Soham Grammarians : Norman Sherrington
Latin 1960-68

Norman died aged 83 on 13 June 2012

Soham Grammarian Spring 1961

We extend our warmest welcome to Mr Ades, Mr Scott and Mr Sherrington who all joined us in September, and to Mr Rennison who took over the History department in January this year. Let us hope that their stay is long and enjoyable.

Soham Grammarian Summer 1968

Mr Sherrington returns to his native Yorkshire [sic!] after a considerable time with the school. Besides all that he did outside the classroom, as Scoutmaster, as compere at many a School function and in the choir, he will always be remembered for that rare gift: the ability to make a dead language live. While always involved in the past, he always combined it with the present. His Latin cheerfulness will remain fixed in our minds, long after the syntax he taught us so well.

from the 1965 School photo

Mr & Mrs Sherrington now live in village on the West Pennine Moors: Norman writes "I well remember my first journey by car from my wife's former home in Rushden, Northampton, to Soham, to attend an interview for the Latin Post, vacated by Mr Rex Waller in 1960. You see, on the way I had a puncture, and was fearful that I would not arrive in time for the interview. However, with dirt on my hands - and elsewhere - I arrived with ten minutes to spare. A coincidence is that Rex and I were resident in Hulme Hall during our years at Manchester University, but from then on I had no further news of him.

A few days after we had moved into the ground-floor flat at Hossac House in Tanners Lane, the then local Vicar, Canon Hallidie-Smith, came to visit the new tenants. At the time the family were engaged in picking mulberries from the orchard, and unfortunately the children ran up to the Canon, and blessed him with their juicy fingers. He said to us "You know, it will be seven years before you're accepted here." What a shock! In fact, within three months we had settled in, became acquainted with lots of people, and finally, I joined the Parish Council.

In short, I thoroughly enjoyed the Latin teaching, ably assisted by Mr Peter Saunders. Though not a Scout myself, Lionel Hart and Bill Rennison allowed me to take part in the Scout Camp at Ripon in Yorkshire.

I also played a part in school visits to Italy and Switzerland. (photo: Davos, Lionel Hart in the background) [what year?]

All in all, we have very happy memories of the eight years we spent in Soham and our youngest child was born at the RAF Hospital in Ely in 1965.

After leaving Soham I returned to my native Lancashire, where I had taught Latin at Boteler Grammar School in Warrington. I became Head of Classics at Warsley Wardley Grammar School near Manchester - my first taste of co-education. The Headmaster there was a classicist so we had much in common. When the school became a comprehensive in 1972 and Eccles Sixth Form College came into being, I elected to remain at the school and was appointed Director of Studies in charge of examinations. Classical Studies for all first year pupils (6 classes) were shared between the Headmaster and myself. To accommodate the A Level Latin candidates I made the trip to the College twice a week.

By 1983, when a new Headmaster was appointed, it was decided that Classical Studies would be replaced by Computer Studies: when offered generous early retirement, I took it. I continued my O Level marking with the Cambridge Board, did supply teaching, and for twelve years was a volunteer at the Bolton CAB. In 1985 we moved to a conservation village on the West Pennine Moors."

Norman is currently (2004) attending computer classes and when he eventually goes on-line it is hoped he will write more about his time at Soham, where he was also involved with the Civil Defence Unit.

The three Sherrington children have all made successful professional careers. The Sherringtons still sing in a choir, go sequence dancing, are in a walking club, and are busy with dogs, the church and many village activities. Following the usual maintenance operations Norman is once more able to "see the little white ball clearly" and enjoys golf again.They still visit friends in the Soham area.

Mr Sherrington attended the 2005 Annual Dinner

Mr Sherrington was the staff member responsible for liaison with the Cambridgeshire Civil Defence instructors who worked with the SGS Civil Defence unit 1963-67.

Norman died on June 13th 2012 aged 83. "Dearly loved husband of José, loving father of Wendy, John and Charles, a proud grandfather of Elizabeth, Helena, Oliver, Jamie and Tom and good friend to many." The funeral service took place on Tuesday June 26, in St Anne’s Church, Turton at 10.45am followed by private committal.

Wendy Carley, Norman's daughter, writes: In the 60s the teachers' families were very much part of the [Soham Grammar] School and [looking at the website] brought back lovely memories for me of a very happy childhood.

My father had a very broad sphere of friends linked to his many areas of activity over a long period in the village where he lived and also in the wider local community so his funeral was very well attended with, we think, over 150 people at the church.

Although a sad occasion, it was a celebration of a life well lived and uplifting for us all with a lot of humour. The lesson was read by his youngest grandson and the Appreciation was given by the Rev Stephen Greenhalgh, based on his personal knowledge of my father and recollections of family members. At my father's own request the 'Music for Reflection' during the service was Glen Miller's Moonlight Serenade which was very fitting as it was something he had played in his own dance band, with his twin brother, during his younger days.

In his appreciation Stephen made much of my father's Christian faith. From his days as a young choirboy in Gathurst, Wigan, where he first learned to sing, to the Sunday before he died, he was always a committed member of the Anglican church, worshipping for the last 25 or so years at St James' , Edgworth, the mission to St Anne's where the funeral took place. He served at various times during his life as a Sidesman, Lay Administrator, Choir member and PCC member. I think that when we lived in Soham he was a member of the PCC at St Andrew's. I have enclosed a piece from our local church magazine concerning his death (see below).

