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GREAT TO HEAR FROM:
Arjun Sharma (OM 1997 – 2006) it was great to see Arjun, who is now coaching cricket and represents Kent professionally – we always knew he would somehow!
Kieran Costello (OM 2010 – 2018) Well done to Kieran who has been made a prefect at Dartford Grammar School
Lovely to catch up with Mickey Shortt (OM 2011 – 2015) who is starting his training as a Quantity Surveyor & Lenny Shortt (OM 2013 – 2021) who is enjoying secondary school.
James Ellershaw (OM 2010 – 2018) is currently preparing for his GCSE’s and has just finished touring Germany with ‘A Winter’s Tale’ and Tom Ellershaw (OM 2013 – 2021) is doing well, swimming for the region.
Harry Stoneham (OM 2003 – 2008) our very best wishes to Harry for a swift recovery and good health following his recent operation.
Ellie East (OM 2002 – 2010) well done to Ellie for appearing on Sunday Brunch. She continues to make a real success as a ‘Session’ drummer.
Great to see Paul Chappell (OM 1991 – 2000) who completed his PhD at Brasenose College Oxford and to hear news also of his sister Laura (OM 1994 – 2003) who is now an accountant.
Great to bump into Kenny Wright (OM ’96-‘04) who is very proud of his little girl, Sadie.
Great also to hear about Chase Collard (OM ’11-‘19) who continues her West End success after performing as Cosette in Les Miserable. She is now playing Lilly Potter in the West End production of Harry Potter – The Cursed Child.
Well done also to:
Victoria Massey (OM ’02-’10), who graduated as a police officer for Kent Police.
Louise Callan (OM ’07-’11), who graduated this summer as a veterinary nurse and works at a veterinary practice in Dover.
Jessica Bacon (OM ’06-’14) who is off to read Philosophy at Jesus College, Cambridge after achieving A*, A, A in her A Levels. Further successes came in a Jack Petchey gold award as an outstanding achiever, a runner-up award in BBC’s 500 words story contest, a London Youth Games Bronze medal in trampolining and proudest of all, a black belt in Taekwondo!
Chloe Samuels (OM ’12-’19), who is doing really well at her golf. She is now one of the top players at the age of 12 and has won the best Net score for the European Junior Golf Tour. We all have our fingers crossed for her that she could make it onto the women’s PGA Tour in the future.
Ose Aifuobhokhan (OM ’06-’14), who gained an academic scholarship to Georgia State University, Atlanta, is studying a 4-year course in Accounting.
Dillon Jayasinghe (OM ’11-’16) for excellent GCSE results. along with Grade 8 Music. He is staying on at BETHS to do his A levels.
Well done to the Kapatos brothers (Frangiskos (OM ’07-’15), Apostolos (OM ‘08-’16) and Alexandros (OM ’13-’21) who have ‘done the triple’ – all three are at Dartford Grammar School. We received a lovely, if wistful, email from their parents, who said they will miss Merton Court very much as a family.
Jonnie Langton (OM ’06-’14), has gone to Wembley to read BA Hons Sports Multi Media at The University Campus of Football Business and Scarlett Brady (OM ’08-‘16) has moved from Weald of Kent Grammar School for Girls in Tonbridge to start her A levels at Tunbridge Wells Grammar School for Boys and Girls 6th Form.
Great to see Toby Dear & Rohan Dollay who are pictured here, standing in front of their ‘Class of 2013’ Honours Board, both of them left Merton Court, went to Dartford Grammar School and are now off to study Physics at Imperial College, London and Engineering at UCL, respectively.
Lovely to hear news of Chanelle Smith (OM ’02-‘09) now a 5th Year medical student who volunteered to help on the ‘front-line’ to assist Junior doctors in the NHS during the Pandemic.
Louie James (OM ’13 -’20), was spotted during lockdown at local cricket nets by a Surrey Coach who wanted to work with him. After a couple of months, Louie was recommended for a sports scholarship at Trinity School, part of the Whitgift Foundation. We are delighted to report that Louie was successful in the application process and will be starting his Sports Scholarship in September 2021. Well done!
Great to hear from the Sullivan family – Jade (OM ’04-’09) has a degree in Fashion Buying and Brand Management and currently works within the Creative Direction Team at Selfridges as a stylist for the digital photo studio. Kallum (OM ’04-’07) studied Economics at the University of Kent and now works as the Business Development Manager for Capital Economics, Brandon (OM ’04-’11) is studying a degree apprenticeship for Quantity Surveying at London Southbank University and Mason (OM ’05-’13) is an Economics student at Bournemouth University.
Huw Pritchard, who attended Merton Court from September 1969 – July 1971, along with his brother Robert, emailed to say he remembers his first form teacher, Mrs Reid and the then Headmaster, Mr Buckley as well as Mr Terry – whose football shorts he says seemed to be straight out of the photos of 1950s football teams! He still has his copy of The Ship That Flew by Hilda Lewis which he received as a prize for Effort in the Upper 3rd, he also won the gym prize. Sure enough, we found pictures of Huw playing chess and his brother, Robert in the cricket team, in our Centenary Book!
We recently heard from Charlotte Maycock’s (OM ’99 – ‘07) mum, Charlotte is now a primary school teacher in London, with her very own class.
