LETTER: Fond memories of great education at Collyer’s

Your letters
Your letters

I read with great interest the article about Collyer’s, by Geraint Thomas, in the County Times.

It brought back many fond and happy memories of my time at Collyer’s, from1961-1966.

In 1961, Collyer’s was a soccer school, but the governors tolerated a ‘rugby club’. They then, in their infinite wisdom, scrapped the rugby club, in an effort to strengthen the soccer teams, despite the fact that many of the most popular masters played rugby!

I seem to remember that this had little effect on the football as, the rugby playing boys just moved to Horsham Rugby Club to play for either their colts’ team or one of their many other teams.

Pupils, like Geraint, who came from Crawley, were known as the Crawley Mob. They are still toasted each year at the Old Boys’ dinner.

I had a wonderful time at Collyer’ and in 1966 went to Leeds University to read Dental Surgery. I married in 1970 and qualified in 1971, being a kept man for a year, my wife having already qualified in pharmacy.

In 1975, we moved back to Sussex, to Warnham, with our three sons, all of whom also went to Collyer’s, a fact of which I was extremely proud.

Andrew, our eldest son, became a GP in Bolton, also marrying a pharmacist. Jon, our second son, is managing director of an electronics company and, very sadly, our youngest son, Jamie, died of advanced malignant melanoma, after a very short illness. He was just 37.

I had joined a dental practice in Billingshurst, where I had the privilege, dubious or otherwise, of having ten of my ex-teachers as patients.

I can remember treating Roland (Roly) Soper - Zoology and Botany, Dick Tidey (Greek, Latin and later, Russian), Jim Endacott (English), John Hamer (History), Vernon (Grrrr) Davies (English), his wife Rose (English), A. A. Henderson (Hendy) (History), Peter (Percy) Pointer (Physics), Tony Routley (Woodwork and Metalwork) and Ted (round the gym go!) Palmer (P. E. and Technical Drawing).

Most of these names will be familiar to Old Boys of my vintage. The Collyer’s connection continued when David Arnold (principal) became a patient.

Dick Tidey’s son, Nick, followed me to Leeds, to do dental surgery. Like me, he worked for a few years in Yorkshire on qualifying, before moving back to Sussex to join our practice. He is still in practice in Roffey.

When I was at Collyer’s they had, what seemed to me, to be an unusual punishment system.

A pupil would accrue ‘Merit Marks’ for misbehaviour, and if he collected enough in a certain time frame, he would be put ‘In the Merit’, which was detention on a Saturday morning. I thought that this was a contradiction in terms.

I have a lot to thank Collyer’s for. Most boys had a wonderful education. I felt honoured that I was able to put something back into what became the sixth form college, as I became a parent governor for six years.

I also had the honour of becoming president of the Old Collyerians’ Association, succeeding Vernon Davies. His name has been omitted from your list of headteachers. I think that Douglas Coulson actually left in 1964 and Vernon Davies was acting headmaster for a year until Derek Slynn arrived in about 1965.

Dr DERECK HILL

School Hill, Warnham

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