Festivals and in St Paul’s – rather fittingly this was to celebrate
the UK joining the Common Market. He wanted to become a
professional singer, but there are only limited openings, so he
decided to sing for pleasure and use his voice to good effect by
moving into teaching. With his classical training Chris managed
to miss the influence of popular music during the swinging 60s
In 1976 Chris arrived at Pinewood, a small, fairly dilapidated prep
school of fewer than 100 boys. He arrived to discover his living
quarters, which were to have been where the present Pre-Prep
library and loos are, had burnt down during one of the hottest
summers on record. His first couple of terms were spent in
‘Laughter’, now a boys’ dorm and then, on the departure of the
school housekeeper, he moved into No 1 Pinewood Cottages.
There he remained, until about ten years ago when he moved
into a village Alms House.
Music was taught in the present Art Room with instrumental
teaching and practice taking place in free classrooms, corridors
and broom cupboards! Chapel duties involved him being in
school on Sundays for morning and evening services, so he had
Thursdays free and would enjoy a full English breakfast in
Littlewoods, Swindon. Chris’s main instrument is the pianoforte,
but during class music lessons the children were taught how to
play the recorder. A number of Old Pinewoodians remember
these lessons well and one said, ‘he was teaching a Year 8 class
of twelve children when he realised all bar two or three were
miming. He slammed the lid of the piano down and screamed,
“Lord give me strength, no wonder I don’t have any hair”.’
As well as organising all the music he helped arrange the Choir
tours to Germany and Tuscany. He founded the Choral Society
with rehearsals taking place in the Orangery (now the Library).
Long will be remembered his performance of Rossini’s ‘Cat
Duet’, which he sang with Jeremy Lane. Few will know that Chris
taught English in Lower School, coached Bottom Game Rugby
and ran the 3rd XI (Pensioners) cricket team. Chris also helped
with many Leavers’ Trips. For years Chris maintained the
swimming pool and he kept it in good order through the summer
holidays so staff and their families could use it. When the school
raised money through sponsored walks Chris helped organise
and mark. He had the keys and organised two important areas:
the Stationery Cupboard and the Wine Cellar; woe betide
anybody brave enough to raid either behind his back!
I have received many comments from Old Pinewoodians and
staff alike and the majority say that despite his sometimes
grumpy exterior he is one of the kindest men they know. A couple
of people commented that it was wonderful the way he enjoyed
food and wine and one mother said that her son had always
wondered whether it was Chris who was Father Christmas. He is
also great company. During his forty years at Pinewood he has
only had a handful of days off sick. One of them may well have
been caused by the trauma of leaving his car engine running
whilst he nipped into school only to find it had been stolen! Many
of you may know that in the 80s Chris was known as Ralf
(Rejected Alien Life Form) named after the pianist in the Muppet
show. At that time he had a dog called Gladstone (known by the
children as Fleabag) who went into his lessons and used get up
and seek attention from the children.
You think you are rid of Chris, but when he heard that he was the
second longest serving member of the Pinewood community
behind Bill Knapp he decided to carry on notching up
replacement wing mirrors on the school minibuses by doing the
Thank you Ralf for all the time and energy you have given
Pinewood, you will be missed!
Matt came to us in 2013, ostensibly to co-Head the Geography
department; however, he brought much, much more to Pinewood.
He took over straight away as the 1st team hockey coach, leading
them to victory time and again with straight-talking and motivational
speeches. As an on-site member of staff throughout his time here,
he was heavily involved in boarding, and helped set up such popular
activities as Friday night’s Capture the Flag games. In the classroom
he took sets from across Middle and Upper School and ran several
successful Geography trips. He was also universally liked by the
children, not to mention the staff! He contributed so much to
Pinewood life, but as an adventurer at heart, he couldn’t sit still for
too long. It’s not a surprise, then, that he and his wife Vicky are
heading to Malaysia for some new adventures. Despite his short
tenure at Pinewood, he will be deeply missed, not only by his
colleagues and friends, but inevitably, and much more significantly,
by the children he influenced in the classroom, in boarding or on the
sports fields, during his time here.
Vicky joined Pinewood from an inner city secondary school in
Birmingham ‘because she missed celebrating Christmas at school’.
It was soon very clear that she would quickly immerse herself in all
areas of school life, but never at the expense of her primary objective:
to teach. In so doing Vicky has taught us all many things.
In the classroom the children have been enthused about all areas of
Science, and Science exam results have improved throughout the
school, due to her diligence and dedication. She has kept us all up
to date with the latest teaching methods and ideas and championed
the use of IT in Science lessons. Her work ethic is infectious and we
have raced to keep up with her rapidly evolving teaching style.
As a form tutor and boarding tutor Vicky has taught us to work
together, fostered great morale within a form or dorm and shown us
how to enjoy free time with craft, sport, games andmost impressively
with Ultimate Frisbee or on Wii Dance.
As a games teacher Vicky focussed on teaching skills and helped
each child develop into amore accomplished player. She recognises
ability and nurtures those who do not necessarily know themselves
to be capable – helping us all to be better than we thought we
As an organiser of trips, many wetsuit-clad children have been
taught to enjoy outdoor pursuits in Wales and many others now
share Vicky’s love of skiing.
Vicky leaves us to take up a new position in Malaysia where I hope
she will have many adventures as she explores the beaches and
habitats on the other side of the world. In the classroom I am
confident that she will always be driven by empathy for the children
in her care and a desire to help them each reach their potential. She
leaves with our heartfelt thanks for everything she has brought to
Pinewood in the past five years.
BLUE & GREY 2016