In Memory

 David Slater (1961-64) died 10 November 2019

David had been ill for some time. Some of his close friends – Colin Talbot, Chris Jackman and myself – all part of the “Coffee Group 1961-64” and others met every December for the annual lunch meeting just outside Kidderminster – Dave had been arranging this for many years. 

Dave will remembered as an active member of the college football team but mostly as the singer in the College Group. He was a great fan of Buddy Holly and each year travelled to America for the anniversary of Buddy Holly's death meeting up with members of the band and friends. 

Dave also recorded several CD’s as well as performing in the local area at various fund raising functions.. 

David was a great character who will be very sorely missed by his friends and colleagues.

with great sadness

Terry Aldridge

Derek Wyeth, who studied at Culham from 1959-1961, died peacefully on Sunday 11 March 2018, aged 77 years.
Born in Bodicote, Derek lived there all his life and was active in Bodicote Scouts and the Church for many years. Later he became Deputy Headteacher at Christopher Rawlins Primary School, Adderbury. An academic and much loved by his family and the community, he will be sadly missed.

Doug McAvoy
Doug, former General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, has died. He trained at Culham and went on to teach in Newcastle before working full-time for the NUT. Our condolences to his family, friends and former colleagues.

John Jay, who was at Culham from 1954-56, died very peacefully on May 26. 

His wife Helen tells us that he was very frail at the last reunion but was determined to make it. He had been in a nursing home since just before Christmas and his health declined steadily. He was completely compos mentis to the last and hated the state he was in so it really was a release for him.

Culham was an incredibly important part of his life, opening up his horizons and he greatly enjoyed the reunions, the newsletters and the Culham 'fellowship'.

Rest in peace, John. 
Sue M. Samuels (nee Wildings) passed away on 9 May 2018.  Originally from Lancashire she had worked with children born blind and came to Culham on the Special Education one year course.
Her Hilary Term calendar indicates she was on Teaching Practice at Bennet House. She went on to teach at the Teesdale Special School, and supported children moving into Mainstream Schools (in Abingdon where she settled).  She married Peter and leaves a son and daughter and four grandchildren.

Rest in peace, Sue

John Allen - Culham 1951-1953

John Allen, born 21 July 1931 in Addlestone, attended Culham 1951-53. It was at Strodes Grammar School in Egham that his many and varied interests took root and began to flower.

John's first love was music, and at Strodes he joined the school choir and continued to sing in choral societies wherever he came to live. He counted Victorian church anthems among his favourite music.

As a St John Ambulance Brigade cadet John was one of the first in Surrey to obtain the Grand Prior badge. He attained the Royal Life Saving Society bronze medal which led to several life saving demonstrations over the years. This interest in first aid and life saving never left him.

At school John took no interest in the traditional football, cricket and rugby team games. But Strodes had a highly regarded Boat Club and it was here that John first took to rowing, eventually becoming Captain of Boats and leading to a lifetime's involvement with the rowing world.

Heraldry, an interest that was to become hugely important in John's life, also germinated at Strodes. And three years after leaving school he joined the Heraldry Society.

John also developed an interest in identifying wild flowers of the hedgerow and, as Head Boy of Strodes and a leading oarsman, he promoted participation among more self-conscious boys.

It was the great fulfilment he found in school life that made him decide to become a school teacher himself, in the hope that he might be able to pass some of these interests on to his own pupils.

At eighteen, John joined the Army and gave National Service. He was stationed in the Tower of London and in Berlin, where he rowed at number seven in the British Army of the Rhine crew at Henley.

After his time at Culham, John took up his first teaching post at Horsley's Green School. It was there, in 1956, that he attended a summer school at Wye College in Kent and met the woman who was to become the love of his life and the mother of his three children - Patricia Peach, herself a horticultural graduate of the institution.

They married in 1957 and moved to Henley-on-Thames where he taught rural science and biology at Reading Blue Coat School.  John was instrumental in building the Blue Coat School Boat House, consolidating school’s tradition of rowing at regattas on the Thames.

When no longer rowing, John took up rowing journalism as a sideline and to help pay the bills. He was a freelance correspondent for Reuters, the Reading Evening Post, the Henley Standard, the Daily Telegraph and the Times.

John qualified as an Umpire and served on the Amateur Rowing Association council, during which time he was rewarded with membership of the Leander Club for his role in setting up the National Youth Rowing Championships.

