We are very sorry to announce the passing of the following and offer our sincere condolences to family and friends.
Tom Drabble (Staff 1958 - 1983)
Passed away on 17th April 2021 at the age of 97. He taught Maths and Physics and was also Assistant Master in Mon House and Master-in-Charge of Shooting. In his retirement year, he escorted HRH Princess Margaret during the opening of the School’s new science block.
Tom will be remembered as a kind and patient man who always gave the impression of being unflappable. Perhaps this was, in part, due to his earlier career in radar during World War Two. He had been in the Colonial Service and, as Headmaster Rupert Lane observed in his 1983 Speech Day presentation, “…(he) found the rigours of the Nigerian jungle equipped him well for dealing with Monmouth boys!”
Away from School, and during his retirement, Tom was a long-time server at St Mary’s Church, a patron of the Radio Society, and an active member of Monmouth and District Rifle Club.
Ivor Berry 1954 - 1961
Died peacefully on 23rd March 2021, aged 78. The School recognised Ivor’s talent for sport, especially rugby, and under the guidance of PE teacher Glyn John, ex-Cardiff and Wales centre, Ivor won a Wales U-19 schoolboy cap. He was also a skillful soccer player.
Following teacher training at St Luke’s College Exeter he played first-class rugby for Newport, Pontypool and Ebbw Vale, and progressed to captaining Monmouthshire County. He was selected as reserve outside half to David Watkins and came close to being capped as a full Wales international: this being an era pre-substitution, Ivor frustratingly remained on the bench. Injury also prevented him from taking up an invitation to play rugby in Paris.
In the late 1960s, Ivor returned to Monmouth RFC as a player and, subsequently, fitness coach and team manager. After retiring from a career in pharmaceutical sales, he became a keen and proficient golfer.
Picture courtesy of Byron Hapgood
Henry Percival Knight 1935 - 1941
Died on 19th March 2021; he was 96.
In 1935 he won a Gloucestershire Scholarship from Bilson School in Cinderford to Monmouth.
After leaving school he trained to be a surveyor and was originally articled, in 1941, to a Mr McHugh of Jackson Stops and Staff of Cirencester. He later worked for the War Ag (his description) before going into the army. Henry joined the Valuation Office of the Inland Revenue in 1948 and qualified in 1952; his entire career was spent with them. His final role was Superintending Valuer – South West Region operating from Bristol, before he took retirement in 1985.
Martin Johnson 1964 - 1968
Died after a long illness on 13th March 2021, aged 71. At school, Martin seems to have ‘set his own pace’, but it was sufficient for him to attain an A Level in English and launch a very successful career in sports journalism. Dismissing family pleas for him to go to university, Martin signed up for a shorthand course in Chester to learn an obligatory skill that would win him a lowly post at the South Wales Argus. Despite being handed boring assignments, such as covering council meetings, he developed the ability to make his accounts lively, and attracted the attention of The Mercury, Leicester. Here he spent 11 years writing a popular and occasionally controversial column on Leicestershire cricket.
He moved on, first to The Independent and later to The Telegraph, covering such prestigious events as Wimbledon, The Masters and global Test series. His first tour was to Australia, in 1986, when he famously wrote of England, “They can’t bat, they can’t bowl, and they can’t field.” When England went on to win the Ashes, nonplussed he wrote, “Right quote, wrong team.” He was held in great affection and high esteem by his peers and popular with all who knew him.
Peter Mullins 1967 - 1972
Died in February, at the age of 67. A member of Town House, he rowed for the School 1st IV in 1972, during a very successful season, and went on to row with Leander to a very high level. He was an exceptional athlete with a level of determination that stood out amongst his peers - it made him a very good Stroke.
Peter carried that determination through to his adult life and a successful career in wealth management. A fuller report will appear in the June newsletter.
Colwyn Sillman (Staff at HMSG, 1971 - 1983)
Died aged 81 on 1st January 2021, was Head of Music at HMSG from 1971-1983. He was a strong advocate of joint productions with the Boys’ School and spearheaded the way for what is nowadays the norm.
Born in Blaina, he came to Monmouth with his wife, Diane, via Llanrumney High School in Cardiff. He left Monmouth to become Director of Music at the International School in Vienna and later the British School in Paris, completing his teaching career as Head of Music at St. Brendan’s Sixth Form College in Bristol.