Adam Sameen (OM ’16-’19) has secured a full academic scholarship to Eton College. We wish him all the very best at one of the most prestigious schools in the UK.
Well done to Frangiskos Kapatos (OM ’07-15) and Maxim Habarov (OM ’11-15) who both received excellent GCSE results from Dartford Grammar School and are now enjoying Sixth Form there.
Beth Sankey (OM ’13-16) (see right of the picture) tells us of her achievements in Year 10 at Bromley High, including an excellent report, performing in the school play ‘Made in Dagenham’, taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme and meeting up with old Mertonian friends, An-Nhi, Joshua and Amy during the summer.
Fabulous to see Scarlett Jenkins (OM ’00 – ‘08) when she visited us. She is in her final Master’s year of Engineering and thoroughly enjoyed her day back in school which was part of her final thesis research project questionnaire. Her sister Saskia Jenkins (OM ’03 – ‘11) is at the University of Kent studying Biology.
We discovered also that Harriet Pugsley (OM ’01-’08) is in her third year of her training to be a Primary school teacher.
Richard Platings (OM ’54-’60) wrote to us saying that his time at Merton Court was the happiest years of his life. He says, “I recall regularly waking up on a Monday morning and thinking ‘great, school’ “. Here are just a few recollections of his time at Merton Court,
I consider myself to have been very fortunate to have spent some of my most formative years at Merton Court and currently assist on an Alpha Course at Wormwood Scrubs prison where there are many inmates whose lives have been blighted by their appalling experiences of childhood and adolescence.
“Whilst the name Blakeney is very familiar to me I can best recall Mr Davies who regularly rang the bell, or was it a whistle, at the end of morning break time. He also introduced me to cricket, when in the nets one day he observed that I had quite a good eye for the ball and was as a result hitting several of the bowlers for nominal fours. I did however make the cricket teams and until recently had a team photograph of myself and Chris Jagger (brother of Mick!) standing side by side, a fact that use to make a very considerable impact on my teenage children.
I will always remember Mrs Davies immaculate writing on the blackboard which I have recalled more than once over the years as an example to follow. Small classes were a blessing to me which contrasted sharply with classes 30+ at the local Grammar school to which I graduated at the age of 11 in 1960.
Sports Days were wonderful occasions. Aged 7 or 8 and running 440yards I discovered that if I leant forward I didn’t get a stitch; I have been running/jogging ever since. I loved throwing the cricket ball and what seemed like being awarded a gleaming silver cup for everything. The uniform, a fine shade of red with bright yellow cross on the breast pocket and cap was always a pleasure to wear which is not significant and the tradition of doffing one’s cap when encountering a master outside the school attracted some odd responses when I continued the practice for a while at Grammar School.
Our red football shirts were made of some thick, extremely irritating material and the communal scrub up (there were no showers) after matches did as much for the enjoyment of the game as the match itself. Very sad was when I went to Grammar School and I was made to wear long trousers. I think I must have been quite proud of the grazes on my knees and lower limbs.
The playground had the benefit of being a slope so that in winters which seemed much colder in those days, a quite lengthy slide developed whenever snow fell and/or ice formed. Beyond the playground lay the copse and large playing field below the copse was divided in two by a line of trees and bushes. At the bottom of the field a rotting tree trunk when lifted up introduced me and others to some very exciting, large black stag beetles.
It was in one of these fields (Merton Field) that the Meteor plane crashed, the aftermath of which I witnessed and recall observing wreckage in the form of some flying instruments in a deep hole, largely buried but just projecting out of the clay below.
Mia Cruikshank (OM ’08-’12) – who has just accepted a job at the Dept of International Trade (PR and Events).
Molly Rabin (OM ’00-’08) – who achieved a 1st in English from Swansea and has been offered a place at Oxford for a Masters in Applied Linguistics.
James Garvey (OM ’11-’13) – who did the double as Head Boy at Wilmington Grammar school for Boys and also as captain of Kent Rugby U17s.
Kathryn Monks (OM ’05-’12) – who went to Walthamstow Hall then Eltham College, achieved 3 A’s and is reading History at UCL along with her old classmate Kavita Soomal (OM ’05-’12) – who is doing the same.
Alexandre Vander Elst (OM ’04-’12) – who is off to Bath University to read Computer Science.
Leslie Bellchambers (OM ’86-’93) – who now works for Mercedes Benz.
WELL DONE TO:
Jonnie Langton (OM ’06-’14) – who joins the 6th form at BETHS and Dylan Nathan (OM ’12-’14) – who continues in 6th form at Dartford Grammar. Both looking very dapper in their business suits!
Jemma Fruin (OM ’01-’10) – who is now in her second year studying physiotherapy and her brother Mitchel (OM ’98-’07) following completion of his degree at Oxford is now doing a Masters at The University of Essex in Social Economics.
Many congratulations to Jason Macdonald (OM ’92-’99) on his marriage this month!
We heard from Sebastian Stewart’s (OM 07-11) father that Seb is at Nottingham University studying Chemistry and really enjoying it. He asked if Seb still held the school record for Year 5 Freestyle 100m swimming – he does indeed!
