Soham Grammarians - Mr Andrew F Pusey BA (Cantab) Music 1952-55

Soham Grammarian, Autumn 1952

Three other acquisitions made this term are Mr AE Lawrence [sic], Mr G Phythian and Mr AF Pusey. These new members of the Staff have been cordially received and from the general opinions heard, it seems to be a unanimous desire that they should stay in our midst for many years.

Soham Grammarian, New Year 1956

Editorial: ... and a fitting touch of solemnity and a suitable climax were added to the festive activity by the most impressive Carol Service in the Parish Church on the last afternoon of term. This service too served as a worthy finale to Mr Pusey's fine record of work for the School, for on that day we had to bid him an affectionate farewell. Mr Pusey goes to take up an appointment as Music Organiser on the Isle of Wight. With him he takes our gratitude for all that he did to advance the musical life of the School and our best wishes for the future.

At the end of last term the School Captain presented Mr Pusey with a cigarette case and lighter, a farewell gift of appreciation from the boys of the school.

from the 1954 School photo

Andrew Frederick Pusey, Old Bancroftian 1939-1947

An Obituary written by DCR Francombe

Andrew Pusey, who died on Easter Monday this year (1987), was one of a surprising number of Bancroftians of his era who either had distinguished careers in the musical world or, at the very least, made music the chief ornament of their lives. This was despite the fact that, at that time and indeed, until Mr. Richardson became Headmaster, the School relied on visiting music teachers and seldom, if ever, had a competent musician on the Staff. It is just one of those things which must surely have appealed to Andrew’s particular sense of humour, for one can almost hear him commenting, with Shaw, that the best of us manage to survive our education.

Not that he was a cynic - far from it, but he had an enormous sense of fun and his wit had a keen edge to it. Moreover, underneath the slightly sardonic persona he would often affect, lay a deep-rooted Faith, a genuine seriousness of purpose and, above all, a capacity for generating affection. Without the first of these qualities no man could have endured the quite appalling, and daily accelerated, disabilities of the disease which afflicted the last five years of his life, with the cheerful courage he displayed to the very end; which he met with the serenity one can only describe as saintly. Without the second he could have hardly achieved the success he did as a teacher or reached such eminence in his profession, and as evidence, if it were needed, of the third, nobody present at the Service of Thanksgiving in Broxbourne Church can have failed to have recognised that added dimension of love in the performance of Faur’s Requiem, by a large chorus and orchestra made up of his friends.

Andrew Frederick Pusey was born in Goodmayes in 1929 and came to Bancroft’s ten years later just as war broke out. Always neat and trim in his person and courteous in his behaviour, it was never quite clear whether he approved of the ethos of the place; and some of us were slightly surprised when he became a most efficient Head Monitor of what was then School House. He was thus by definition, able.

Although as he grew up he was found to have a useful tenor singing voice and a remarkable facility for sight- reading, and played the trumpet in such orchestras as Dorothy Searle could scratch up, I do not recollect his revealing the scholarly aptitude for which his subsequent career called. But that was just his way.

He was an amusing actor as well as an active musician. Yet I can recall some infuriatingly off-hand rehearsals after which he would turn out a splendid performance on the day. Perhaps he was already a bit of a tease. For his National Service he served as a bands man in the RASC and often took charge of rehearsals.

Thereafter he gained a Choral Exhibition at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and attained his BA in Music in 1952. His first job on coming down was that of Music Master at Soham Grammar School and, while there, he became a Lay Clerk at Ely Cathedral and conducted the Isle of Ely String Orchestra.

His next appointment was as Music Adviser to the Isle of Wight, where he founded the Isle of Wight Cantata Club and became President of the Dunford Orchestra.

A similar post with the London Borough of Waltham Forest led to his being chosen as President of the National Association of Music Advisers and being made an Examiner for Trinity College of Music, a position which involved two examining tours of India as well as of Ireland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.

In 1974 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the College. In 1975 he returned to school mastering and became Music Master at Leyton Senior High School for the next eight years until the onslaught of motor neurosis forced him to retire. During this time he conducted the Crofton Singers, of which he had been a founder member in the late Forties, and greatly extended the range of the music they performed.

His musical interests were wide, though he had a special fondness for 17th century vocal and instrumental music, for which he often made his own editions, among them transcriptions of some of the works of the little-known composer Andreas Hammerschmidt, a contemporary of Schutz. He was also zealous for the promotion of music for the young and instituted instrumental days for Primary Schools, which still flourish. He was President of the Friends of Waltham Forest Music School right up to 1986 and a prize at the Leyton School bears his name and perpetuates his memory.

Andrew loved life in all its aspects and was by no means a music bore. He was skilled at woodwork, liked food and drink and would “tire the sun with talking” on any subject that came up. I have a recurring vision of his making a quizzical appraisal of the multitude of the heavenly hosts and of the courts on high ringing with laughter at his wry, but kindly, comments.

[Bancroft's School is in Woodford, Essex ]

See also:
- Composer of the School Song 1954
- Musical Director HMS Pinafore 1954
- Musical Director Yeoman of the Guard 1955

If you can add memories of Mr Pusey or provide photos of him, please contact the editor.
page last updated 19 Nov 2011