Sunday 12 April 2015

Fw: OWT86 April 2015

Sent: Wednesday, April 08, 2015 5:20 PM
Subject: OWT86 April 2015




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APRIL 2015


REUNION 2015   The continuing success of the annual reunions continues to amaze! This year we had over ninety people present throughout the day, a mix of old faithfuls and a considerable number of new members. Over the past year there has been an influx of Downing Drive pupils. As always there were numerous apologies for absence, which was probably just as well. If everyone who wanted to attend could have done, we probably could not have coped. As always Age UK bent over backwards to accommodate us, and everything was spot on. They even closed the restaurant to the public, so we had sole occupancy for the seventy Wyvernians who had ordered lunch. It was pretty much business as usual, except this year Mrs Ruth Foster (Age UK Anthony's wife) served the teas and coffees because she wanted to be involved. The memorabilia display was mainly the items rescued from Downing Drive when the building was demolished, next year it might be time to reshow some of the original collection again.We were privileged to see several teachers present, along with Gill (now Povoas) who was school secretary during my time at CBS. Gill has become a regular visitor, along with Trish Kenyon, Joe Melia's sister.



Trish Kenyon - sister of the late Joe Melia

Former secretary Gill (Povoas) with
ex-teachers Tony Baxter and Dave Lawrence

The AGM went without problems, Brian and myself were re-elected as Treasurer and Secretary unopposed . I gave my usual rambling speech, and presented the last copy of the school history book to Age UK. Lunch was enjoyed by everyone, and although a few people did not stay for the afternoon session Bob Childs' talk was very well-received. 
Bob Childs in full flow!

There was a great atmosphere, and feedback included the following slightly abridged comments: 'Many thanks for a memorable event, it was good to meet up with two of my contemporaries. Everyone was very pleasant. Although Mann, Baxter and Lawrence did not recall me exactly, it was unbelievable to meet them again. I thought they would have been much older. Bob Childs' speech was very entertaining, he must have been a great teacher.'
'It was a really good reunion this year, it seemed to have a real buzz. Thanks to all who helped arrange it.'
'My annual thanks to you and the team. It went very well, everyone appreciated what had been arranged for us. We can but say - yet again - thank you.'

As the comments were not necessarily intended for publication I have witheld the names.. My own thanks must go to Brian Screaton, whose efforts behind the scenes are crucial to the success of the reunions; Frank Smith, doorman & IT expert; John Offord, Age UK liaison; my wife Stephanie, whose unfailing support is vital. Her contributions include helping me with IT problems, doing the badges, helping Frank as required, dealing with the raffle, selling items as required. Some years ago her contribution was formally recognised, and she was made an honorary member of Wyvernians.

FROM LES OSWIN 1935-39 I can only offer a vague reference to CBS, but other elements in this story will, I'm sure, iterest many Wyvernians. In the mid-1930's, during the long August holiday, I cycled from Leicester to Barrow-On-Soar to stay with my grandfather in an old stone cottage. It was named Trafalgar Square. I distinctly rememebr three ancient photographs of my grandfather, one in army uniform, possibly the Leicestershire Regiment; one in cricket gear, most likely the Gentlemen of Leicestershire; one in rugby kit, with a cap. It is quite clearly the Leicester Football Club before it became The Tigers. The photos would have been taken in the 1880's, but unfortunately no longer exist.

For my recent 91st birthday I received a copy of the 2014 edition of the Official History of Leicester Football Club, and on page 18 are details of the original fifteen Leicester players at the club's first ever official game. It was on 23rd October 1880, against Moseley. They include a schoolmaster, aged 29, another aged 26, an art teacher at Wyggeston School and a 26-year-old teacher at the same school. The fifth teacher was my grandfather, aged 22, who taught at a school in Quorn There is a wonderful photograph of the main players in 1886/7, and my grandfather is included.

My birthday book records he made 104 appearances and scored nine tries from season 1880/1 to 1889/90. Considering that he would, at that time, have been wielding a cane as a schoolmaster, and a bat as a member of The Gentlemen of Leicestershire, he must have proved a valuable asset to the former Tigers club. I am proud to be his grandson, though confess I only played onr game of rugby. That was in the army during WW2 - we lost the game!

