We are sorry to announce that the following Old Haberdashers and former staff have passed away;
- David Griffiths
- Dr Peter Barry
- Michael McLoughlin
- Jack Hurst
- Dick Benbow
- John Carleton
- Margaret Flashman
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
- 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.