchildren.
Keith Cheyney, Habs Chief Librarian for 33 years and one term (and also Honorary Archivist from 1994- 2016), passed away after a short illness aged 89 on 28 May 2023. His devoted 55 years’ service to the school is one unlikely to be repeated in the coming years.
Keith was recruited by the then Headmaster, Tom Taylor, to create and develop the first Library at Elstree when the school moved from Westbere Road, being one of the first professional librarians in the country to be appointed to a school. He was Chief Librarian for over 33 years at Habs and, among other many contributions to life here, was responsible for the establishment of the Termites (the fellowship of current and former staff who have completed 100 terms at the schools), the annual Blood Donation event and playing a major role in the Mencap Holiday events (which then took place over two whole weeks in the summer holidays). For a number of years, he was also ably assisted in the library by his wife, Mary, who provided him with steadfast support, often in the face of recalcitrant Haberdashers students.
On retirement, Keith then took on the vital role of Honorary (he refused to be paid) Archivist, dealing with the often knotty and obscure enquiries sent by local historians, former pupils and current staff, while organising the vast amount of material kept in the rooms below the Aldenham House clocktower. Keith’s knowledge of the school and the Aldenham estate was legendarily encyclopaedic and we were very fortunate that he held this position until 2016.
As with all Habs long-serving staff, a certain mystique developed around Keith. Known initially as `Boots’ due to the large hobnailed footwear he wore when cycling to and from his family home to work (indeed he has been hailed as the first of hundreds of Staff cyclists at Habs), he was the apparent inspiration one summer term for a giant boot etched on the pristine lawn of the Quad through liberal use of weed killer. A (slightly) surrealist portrait of him still graces the Physics corridor on the ground floor of our science block.
Legion are the tales of Keith’s running of the library and his encounters with some of the previously mentioned Habs boys, whose mere presence would test the patience of many a lesser man. Some of the quotes attributed to him by former students he always maintained were apocryphal, but one of these – `If you aren’t reading, you can get out of my library!’ - he once confided, with a smile, he wished he had uttered. Others, I know, will have their own memories of Keith trying to quell disturbances in the Kemp Library and Brett Study Hall.
Keith was not afraid of new technology and the Habs library was one of the first in the country to install a security system to help prevent books and magazines from `walking’. However, it was not only the boys who might be found wanting in this respect and Keith would make occasional early morning swoops on the History dept where any number of library books might be found `liberated’.
Keith was a man of solid, profound and sincere Christian faith and at Habs was of great assistance with the weekly Chapel services conducted by David Lindsay. His was a career of selfless dedication and loyalty to the School and he will be much missed.
Our thoughts are with Mary, their daughter Ruth and the wider Cheyney family.
John Rolfe 1935-2023
I am sorry to have to inform you that John Rolfe, Habs former Head of Geography, has passed away aged 87, after a short illness.
To many of the boys taught by John, he will foremostly be remembered for his indispensable role in the Habs Geography department, but I know many of you will be aware that his influence and service to the School was much more profound than this.
John arrived at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hampstead School (as it was then) in September 1959 as a teacher of Geography. At the time, there was much excitement and anticipation at Haberdashers as it had just been announced that a new site had been purchased for the School, based around Lord Aldenham’s former manor house and its 60 acre estate. Two years later, it would fall to John and a team of 5th and 6th formers (who are still referred to as `The Removal Men’ - and equally continue to meet regularly for monthly lunches in London) to assist with the decanting of the Westbere Road site to Elstree on a fleet of lorries and vans.
At the new school, a boarding house was created on the upper floors and side buildings of Aldenham House. David Thomas became the first resident housemaster for the 80 boys living there, with John being his able assistant. With his famed knowledge of London and South Hertfordshire highways and byways, he was also put in charge of the nascent coach network to transport boys to and from Elstree. Beginning with four routes from the nearest railway and tube stations he oversaw its expansion to the largest network of any school in the country. Much as Headmaster, Tom Taylor had spent endless weekends in the late 1950s exploring the outer reaches of London in search of a new site for Habs, John now enthusiastically checked the coach routes at weekends by driving around the major and minor roads of the area with his wife, Margaret, who soon found her own role at Habs as Headmaster’s Secretary. When John retired from teaching in 1995, he continued to organise the school’s coach service (which had also included Girls School students from 1974) for another year.
While a student at Southampton University, John had been a member of the University Air Squadron and he continued this interest at Habs by assisting Dick Hewson (the then Head of the Geography department) in organising the School’s CCF Training camps. In the mid-1960s, John took over from Dick as Head of department, and soon began attracting a wealth of young and able geographers to inspire and galvanise generations of Habs boys. His steadfast mentoring and encouragement of these junior colleagues led to many attaining promotions at other schools, not only to headships of department but also to senior leadership positions (with some also achieving this at Habs). It was therefore no surprise that during John’s time as Head of department, Habs was said to have `the premier school Geography department in the country’.