Mr Price also bumped into the parents of James Vick (OM 02-10) and learnt that James is at Loughborough University studying Engineering and playing rugby for the University. James, (who is now 6’ 7” tall!) also was a very good swimmer and still holds three school records – Year 1 25m Freestyle, Year 2 25m Freestyle and Year 3 50m Freestyle.
Philip Hunt, son of Dr. R W G Hunt OBE (OM,1932-1936), emailed with the sad news that his father had passed away at the age of 95.
Robert Hunt was born in Sidcup and attended Merton Court school before aged 14 heading to boarding school, at St Lawrence College, Ramsgate. He recalled having to start the Merton Court school term three weeks late due to being in quarantine due to his sister having measles! Also included in his memoirs were the following recollections of lessons at Merton Court, ‘Mr D…gave excellent geography lessons – we had to find a list of names on maps, and I have loved maps ever since. Mr B…gave history lessons so boring he used to go to sleep himself!’ In 1932 he joined, at the invitation of a school friend, the local Bible Class of The Crusaders Union, led by Captain Downes, ’I loved the meetings with their tuneful choruses and enthralling talks’ he later wrote. He attended Imperial College of Science and Technology, London and gained first a BSC (First Class) and an ARCS in Physics, then a DIC in Technical Optics, followed by a PhD and a DSc. He worked in the Research Laboratories of Kodak Ltd and played a major part in the development of the Kodak S1 Printer for printing colour negatives. In 2009 Robert was awarded an OBE, for services to the Field of Colour Science and to Young People through Crusaders.
Tim Palmer (son of Roy H Palmer 1891-1966) emailed a colour picture of a Merton Court pupil. It is a cartoon from a family-produced magazine dated 1902. The boy in question is Roy Palmer and is one of the four sons of the editor of The Church Times, who lived in Sidcup. His elder brother (the editor) was typical of Merton Court, and the accompanying text read: “…a typical schoolboy. Uncombed, unkempt (so were we all) with inky fingers and full of animal spirits. Such are but characteristics common to every schoolboy. But Merton Court has a style peculiar to itself, and Master R.H.P has a strongly developed taste for repartee and Worcester Sauce, and also a most captivating twinkle in his eye. Both the football and the cricket teams often find him useful, and the other day saw him carry off prizes for the sack-race and the three-legged race at the school sports. His motto is: “While there’s life there’s soap (worse luck!)“
Great to see all three Hawes-Gatt boys [Edward Hawes-Gatt (OM ’91-’98), Christopher Hawes-Gatt (OM ’93-’00) and George Hawes Gatt (OM ’96-’03)], celebrating Edward’s birthday last month and also good news from Emma Cato (OM ’99-’08) that she has just finished her degree and is now looking for a role in procurement. It was also great to hear of Adam Thrower’s (OM ’89-’98) success in Banking and Accountancy with special congratulations now that he is a proud father.
By chance, when school was singing at the 02 for ‘Young Voices’ Mrs Jones and Mr Price bumped into Ellie East (OM ’02-’10) who works in Hospitality there but also continues to pursue her singing/songwriter career. Also great that Joe Tooke (OM ’92-’98) continues his successful career in the film industry. He is currently working at Elstree on the next Marvel film. Fabulous also that Billy Mitchell (OM ’03-’12) who is captain of Millwall U18 and has now been signed by their first team as a professional footballer. Congratulations to everyone!
Patrick Hart (OM ’96-‘01) who is now a solicitor, was best man to Matthew Ives (OM ’94-‘01) when he recently tied the knot. Well done lads!
Anna Smith (OM ’98 -07) emailed us to let us know what she has been up to since leaving Merton Court in 2007. After attending Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School, she studied for a degree in English and American literature and after graduating, she was accepted into a graduate scheme for a top accountancy firm in London. Anna is now studying for an ACA with the firm, whilst volunteering for a local charity and has now become the corporate social responsibility representative for her firm. Excellent news!
It was lovely to see Francesca Elsey (OM ’91-‘00) when she visited us. She is now working at St Michael’s Preparatory School in Sevenoaks as an EYFS practitioner.
And finally… huge congratulations to Rhiannon Murphy (OM ’88-‘93) who, very recently, had a bouncing baby boy!
Is this a first” an all Merton Court wedding? Kyle Rashid (OM ’89-96) and Elinor McClarence (OM ’94-‘98) got married and now have a baby too. Congratulations!
Fabulous news from the Warman girls, Rhian (OM ’94-02) has an MSc from the University of Nottingham and has secured a placement this summer for the NHS in a scientific training programme to become a clinical scientist” the first out of 3000 students to do so. Bethan (OM ’97-‘05) also graduated from the University of Nottingham with a Research Masters and is starting a new role as a Scientific Writer for Barts Cancer Institute. Megan (OM ’00-‘08) is currently studying Liberal Arts specialising in Spanish at Royal Holloway University and will be continuing her degree next year in mainland Spain as part of the British Council programme teaching English/Spanish to young children.
It also was lovely to hear from Hannah (OM ’95-‘04) and James Duck (OM ’93-‘02), Hannah tells us that she achieved a First Class Honours Degree in Statistics and Economics at Birkbeck, University of London, and has now started on the graduate programme at the London Stock Exchange. James achieved a degree in Journalism and is working in Marketing.
