EMAILS FROM IVOR RICHARDSON
Just browsing idly on OP website and the name of ‘Tuff’ Hendry caught
my eye with news of his 80th birthday celebration dinner.
This would make him 88 this year and I sincerely hope he is still going
I came from a very poor family and in later years, studying to be a teacher
myself, I found that (along with many others) I was the subject of a study,
‘The working class boy in a Grammar School’. I was mainly oblivious of
its nuances at the time but it is probably reasonable to say I was looked
upon (again, with several others) with some disapproval, resentment even,
by much of the ‘establishment’.
My point is that Tuff was never part of that, more to the contrary in
fact. I have always owed him particularly, together with some of his colleagues,
a great debt for the encouragement and support he gave me in bolstering
my severely wounded (but unconscious) confidence at the time.
However, just being at Palmers, albeit with minimal academic success,
made a profound impact on my life.
Tuff must have started at Palmers the same year as myself (1950), in a
somewhat different capacity of course. But he was new too, and it helped.
Perhaps that is why many of the photos he submitted, were of that era
Anyone attending at that time would feel the same delight as myself at
the responses they provoked. I recognise many faces, which inevitably
provokes the thought of how life panned out for them.
I think Mr.Hendry must have had a very satisfying one considering his
attendance at the dinner in 2008.
Coming finally to my main point concerning the photographs, there is picture
of a lad diving from a 3 metre board at Bata swimming baths. It was at
the annual swimming gala/competition for 1950 or 51 and it is me (Ivor
Richardson...who Tuff habitually called ‘Ifor’). I was representing Brooks
House and came second. I was beaten by Robert Jones who I remember as
a super lad, who went on to win it again the following year when I came
third. He appears again in the photos, notably in the one of 1953 East
and North Dorm boarders.
My photo was taken by a lad called Johnson or Johnston who lived in Tilbury.
I think his Christian name was Barry. It is very good, maybe even a fluke,
considering his age and the technology available to him at that time.
I treasured this photo for several years until I was called up for National
Service in 1958, when I left it behind with a girlfriend who then found
someone else. I have never seen it since.
You can imagine my astonishment and joy to see it among those submitted
by the wonderful ‘Mr.’ Hendry...
My sincere hope is that ‘Tuff’ is still around, perhaps to take a little
pleasure from this smidgeon of information lost among the vast collection
of memories in his career.
Yours sincerely...Ivor Richardson...
Hello Ruth... Thank you so much for the news of Mr. Hendry and the attached
copy of ‘Old Palmerian’ which I found most interesting, along with an
appreciation of the hard work that goes into its production. I am sure
there are many like myself who have good reason to be grateful for its
existence. I have been wallowing in nostalgia ever since I discovered
‘my’ photo among those left behind for the magazine, by ‘Tuff’ Hendry.
I can’t describe the rush of grief and loss I felt on seeing your news,
as if a small but cherished part of my life had been dismantled, but reading
his obituary did much to assuage the sadness. He draws attention to the
impact of then Headmaster, Mr. F J Jordan and the values he imparted in
the paragraph, ‘significant others’. These values permeated the ethos
of the school, to the considerable advantage of those whose characters
it was shaping. I think the ‘Old Palmerian‘ bears testimony to that.
I met Mr. Jordan face to face occasionally, or rather, not face to face.
He caned me, several times, four cuts on one occasion, for not doing set
homework; the old fashioned way of ‘earning your stripes’.
Swimming naked tended to reveal evidence of those meetings, to the delight
of those around you...the embarrassment not just for being naked. But,
there was prestige in it too.
I later earned a book prize for ‘Progress’ (which I still have). Just
seeing your address provoked nostalgia.
For five years I did a paper round for the newsagent on Southend Road,
(Bridges, I think it was, near the school crossroads), delivering among
others to JMP (Jimpy) Grove, maths teacher and form master.
I knew Brian Coker (Rowland Hall) who lived just round the corner from
the school (there’s a story in there but not for now). His mother was
the most sweet and gentle ‘lady’ (in every sense), who gave me much encouragement
and five shillings (quite a sum for a ten year old in 1950) for passing
the ‘scholarship’ as we called it, gaining my love and respect in perpetuity.
Other ‘faces’ I recognise in Mr. Hendry’s obituary, the 1953 football
team photo, include ‘Bill’ Bloss’ (four left, shot putter and Victor Ludorum),
Peter Gorin (five left, g/keeper, in my form, a year younger than the
others) Norman Harris (seven left, whose father owned the local coach
He terrified me at East Thurrock but who later proved to be a charming
and helpful ‘gentleman’, Tony Carr (second right, first row, also East
Thurrock. Another super lad, his mother was my very first teacher as an
infant at East Thurrock, a very kind and lovely lady).
That’s about it...Sorry if I’ve gone on...emotion carried me...
All best wishes...Ivor Richardson...
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