I am reminded that on 19th November 1940, when Leicester was bombed, a bomb dropped on the Tigers building in Welford Road. Later that evening, across the road in the infirmary, I spent the night dealing with bomb victims. As I say, not a lot about CBS but many Old Boys still take an interest in rugby, family history and the war.

FROM PETER GRUDGINGS 1936-41 I have photos of my form 1A 1936-37 and 4A 1939-40. Below the school was Jimmy Joblings, one of several sweet shops. It was usual for us to patronise it for rocks (Leicester dialect for sweets, as in 'gizza rock' - Ed) In the fifth year our form room was on the third floor, overlooking a pedestrian alley. When the master's back was turned it was customary to throw gym shoes at each other. In summer, when the windows were open, some went into the alley. These days we hear of pupils attacking teachers. We never dreamed of such things, in fact we stood in awe of them. In the fifth year Don Harmer came to school with a type of bandolier under his blazer, fitted to hold not bullets but knives. When the masters back was turned he pulled out one of the knives and pretended to throw it. But real violence? Never.
In our first year Bob Cooper, who took us for RE, made us learn - in order - the names of the Old Testament books. I never did understand the reason, but I can still recite most of them. How many recall Mr Clarke (Music) a thin wizened man with a dry crackly voice? About once a month, after assembly, he would play Scarlatti studies and preludes for us. We were far too young to appreciate them. And T T Ormandy (German) who had a row with Mr Crammer about 'voluntary' fire-watching duties. His name often appeared as winner or runner-up of the weekly New Statesman competitions.
(Peter donated some school photos, which are now on our website and facebook page. The following note accompanied the photos - Ed)  Peter Shuttlewood was best man at my wedding in 1951. At the time of the Korean war (1951-54) as a Class Z reservist, he became a conscientious objector, and much later was a lecturer or tutor at Nottingham Varsity. Nigel Ruffle: sometime in the 1960's there was a snippet in one of the dailies referring to him as manager of the British Rail terminal at Harwich. Ken Day was killed in the war. Alan Thody died some time in the sixties. Derek Whitehouse became a teacher. John Harlow went into hospital administration. Mr McHardy (teacher) was in his first post, he taught biology. Please note that because of the passage of time, and a failing memory, some of this information may be erroneus!

FROM DAVE WINTER  1960-67   Thank you for OWT85, which as always was very enjoyable. It was interesting to hear from Mark Hayler, I remember him as a pretty good violinist in the school orchestra. He was also a very good swimmer - surprised Doc Burrows did not mention that!

Apologies for missing the 2015 reunion, but it is a long way from New Zealand. I was looking forward to the fish, chips and mushy peas. Decent fried fish is rare here, the batter tends to be stodgy and intended to apparently double the size of the portion. I reach 80 years of age this year, and continue to be gainfully employed for three days per week at the local tannery. Predominantly it is a QA role, but I am able to utilise my sixty-years experience in that trade. I left school in 1951 to join T N & F H Briggs, Tanners, Waring Street, Leicester as a cadet (sic) In 1964 they went into voluntary liquidation, and I brought my wife and family to NZ in February 1965. Despite the lack of decent fried fish and pork pies, I have never regretted the move. At CBS I dropped art in favour of woodwork, but failed the theory paper in the School Cert exam, along with history. The former did not surprise me whilst the latter did, since in the mock exams I passed history with no problems. In NZ I became interested in art again, and over the years it has been an important hobby for me.

FROM KEITH SERCOMBE 1956-61   Lovely to read OWT. I must have been asleep for most of the time, as I can remember very little of my schooling between the ages of 10 and 16. Clearly others were having a lot more fun than I was. Little appears in OWT from the 1956-60 era, so the same must apply to everyone else who was there at that time. John Lawson excepted, of course, but he was being paid by then! Every club or outing for which I put my name down either never got off the ground, or collapsed after a few meetings. Even a week in France was cancelled due to a strike or similar, and I have still never been to the place! I hope others continue to send contributions to OWT, so the presses can keep on rolling for a few more years.

