Statement from the Haberdashers’ Company

Statement outlining the outcome of the Robert Aske Legacy consultation

Robert Aske (1619-1689) was a silk trader, merchant and Master Haberdasher and one of this Trust’s greatest benefactors.  Thanks to the legacy (£32,000) he left to the Haberdashers Livery Company on his death, the Aske Charity was created.  Today there are 14 schools which are the beneficiaries of the Aske Charity, and over the 350 years since he left the legacy more than 100,000 pupils have received the benefit of an Aske sponsored education.  

Despite his philanthropic work, Aske’s life and work is not without some controversy.  In 1672, he made an investment of £500 in the Royal African Company.  This was a trading company which traded slaves from Africa to the West Indies between 1660 and 1708.  The majority of investors came from the City of London business community, and included the Duke of York (later King James II).  The history of the Slave Trade is painful and difficult to consider. It makes us question our assumptions about the past; answering these questions can deepen and enrich our understanding of our heritage.

The Trust began an extensive consultation in the summer term which concluded in July. There were a wide range of opinions from all stakeholders including pupils, parents, staff, alumni, local community and governors. Since the outset of the consultation, openness and transparency have guided discussions. 

The consultation focused on three key areas:

  • the current motto of ‘Serve and Obey’;
  • the use of ‘Aske’ in the name of the Trust and schools; and
  • the statue, paintings and other items related to Aske.

In some areas complete agreement was found on the way forward, in others, opinion was divided. But the Trustees took all points of view into consideration before agreeing the action to be taken.

The current motto, ‘Serve and Obey’, will be dropped by the Trust and by our schools. There was overwhelming agreement that its 16th Century origins need explanation and are no longer relevant to the society in which we live. It is important that pupils and staff feel a connection to any motto or strapline that will be adopted and discussions will begin on a new one as part of the Trust’s ongoing work on culture. 

There was a wider range of views regarding the use of ‘Aske’ in the name of our Trust and schools. Those in favour of its removal think that Aske’s investment – however small – was offensive, unacceptable and at odds with today’s values. Others thought that our school names are overly complicated and need refining, and that an opportunity has arisen to do this.

Those in favour of retaining ‘Aske’ believe that, through the legacy that founded the Haberdashers’ schools, Robert Aske benefitted generations of children. They also felt that historic acts should be viewed in the context of their time or that removing the name could be seen as tokenistic. 

Having taken all views into account and accepting that there will be inevitable disagreement, Trustees have decided that ‘Aske’ will be removed from school names and from the trading name of the Trust – this includes letterheads, signage and visuals in everyday use. It will be retained in the formal, legal name of the Trust, in recognition of the significant contribution made by the Aske Charity. The new trading name of the Trust will be Haberdashers’ Academies Trust South. This will be in use with immediate effect. 

Changes will be made on websites, letters and prospectuses and these changes will be seen quickly. The process for uniforms and school bags will take time and there is no expectation that current pupils purchase new uniform until they would ordinarily have done so.

This has been a challenging and complex discussion and every single voice has been an important part of the process. The Trust now has a range of learning opportunities: to support the understanding of historical acts, to look at events from different perspectives and to encourage the debate of difficult issues. To support this, we will seek to re-purpose the statue of Aske at Hatcham College. A formal committee will meet to review the extensive restrictions over its treatment and aim to contextualise it in a way that ensures alignment with the Trust’s values and longer-term educational objectives. 

There is an understanding and acknowledgement that not everyone will agree with the actions that are being taken, there will be some people who do not. Despite this difference, there is a unity for all involved and a genuine shared interest of our schools and pupils at heart. 

Askean Rugby Club – Change of Venue

We are now permanently based at The Rectory Field in Charlton Road, SE3 8SR (satnav, use SE7 7EY).

We have a Pre-Match Buffet on Sat 18th September, cost £10, for our first official function at our new Home.  The Pitchero website should hopefully be updated this week with the information on the new address.

‘Friends of Askean RFC’

One of the big big events at the Askean Rugby Club Dinner will be launch of a new charity ‘Friends of Askean RFC’, which has been created to support the rugby club and the local community.

It follows a very generous donation by a former player, Mike Lalley, who wants to put something back for all the good times he enjoyed playing for Askeans.

We are launching the ‘Friends’  website – It is your website and, with your help, we will update it on an on-going basis. Including details of a number of new planned and regular events.