He was Secretary and also President of both Reading Regatta and Henley Town and Visitors Regatta. He was also the Safety Officer at the Royal Regatta for nineteen years. John attended the Henley Royal Regatta, in various capacities, every year for seventy years - from 1948 to 2017.

He continued to study biology, becoming a member of the Royal Institute of Biology, and developed his connections in the world of heraldry, eventually founding his own Armorial Consultancy

John was a member of many other related clubs and societies, a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners, and a Freeman of the City of London.

In 1977 John took up silversmithing, creating a number of small artefacts, including a silver bracelet that Patricia has worn daily ever since.

John decided to create an official coat of arms for his own growing family and in 1981 was awarded the Grant of Arms, the motto he chose being "Sparge Gaudium" - "Spread Joy". In 1987 he also designed the coat of arms for Henley Town Council and together with a group of enthusiasts raised the fees to have it formally granted.

When John and Patricia retired in 1991, they travelled extensively, devoted a great deal of time to their garden and continued to pursue their various interests.

No account of John would be complete without drawing attention to his self-deprecating humour, often delivered deadpan to the accompaniment of gales of laughter. He was unfailingly modest about his own achievements but maintained a keen and life-long interest in the lives and achievements of others.

John's greatest achievement was perhaps his marriage and his family. His children, Catherine, Gerard and Digby, will miss him greatly, as will his grandchildren Rebecca, Belinda, Emilia and Thomas. But they and Patricia are comforted in the remembrance of a life full of interest, variety, activity and humour, a life lived modestly but joyfully, a life that has branched out to so many to spread joy.

Lindsay Mitchell


It is with great sadness that we have to record the death of Lindsay Mitchell. He was at Culham from 1955 till 1957 and a member of the Culham College Association Council for over 50 years.


Lindsay was a gentleman who embodied everything that was good about Culham. His gentle charm and warm smile were always displayed as he served the Culham College Association as treasurer and later as he managed the Culham College Shop.


Lindsay's funeral took place on February 13th at St Barnabas's Church, in Gloucester. Reverend Vernon Godden, a contemporary of Lindsay's at Culham, gave the Address and there was a good representation of Culhamites in the large congregation.

Bob Weedon, who was a Lecturer at the College during the ‘70s, has died.
Pete Clarke  (Culham 1969-1972)

It is with great sadness that we record the death of Pete Clarke who died on May 10th 2017 after a battle with cancer. He will be remembered with great affection by all who knew him.

Pete was born in Eastbourne in September 1948, the oldest of three children. He attended Eastbourne Grammar School, and arrived at Culham in September 1969, where he studied PE and Maths.

It was fitting that Pete should become a PE teacher, as he was a talented all-round sportsman, excelling in football and tennis. He represented the college teams in these sports, and upon leaving Culham, joined Harrow Borough FC in the Isthmian League, where he played successfully for several years. Pete’s strong personality made him a natural teacher. He began his teaching career in London at Twyford High School, West Acton where he remained for twelve years.  He is remembered there as a popular, yet strong teacher in a challenging school. He returned to Eastbourne to teach in Buckswood Independent School, East Sussex, where he remained until his death.

Pete involved himself fully in college life, where he will be remembered for his intelligence, his sense of fun, his humour, and his friendship towards his compatriots on the PE course. Pete loved watching live sport, and was a strong supporter of West Ham United FC. He was also a lover of rock music, and joined in the regular outings, whilst at college, to see bands such as Wishbone Ash, the Moody Blues, Ginger Baker’s Airforce, and Rod Stewart and the Faces. The last two of which were performing in the unlikely venue of the Devizes Corn Exchange!

Pete leaves behind a wife, Julie a daughter Zoe and his siblings, Les and Helen. He will be sadly missed.

Joe Musson, who studied at Culham from 1960 to 1963, died in October 2017. Joe majored in PE and was a member of the football team. He went on to become a lecturer at Goldsmiths College.

Keith Bonny 1961- 1963

Keith Bonny, who died in September 2016, aged 89. He joined Culham College as a mature student in 1961, after an army career of soldiering and lecturing.

Keith was commissioned into the army in 1944 and joined Hodsons Horse  Regiment (4th Duke of Cambridge’s own Lancers) in India, where he achieved the rank of Major, and he later commanded Fox Squadron, while lecturing at the National Defence Academy near Poona – where he is still venerated for introducing the never- to- be- forgotten ‘Honour Code’.  He is remembered to this day by his cadets and fellow service men from the 1950’s as a respected and trusted officer and a gentleman…… and a  recent tribute read  “ the Regiment has lost an invaluable elder, a notable soldier and a die hard Hodsonian.”