Colwyn was especially passionate about opera and conducting, and on retirement set up the Llandenny String Orchestra. He was Musical Director of Monmouth Operatic Society (now Monmouth Music Theatre) for 10 years and latterly its Honorary President.
John Hartland (Staff 1964-1996)
Passed away on 20th January, four days short of his 85th birthday. John’s contribution to all the rowing clubs in Monmouth was immense. He arrived in the town in the 1960s, with his wife Ann, and devoted the following thirty years to encouraging pupils at the Boys’ and Girls’ Schools to appreciate the enjoyment and benefits of the sport he loved. He coached GB athletes and Olympians, including Lord Colin Moynihan, Charlie Wiggin and Robin Williams; he also found time to lend his expertise to Monmouth Rowing Club and helped establish the biggest one-day regatta in the UK, in its heyday. John became Chairman of the Welsh Rowing Council and was instrumental in the revival of the Home Countries Regatta. He also led the Wales Rowing team to the 1986 Commonwealth Games.
In 1990, he started the HMSG rowing club where, joined by his daughter Kate in 1994, he continued to inspire many students to take up the sport.
The John Hartland Trophy, donated by Welsh Rowing in 2018, is now competed for by the junior men’s teams, and he is constantly remembered by the boat named after him in 2019.
Away from the river, John also enjoyed acting with the local drama group Off Centre Theatre: he first trod the boards as the father in the School’s production of Billy Liar.
Glyndwr Roberts (1936-43)
Known as Glyn, died on 18th January 2021, peacefully in his sleep at home. He was 95 years of age.
Glyn won a scholarship to Monmouth School and was a member of New House. He greatly appreciated the opportunities given to him by the school. In his late eighties, his daughter Yasmi joined him at a few of the annual lunches for OMs and he very much enjoyed the gatherings. At the last meal they attended he was the oldest pupil there.
Trevor Rutter (1945-52)
passed away in May 2019, aged 85. Trevor was a talented scholarship pupil who won a place at Brasenose College, Oxford where he graduated with a First in PPE. He developed a passion for literature, music, the countryside and architecture, as well as becoming a loyal supporter of the Labour Party.
During his National Service, he became fascinated by Germany and its culture: it was his second posting with the British Council, after the birth of his son, Orlando, in Indonesia. Trevor spoke German fluently and he and his wife Jo regarded it as their second home. He contributed to the mending of relations between Britain and Germany, after the War, and he was posted back to the country at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Trevor continued working with the British Council – in Singapore, Thailand and Germany – before becoming Assistant Director General at London HQ. He was awarded the OBE in 1976 and CBE in 1990 for services to ‘cultural diplomacy’.
Following retirement, he and his wife lived in Spain, Portugal and Germany before eventually settling in Totnes. He was a great friend of and benefactor to the School.
John Marshall (1943 - 48)
Died on 26th September 2020 peacefully at home, aged 88. He was born and brought up in Cinderford and followed his older sister to school in Monmouth. He played rugby for the school and was a member of the 1947 1st XV.
Qualifying as a quantity surveyor, John used his professional skills mainly in the academic world lecturing and mentoring young people. He would often go the extra mile during his evenings to help and because of this he was popular with his students. He also later qualified as a professional arbitrator, bringing together his grounding in construction, costing, understanding of contracts and the psychology of construction professionals.
John was a proud, lifelong OM who is survived by his son, daughter and four granddaughters.
David Rees (1981- 88)
Sadly passed away on 21st August 2020, after 11 months of battling cancer. From Monmouth School, David studied at Oxford and went on to become Managing Partner at Izy Capital. He was a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, a technology analyst, strategist, investment banker and entrepreneur. He leaves behind his wife Karen, daughters Tara, Sian and Izzy, and his Dad
Ernest Graham Watkins (1943-49)
Died on 14th April of kidney cancer – peacefully, at home, at the age of 88. Graham was proud to have been educated at Monmouth School and enjoyed attending the Old Monmothian events. He was a keen cricketer and rugby player whilst at school and was pleased when the front row reunited for a photograph at an OM event. Graham was also a keen golfer.