Alan Cornfield 1944-52, passed away May 2014

From John Jake Blaikie (1955-62) on January 27th. It is with great sadness I inform Wyvernians of the passing of Robert Beef Neill (1955-62) from complications following a several-year battle with limbic encephalitis. Rob was the eldest of three Neill brothers who attended CBS during the late fifties and early sixties. The middle brother, Ian, with whom I migrated to Australia in 1969, is still here. The youngest, Alex, is still in the UK. Rob will be well-known to pupils and teachers of 6S1/2/3 as one who had such a keen intellect it enabled him to succeed with what might be politely termed minimal effort.
Brian Screaton informs me that Alan Castle (1933-38) passed away January 1st 2014.

Bernard Wilkowski, died peacefully at Eastfield Lodge on Friday January 23rd 2015 aged 93 years. Bernard was a teacher at CBS and Judgemeadow School


FROM ROBERT 'BOB' TOWNSEND 1935-40   Sorry I could not attend the 2015 reunion, but I am now over 90-years-old and restricted in what I can do. I remember my years at CBS with great affection - but perhaps only the good parts!

FROM DENNIS BIGGS 1949-56   Yesterday (January 27th) I went to see Bill Brushe. He has now moved to a care home in Ware, Herts where he is able to receive 24 hour care. It is the same care home where his wife has been for the past 2 years so they are together again. His mind and memory seem to be fine, but his eyesight is now bad and his mobility very limited, but he will soon be 92 years old. He reminisced about his own school days in County Tyrone and the fact that he and his wife went to the same primary school in the 1930s. I mentioned the comments of Don Wright in the last issue of the OWT about his slapping one of his pupils. Bill could not recall the incident, but he was of the opinion that strict discipline was necessary for good teaching. I remember with some shame the way in which we ragged such teachers as Bob Roberts and Hanny Handtusch. They did not deserve such treatment. I agree that Mr Gimson was a first-class teacher, and we studied for German 'A' level with him. I recall that music was very important to him, and he said that German and music were complementary subjects. However, I feel that Mr. Goddard, who taught us German in 3 Alpha, was the best teacher of languages. He drummed into us in one year all the essentials of the language which were the foundation for our further studies. Indeed, one of my classmates, Bob Gregory, who was later a teacher at CBS, told me that he used many of Mr. Goddard's techniques in his own teaching of the subject. I do think that Mr. Whitbread deserves an accolade for teaching us Latin in one year in the first year of the sixth form to 'O' Level and Oxbridge entrance exam standard. When I think back, that was some achievement.

I had a conversation with a fellow Old Boy about leather elbow patches on jackets. We have memories of these being fairly rampant in the staff room, but could not recall exactly which staff wore them. We were both fairly sure that Ken Witts was a key supporter of the trend, but can anyone shed any more light on the matter?
During my third year, my last at Elbow Lane, there was a concert featuring performances by pupils and the more obliging members of staff. I will never forget the passionate, exuberant performance of 'Neath The Spreading Chestnut Tree, complete with all the gestures along with exhortations to a couple of hundred bemused boys to join in. This was 1963, when The Beatles were in, so who was the performer? It was a man I had always seen as an austere, authoritarian figure, who had left humour in his locker back at the teacher-training college where he had learned his trade. If I describe his entrance as being accompanied by wobbling jowels and flowing cape you may recognise the performer as our own, our very own, Mr J E Wardle. the beloved (?) head of the junior school. His voice resonated round the hall, delivering the lines with gusto. The accompanying gestures became more and more flamboyant, and his face reddened beyond the colour of beetroot. We all hoped that first-aid would be available, but needlessly. The doughty performer reached the end of the piece and sailed off the stage, cape trailing in his wake, like a fully-rigged tall ship in a favourable wind. And that is the image I keep. During my third year I went badly astray, and Mr Wardle gave me the roasting of all roastings. I was reduced to tears, but he was absolutely correct and I believe he turned my life round. I learned a lot from Mr Wardle, and will always respect his memory.
Who recalls the lunchtime throng outside the dining room at Elbow Lane? Loads of us standing there, looking towards the railway and the one o'clock southbound passenger train entering the station. It was often hauled by an interesting locomotive, and if it was on time we got to see it. If it was a few minutes late, we did not. Eyes were torn between the railway and the door to the school. The sight of Mr Wardle sweeping majestically through the door and across the playground, cape billowing in his wake, brought sighs and long faces if the train had not arrived. I have often wondered if he thought we were impatient to get in to dinner.
FROM FRANK SMITH 1959-66   Thanks to those who responded to my appeal in OWT84 for assistance with the replacement web site. The new site is now operating from the original web address  Most features appear to be working satisfactorily, but testing continues. Please report any issues to My thanks must go to our outgoing webmaster, Tom Horton, who is the editor's nephew. His site has served us superbly for many years, and Tom is providing valuable support during the transition. Thanks, Tom!