On leaving the army, he embarked on his first teaching role at Aberdour Prep School in Banstead, Surrey, and then in 1961, he was accepted at Culham College before he went on to teach history in a long career in secondary education, becoming the Head Teacher of Gaynes School in Upminster, in 1976. He hugely valued and enjoyed his time at Culham, and remained firm friends with some fellow students, notably his Mentor, Robert Atcheson.

In 1969, he studied for a Master’s degree in Education and History at Manchester University, as well as an M. Phil at a time in his life when he could have been enjoying his garden!  One of his dissertations was the History of Abingdon on Thames during the Civil War, the town where he taught for many years.  He was an avid researcher and published a short history of his local church at Drayton, and also co-wrote a history of Gaynes School.

He was always full of great ideas to develop young people, and  while he was Deputy Head at Lord Grey school at Bletchley, he led an expeditionary trip with sixth formers across France and Spain to North Africa, which was a great success.

History was a lifelong passion, and in retirement he spent many hours and weeks reading and researching military topics at the National Army Museum in Chelsea, and helped edit the history of the Army and Navy Club, in Pall Mall.

He was a long standing member of the Hodson’s Horse Officers Association overseeing the complete restoration  of William Hodson’s grave in Lucknow, as well as restoring his mausoleum in Lichfield Cathedral, where a new brass plaque was installed in recent years.

Keith’s own ideas were to set up scholarships for Indian children of currently serving officers of the Regiment; an  Award for outstanding overseas cadets at Sandhurst;  skiing championships for the Royal Armoured Corps and Army Air Corps;  awarding medals and trophies at Bovington Sports Week as well as for a hospital charity. Most significantly he was instrumental in establishing the Hodson’s Horse British Officers Memorial Trust to perpetuate the name of this illustrious Regiment which still flourishes  today.

Also in later years, he had many interests, including learning French (for over 20 years), the University of the Third Age where his lectures on history and politics were popular, and arranging social events for his network of army colleagues.

Keith was a collector of medals and historical books, and clocks fascinated him.  He had a wide circle of friends, who have described him as inspirational -  a man of integrity and generosity.  He was a man who was gentle and modest and sought  to make life better for those around him.  He would enjoy the company of others over a glass of fine wine or a Scotch.

A devout Christian, for many years, he served as a sidesman in his local Upminster church. Above all, he was a family man, married to Diane for 64 years. He encouraged Diane to train as a teacher at Westminster College from 1963 to 1966.

When age eventually caught up with him, he bore it with gentle dignity, coping with a long term and debilitating illness, which robbed him of his mobility in the last few years.

It is with much sadness that we must announce the death of Michael Moulder, former Head of the Department of Art and Design from 1970 to 1978.

After closure of the College, Michael was fortunate to become Academic Registrar at Glasgow School of Art from 1978 until his retirement in 1990.

Michael's funeral took place on 12th May 2017, the day before the Culham College Association Grand Reunion.

It is with regret that we record the death in Australia of
George Forse Hardcastle who studied at Culham from 1935 - 1937. A tribute to George appeared in the Summer 2013 edition of the The Culhamite.
John Enticott - Rest in Peace

At John Enticott's funeral mass (29 September 2014) there was standing room only with over 200 there.


The choirs were superb  - plenty of Welsh hymn tunes . Until recently, John had been an active member of one of the choirs (The Wantage Male Voice Choir) .  


John had suffered with cancer for  many years.  Despite that, at Robin Griffin's Memorial Service earlier in the year he  looked  very well - and young for his age - he was born in 1937. 


The other former Culham  students present were Keith Cozens, Peter Nicholson and Pierre Jacquelin.  

Audrey Griifin (looking well) and former Vice Principal  Linda Youthed made up the Culham contingent.

Tributes to John Enticott

 John was a key member of Culham's Geography Department from 1966 until the closure of the College, becoming Head of Department on  the retirement of Frank Nelson.

Here, I include some of the many tributes which were made at the time of John's passing.

Brian Townshend (1968-72) "I have vivid memories of John's passion and enthusiasm for Physical Geography and his genuine commitment to his students. Living in the Lower Wye Valley on the Welsh border, I am from time to time reminded of John's love of South Wales and in particular the coach trips he organised for Freshers to see his beloved Welsh Valleys and Brecon Beacons.