‘Friends’ In Deed

We are excited about this new project and want as many Askeans as possible to get involved in the events and the website.

If you’d like to help the launch, there is a Just Giving page that will be opening next week,  for a  short while.Our aim is to build on the legacy and ensure the future of Askean Rugby
Watch out on the website and just giving.com updates and future emails.

Thanks for reading,

Steve Homewood,                    Paul Walsh, 

Chair Askean RFC                   Chair ‘Friends of Askean RFC’

The Club at Well Hall, Kidbrooke Lane, London, SE9 6FLRegistered Charity : 119261, England and Wales.

Click here to see the website
www.friendsofaskeanrfc.com

Fifty Years On

2009 was 50 years on since I started at Aske’s, along with a large bunch of other “weeds”. I thought of organising a reunion on Founder’s Day 2009. Reunions can be tricky things, there is always the question of will they get on when people haven’t met for years. I thought that Founders Day, where there is the church service followed by drinks and food at the school (at the “exorbitant” cost of £5) would be a suitable “melting pot”. Folk would then have the option of leaving straight after the wine and finger buffet or carrying on at a suitable local pub.
Despite an initial enthusiastic response to posting on Friends Reunited and the Old Askean Yahoo Group there were just three of us who made it from the intake of ’59. Myself, Peter Sidgwick and Bob Miller. Pete and Bob saw one another regularly; in fact they had been on the stage at a school prize giving as they had been sponsored by pupils on long distance charity bike rides that they had taken part in.

I had met Pete a few times since school but not seen Bob for some forty years although at school and home we were good friends. As always, the Founders Day service was well run and the standards to do not seem to have changed since I was at school. It is remarkable that in today’s society the prefects still wear gowns and seem to carry the same authority as they did when I was at school. Dermot Poston who was one of our best remembered teachers was there at we had a good reminisce with him. At the time we did not realise (at least I didn’t) that 1959 marked his first year as member of the staff.

After the wine and buffet what to do? Somehow, we found ourselves at the Market Porter at Borough Market. Arriving there at about 3:30 ish meant that the lunchtime crowd had gone and it was too early for the evening mob. We had a great few beers together. As seemed inevitable, since we had all been members, we ended up talking about the Explorers’ Club and the expedition to Norway. As we chatted on, we were asked by a group of Norwegians of all people if we would take a group photo. We asked them to join us and we explained what we talking about. The beer continued to flow. After a couple more rounds each we decided that we should call it a day as none of us were up to the third round, certainly not after the lunch-time wine! All in all a good day, a shame that more of us were not present and that the only photos of the three of us are on a Norwegian’s camera! Maybe more of us will be there in 2019!

Barry Mellish (1959 – 1966)

Old Askean AGM 8th July 2021 – Draft Minutes

Minutes of the 134th Annual General Meeting of the Old Askean Association

held by Zoom on Thursday 8th July 2021.

         The President A.T. Jordan-Smith took the chair and opened the meeting at 6 pm.

Present:                        NR Goodman                          R J Sandler

                                      S K Homewood                      A Bolton

                                      D C Johnson                           D Barrett

                                      A Jordan-Smith                       G Fairburn

                                      B R Mellish                             A Ayling

                                      M R Nason                               T Pitman

                                      M J Nicholls                            G Lambert

                                      D G Powell  

          Apologies for absence were received from the following members: 

                                                M C Black                              P Ayling

                                                R Pawley                                 G Bunce

                                                G V Wickens                          P Duggan

                                                R Noble

1.   To consider and adopt the Minutes of the 133rd Annual General Meeting (published in the Old Askean edition Nov 2019)

      Proposed:   B Mellish      Seconded:  T Pitman  Carried

2.  OLD ASKEAN ASSOCIATION – PRESIDENT’S REPORT 2021

Ladies, gentlemen, friends, family and of course all Old Askeans, young and old. As my third year in office comes to an end, who would have thought the past 15 months would have caused us so much upheaval and uncertainty in the world that we are now living in. So here we are for which will be our last (I hope) OAA AGM, and committee zoom meeting, I for one am looking forward to getting back to normality, or whatever it looks like at least post pandemic….

I would like to follow on by thanking all of you that have helped me in my third term, albeit under zoom meeting conditions and as President of the Association, it again, has been an honour and a privilege to undertake this role. 