As Paul Hayler has said
`The Geographers all have special memories of John, largely because he gave us the opportunity to create those special memories. He never tried to restrict our individual ideas and he gave us such a lot of free rein. We were so lucky, he never asked us to work harder or improve our teaching, he just relied on us following his work ethic and we all did’.
In 1976, John recognised an opportunity to establish an exchange with a similar school in America, and with the Headmaster, Bruce McGowan’s support he organised an annual visit which went on for over 25 years to Montclair Academy (now Montclair Kimberley Academy). Hundreds of Habs students and teachers benefited from this far-sighted initiative, since imitated by many other UK schools.
John was also the driving force behind the School’s first annual Open Days, now a key event in the School calendar which annually attracts near 1000 people (with waiting lists in operation).
These are just a few of the activities, events and innovations to which John was central during his 36 years at Habs. He was a truly remarkable man, kind and generous with his valuable time and devoted to the School. We will miss him very much.
Our thoughts are with Margaret, and the Rolfe’s daughters, Anna and Karen (who both attended the Girls School).
Roger Wakely, who passed away on 21 June in Harrogate Hospital aged 87 was one of Headmaster Tom Taylor’s inspired appointments in the early 1960s to the new Elstree campus. Recognising that it would take a variety of professionals from a wide selection of backgrounds to fashion and mould the new school and its pupils, Roger was one of a number of teachers recruited from industry – having worked first for ICI and then GEC in Education, Training and Recruitment.
Roger was first and foremost an excellent teacher of Physics. His clear ability to communicate his profound knowledge and love of the subject to generations of students would have marked him out as an asset to any department, but his contribution to the School ran far deeper than that.
During his 37 years connected to Haberdashers, he was also at various times Head of Science, Head of Practical Design and Head of Careers - an appointment he took over in 1966 and ran with great distinction for 16 years, placing it in the central position it still occupies in the life of the School.
Roger ran the tennis club and led mountaineering expeditions with his Physics colleague, Geoff Anderson, and was instrumental in the introduction of the position of Industrial Fellow to Haberdashers - a role to which he later was appointed when he formally retired in 1994 and which continued his connection with the school until 2000.
Outside the classroom, he was known for being strong headed, forthright and sometimes outspoken, unafraid to identify the errors or omissions made by even the most senior of colleagues. Famously, this once took the form of `direct action’. While the School was in-between cleaning contracts, among the piling up of the usual academic detritus, there was a flood in the toilets. The next day Roger came into School in what might be called his `gardening clothes’ and informed the Staff Common Room that he would continue to be so attired until a contract was confirmed and `normal service was restored’. He then set to the problem of the offending facilities with gusto, and, having finished the job, spent the rest of the day teaching in his mucky outfit to the bemusement of his students. It seems no-one in his classes dared ask him the reason for this particular example of sartorial elegance, but the cleaning contract was quickly confirmed.
He was also incredibly supportive of younger, less experienced colleagues. Bernard Barker, who taught History at Haberdashers from 1971-73 remembers very fondly one such example of this.
As Bernard states
` I can still remember a conversation with him about the history games we were developing at the time. I was describing the 'brilliant' method of historical simulation. Very gently he reflected and said 'Bernard, do you think it could be YOU rather than the method that achieves the success?' I thought he was a wonderfully wise colleague.’
The Wakelys were the complete Haberdashers family. While Roger’s wife Caroline taught in the Prep School for eleven years, all four of their children (Eleanor, Alice, Laura and Christopher) were educated at Elstree. His affection for the School remained to the end and he was always glad to receive news of the place and former colleagues and students.
When Caroline retired from teaching in 2002, she persuaded Roger that they should move to her native Yorkshire (with the promise that they would return south if he didn’t like it). They then spent a very happy 21 years there, where they were able to indulge their love of music and Roger was able to continue `tinkering’ (at Habs he was responsible for the repair of many broken pieces of scientific apparatus in the School’s Physics labs) aka DIY and gardening.
Only two weeks before his passing, Roger had watched and listened with great delight to his children and grandchildren playing and singing in a big memorial concert for one of their many friends made through the annual music camps the family attended.
Our thoughts are with Caroline, Eleanor. Alice, Laura and Christopher and their families.
- Michael Levin (OH 1950)
- Simon Gelber (OH 1973)
- Alan Taylor MBE
- David Wrench
- Duncan McInnes (OH 1959)
- Richard 'Dick' Roberts (OH 1969)
- Lionel Marks (OH 1932)
Michael Levin (OH 1950)
Michael Levin, who died on Wednesday 22 January aged 86 after a long illness, taught Physics with great accomplishment at Habs from 1972 to 1997, and for those of us who were taught by him his enthusiasm and knowledge of his subject was second to none. He also was a vitally important member of the Careers department as well as overseeing a very successful generation of Habs Chess players. His funeral took place last Friday.
Michael was himself an Old Haberdasher, joining the School at Westbere Road in 1946 and leaving in 1950. After obtaining excellent degrees from Imperial College, London, and spending some years working for the National Coal Board, the lure of Haberdashers was such (as with a number of OHs) that in 1972 he returned to teach – having been recruited by the then Headmaster, Tom Taylor.