I will always remember with fondness his wonderful, rich Welsh accent befitting of a celebrity Welsh actor."

Alan Davey (1968-71) - "John was a lovely man with a dry humour. He often talked about his choir and the concerts given in Devon / Cornwall. I know that he was deeply affected by the death of his former colleague Tony Beck, who used to live in or near to Dartmouth" 

Andy Howland  (very much aided due to  extensive verbal contributions from Keith Cozens (1967-71), Malcolm Wright and Clive Douglas, both of whom were with me in the same groups of John's between 1968 and 1971).   I have tried to avoid mentioning elements and expressing sentiments which are covered elsewhere

"John  seemed at his happiest on Field Trips,  whether they  be to the Lake District, to South Wales, to Southampton (more Frank's 'bag' ) , to nearby Bagley Wood or among the local Corallian Limestone - a favourite of John's - or  Kimmeridge Clay.

The Field Trips to the Lake District saw John in his real element.  At Easter 1969, we stayed at the 'very basic' YMCA centre at Lakeside near to the bottom of Lake Windermere, whilst, twelve months later, the accommodation was at  Keswick's , Easedale (private) Hotel.  

In the early to mid 80s, I got to know John (and Robin Griffin) in a non Culham context - when all three of us attended Oxford United's matches - each of us with a son in tow!    Throughout the past 45 years, my wife and I have been very keen walkers in the Lake District, in the Pyrenees  and in many other mountainous areas. She must be unimpressed with my "knowledge" of Physical Geography. To be fair, I never taught a single Geography lesson. Barb’s frequent questions on geomorphology, geology or climatology are always answered with "Where is John when I need him?" 

Like many others, Clive, Malcolm, Keith and I feel very much privileged to have known John - such a generous, decent and friendly man. John attended virtually every informal reunion.  It was a great pleasure for us to have spoken regularly with him."

Jill Billington (1974-78) “This is such sad news.  John was my professional studies tutor and was a lovely man.  I always remember that he bought one of my ceramic pieces and, at a reunion, he told me he still had it on display."

Mike Williams (1971-??) "This is very sad news. John was the first tutor I met after starting at Culham in 1971. The first evening meal in the dining hall had a tutor/member of staff on each long wooden table and John was on mine.  Many years later, when living in Abingdon in the early 80's, I went to a reading at Abingdon Drama Group and saw him again , where he was a keen member. "

 Martine Summers (1976-79) "He was my tutor and was a lovely man. Rest in peace"

Gill Cartmel (1976-79)  “I am shocked. John was   a gentle gentleman.  This is very sad news".

Steve Old (1976-79) “Rest in peace, dear John. He was such an inspiring geographer, the best geography tutor and wonderful man at Culham.   I remember his Welsh field trips with great affection. Great memories".

Tim Hodder (1968-71)  ”I always enjoyed his self-deprecating droll sense of humour and his approachability , combined with professional competence".

Dave Hope (1968-71)  ”Mention must be made of John’s professionalism in having good lectures, which were well prepared and delivered. He never wasted a second in the lecture theatre   and gave forthright and straightforward deliveries. Mention must be made of his sense of humour ... he would appear to be unaffected by wit and repartee but had a secret look that he would turn on you when you realised he was with you and enjoying the process and company. I particularly thank him for his time with me as a youngster on field study week who had got totally the wrong idea of how Glaciers work. He put me right by challenging my concepts from within.... that is, he didn't say "that's wrong" ... he said "But how can you explain this?" and that gave guidance from within and correction was self generated and secure ".

Compiled by Andy Howland (1968 entry)


JJohn Phillip Ash - a giant of a man

Phillip Ash, who studied at Culham from 1957 to 1959, died in on 20 December 2011 after a long fight against cancer of the oesophagus. It is with sadness that we record his passing with this tribute from his friend Gerald Selby (57-59)

Phil and I shared a close friendship which began in those first few days at Culham and lasted until his death. Phil began his teaching career in Leek at the local secondary school. His interest in special needs was soon to propel him into his first post in Special Education in Somerset. He moved from there to a Deputy Headship in Newbury and an eventual headship in Warwick. He developed his expertise with a diploma in Special Needs followed by a degree in Multicultural Studies, both at Warwick University where he also ran a course for mature students.