At this time in the proceedings, I would normally have reported what a bumper year that we have had through our social’s events and the like bit COVID put pay to that and here we are at the AGM and still not managed to see you all face to face. Worry ye not!! The committee has come together bi-monthly to hold their meetings via zoom and as always, they have been fun and productive, and we have been thriving behind the scenes.

This year the committee have met to discuss OASLA, the School Pavilion Development and more recently Robert Aske and his association with the slave trade. Thanks goes out to those who have given input and your feedback has been greatly received.

We have seen some changes this year on the committee, notably Dennis Johnson finally leaving us to enjoy some peace and quiet. A massive thank you from me for all that you have done, not only for me, but the committee and all Askeans, you will certainly be missed and tough shoes to fill. I hope that this does not come as news to you all, but Gary Bunce has now taken over as Editor of our ever-popular magazine and all contact details can be found on the OA website. 

Whilst I have been in office the OAA Golf Society has been resurrected and again we are waiting for dates where we will be able to thrash a few balls around and sup a beer or two. The City Diners again will be advertising some lunch dates in the not-too-distant future, and we will be resuming our Advent lunch in November. Please look out for all dates on the website as we again have arranged our Annual Lunch at the RAF Club next April. http://www.oldaskean.org.uk/dates-for-your-diaries/

The Askean RFC has survived the COVID season, and this again is down to the continued support and hard work of the committee and in particular Ian Lunn. A big thank you goes to the current squad who have stuck together and look forward to next season resuming. They have an event coming up which I would like to share with you.

ASKEAN RFC EVENT

I am very pleased to announce that the End-of-Season, New-Season, Launch of the Friends of Askean RFC Charity Dinner is to be held on: –

FRIDAY 6TH AUGUST

The event is at RECTORY FIELD

7.00PM – DOORS OPEN

7.30PM – FREE ‘CHAMPAGNE’ BAR

8.00PM – SIT DOWN 2 COURSE MEAL

SPEECHES – PRESENTATION OF AWARDS + LAUNCH OF ‘FRIENDS OF ASKEAN RFC’ CHARITY

1.00AM BAR CLOSES

ALL FOR JUST £25 A HEAD

This is a unique night for the Club, particularly with the launch of our new Charity – it is open to all members/players/supporters/your partners/family etc. What better way to celebrate our enforced incarceration? Come along and join us for an evening of fun, food, drink and, most importantly, a chance to meet with your old (ex) teammates to discuss lockdown stories and tales of yesteryear.

As usual, we will be looking for good friends of the club to help the younger members who may otherwise not be able to join in. Remember our younger days when we were ‘entertained’ by the older club members plying us with alcohol. It will be greatly appreciated if you can confirm to me your contribution, whatever sum you are able to offer. Just confirm to me how much you would like to contribute, and I will give you my bank details to make a transfer.

The committee are always striving to organise events throughout the year as to accommodate everyone’s tastes. It goes without saying that without your support and attendance, these events would not be able to be held and I must say in some beautiful and historical buildings, so I urge you to keep supporting them and ensure that you bring another OA or a friend along to the next one, as we can only grow and get better. 

Thank you again for all your support and look forward to seeing you soon.

Andy Jordan-Smith

President

Old Askean Association

2018/19; 2019/20; 2020/21

Proposed B R Mellish     Seconded A J Bolton             Carried

3.   To consider and adopt the Annual Accounts of the Association for the years ending 31st March 2020 and 31st March 2021. The Treasurer mentioned that no queries have been raised and there is a large surplus due to little activity and no items sold. The magazine costs have been covered by subscriptions. The Accounts were discussed and put to the meeting. 

Proposed:    A Jordan-Smith             Seconded:  T Pitman           Carried

  4. To elect the Officers of the Association for the year 2021-2022

      There were no nominations from the members, therefore the Committee has nominated:

      President………………………………………………………………………….. A T (Andy) Jordan-Smith 

      Immediate Past President…………………………………………………… M J (Mike) Nicholls

      Senior Vice President………………………………………………………… G (Gary) Bunce

      Junior Vice President…………………………………………………………. P (Peter) Ayling

      Membership Secretary and Registrar…………………………………… A J (Alan) Bolton

      Secretary…………………………………………………….      R J (Richard) Sandler                                                                                

      Treasurer……………………………………………………………. S K (Steve) Homewood

      Social Secretary                                                                            N R (Roger) Goodman

