from 1965 SGS
from a letter to the Editor dated 23.10.02
I joined the staff at Soham Grammar School at the age of 23. When I came for interview, I discovered that Grahame Speed was already there on the staff - he and I were boys at the same school!
I was appointed because of the building of the new gymnasium. Previously the PE programme had consisted entirely of games and cross-country. Despite his extensive knowledge and skills in the field of games, and indeed his own fairly illustrious past playing football and cricket for Downing College, Peter Taylor was the first to say that he was not happy teaching gymnastics etc. hence I was appointed. My wife Beryl and I moved into a bungalow at 12 King's Parade, Soham - just off the Newmarket Road.
Soon after taking up my post I started a Staff Badminton club (staff & wives) on Friday evenings and Grahame Speed, Bill Rennison, Gareth Wood, Ivor Jones, Bert Lawrance and, later, John Humphry, attended regularly. We made sufficient progress to begin playing a few matches, though the evenings were mainly social and usually ended in the pub at Wicken.
2002: " .. aged 63"
I still remember clearly (though the teeth marks soon healed) arriving late to school one morning and pedalling furiously up the drive. John Ford lived in the gatehouse and owned a Red Setter which was mad - absolutely un-hinged. Seeing me flying past it leapt a four foot fence, knocked me off my bike, seized my shoulder in its teeth and shook me. John Ford's apology was so fulsome and gentlemanly, as he always was, that I had no thought to complain and almost felt responsible for the incident.
Less vivid is the memory of Tom Riley - a keen fisherman - bringing in an enormous pike which filled the staff room table and had the tail of a huge rat, which it had swallowed whole, sticking out of its mouth. I believe it was dissected by the biology students.
When I left Soham in 1966 I moved to Doncaster to become Head of PE in a comprehensive school serving one of the pit villages. After five years I switched into primary education, later having two primary school headships, then lecturing in a teacher training college and, finally, worked for six years in Nottinghamshire as a primary advisor/inspector. I retired not many years ago and we now spend our time helping to look after four grandchildren, renovating the house we have just moved into in York and walking in the Yorkshire Dales, the North Yorks Moors and the Yorkshire Coast.
Soham Grammarian Spring 1964
The beginning of the School Year brought five new members of staff to the School. Mr CA Royal-Dawson and Mr JR O'Toole have joined the English staff, and are at present jointly responsible for the Library; Mr VN McElderry and Mr JB Rider are teaching Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics; and Mr WV Ellis is in charge of the Gymnasium.
Soham Grammarian Summer 1966
It is perhaps a sign of the educational times that three of the departing staff are moving into the comprehensive sector: Mr Hemmings, after eight years as Head of English, goes to Ifield School, Crawley; Mr Ellis moves to Rossington Comprehensive School, Doncaster; and Mr O'Toole moves to Hylton Red House School, Sunderland.
Readers of the Grammarian will not need to be reminded of the many and varied contributions of these masters to the English and sporting activities of the school.
Do you have any anecdotes relating to Mr Ellis? please contact the editor
25 Nov 2002, updated 2 Nov 2007