Phil, Irene and their family settled at Moreton Morrell and, in retirement, Phil was able to become even more active in his community. Amongst his many interests he served as a Governor of the village school and as both a PCC member and chairman of the churchyard committee. Colleagues at Culham will remember his prowess on the rugby field and as an oarsman in the college first four He continued to enjoy his sporting activities, developing a proficiency in Real Tennis and skiing. His recent interests included Bridge and ballroom dancing.

Phil retained a keen interest in the Culham Association. He attended several reunions and was an occasional contributor to the magazine. His college friends will remember him as a gentle giant, unassuming and with an understated sense of humour, characteristics which accompanied him throughout his life. There will be many with whom he came in contact who will be grateful for his quiet support and his ability to bring a perspective to their problems.

He will be sadly missed by his family to whom he was so devoted and by the community of Moreton Morrell where he was held in such high regard.

Derek Sykes

Derek Sykes, who lectured Physical Education at Culham in the 1964-1979, has died following a stroke. His funeral took place in Marton-Cum-Grafton, York, on Tuesday 26 June.

We extend our condolences to Derek’s family. He was remembered at the July 14 Reunion when Peter Forsyth paid tribute to Derek and a wooden bench was unveiled.

Charles Colin Tuckwell
Charles Tuckwell's daughter has informed us of his recent death. Charles studied at Culham after the 2nd World War and went on to teach in Kenya and Northamptonshire before becoming a Head Teacher in Hertfordshire until his retirement in 1984. We extend our sympathy to his daughter Helen and the family circle.

Marcus Coleman (1965-68)
It is regret that we have to announce the death in a road accident of Marcus Coleman who studied at Culham from 1965-68. The local paper in Brackley in Northamptonshire recorded many tributes to a man who had made a tremendous impact as headmaster of Brackley Junior School.
We extend our sympathy to his wife Gill, family and friends and wish Gill a speedy rcovery from the injuries she sustained.

Paul Barnes (60-63)

It is with great sadness that I have to tell you of Paul's death on 5 November 2011.

He was at Culham 1960 - 63. His first post was at Fitzharry's school (Abingdon) where I was teaching at the time. We were married in Dec 1963.

He subsequently got promotion to the Freeland area in Oxfordshire, and then became an area co-ordinator for languages in Market Drayton in Shropshire in 1968. We stayed there until the axing of primary school French in 1975. He was an early member of the National Association of Language Advisers.

His next post was to Jersey as Modern Languages Adviser where he was responsible for, and revolutionised the teaching of all languages, and in -service training. He was very much respected, liked and appreciated.

His career was brutally ended in 1985 by a burst tyre which resulted in an accident here in France and caused debilitating injuries.

Unable to work, we decided in 1989 to move to his beloved France and pick up the pieces. This I feel we managed pretty successfully in all over twenty-two years which ended with his death from cancer.

Sylvia Barnes

Norman Evan's
obituary appeared in The Guardian on 20 January 2011

Gerard Howat's
obituary appeared in The Independent on 24 October 2007.

Ken Hall
, the Canteen Manager at the European School, Culham, died suddenly at home.

Ken worked at the European School for over ten years and he was very popular with both staff and pupils. He will be greatly missed. It was perhaps significant that the last meal he organised was for the Culham College reunion (Saturday 25 September 2010).





Memorial Service for Robin Griffin

The Memorial Service for Robin Griffin took place in the College Chapel on Saturday 1 March 2014. It was organised by Audrey and Mark Griffin and was attended by about eighty, some of whom had met Robin in his school teaching years - either before or after his time on the staff of the College. Former Culham Music Lecturer, the Reverend Ron Burrrow conducted the service. He was assisted by fellow Culham Music Lecturer, Breyan Knowles, who helped to organise the religious elements of the service as well as playing the organ.

The Reflections included four from Culhamites.

Geography lecturer, John Enticott read "To begin at the beginning" from "Under Milk Wood". 

The contribution of Andy Howland (1968-72)  largely comprised tributes from Peter Shilling, Malcolm Wright, Sue Raper and Dave Hope  (all 1968-71), Roger Hope (1966-69) and John Shield (1972-76)

Keith Cozens (1967-71) delivered his moving composition "Barnstable Beggar" whilst Peter Smith (1967-70) read an extract from “Pilgrim's Progress”.

Other reflections were made by a former pupil of Robin's at Shoreditch School and from four former pupils of the European School.