      Proposed:   R J Sandler         Seconded: A Jordan –Smith       Carried en bloc

  5. To elect two Ordinary Members of the Committee for the years 2021-2022

      P J (Paul) Duggan is retiring and has offered himself for re-election

      The committee has nominated M C(MC) Black and P J (Paul) Duggan

      BR (Barry) Mellish is deemed to have been re-elected in 2020 (when covid19 prevented   the holding of an AGM) and has one year to serve. The Committee has been unable to nominate a second member and will fill the remaining vacancy under Rule 5.10 

      Proposed:   R J Sandler         Seconded:  A Jordan-Smith               Carried

6. To consider any Resolutions or Business previously given in writing in accordance with Rule 8·4. 

    None were given 

ANY OTHER BUSINESS

The President said that Dennis Johnson is stepping down from the Committee and was warmly thanked by all members for his many and valuable years of service

Alan Bolton gave a list of new members and a list of those that have sadly died since the last AGM in 2019 and they are:

New Members since the last AGM in 2019

  • Alan Ayling
  • Mark Bowen 
  • Gareth Davies 
  • Hatim Dungawalla
  • Ian Ferguson
  • Joe Grossi 
  • Ian McAllister
  • Trevor Pitman
  • Carl Thomas

Members who have died since the last AGM in 2019

  • Donald Ballantyne
  • Phil Bingham
  • Peter Collison
  • Robert Dawe
  • Peter Dunkle
  • Harry Edwards
  • Tony Harding
  • Alan Scott
  • Roy Smith
  • Ian Valentine

The President reported that he has found some more information relating to Peter George Fogden under the ‘Freedom of Information Act’ and as some of you remember it was, he who was remembered by the Askean RFC Scoreboard. AJS hopes to put a small piece together for the next addition of the magazine highlighting his relatively short live until he was MIA presumed killed.

There was a general discussion over the controversy of Robert Aske and his links with the slave trade. Steve Homewood stated that the school has a 3 stage plan to investigate by research; canvassing the views of students, parents, teachers and alumni and finally evaluating what they find before coming to any decision. The Haberdashers Company, who still owns the land, will not permit the removal of Haberdashers from the school title. . The company still funds to the extent of £300000 pa and therefore has a major stake in what is to happen at the school.

The President reported that the school motto “Serve and Obey” is under severe threat as not being appropriate for the modern era.

Dennis Johnson pointed out that the statue of Robert Aske is listed and therefore safe from removal at present. 

The views of The Hatcham Association were of interest to the meeting and Steve Homewood reported that the 3 representatives at the zoom meeting were firmly against any change of name.

From a social perspective, Steve Homewood reported that the City Diners would restart in September. Roger Goodman confirmed that the Advent Lunch is still, at present, going ahead.

Finally, Geoff Fairburn has an original artist’s impression of The Kidbrooke Squash Courts which he will pass on to the Committee.

The meeting closed at 6.35pm with a vote of thanks to Barry Mellish for facilitating the use of Zoom for the meeting

Signed………………………………………………………………………….

Some memories of Pete Collison

Some of us were at school with Pete from 1959 – 1966, to say that we stunned by his untimely death is to put it mildly. His widow Lindy is trying to gather as much information as she can about Pete during his early years. There are some Youtube Video clips that have been put together which you might find interesting and amusing:

Pete Collison RIP

It is with deep sadness that we have to announce the death of Pete Collison who died a few days ago. Pete was at Aske’s from 1959 – 1966. Pete lived in South Africa and his memorial service is being held on Monday 19th July. The service will be streamed and details will be published when known. We offer our condolences to his widow Lindy and all his family and friends.

Tony Harding Funeral Eulogy – by his son Lawrence

Reflections from a Son on his dear Father, Antony John Harding (9th Jan 1933- 27th Dec 2021) “ Tony” or “AJH” 