Over the years, retired teacher Bill Mann kept various photo albums about life at CBS. The photos, some 200 from 1965-72, have been added to the website and facebook page, largely thanks to the efforts of Andy Marlow and Mike Ratcliff. Andy is hoping to identify as many people as possible - can you help by looking at the site to see if you recognise anyone.


Dave Winter mentioned the school orchestra, and his original e-mail made mention that I was once a member of that worthy organisation. The saga has been told in an early edition of OWT, but for the benefit of our many new readers the salient facts are these. On my first day at CBS during September 1959, Wally Wardle interrupted a lesson to enquire if any boy was interested in joining the orchestra. My interest in the matter was nil, but being a cunning and devious boy I instantly saw that showing a bit of initiative might not be a bad idea. Thus I stuck my hand in the air, and awaited developments. Of course I first had to learn to play the violin (can't remember if a choice of instruments was given) and this was via a weekly lesson after school. Bill Sykes was often present, but the regular teacher was Mr Hall. He was not a member of the school staff, presumably he went round several schools. I had been issued with a beat-up violin from the school stock, but I made sufficient progress for my parents to kindly purchase a better-quality one privately. After about three years I joined the orchestra in the second violin section, but alas by this time most of my enthusiasm had evaporated. It was a real bind carting the instrument on the bus to and from school e every week, so eventually I left it in the corner of the hall with the school ones. Next I began to miss the regular rehearsals, arriving home late so my parents thought I had been practicing with the orchestra, and spinng them a yarn to explain why I no longer did any playing at home. The orchestra had two major performances during the year, one was the annual music concert at the school, the other was prize day. On returning to school after the Easter holiday, it would be 1963, I was dismayed to note that the corner was now empty, and my violin was missing. I could only assume it had been stolen, and reluctantly reported the matter to my form-master. He in turn notified Mr Bell, who wasted no time in launching an enquiry. The solution was simple, the caretaker had moved the violins to a position under the stage so mine was OK. Mr Bell was not too pleased with me, and I remember the next bit as if it was yesterday. I was taken to the secretary's office, which was across the corridor from his office, along with my violin. Secretary Gill produced a sticky label, on which I wrote my name, and the label was then stuck inside the case. How could I have known that fifty years later I would once again meet Gill at the reunions?

But my musical troubles were far from over. The onset of the summer term meant that the orchestra began rehersals for prize day at De Montfort Hall, so I thought it might be advisable to show my face. But when I made my entrance Bill Sykes rejoinder was, 'You can bugger off,' or words to that effect. It was serious, because the one thing my parents had to be proud of about my pathetic career at CBS was that I was a member of the orchestra. They were really looking forward to seeing me perform at De Montfort Hall, and to make matters worse said they intended to bring my brother and sister as well. Now, any normal boy would have confessed and taken the consequences - but not me. Incredibly I kept up the deception until prize day evening, and only as we were climbing the steps to the building did I blurt out the horrid truth. Then, not waiting for a response from my shocked family, I RAN OFF. Of course I had nowhere to go but home, and I will draw a veil over what happened next. That is my recollection, it was all a long time ago. If some of the facts are not 100% spot on, believe me the account is basically correct.
Dennis J Duggan
April 8th 2015



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