The other aspects of his life that were emphasised were his musical ability, his love of sport (particularly cricket, football and golf - all of which he had excelled at), his love of classics and teaching, and his commitment to his family.

As a teacher he delighted in pupils who were enthusiastic for the classics and in retirement continued to coach pupils, often adults, who wanted to learn Latin. He greatly valued his contacts with former schoolfriends, RAF and teaching colleagues and pupils and attended reunions whenever possible.

He was an examiner in Latin for the Oxford and Cambridge Exam Board for many years and we have particular memories of summer afternoons with him sitting in the garden in a panama hat, dog by his side, chuckling over exam scripts.

Musically, he had a strong tenor voice and loved to sing. He always took part in the Gilbert and Sullivan productions at the schools he taught in and I have a very vivid memory of him playing the part of the Major General in the Soham Grammar School production of Pirates of Penzance in the mid 60s.

He was also a founder member of a local choir, the Ladybridge Singers, in Bolton which is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year. He loved singing and performing with this group where he had many good friends and was rehearsing with them, still in fine voice, the night before he died. He was also a talented guitar, banjo and ukulele player, often accompanying himself and others in performance, and was jamming with local musical friends in the days just before his death.

In retirement my father worked as a volunteer for many years for the Citizens' Advice Bureau in Bolton and was a senior member of the Lancashire Lodge. He also played for the Senior Team at his local Golf Club and travelled widely with my mother, both abroad and in the UK. He spent many happy times travelling the country with his touring caravan, often combining trips with visits to friends. His five grandchildren all have happy memories of summer holidays spent in the caravan, with grandpa teaching them to play cricket and golf.

Since his death many people have commented that Norman was an "old school gentleman", always smart, cheerful and with a twinkle in his eye. We miss him greatly.

From his church magazine:

Sadly Norman Sherrington died at the end of June. He was a most loyal member of Saint James' congregation and had over the years administered the chalice, read the lesson and been a sidesman. There was a great family connection as his wife Jose also read the lesson, his daughter Wendy was a lay assistant and his grand daughters Elizabeth and Helena were servers, We are already missing his wonderful voice and his classical knowledge which meant we could always ask him how to pronounce the difficult words in the readings. He will be greatly missed.

13/7/12 Paul Stevens SG66: He was a gentleman of the old school and as you will no doubt recall, certainly knew his first and second declension nouns among other things. I also well recall my first ever trip abroad was with the second form on a trip to Italy, accompanied - or should I say supervised - by Norman (or Neddie as he was known) along with his wife and daughter and her friend. I have been back to Rome many times since - and yes, a coin always goes into the Trevi fountain - but have never forgotten this first impressive trip.

Of course I jokingly say we were learning Latin and nobody in the Eternal City spoke anything other than Italian. But the truth is we DID hear some Latin as we saw Pope Paul VI give his Easter blessing from a rather wet St Peter's Square in 1968. Some nuns, I recall, were kind enough to share their umbrella with me at the time.

On my second trip to Rome - some seven years later - I put my tent up and slept on the Palatine. But that, as they say. is another story for another day. Norman Sherrington was a caring, thoroughly decent and considerate schoolmaster who had a deep and profound effect on us all, I think. In these days of celebrity culture, narcissism (if one may go Greek, rather than Roman, momentarily) and crass vulgarity around very corner, his mode of schoolmastering now seems as if it were from another age and in many ways I suppose it is. Nevertheless he will be sadly missed by all of us who were taught by him ... Ab imo pectore

22/1/19 AJH Warburton was at Boteler GS. He writes:
I felt, while time still permits, that I should write a little about Mr Sherrington for your website.

Though never a pupil at Soham myself, I was lucky enough to have been taught by the outstanding Norman Sherrington.  My own school, the very old Boteler GS, lost out when he decided to leave for Soham.  Our loss was most certainly SGS's gain.

He was one of four BGS teachers who became, and remain to this day, my heroes.  Embodying so many of those rock-solid qualities, he was an old-school anchor point and a daily example to all his students.  Eternally optimistic and cheerful, his passion for his subject was legendary, and he delighted in infecting us all with an enthusiasm for learning Latin.  Some of us were also given the opportunity to start on ancient Greek, as he gave up time to run a weekly extra-curricular session for the more masochistic members of his Latin set.

His male-lead tenor roles in Boteler's annual G&S productions were equally legendary, where again his enthusiasm and enviable singing voice would reliably carry the scene.  I was one of the Three Little Maids the year he played Nanki Poo, and I still have a photo of all the principals in that production taken by a local press photographer.

Many years down the line I decided I would write to the two remaining teacher heroes of my schooldays to thank them, during their living years, for the invaluable contributions they had made to the quality of my daily life ever since.  Both replied promptly, writing long letters (by hand, of course) with personal memories of those times.  NS's response, naturally, opened with a Latin greeting.

Norman Sherrington was an exemplary teacher of great quality, whose values and standards seem in short supply nowadays.  I am privileged to have known him during those halcyon days.  He was a man for all seasons.

Vale, magister.

If you have recollections of Mr Sherrington please contact the Editor

last updated 30 Sep 12: 8 Feb 19