I could of course speak the whole day, and more, about him. There is so much to talk about. What’d I like to do however is to talk about the wonder and the joy of being a true “ Everyman” He was so full of life and spirit, at his prime- which lasted many years, in its pomp, in its essence and in its being. As is well known, and is such well represented here at this service today by some of the young minds he formed and lives he touched, as a Teacher and as a Mentor- and in so many cases their futures that he remained passionately linked to, involved with, and interested in- his “beating heart” was always about taking potential, whomsoever that might be as long as they were interested, and having the pleasure and fulfilment of seeing that potential flourish into a fully formed reality. The most wonderful gift that he, together with dear Mum, Nancy, bestowed on me their only child, was the confdence and ability to not just communicate with, but feel people from different voices from different lands, from different socio-economic backgrounds, “princes and paupers”, you name it! This was because my Father had this gift in abundance to hand down, a beautiful contrast in his persona, which provided him with a great depth of character. He was the person of authority of course, the teacher, the mentor… but he was at times quietly, then at certain times, quite outspokenly ”anti- authoritarian” (with Mum not being a “shrinking violet” in this department either!) This was seen particularly in the support of an underdog, especially if he felt that individual had beengiven the “thin end of the wedge”. This could move him very passionately in the defence of said person or ideal. He was stubborn – yet flexible, appeasing and accepting when the “chips were down”, as for example there have been several times in my life. He was as strong as they were- and yet he was vulnerable. I personally got to understand over the years and by watching and learning from him that to be one of these, you had to be the other too! He was a man of intense conviction… but equally a man of compassion and of faith. And as a quintessentially Man of Letters and the Arts, which outside of his family was his unabiding passion and interest, he was a hopeless romantic, and always encouraged the people he cared for to follow their dreams. But more than anything: he was a kind and generous man with everything he had, but most importantly his time…… So when thinking all this through, for these few words can never do justice to describe the reflections of this Son for this particular Father, with all the vast amounts of literature- including his own work- I could have used, I was drawn to an old poem by Rudyard Kipling, that I keenly remember him carrying to me at a young age, that would sum up so much of what I have tried to describe here before.Here is Kipling’s poem “IF”

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

 

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Tony Harding – a memory

Tony Harding, Old Askean and former English teacher at the school died peacefully on 27th December. His son Lawrence was with him. He was such a great support to so many both at school and afterwards. One of his former pupils writes:

I just heard that one of the stalwarts of Aske’s, the amazing and much loved Tony Harding, died yesterday. I doubt those of a more recent generation will have heard of him, but he was the head of English for decades and a real genuine academic who spent his entire career at Aske’s, of which he was himself an old boy, that must have covered nearly 50 years. I think it’s fair to say he was one of a handful of teachers that from the 60s on drove the reputation for excellence that Aske’s used to enjoy and that made it the most oversubscribed school in London. In many ways Telegraph Hill as an area exists in it present format because of what he helped the school to become. If you loved literature then you loved Tony. He was not without his faults for sure, but generally a great bloke and a very involved teacher during his whole career. His school plays were legendary. I once made an overly arch pointing gesture when I was playing Julius Caesar and his on-the-nose remark was, “A bit more gravitas and a bit less Hermione Gingold, old chap.” I had heard that he was in bad health and he was, of course, going on 90. Sadly CV restrictions must mean attending his funeral is out of the question. I often remember when I mentioned to him that I was thinking of asking a girl in one of the productions out (which would have been my first date if she hadn’t turned me down!) he recommended the Spaghetti House to me as it was cheap but still ‘up West’ and said, “Hold on a minute,” and went to the stationary cupboard where he took out a collection of the Metaphysical poets. “Take this. You can’t go far wrong with that. Keep it.” That’s the kind of man he was.

Funeral Eulogy for Michael Sidgwick

My name is Peter Sidgwick, Michael’s younger brother and I’m here to talk about him and his life and to express the thoughts and feelings of his daughter Lucy and his son Nicholas

Michael was born on 21st May 1941 in Farnborough Hospital which made him a very proud Kentish Man.

Our parents had married the previous August so he was clearly conceived very soon after the wedding, not surprising really as Dad was in the Navy and about to go to sea for most of the next five years. With him away at sea, Michael was brought up by my mum and grandmother, first in Catford then when the Blitz was getting ever closer back to the relative safety of his birthplace Farnborough. When Dad ‘s ship was refitting in Wallasey Dock on the Wirral for a few months, Michael and Mum moved up there to be with him for a while but then it was back south and a fatherless existence until the end of the war.

Once victory had been achieved, the family was reunited and they moved into a house in Benbury Close just round the corner from Beckenham Hill Road near Southend Village.

In 1947, I arrived as one of the baby boomers and by now Michael had begun school at Torridon Road School in Catford.

I think I was regarded as an irritant in my early years; one of the things I did which irritated him especially was my strange desire to remove all the tyres from his Dinky toy cars.