On leaving school he did his national service in the RAF and then joined Gloucestershire Constabulary where he served for 32 years. On retirement, he joined the Royal British Legion and was the standard bearer for his local branch.
We have also been informed that we have lost the following OMs in the last twelve months.
Alun Bebb (1962-69)
Rob Evans (1970-1977)
Alfred John Phillips Gear (1939-42)
Phil Hollins (1947-53)
D. Clive Howes (1950-58)
Cecil Walter Kay (1943-46)
F D Perkins (1948-53)
Jacob Picken (2012-14)
John Mervyn Tommey (1935-39)
Passed away on 18th September 2019 at the age of 91. Bob was School Captain of Rugby and had a passion for cricket and choral music. He won a form prize every year, largely because of his work ethic and an excellent memory, and gained a place at Lincoln College Oxford to read Chemistry. Following graduation, he spent two years in Winchester on National Service, where he was commissioned into the Royal Artillery and had three-and-a-half years in the Territorial Army. Bob worked in pharmaceuticals with Procter & Gamble for 35 years, retiring at the age of 60. His generosity to the School is unsurpassed. He donated Chemistry, Music and CCF prizes every year at Speech Day and funded a choral scholarship in memory of OM, Paul Langford, at Lincoln College.With his tremendous support, the school hall was rebuilt in 2005 and transformed into the state-of-the-art Blake Theatre.
Alan G. Perry (1941 - 1948)
Alan died, aged 88, on 1st October 2019 after suffering from dementia for the last six years. He was a boarder in New House and a contemporary of Victor Spinetti, with whom he shared a study for a while. After leaving Monmouth he joined the Royal Engineers for his National Service and served his time in Germany, which he enjoyed very much. After the Army, he studied metallurgy and subsequently joined British Steel and remained in the steel industry for the rest of his working life. Alan leaves a widow, Lorna, who had been a pupil at Monmouth School for Girls, and they have two sons.
Iain M Alexander (1956 – 1963)
Iain has died, after a short illness, at the age of 72. A boarder in New House, Iain played rugby and cricket for the school. He took a degree at the London School of Economics and was a merchant banker in the City and in Australia before becoming chairman of an oil exploration company. In retirement, Iain, of Great Bookham, Surrey, was known as a bon viveur with eclectic tastes in literature and music. He was a fine golfer and played at St George’s Hill, Weybridge, until shortly before his death.
Our thanks to Roger Watkins OM 1955 – 1962
James De Sousa Stayton (2006-2017)
James died in April 2019 aged 19. He was studying in London, at Queen Mary University, where he was reading history. James had a deep passion for the subject and revelled in sharing his knowledge with others. With his wicked sense of humour and mischievous smile he could bring irrepressible joy to anyone in his company.
Gareth Edward Melbourne Thomas (1940-45) FRCSE
Aged 91, Gareth died in February 2019, at Poole in Dorset. He was one of three brothers, all of whom were in New House. After school, he began medical training at Barts and continued in Edinburgh; after several appointments elsewhere, he settled in Poole. There, for many years, he was senior ENT consultant at Poole General Hospital until his retirement in the early 1990s. In retirement, he was a keen golfer and sailor. Gareth was proud of his Welsh heritage and of his roots in West Wales. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and their four children and many grandchildren”.
Eric Thomas (1929 - 36)
Died on 29th January 2020, shortly after his 101st birthday in December.
His son Charles reported that his father had a happy and healthy life and spent the last 10 months of it living either with Charles or with his daughter in Portugal, enjoying a busy, sociable and very outdoorsy life in the warm climate there. He held fond memories of his time at Monmouth and the beautiful countryside along the banks of the river Wye.
Joseph Thompson (1962-1969)
As a pupil, Joe performed with such distinction that the Headmaster, Robert Glover, offered him a temporary post teaching at the school for 12 months, whilst he waited to take up his place at Magdalene College, Cambridge. There, he studied natural sciences and graduated in 1973. Joe set up a business with his brother and father, manufacturing building products and employing 350 people. Following ‘retirement’ in 2000, he set up a second successful business manufacturing high performance door sets.
He captained his local bowling team and was the Club President.
Joe leaves behind a wife, two daughters and three grandchildren.