Great to see Charlie Pollen (OM ’94-‘00) who told us that he is still playing rugby and has been running his own plumbing business.
Harry Jenkins (OM ‘99-‘07) emailed us. He is currently in his final year at Durham University studying for an integrated Master’s course in Biology. Harry will be embarking on an expedition to Borneo with Durham University Charities Kommitee (DUCK), this involves volunteering for five weeks with Fuze Ecoteer and Project Orangutan where he will be doing turtle and orangutan conservation as well as teaching tourists and school children about responsible, eco-friendly tourism.
Jaspinder Kalsi (OM ’91-‘97) has part qualified at AAT Level accountancy but has just completed a course in photography and is hoping eventually to do this as a business.
It was lovely to receive Christmas cards and news from more recent leavers and to hear that they are settling in well and working hard at their new schools, Sam Bowditch (OM ’10-‘17), Joshua Sonoron (OM ’13-‘16), Jaipreet Ladher (OM ’08-‘16)and her sister Pavan (OM ’08-‘14) and also Kirandeep Heer (OM ’08-’16) and her sister Jaiya (OM ’08-‘14) and William Khan (OM ’09-‘14). Beth Sankey (OM ’13-‘16) scored top of her year in her end of term maths test and gained a distinction in Grade 2 singing exam and An-Nhi Huynh (OM ’13-‘16) told us that she achieved the Maths prize and an Academic award at the Colfe’s Year 7 prizegiving. Well done to everyone and thank you for sharing your news with us as we love to hear from our old Mertonians.
It was sad but fascinating to read the obituaries in both The Times and Telegraph newspapers about Captain Michael ‘Tubby’ Crawford RN, DSO and Bar, who was born June 27 1917 and died June 28 2017, aged 100. The last surviving ‘Fighting Tenth’ Submarine Captain, his reputation as an unflappable submarine Captain in WW2 has become legendary, having survived 199 depth charges, sunk four ships and covertly landed commandos on enemy beaches…
Although slightly built, Crawford was nicknamed ‘Tubby’ because of his round face. After attending Merton Court with his older brother, he joined the Royal Navy at the age of just 13 years old, entering Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in 1931.
It was lovely to bump into Dean Farey and hear about Jake (OM ’86-’94) and Georgia Farey (OM ’87-’96) and how successful they have been, Jake in the music industry and Georgia in fashion.
Great news from Mitchell Fruin (OM ’98-’07) who graduated from Cambridge with a degree in Biology – he is now embarking on a Master’s degree. His sister Gemma (OM ’01-’10), is off to Liverpool University to study Physiotherapy.
It was excellent to hear from Blue Collard (OM ’08-‘16) and past head boy, as he begins Year 8 at Eltham College, having had a very successful year, receiving an academic award at Speech Day and having successfully passed a trial to join the ‘Pathway to England’ training trials with Kent County hockey.
Congratulations also go to, Dillon Jayasinghe (OM ’11-’16) who was awarded the Year 7 English prize at BETHS and also to Kirandeep Heer (OM ’08-’16), Amrit Kallar (OM ’08-’16), Jaipreet Ladher (OM ’08-’16) and Beth Sankey (OM ’13-’16) who were all awarded Year 7 prizes at Bromley High School end of year prizegiving. Great stuff! Keep it going!
Lovely to hear from some recent past pupils about their personal successes. Korede Fasina (OM ’11-’15) won form prize for his class and has settled in really well at Holmwood House, he was always a good runner and it is wonderful to see that he won the Kent League Individual Gold Medal and Team Gold Medal in Cross Country.
A fantastic well done to Robbie Smith (OM ’01-’09) for the extremely high level he is now playing at rugby. He played England Counties rugby against Ireland in Dublin. Sadly England conceded a try and lost the match on the last passage of play.
On the academic front, well done to Aman Kang (OM ’02-’11), who did really well in her GCSEs, with 8 A* and 4 As. She is now continuing her studies at Wilmington Grammar School for Girls 6th Form studying for four A levels.
We received a great email from Alex Cooley (OM ’93-’02) who along with her two older sisters attended Merton Court. Alex is working in Digital Marketing and recently picked up her swimming and netball again. Nicole (OM ’90-’98) has been living in China for approximately five years, teaching English and is currently living in Bejing; whilst Natalie (OM ’91-’00) is a Mental Health nurse at East London NHS.
News from past staff includes best wishes from Mrs Milan Jong who taught here in the 1990s and also from Mr Paul Harris who taught at Merton Court from 1995-1997. He is busy studying for an MSc in Earth Science and continuing to teach part time whilst also enjoying travelling.
It was very nice to hear from Nelson Pallister who attended the school from 1952-1954 and lives in Orpington. He would be delighted to hear from anyone who remembers him and also we received news about Richard Rogan and Andrew de Wolfe who also attended Merton Court in the early 50s.