Nick Storr, another former pupil of the European School treated us to the prelude to Bach's Second Cello Suite.

Mark Griffin read "If we shadows" from “A Midsummer Night's Dream” - a favourite passage of his father's

Refreshments were provided by ex-Culhamites and the European School.

I got the firm impression that the Culhamites who were present felt that the service was a fitting tribute to one who had been fully active in  Culham life for nearly fifty years.

At the 2011 Annual General Meeting the passing of the following Culhamites was remembered:
Peter 'John' Harvey (48-50)
Bob Wilson (48-50)
Bob's daughter, Judith, recalls the life of her father
in the Summer 2011 edition of the Culhamite  
John Goodworth (49-51)
Denise Cole, wife of George Cole (52-54)
Clifford Rowe-Evans (54-79)
John Humphreys (61-64)
Tom Pearce (63-79)
Joan Keeys (66-68)
Jocelyn De Lusignan (66-68)
Charles Neel (66-68)
Norman Evans (67- 71)
John Allison (68-71)
Tony Beck (69-77)
Allan Brown writes his memories of Tony Beck in the
Summer 2011 edition of the Culhamite 

It is with great sadness that we have to pass on the news that John Allison (68-71) died on Friday 10 September 2010.  
Our condolences go to Joyce, Ben and Simon Allison.

It is with regret that we record the death of

Charles Emile Kennedy Neel 

(6 August 1934 – 20 August 2010)


Charles Neel was at Culham from 1966 – 1968 on the two year course for mature students.

He had been ill for some time but was very well cared for in his last three weeks by the Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington.  His family were able to celebrate his 76th birthday with him while he was still able to appreciate what was going on around him.

Neil Hawkes said, ‘I remember Charles as a very kind man with a wry sense of humour,’  - a trait also mentioned by Ivor Hughes.  ‘I remember we thought he was very old - probably in his 30's - and we teased him about being ancient. He took it very well, gave it back and was good company.’

Rosie Styles was also guilty of teasing Charles about his age.  ‘Most of the male students thought the in-take of 40 women into their all-male enclave was the best thing to happen to college, but Charles found us an unnecessary distraction, I think. 

He was incredibly ‘old school’ and very gentlemanly towards us all – the door would always be left open if we went into his room – and he suffered us referring to him as ‘The Ancient One’ with affable good humour.  Charles was completely addicted to and very knowledgeable about trad jazz.  Years after we left college, when he knew that I was finding a daily commute tedious, he recorded a tape for me on which he introduced some of his favourite music and artists.  It was like listening to a radio programme.  I loved it and played it most days.’

Ivor adds, ‘Like me, Charles did geography with Frank Nelson. Neither of us were top flight academics but we enjoyed the course and made the most of it.  I know he found it difficult to be away from home.  In a nutshell, I remember him as a good bloke, a good friend and someone with whom one could have fun and enjoy life .... in a modest, studentish way.  I remember Charles with great affection.’ 

So will all who knew him.

 Neil King (68-71)

It is with sadness that we record the death of Neil King (68/71) after a battle with cancer. He will be remembered with great affection by those who knew him at Culham and during his distinguished career as Head of Long Wittenham School.

Christopher Neil King grew up in Church Terrace, Devoran.

By the time that Neil burst out of the garden gate … he already had a huge passion for Cornwall … its places and people. He was ready to meet his future in a new world … he came to meet … me and you.

He left Cornwall full of admiration for his mother and father, she with her old fashioned ways and he with an eye for opportunity.

Having flung open the gate, he came to our brave new world with a great fizz and effervescence … Neil had a hunger and thirst for people and their actions … especially those who were to become his friends. He would quietly take a slice of you, a slice of what it was that he liked about you. He squeezed that slice and soaked up all your key characteristics and moments that you had created … he seemed to take energy out of the things he valued in us all.

The energy at times was misguided, he often ended up in predicaments, but so often that bubbly nature was just so good to share.

Neil would mutter to himself … muttering names of  people, villages, rugby idols and interjections from hymns he knew from chapel … non really made any sense … Hell Fire Corner, Stack Stevens, John Potter, Sgt. Bilko … and Rambling Sid Rumpo … followed by some aria  - then we would do the same.

Neil started his teacher training at Culham College in 1968. He was soon a popular character.  He played rugby, but also was a member of the football club playing in defence and also as a goalkeeper. He supported the College bar regularly, and often the bar supported him, not surprising as we only paid 1s 6d a pint!

