25th April 1928 - 1st September 2013

It must have been late 1946 / early 1947, at a Tuesday night practice at Christ Church Swindon, when a locally stationed National Serviceman, Jack, compared notes with a local VIth former, me, because we were both at the DNCB/Surprise practice stage. In September 1948, at the University of Bristol “freshers” stall, we met again and it was the start of 65 years close and warm friendship bridging the often geographical distance between us.

Between our first and second meetings Jack had been stationed at Catterick. He had taken every advantage of the excellent standard and wide range of ringing available in that area. With UBSCR taking a huge leap forward in 1948, he used his experience to carry the Society forward. Many “firsts” by a resident band followed over the next four years. While he was “Master” in ’49-’50 & ’51-’52 , with his gift of enormous tact and diplomacy, he established the Society’s amicable relationship with Bristol ringers in general.

Jack learned to ring at St Mellons and in nearby Cardiff when he was 15. Hence he had completed 70 years ringing – 60 years as a member of the College Youths. He was made a life Member of the Winchester & Portsmouth in recognition of his contribution to ringing in Jersey at St Mark’s and St John’s.

Bell-ringing always had to compete with his many other interests and talents – particularly in Sport; hockey and, what he loved and excelled at, playing Rugby. He captained Monmouth Schoolboys Rugby team which contained some later members of the Welsh National side. 

His peal total was modest by today’s standards, some 200, of which he conducted 60% but by far the majority were before 1956 largely due to his choice of career, location and wider responsibilities.

On leaving Bristol in 1952 he took up a post as Housemaster and Languages Teacher at Bisley School in Surrey. During that time one was aware that there was a very special person in a small town in Brittany keeping his language skills up to date. Jack and Cecile were married in 1956 in Cecile’s home town of Pont l’Abbe.

Towards the end of the 1950s Jack moved, with his family, to teaching in Schools in Germany within the British Families Education Service (aka Service Children’s education Association) My understanding, at that time, was that these were normally 3-year appointments, possibly renewable, but not beyond the age of 50. Jack moved between several schools while rising to become first Deputy and then Head of Windsor School in Hamm in Germany.

Jack left BFES in 1976 on being offered the Headship of Hautlieu School in Jersey This meant that he and Cecile, and their three sons, had easy access to Pont L’Abbe in Brittany where eventually they set up a second home. Jersey also provided the chance for Jack to take up to take up ringing again at St Mark’s and St John’s in Jersey.

At the Service in St Mark’s, tributes came from retired Staff of Hautlieu School giving a detailed insight of how, with much tact and diplomacy, he steered the School to where he was convinced it had to stand after an important period of its transition. Yet there were lighter references to incidents reflecting those little quirks that each of us have. There was one about his avid stamp collecting … I just wonder if the school office staff were aware that he was always looking for that unique addition to his very special collection of bell related Postage Stamps?

During his retirement he spent 22 years as Volunteer Genealogist in Jersey. He was particularly adept at dealing with enquiries from all over the world from people trying to trace family links back to Jersey, often with links to Breton and Norman ancestry. The research and the information that he built up over the years is highly valued.

To sum up … in the words of a teacher who had been Jack’s Deputy for many years until he retired in 1988:

He was a man whose loyalty to all those who worked with him was paramount and whose interest in the lives of his former students remained undiminished Most of all, a kind man who never said a bad word about anybody, who was, in every sense of the word, a gentleman.

Our thoughts and prayers over recent months have been with Cecile and sons Denis and Michel.

May Jack rest in peace.



[note - an incomplete version of this obituary was first published in issue #5349 on 1st November 2013, and the full version in issue #5351 on 15th November. We apologies for any distress or embarrassment caused.]

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