We had a fascinating letter relating to Old Mertonian William Smalley Taylor, truly bringing this casualty of WW2 to life. We now know that William was born on 1st June 1911 in Edmonton and his father was a textile manufacturer in Sidcup. After Merton Court, William went on to Pocklington Hall School where he was a really good sportsman, actor and a prefect. In 1930 he went up to Cambridge to study Law first followed by Architecture. He left Cambridge in 1933 and married Elizabeth Margaret Taylor (nee Dalgleish) in 1940. He became a Barrister but that year he transferred from the Inns of Court Regiment (Cadets, OCTU, Sandhurst) and took up an emergency commission in the Regular Army to be a 2nd Lt. in the Queen’s Bays. He was killed in action in Libya on 27th June 1942 at the age of 31. The Bays’ Honeys (Light Tanks) had engaged an enemy column at Abu Batta, which was to become part of the historic Battle of El Alamein. How interesting! You can find his name on our War Memorial.
We also received a great letter from Richard Gibson OM, who was at the school at the time of Mr Blakeney’s headship. Richard remembers being evacuated from Blackfen in 1945 and two years later at the age of seventeen he enlisted in the Army for three years, serving in both Korea and Germany. In 1958 he married his wife Pat and had five children. He was a telecom engineer until he retired and then took up again a past sporting interest by becoming involved in Sittingborne and Milton swimming club where he became a Kent swimming official and also President of Medway ASA, in both 1981 and 2000.
Bob Castle contacted us too, to say that he attended Merton Court from 1946 to 1948 (when his family moved to Bristol). He was a keen and accomplished sportsman, playing rugby, cricket and athletics and went on to study PE and Geography at Loughborough College, representing the College at both tennis and squash. A successful teaching career followed at Ludlow Grammar School, Beckenham & Penge GS and Langley Park. He then became County PE Advisor in Suffolk and also became an Ofsted Inspector. He now tutors trainee teachers at Buckingham University.
And we have yet more news of recent OM’s too!
Well done to Joshua Mateola who has just left Eltham College to go up to the University of Exeter to study Economics and Politics.
Also to Tyrone Bruun who is going to Christ Church Canterbury to read Bio Science and to Carson Dennis who successfully graduated from Durham University.
Congratulations to Dylan Nathan who came 3rd in the 300m National athletics competition at Bedford International Stadium, representing Dartford Grammar School for Boys and also to Saffron Cambden (OM ’06-’15) who has been offered a place at the Central School of Ballet and a place at The Young Dancers Academy in West London, so she has a tough decision to make soon. This month she also won a choreographic competition, where her solo dance will be performed in a local theatre. Her prize was a term’s dance fees and a pair of signed and decorated pointe shoes from The Royal Ballet School – great stuff!
Charlie Jones (OM) ex ‘Stereo Kicks’ (X Factor) member, popped in to Mr Price’s office for a chat and a catch up! He has been working in LA for the past three month, with his new five piece band ‘Over Atlantic’. They will be releasing an EP very soon, so watch out for him-singing and playing rhythm guitar!
A big Well done to Korede Fasina (OM ‘11-‘15) who transferred to Holmewood House School on a scholarship last year. He was very proud to tell us the news that he has settled in really well and took part in the Townsend Warner History Competition along with a thousand other participates and is through to the second round. He also competed in the English Cross Country Association’s National Cross Country competition over 300O Metres, competing in the U13 (even though he is U12) and finished 49th of 440 finishers and his team finished 2nd out of 43 teams.
Congratulations also to Madison Clark (Merton Court Head Girl 2010), who’s done the double! Her very proud mum emailed us to say that Maddie has just been made Head Girl at Wilmington Girls’ Grammar School.
Well done to Matthew Cleary (OM 06-15) who joined Dartford Grammar School last year. DGS held its Year 7 Rugby Festival and Matthew’s House won. Matthew was named ‘Player of the Tournament’ (Out of 184 boys) and received his award from Mr Oakes, the Head.
We had a lovely Christmas communication from the Wake family, who emigrated to the USA in 2003 – great news that Connor Wake (OM ’97 -’03) had graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in December 2015, with a double major in computer science and Mathematics. We also had contact with the Kailey family and heard of their successes, Balrik (OM ’95-’00) is a Junior Doctor at the PRUH, Benita (OM ’95-’02) works for IBM and Amrik (OM ’95-’03) works in finance for RBS.
We also heard from a number of OM’s who would be interested in contacting any other OM’s that remember them. Roger Penniceard started at MC in about 1944 and was a pupil here until about 1948 when his family emigrated to Australia. The only thing he remembers from his lessons was starting Latin and learning ‘nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative and ablative’. In Australia Latin was not on the syllabus but he said that he always remembered those six words whenever Latin is mentioned. He also remembers playing marbles in the playground and travelling to and from Orpington by bus. On his way to school one morning he was nearly killed waiting at the bus stop in Orpington with his mother when a flying bomb exploded bringing all the shop roof tiles raining down on them and shattering the shop windows. He mentioned that the father of his best friend, imported bananas, a rare commodity just after the war. He gave some to Roger and it was his first taste of a banana! He returned to England in 1965 and in later life worked as the Senior Specialist Educational Psychologist for Deaf and Language Disordered Children for Inner London Education Authority. Roger is trying to write up his early life for his grandchildren and wanted any information relating to his time at Merton Court – can you help?