Michael’s sons Jonathan (OH 1980) and David (OH 1982) both came to Habs, as indeed did a number of his nephews.
Our thoughts and condolences are with his whole family widow, and most especially his widow, Henny.
Simon Gelber (OH 1973)
We are sad to report the passing of Simon Gelber (OH 1973) on New Year’s Day, having suffered a heart attack over Christmas.
Simon was a true stalwart of Old Haberdashers sports and the Old Haberdashers Association and his enthusiasm and love for life could not do anything but positively affect those around him in a multitude of ways. As President of the Old Haberdashers Cricket Club his exuberant influence can never be underestimated, inspiring as he did a wonderful Haberdashers institution and welcoming all to join its ranks in a true spirit of friendship across the generations.
Alan Taylor MBE: 12 October 1931 - 22 November 2018
Alan was a chorister at St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge and graduated with an honours degree in Music followed by a post-graduate Diploma in Education. A first post as a Head of Music in Nottinghamshire was followed by his recruitment to Haberdashers in 1961 by the then Headmaster, Tom Taylor (no relation). On the retirement through ill health of Dr Eric McLellan one year later, Alan was rapidly appointed Director of Music at Habs, a role which he held for the following 34 years. As teacher, composer, conductor and choirmaster, Alan oversaw and led performances of the School Choir at the Royal Opera House, the annual Christmas Carol Concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall and latterly at The Barbican. Some OHs will also rem
Generations of Habs boys benefited from his inspirational teaching and his ability to coax the very best out of his choirs. Recordings of concerts made during those 35 years still bear testament to this. Some OHs will also remember him as a skilful Fives player and teacher.
Out of school, Alan worked with all the major conductors and his choirs were continually in demand for performances in the London concert halls, taking part in many broadcasts, Promenade Concerts and recordings. His contribution to Music and Music Education was recognised in 1982 with the award of an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
David Wrench 1937 – 2018
David died at home in Somerset on 18 June aged 81 years old. A Rugby player of great note, having taken a B.Sc at the University of Leeds , he was the Captain of the English Universities XV in 1959/60, before gaining a Blue playing for Cambridge in the Varsity Match of 1960 while he was attached to Christ’s College for his PGCE year. He then played for Harlequins, the Barbarians and England. David left Habs to teach at Taunton School. A larger than life character, former colleagues and pupils will have any number of tales from his time at Haberdashers.
Richard 'Dick' Roberts (OH 1969)
Dick Richards sadly passed unexpectedly on 16 December 2017.
Visit 'Dick Roberts remembered' to read a moving tribute and obituary.
We offer our deepest condolences to his widow Sarah and his two young daughters.
Lionel Marks (OH 1932)
Shortly before Christmas the Foundation was informed by his family that Lionel Marks (OH 1932) had passed away peacefully on 12 December 2017 at the age of 101.
Please see below the record of the Director of the HABS Foundation, Roger Llewellyn’s visit to see Lionel earlier in the year.
Having been contacted by Mrs Alison Davis shortly before the end of the 2017 summer term, Director of the HABS Foundation, Roger Llewellyn, was made aware that her father, possibly the oldest living Old Boy Lionel Marks (OH 1932) was in fact residing only a few miles away from the School in Bushey Heath. It was therefore a pleasure for Roger to be able to visit 101 year old Lionel recently and learn more about his time at the School in Westbere Road.
Lionel joined the Prep in 1924 and was one of three brothers (out of five) who attended Haberdashers, from their home in Cricklewood. This being the case, Lionel was able easily to walk to School without having to use buses or the `Bedpan’ trainline which ran past the School. At School, Lionel’s two sporting passions were Boxing and Swimming, excelling as a Lightweight in the former and winning trophies for the latter. In the Easter 1925 edition of Skylark it was recorded that 'in the Four Stone (Boxing) class, L. Marks by sheer determination beat a more scientific opponent in Van de Volk’. Lionel’s memories of his teachers were that many had served in the Great War with distinction and that they were universally very capable, and strict but fair. This had to be the case as classes were often as large as thirty. Corporal punishment for misbehaviour or as Lionel put it `saying the wrong things’ was common, but this was accepted by the boys without question. Lionel believed his favourite subject was Mathematics, but it was difficult to plump for one over another. He remembers few of his contemporaries, but does recall Ken Blessley (whose son Colin is now President of the OHA) very well.
Lionel left Habs at 16 and went into the family tailoring business with his brothers, before seeing action in the Second World War with the RAF in places as far as Kuwait, India and Egypt. Back in Civvy Street, Lionel returned to the tailoring business, bringing up five daughters (no sons!) before finally retiring at 80. He now has ten grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, the majority of whom live close by. He is still keen on sport and takes great delight in watching his beloved boxing, rugby and football – coming, as he does from a family of Arsenal supporters.
Before leaving, Roger was able to give Lionel his own house tie, that of Russells the house that both he and his brothers Charles and Harry shared. Lionel sends his best wishes to the School and all its Old Boys and current pupils.
Condolences go to Lionel's family and friends from all the Haberdashers community.