Then our Dad’s job took us up north to Sheffield and for a while it looked as if Michael’s accent was going to change drastically; our time there was short lived however and after a couple of years we returned to London but the time spent in the steel city did have a profound effect on big brother as he became a lifelong supporter of Sheffield Wednesday football club. Mind you to my knowledge he never got to see them in the flesh.

By 1951 we were settled in Grove Park and a year later Michael passed the 11 Plus and was given a place at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham Boys’ School.

My abililty to irritate him persisted and on one occasion he got his own back in spades though I have to hope that he didn’t act on purpose.

We were playing cricket in a local park. He was batting and I was told to keep wicket. What I was not told was that it is not advisable to stand about three inches from the stumps. The bowler bowled, Michael raised his bat to swipe the ball but instead swung it right round over his shoulder and smacked me firmly in the gob.

Our exploits with cricket continued some years later when I was the batsman and he was the bowler. This was in our back garden in Grove Park. He retreated right to the bottom of the garden, turned and took a flying run up to deliver the fastest delivery possible. This time I was ready and determined not to sustain another injury at his hands. The ball was released, flew through the air at a fearsome rate of knots and I ducked enabling it to smash through the dining room window directly behind me. I can’t remember which one of us was blamed.; I think he was. But I guess it made us even stevens in the world of cricket. 

It was at Aske’s that Michael found the sport which really suited him and which became a passion for the rest of his life; the game of course was rugby. But much more of that a little later. Michael worked as a van boy on Saturdays at a local bakery in his middle teens, presumably to pay for his fags; in those days Senior Service was the cigarette of choice. Much later when I had secretly taken up the filthy habit, I would relieve him of one or two of them from the packet which he always unwisely left on the hall table overnight. My thieving sometimes resulted in a serious ear bashing if not an actual clip round one of those ears.

Despite the filthy habit, Michael was a keen cyclist and I remember him once polishing off the 70 odd miles down to Deal in Kent on his Dawes racer to join the rest of the family on holiday.

Some years later, when he had recently passed his driving test, he and I had been out on a day trip to the coast, that was Deal as well as I recall. On the way back in our parents Wolseley 1500 the car in front of us on a winding country road suddenly and unaccountably stopped and we drove straight into the back of it; no one was hurt and there was minimal damage. We were convinced that Michael was a blameless victim until it was explained that he was at fault as he was guilty of driving without due care and attention; that was another accident which did not exactly delight our dear old man. 

In his late teens, skiffle music was all the rage and with some fellow Askeans, he formed a skiffle group in which he played the washboard with great enthusiasm and no little skill. Thimbles were fitted to the fingers of one hand and with the other one holding the washboard up right, a very effective percussion accompaniment could be provided to back the singers, guitars and banjo by dragging the thimbles over the corrugations of the board.

The group didn’t quite rival Lonnie Donegan, the big star of the time but they regularly played at skiffle nights at Chislehust Caves.

It wasn’t just skiffle that Michael enjoyed; He developed a love for modern jazz and he quickly passed that love on to me; a gift for which I am eternally grateful. This was the period when it really paid to have a brother six and a half years older than oneself because he took me to concerts and clubs that your average 13 or 14 year old just wouldn’t have got to in those days. As a result, I was able to see such greats as Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck and Oscar Peterson. On top of that there were visits to folk clubs in the area to see such performers as another Askean the late Joe Stead, a dear friend of Michael’s.

After Aske’s Michael trained to be a Quantity Surveyor and worked for several building companies in the London area and ultimately for the erstwhile Greater London Council.

He also met the love of his life Judy and they married in 1966; I was honoured to act as his best man at the wedding in Christchurch Priory and six years later I was able to return the compliment when he was my best man. Michael and Judy enjoyed 48 years together in Farnborough and latterly in Lydd before her death in 2014. In the process they produced these two fine people here with us today, daughter Lucy and son Nicholas.

Here are the thoughts of his daughter Lucy.

My overriding legacy from Dad is our unique language “Animal language ” as Mum and Dad called it. To most it’s nonsensical. Dad would talk of griefing all the sweets which meant helping himself to the lot of them! 

   When our cats pushed around our legs, we would say that the fuffies were fuffying. Nick & I are the only ones now fluent in this strange language. .Mind you the grandchildren used to say that Grandad was griefing all the sweets. So that expression will live on in the family.

   He had so many funny sayings. 