We also received an email from Steve Maile, whose late brother, Richard attended Merton Court during the 50’s. Sadly, Richard passed away last year. He believes that his friend John Palmer also attended the school? Steve told us that their father owned a painting and decorating business in Sidcup High Street and in Chislehurst. Richard lived his life for motor cars and motor racing and he won the Jim Russell Formula Ford driver of the year championship at Snetterton in the early 70’s and subsequently raced with distinction at Brands Hatch, Mallory Park and Lydden. Steve would be very interested to hear from anyone who knew Richard.
Lastly, we heard from Stephen Hurst (OM ’54-’56) – he is also researching information for a family archive. He remembers the well documented Meteor crash in the school fields and told us that for many years he kept a small piece from the wreckage in a shoe box. Stephen can only remember one teacher called Mrs Shellan, who would occasionally give him a lift to school on the back of her motor bike – there were no crash helmets in those days! He described how she would pick him up at the bus stop on Foots Cray Lane (a five year old boy going to school, waiting at the bus stop on his own – very different from today!) He also remembered a good friend of his, Chris Garvin, who was sadly run over outside MC and broke both of his legs. He made a full recovery and Stephen and he met up again at Cambridge University many years later and became good friends.
Great to hear from Clive Osborne (OM 52-58) who ‘Googled’ us remembering the Meteor plane which crashed in the corner of Merton field when he was here. It was reported in the local press and caused a great stir for the pupils at the time. He remembers past headmasters, Mr Blakeney and Mr Davies and fox hounds being brought up to the school fields for the local fox hunt, the pony club gymkhanas where he and other pupils manned the fences and the parent v school cricket matches with parents having to use bats with planed – down edges (you can still see one of these on the bottom shelf of the sports awards trophy cabinet outside our swimming pool). He went on to ‘Chis & Sid’ and then onto Newcastle University reading Civil Engineering and has been working in environmental/water engineering in the UK and Far East. Fellow pupils whose names still come to mind for him are Michael Vandersluys, Jimmy Thompson, Sam Pope and Timothy Salmon.
Great also to hear from Bethany Warren (Head Girl 2005) who set us a quick update to what she has been up to since leaving Colfe’s School. She has been studying acting at Italia Conti Academy of Arts in Clapham and has had the best time, and is hoping to take her one-woman show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival next year.
Well done to George Hawes-Gatt (OM 96-03) who has just completed a MA in Business at the UEA and is hoping to take up a post in China in the very near future and following the completion of his Masters in International Journalism, well done to Alex Longley (OM 96-03) who has a new job at Bloomberg.
Do any OM’s have news of their GCSE, A level or Degree successes as we are always delighted to be kept updated? Jake Moore (OM 98-07) for example did really well with A*AA in his A levels at Colfe’s and has now started work in the City.
A double success for Head Boy and Head Girl (2008)! Aran Tawana is leaving Eltham College to read Physics at Oxford and Emma Clark is leaving Sevenoaks School and has secured a place to read Medicine at the University of Exeter. We wish them every success!
Well done to Bryan Wong (OM ’03-’07), who undertook a teaching assistant placement with us.
Well done to Joe Taylor (OM ’97-’05) who had a teaching assistant placement with us last term. Ten years after leaving Merton Court, Joe thoroughly enjoyed working in J2C and was delighted that staff from his time here remembered him and he had the opportunity for a ‘catch up’ with them.
He commented on the wonderful learning ethos of the school and wished everyone well for the future. Good Luck, Joe!
He also emailed some great photos of his first days at Merton Court which made us smile!
Well done also to James McNulty (OM ’91-’98) who came back for his final PGCE teaching placement at the School and wrote to thank us for his very positive experience. Most of all he enjoyed seeing some familiar faces and heading back to his old classroom!
He praised the children for being smart, polite and courteous and a credit to the school. We wish him every success in his future teaching career.
It is always great to hear recent news from OM’s.
Well done indeed to Nathan Rodrigues (OM (’11-’13) in the Chislehurst and Sidcup Grammar School Annual Awards Ceremony, held last week, Nathan was awarded (for the second year running) both Sporting Scholar and Sporting Excellence Accolade, in his year group.
Outside of school he gained six gold medals in the 2015 Kent County Swimming Championships, he came third in the Kent Cross Country Competition and is now ranked in the top 10 in the UK by the Amateur Swimming Association. He has also been selected to swim for the South East in the National Swimming Championships in June.
Mrs Rodrigues was justly proud in emailing us and said, “I hope Nathan’s achievements can act as motivation to current Mertonians, of what can be accomplished by hard work and taking full advantage of what the school and its staff have to offer”.
Fantastic also, to hear from Nielsen Fernandes (OM ’03-’06) who emailed to say he was in his second year, studying Medicine at King’s College, London.
In a very kind letter, sharing some very fond memories he said, “I will always be grateful for my time at Merton Court and will always see it as one of the greatest forces I could have ever had”.
He should be very proud, as are we, of his achievements to date, and we wish him every success with his degree.
It was really great to see past Headboy Stuart Leat (OM ’92- ’00) at the opening, by Aldo Zilli, of our new school kitchens. Stuart is now a qualified accountant working at Canary Wharf. He told us also that is brother, Matthew (OM ’90-’98) now works for the Coast Guard and is a volunteer Lifeboatman. What an exciting job!
