Soham Grammarians

on the occasion of the 2004 Reunion

Dedication of a tree and plaque
in memory of
Edward Armitage
Headmaster 1945-1972
Soham Grammar School

Soham Village College
Saturday, 9th October 2004, at 6pm

Dedication of a tree & plaque in memory of Edward Armitage

At 1800 sharp, Soham Grammarians and former staff having assembled at the tree, joined by the Armitage family and The Principal of Soham Village College, Howard Gilbert, the ceremony will be taken by Revd Valerie Kilner, of St Mary's Ely, who also took Edward Armitage's funeral service in July 2001.

Revd Valerie Kilner: We have come together in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to dedicate this tree and plaque to the memory of Edward Armitage, Headmaster of Soham Grammar School from 1945 to 1972. They are within sight of what was his study.

Let us remember God's presence with us now as we quietly bring to mind Edward Armitage ... and all who have taught and been taught at this place and are no longer with us.

There will then be a short silence for private prayer and reflection.

Edward Armitage 1910-2001

Revd Valerie Kilner: Let us join together in the Lord's Prayer:

All: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.
All: Amen

Revd Valerie Kilner: Rod Armitage will now read Philip Larkin’s poem Ignorance: [Rod explained that those taught by his father will recall he frequently asked then to explain a question or comment they had made.]

Strange to know nothing, never to be sure
Of what is true or right or real,
But forced to qualify or so I feel,
Or Well, it does seem so:
Someone must know

Strange to be ignorant of the way things work:
Their skill at finding what they need,
Their sense of shape, and punctual spread of seed,
And willingness to change;
Yes, it is strange,

Even to wear such knowledge - for our flesh
Surrounds us with its own decisions -
And yet spend all our life on imprecisions,
That when we start to die
Have no idea why.

Edward Armitage, Summer 1968
source: Haslam

Revd Valerie Kilner: We continue with a prayer of personal re-dedication:

Teach us Good Lord to serve you as you deserve.
To give - and not to count the cost.
To fight - and not to heed the wounds.
To toil - and not to seek for rest.
To labour - and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do thy will.
All: Amen

Chris Bent (standing in for Arnold Tomalin) on behalf of the Soham Grammarians, to Howard Gilbert, the Principal of Soham Village College: Sir, on behalf of the Soham Grammarians I hand over this tree and plaque to Soham Village College for your care. It is a memorial to a distinguished headmaster of Soham Grammar School and is part of Soham Village College’s heritage.

Howard Gilbert, Principal of Soham Village College: On behalf of the Village College I accept this tree and plaque to the memory of Edward Armitage. I now ask Mrs May Armitage to do us the honour of unveiling the plaque.

Left: Mrs May Armitage unveils the plaque, assisted (L) by Mrs Margaret Bryden, Vice Principal, Soham Village College and (R) Robin Armitage: looking on Chris Bent and Rod Armitage (holding his mother's walking stick) sources: Haslam

After the plaque is unveiled, Revd Valerie Kilner:
To the Glory of God and in the faith of Jesus Christ,
and in the presence the Armitage family
and of many of his former pupils and staff,
and of the Principal of Soham Village College,
I dedicate this tree and plaque to the memory of Edward Armitage.
All: Amen

Howard Gilbert then completes the planting.

Peter Askem, who illustrated Edward’s book The way we lived then, on behalf of the former staff of Soham Grammar School reads:

We pray that nothing of the good in this man's life will be lost,
but that it continues to be of benefit to the world;
that what he held sacred may be respected by those who follow him;
and that everything for which he was great
may continue to mean as much to those who remember him.
We ask you that his best may go on living in those whose lives he touched.

We ask you that we who were associated with him
may now be even more closely associated with each other -
and that we may, in this togetherness
and peace and friendship here on earth,
always be deeply conscious of your promise
to be faithful to us in death.
All: Amen

- that concludes the dedication -

Sunset is at about 18.17 so now is the time for photos.

L-R: Howard Gilbert, Mrs June Lawrance, Richard Armitage, Mrs May Armitage,
Robin Armitage, Rod Armitage, Rev Valerie Kilner, Peter Askem: source Haslam

L-R: Richard Armitage, Howard Gilbert, Mrs May Armitage,
Robin Armitage, Rod Armitage:
courtesy of the Newmarket Journal/Soham & Ely Journal

taken the following day - general view: source Haslam

The Soham Grammarians thank the Armitage family, Mrs Margaret Bryden, Vice Principal, Soham Village College and Revd Valerie Kilner for their assistance in the arrangements for this dedication.

The variety selected for Edward Armitage’s Memorial Tree: Variegated Norway Maple (Acer platanoides Drummondii), chosen for its foliage and presence, supplied by Simpsons of Fordham.

Dark green leaves with creamy-white margins turning orange in autumn and small clusters of red-tinged, yellow spring flowers. This handsome, round-headed tree is possibly the best variegated Norway maple.

An excellent specimen tree for a medium-sized garden, it is pollution-tolerant and copes well on most soils, including clay.
• Position: full sun or partial shade
• Soil: fertile, moist, well-drained
• Rate of growth: vigorous
• Flowering period: April to May
• Flower colour: yellow
• Other features: creamy-white edged leaves turn orange in autumn
• Hardiness: fully hardy
• Garden care: Add a top-dressing of a multi-purpose fertiliser around the base of the plant in late spring. No routine pruning is required. Remove any dead, damaged or crossing branches in April when the plant is in full growth.

Goes well with: Taxus baccatta, Pulmonaria officinalis 'Sissinghurst White', Epimedium x rubrum, Dryopteris filix-mas, Brunnera macrophylla,Galanthus nivalis

Eventual height: 12m, eventual spread: 12m

Plaque by Ely Trophies:

In Memory of

EDWARD ARMITAGE M.A.(Cantab), B.Sc.(Lond), J.P.
Headmaster 1945-72
Soham Grammar School

Acer platanoides Drummondii
provided by Soham Grammarians, 2004

taken on 8th October 2010

from the 1946 School photo

from the 1949 School photo

from the 1952 School photo

from the 1954 School photo

from the 1956 School photo

from the 1960 School photo

from the 1965 School photo

from the 1970 School photo

from the 1972 School photo

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last updated 28 Oct 2010: please contact the editor if you have good photos to add to or improve on this page