When getting Nick to tidy his room he’d say

” If it’s clean put it in the drawer, if it’s dirty put it in the bin”   

   “Back on the coach!” he would say, and he was a stickler for time keeping. “LATE!” could be heard often. Even towards the end of his life he’d be checking his watch & asking the time constantly as if he had somewhere to be. The carers commented on that. He was a creature of habit and liked his meals at a certain time much like all the Sidgwicks. Nick & I still do!  

I remember taking him yummy cakes and especially cream doughnuts.

In his last years, he had gone from being a beer drinker and a fag smoker to someone who preferred lemon squash and coke and sweets and chocolate bars of all sorts, especially Bounty bars The carers said he had more sweets than a sweet shop. As for entertainment, it was BBC Radio 5 Live for all the sport and waiting for the football results especially for his beloved Sheffield Wednesday.

We are so grateful to Dad’s carers His three favourites were working together on the evening before he died and reported that that they were all laughing with him because his voice sounded husky & sexy .We’d like them to know how much we appreciated their kindness and how grateful we are that they were with him at the end holding his hand.

After he’d slipped away, Nick and I gained comfort from the sight of him obviously at peace. We remembered the words of this poem:

“And when we saw you sleeping, so peaceful and free from pain. We could not wish you back to suffer that again.” 

 . 

To finish in our language, Goodbye From your Daught t ta & Snorbitz. Sweet dreams Ninke.

And this is Nicholas’s tribute on behalf of himself, Nancy his wife and the three grandchildren, Archie, George and Florence.

 ”  Nicky tea ” came a foghorn voice from the bottom of the park about 800 metres from where we lived. I remember all my friends giving me a lot of stick saying “Daddy says it’s time for tea” 

    Dad was banging an antique gong ,as I ran home from playing football. 

  He was a strong figure of a man bright, intelligent and with a great sense of humour And he was loving with a big heart but he would tell you off with a loud bark and he didn’t take any nonsense .His passion for soul music & later jazz funk, set the way for me to explore other genres of music. 

  And then there was his Rugby. He was a very committed player & fixture secretary for the Askeans, where he had many great friends. 

Gone but never forgotten Dad, Forever Love, Nicky

As Nick has just recalled  Michael had a passion for rugby and in particular the Askeans.

He was a very useful second row forward playing sometimes for the first team and many, many times for the Princes, the second fifteen. I’m proud to say that I had the pleasure of partnering him in the second row on at least one occasion. But playing the game was only part of his contribution to the club. In the 60s and 70s as the club went from strength to strength, Michael took on the role of Fixture Secretary and worked tirelessly to build an increasingly impressive fixture list which meant matches against some very tough opponents both in England and Wales.

The family is very grateful for the presence here today of several Askeans and for the tributes received from Jim Russell, Colin Brewer, Dave Shute, Steve Homewood, Barry Mellish, Dave Wickerson, Tony Mimms, Graham Evans and Peter Dessent. All spoke of his great contribution to the club and his lively personality especially in the bar after matches where he often led the very boozy and bawdy singing of rugby songs.

It’s a measure of the high regard in which he was held that the club decided to bestow upon him the honour of a life membership. 

 Sadly in his late middle age, Michael began to suffer ill health.. He finished working as a quantity surveyor and briefly ran a floristry business with Judy which unfortunately was not successful. As his health deteriorated it was decided to leave Farnborough and move down to Lydd on Romney Marsh. Inititally this gave him a boost and he enjoyed a happier time even joining an amateur dramatics group and playing a villain in a pantomime. He also worked as a volunteer on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. But the happier time was short lived as Parkinson’s Disease began to take hold of him. His mobility was seriously compromised, so much so that it became necessary for him to be admitted to a care home. After a short time there, he was transferred to a second home and it was whilst there that his wife Judy died. The house was sold and Lucy arranged for him to be transferred to a third home in Longfield near her and her brother. This home was excellent and as you have heard already he received wonderful care from the staff, some of whom are with us today. His condition gradually worsened and he was admitted to hospital on several occasions. In his last few months he really was a shadow of his former self but he accepted his lot stoically, never complained and gratefully accepted the care lavished on him.

Having only recently been discharged from yet another stay in hospital, Michael returned to the home last month but his condition did not improve and finally he fell peacefully into unconsciousness and drifted away on August 28th at the age of 79.

You’ll always be remembered Grandad. Sleep well big brother. Rest in peace Dad