John Locke (OM ’39-’46) contacted us to ask if we had any football team photos from that period as his family were putting together a history of his life.
We had photos pre – 1939 and from 1946 onwards, however none from that period. The reason for this may well have been the disruption caused by the Second World War. Some of the school was evacuated to Combe Martin in Devon, others were evacuated to Butleigh in Somerset. Some stayed in London.
He also remembered playing football with OMs Bev Woollard and Michael Hollingsworth (whose team photos are on our OM website section), who remained local to the Sidcup area.
Finally, we had a most interesting email from Arthur Hayes who is researching the early days of the design and construction of the BBC Television Centre at White City in London.
Graham Richards Dawbarn (OM 1899-1907) was selected and commissioned by the BBC in 1949 to be the Architect for the BBC TV Centre project until it official opening in June 1960.
Arthur is planning on writing a biography of Graham Dawbarn, explaining his important influence on design in that period.
Graham was one of the first pupils to attend Merton Court and left on a scholarship to King’s School, Canterbury. In fact, both Graham Dawbarn and his brother A L Dawbarn (OM 1899-1905) are on Sports Day programmes we still have in our school archive (Graham won the egg and spoon race!) and both of them served in, and survived, the First World War.
You can in fact see A L Dawbarn’s name on our very first Honours Board, in the front entrance hall to the school.
It was wonderful to see Derek Rossitter, who during his visit found his brother’s name on our 1932 scholar’s board. Derek is 92 years of age lives in Wimbledon and is a children’s author. Books he has published include ‘The Greedy Pigeon and the Hungry Porcupine and Friends’. He decided to come back to see how his old school was and was delighted how the place had remained the same yet improved in so many ways.
Denise Yardley (Past joint chair of FOMC) emailed us to reminisce of ‘happy days at Merton Court’ messaging ‘very proud of our Mertonians’, as indeed we are! Megan Yardley(OM 94-03) , after gaining her degree in Politics, now lives in Bristol and works as a print consultant and Joe Yardley(OM 96-05) is a ski instructor in France. She also told us the good news that Michael Diggins(OM 94-03) works in advertising after gaining his degree in English Classics and Josh Diggins(OM 96-05) has just qualified as an electrician after three years of very hard work.
We also heard from Joshua Symonds(OM 95-04) who achieved a 2:1 in Business and Finance from the University of Lincoln. His sister, Isabelle(OM 98-07) has gone to Nottingham Trent University to study Fashion, Promotion and Communication.
Tom Angell(OM 04-09) who was always a keen rugby player contacted us last month. Tom and his family left to live in the Far East and he emailed to tell us that he had just played for the Hong Kong National Rugby Team, winning 31-10.
Well done to( Ellie-May Duhig (OM ’04-’12) who is Goal Attack for the U14 Kent Netball Team. Also to (James Garvey (OM ’11-13) and Daniel Mitchell (OM ’05-’13) who have got into the Kent U14 Rugby Team.
Great news from the Jenkins boys – George (OM ’96-’04) has graduated with a first in classics from Cambridge and is returning to take a Masters and Harry (OM ’99-’07) is going up to Durham University to Study Biological Sciences.
A big well done to Charlie Jones (OM ’08-’11) who appeared on the X Factor, got through the first auditions and is off to Boot Camp!
Alex Longley (OM ’95-’03) graduated with a First Class Honours degree in French and Politics from Bristol University and is now studying for a Masters in International Journalism.
It was lovely to see George Charalambous (OM ’98-’06) who is studying Dentistry at Plymouth University and Christine Hayman (OM ’94-’03) who is studying a PGCE at Kings College, London for Secondary School Maths teaching when they came for the opening of our Elizabeth Price Building.
Congratulations, also, to Mitchell Fruin (OM ’98-’07) who has gained a place this year at Oxford University.
Congratulations to Luke Lewis (OM ’85-’94) and his wife, Jenny, who are now the proud parents of a boy – Logan Beau Lewis – born on 25/03/14. Parents and baby are all doing well.
Well done, also to Charlotte Cooper (OM ’06-’12) who has been picked for the Kent U14 netball team.
Fabulous to hear from both OM’s and past members of staff over the Christmas holidays! Thomas Copp (OM ‘O5-’13) has been selected for the Kent cricket winter under 12 training squad and Rohan Sharma (OM’ 02-’11) in the under 14’s. Congratulations to them both. Great to hear from Michael Cato (OM ’98-’05) who went on to Wilmington Grammar School from Merton Court. He has just begun working in Victoria as a business analyst for John Lewis Partnership having completed his Diploma in IT Programming.
Wonderful news from Charlie Jones (OM ’08-’11) who has recorded his first record and video on ‘Youtube’ and has 5000 hits already. He has been releasing more videos over the past few weeks and his debut single is out in February. If you would like to check out his songs please go to: http:www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmIUd3CW8Jw&sns=em
www.charliejonesofficial.com or follow him on twitter @charliejsongs.