In Sept.`71 Neil embarked on his teaching career and with Keith Cozens and Ron Hursey, chose to live in The Bake House at West Hendred and were soon joined by Roger Arend … becoming “The Bake House Boys” … for 2 ½ years … we [as Roger would describe it] had as much fun as we have ever had in our lives.  

One example of Neil’s misguided effervescence involved the four of us on a cold starlit November night … after a few lagers at The Hare, we all drove our cars up to the Downs above Ginge at midnight, to steal some straw bales from a massive rick, that we had seen just off the road … the bales would make ideal seats for a huge Bonfire Party to be held in our back garden with all our mates and the village invited. Suddenly we were confronted by the vast perpendicular height of the rick, but undeterred, we formed a human pyramid.  Sensibly we decided that the heaviest person (Neil) should be on the top!  So … Roger, Ron and Keith awaited Neil clambering up over our backs and as the three of us held on, we looked up at the starlit sky … “hold on I`m just going to take my trousers off” says Neil!  By the time he had passed over us we were in no fit state to support him … with a sudden outward movement, he wasn`t there anymore … followed by a thud and silence.  How he survived, we do not know, as we were in as much agony with laughter as he was in pain.

Amongst the fun and friendship, let us not forget that Neil spent his professional career in Primary Education.  He took the same fun and energy into his schools, becoming what most schools need - a Head teacher who has character - communities and individual pupils need that … Neil (at Long Wittenham ) had these qualities in abundance.

Neil found a solidarity with the four of us at The Bake House, but he also found solidarity as a member of the emerging Grove Rugby Club as it went from strength to strength … probably the key factor in his settling into the Wantage area, rather than his beloved Cornwall.  He found the perfect partner in his wife Pauline …with her steady influence, sensible head and good close family.

For all of us, the mention of Neil`s name will bring a smile.  Often in recent years, perhaps when walking down through my school, probably burdened with concern about an inspection, I’ve suddenly thought of him … my face is lit with a wry smile … “are you alright Keith?” says a colleague -“ yes I’m fine thank you .. just thought of something special”

Roger says “I came to know the really kind, warm, generous Nelly, who would give so much of himself … God Bless You, Nelly.”

Neil had a Heart of Gold

Arthur Caiger DCM - the man in the white suit studied at Culham 1911-1913 - click here for more information.
The Steve and Margaret Denny Memorial Window (left)

To the left of the arms, a map of the East End of London showing the curve in the river around the Isle of Dogs; this is how the East End would have looked in his day.

Opposite is a map of Sierra Leone where Steve carried out his missionary work.

Above the books there is a collection of fossils and a magnifying glass. Steve was a keen amateur geologist. Above the globe there is a collection of rolled maps relating to Sierra Leone and Africa.

Below the fossils there is a collection of books; Christopher and Stephen are the names of their children. The remainder are books that show his interests, hobbies and origins.

The globe is a fine old example of its type and again indicates his connection with Africa. The instruments are the equipment that an explorer would use to plot his route. The small group of coins is a symbol often left by people who have visited a place and left with a view to returning.

The George and Florence Dixon Memorial Window  (right)

To the left of the Culham College Arms there is a list of Colleges where George Dixon lectured. On the right is the RAF arms depicting the length of George’s service.

Below is an instrument panel of a WW2 bomber. To the left of the panel there are various common mantras used by flying instructors. Included in this panel, the RAF Pilot’s Wings and a front view of the famous Lancaster Bomber. Above the word pilot, there is a sketch of a Thunderbird – the symbol of an American aircraft often used to train pilots.

The main picture shows the Dixons sitting behind a dry stone wall in the Lake District. The stone wall with the stile leads us into the private world of George. The small boat is a Mirror dinghy – all the rage for a keen sailor with wood working skills. The five states how many months the project took.

The traditional beehive suggests his interest in bee keeping and the Sutton seed catalogue - essential reading for the keen gardener. The O.S. maps and binoculars illustrate his interest in the countryside and wildlife.

The three books are Wainwright’s famous guides to the fells; a book by Geoffrey Smith who was a no-nonsense gardener and a standard work on beekeeping. The fourth book is reversed in the bookcase suggesting the collection is complete.

There is also a sturdy leather rugby ball, an ice axe and climbing rope (the basic tools of a rock climber). A route map along the river shows planned walks in the Peak District, alongside his faithful walking boots and essential water bottle.