Anna Quiros, n-e Connolly, (OM ’94-’98) contacted us to say she was going to pop in and see us on our next Open Day. After attending Merton Court (where her love of drama was nurtured, she says) then Townley Grammar, she went on to study English and Drama at University. She trained as a teacher and is now Head of Drama at a Grammar School in Kent.
We received a wonderful email from David Leppard (OM ’42-’51). He is a retired RAF Air Commodore and currently writing a biography. As part of his research he came across our website.
During his prep school years he lived at The Station Hotel, Sidcup: the hotel was demolished many years ago. The headmaster in his day was Mr Blakeney, and he shared his responsibilities with Mr Davies. He well remembers the war years, although he says he was far more interested in collecting shrapnel than paying attention in class! One war story that he thought may be of interest was when he used to catch the 241 bus to school from Sidcup station to the end of Knoll Road. One day he nearly missed the bus, but it stopped a second time about twenty yards beyond the bus stop to permit an elderly lady to descend. This allowed him to board. As he was getting off the bus at Knoll Road he glimpsed something above and behind falling rapidly from the sky. A V2 rocket landed on the following 241 bus in Sidcup High Street, opposite the Black Horse pub. “God looks after sinners” he comments….
After Merton Court he attended St Edmund’s School, Canterbury until 1957 when he joined the RAF. He completed the three year course at the RAF College, Cranwell and then went on to fly several different types of aircraft and served in Gibraltar, Northern Ireland, USA (on exchange with the US Navy), Aden, several countries in Africa, Madagascar, Malta, Singapore, Borneo, Hong Kong, and Belgium. He also completed three tours of duty in the Ministry of Defence. He was the station commander at RAF Gatow in Berlin, before ‘the wall’ came down, and finished his time at RAF Scampton, where he was Commandant, The Central Flying School. There, in addition to training flying instructors, he commanded the RAF aerobatic team, ‘The Red Arrows’, with whom he flew regularly.
He left the RAF in 1989, but was head hunted to command The Royal Flight of Oman, responsible for flying the Omani Head of State, Sultan Qaboos, his family, and government ministers all over the world. He finally retired in 1992 and has lived in Penshurst, Kent ever since. He has fond memories of Merton Court and would love to hear from any OM that remembers him.
Nicola McIlroy (n-e Hodgson) who taught here in S1/S2 (1995-98) found our website whilst researching the postcode for an application for a new job. She said it brought back so many lovely memories that she decided to try and get in touch. She was delighted to see that Mr Christy and Mr Brightwell were still teaching in school and noted how much the school had developed over the years. She is living in Devon and has three children of her own (along with three dogs). She always was a keen competition sailor taking part at National level and still loves her sailing!
Great to hear from Chris Bashford (OM) who left Merton Court in 1951. Chris has been living in Bedfordshire for the last 40 or so years and writes, “I still rate MC as giving me the best grounding in life and knowledge anyone could wish”. If you would like to contact Chris, catch up with old friends or tell us about your time at MC please do so through our website.
We received a fascinating and poignant email from Graham Pickup relating to Captain Thomas Noel Dawkins (OM) who was killed in action in 1940. Graham Pickup’s father was Sgt John Pickup who was Captain Dawkins’ driver in the Royal Artillery and recounts the fierce fighting near St Valery en Caux during the British Army’s retreat to Dunkirk.
Thomas Dawkins, along with John Pickup and another NCO, ran into a Wehrmacht machine gun unit and tank, whilst surveying gun positions near Fecamp. Captain Dawkins was severely wounded in the arm. The two NCOs gave him first aid and delivered him to the dressing station at St Valery. John Pickup never knew what happened to Thomas (who, sadly, died of his wounds) and always wanted to know if he had survived.
The 51st Highland Division (which included the 23 Field Regiment, RA) was sacrificed as a rearguard to save the rest of the retreating BEF and on the 12 June,1940, the Division was ordered to surrender, including John Pickup who ‘went into the bag’ (captured) for the duration of the Second World War. Graham Pickup found Thomas Dawkins’ details through the ‘Lost Boys’ section of our website.
Peter Millson contacted us last week. He was a pupil from 1932-1937, under the headship of John Blakeney. He was extremely interested in our website which brought back so many happy memories for him. He now lives in South Africa and “wishes everyone (pupils, past and present) all very well.”
Glad to hear from Bev Woollard who was delighted to see two photos of his cricket and football teams in 1944/5 or thereabouts, on our ‘Old Mertonians’ section of the school website (under ‘News, information and events’). He wondered if anyone recognised any of the other faces? Bev lives in Dorking, Surrey, but recently had lunch with old classmates John Evans and Mike Hollingsworth who both still live in Sidcup. Bev is retired but keeps busy with his interests of photography and dinghy sailing. Why not try using the OM page to catch up with old friends?
Anyone remember George Balfour-Marshall who was a pupil here in the early 1950’s? He emailed the school this week. He was originally from Cardiff but his family moved to Sidcup in 1951. He sent us a lovely picture from 1953, with him wearing his M.C. uniform, especially for his brother’s christening! After attending Merton Court, George went on to Epsom College and subsequently became a Chartered Surveyor. He joined BP in 1970, then Fina, which ultimately became part of Total Oil. He retired in 2004, has one son, lives in Harpenden and would love to hear from any past OMs who were school friends of his?