ROGER PAWLEY – the Askean connection

Roger was at Haberdasher Aske’s school in Hatcham from 1949 to 1954. I had commenced two years before that so we did not have close association at School – rather like the Clease/Corbett sketch I looked down on them, I looked up to the Prefects.  Roger was not keen on school sports but otherwise was always a participator, a characteristic he carried into adult life. I recall he was active in school Clubs such as the Lit and Deb and the Natural History societies, there were probably others.

It was after leaving school that our paths came together, we were both members of the Old Askean Association Field Club. This club had only started a couple of years earlier, founded by Donald LeJeune and Dermot Poston. They remained our friends throughout their lives.

The Field Club had a variety of activities such as walking, pot-holing, theatre visits and dining. It thrived for a few years but then joined with the Old Askean Rambling Club which had a longer history, being founded in 1889. Roger walked with that Club for the rest of his life, he was Captain from 1989 until 2022 when ill health meant he had to stop.

He and Hazel were stalwarts of the Rambling Club keeping it active in lean times. I had very many walks with him, both locally and long-distance. The highlight is probably our walk from Coast to Coast.  We undertook Wainwright’s walk of around 200 miles from St Bees Head in Cumbria to Robin Hoods Bay in North Yorkshire.  On a stopover at a farm in Shap we were complimented as being the smartest dressed walkers that the host had seen!  We did it in 4 visits of 4 days.  He was a competent map reader, bolstered by his binoculars which he usually carried to identify birds and animals as well as routes. He was calm in a crisis which made him an excellent companion. Roger had a great interest and knowledge of nature, sharing such knowledge on many Rambles with the OARC.  If the route crossed a ploughed field then Roger was on watch, hoping to find a Roman remain.   After our weekend walks we regularly were treated to tea, coffee, biscuits or cake, all from the boot of Roger and Hazel’s car and served on a table. From around Year 2000 the Club had short breaks of 5 nights at a suitable hotel in a good walking region. In the early days over 30 members were present. Two walks a day were offered and Roger could be relied upon to do them all with appropriate local maps or books.  On the final night the other guests at dinner were treated to a hearty rendition of the School song, “The Sandbin,” Roger having previously sought permission from the Management.

Roger was a gentleman, he cared for those around him and was always ready to assist in any way he could.   He is remembered as sociable and generous in his hospitality. Around Christmas each year after a short walk the ramblers were invited by Roger and Hazel to return to their home “The Captain’s Cabin”.  Members were given a sumptuous cold platter and appropriate beverage.

Roger can be regarded as a model Old Askean. He was a Life Member of the OAA and President in 2005.  He was a member of the Committee a number of times and took responsibility as Social Secretary for many events, including the introduction of the RAF Club for the Annual Dinner. He was a traditionalist – he resisted the movement of the Annual Dinner away from Haberdashers Hall, and also the cessation of it being a “black tie” event. He was a true supporter and could be relied upon to attend the various events organised by the Old Askean Association.

I am grateful to have known him and will remember him as a good friend. He is sorely missed by me and many others. May he rest in peace.

Dennis Johnson

Obituary for Past President Barry Ash written by his son Lindsay

Barry was born in Chislehurst in 1935 to Ted and Nellie ,his Dad worked in the family business at Creek Rd Deptford which dealt in Tarpaulins and Timber . His formative years like many of the generation were framed by the Second World War where his Dad was away in North Africa and then Italy for much of the time . Although an only child both his parents were from large families so there was plenty of company for him during this time and he remembered seeing dog fights (planes not canines) in the skies over Chelsfield and also remembered the sound of a V1 as it passed over head in Lewisham .

Shortly after the end of the war he went to Askes , where he was fortunate to come under the guidance of Ned Goddard . I was particularly struck by a quote of Mr Goddard’s when asked what subjects he taught ,he replied “I don’t teach subjects ,I teach boys ….I try to teach them to think” . My Dad described his time at Aske’s as undistinguished although he was there at a golden time for Old Askean rugby legends with Des Kirby,Chas Wickens and Alan Hunt which perhaps explained his passion for watching rugby at Kidbrooke and The Rectory Field .

He must though have learnt “to think” as on leaving he qualified as a Chartered Accountant and then served his National service in the Royal Army Pay Corps as a Second Liutenant . He told me that he nearly killed someone during his time in the Army unfortunately it was a British Officer who when inspecting the rifles hadn’t realised my dad had left a bullet in the chamber and nearly took the chaps head off! His most memorable moments other than that was taking place in two parades ,one was led by Field Marshall Earl Alexander of Tunis and the other the final parade in the British Army to be taken by Major General O P J Rooney (Old Askean)

Shortly after leaving the Army he became involved in the Old Askean Club , he remembered how when writing in the magazine when he became President of the Association…

“I sat down on a spare seat and tried to look relaxed ,after a brief period a message was passed down “Who are you “ I was beginning to wonder myself but I passed the message back . A the end of the meeting Mr Goddard bounded up and greeted me like a long lost friend as did Cliff Hall the then Hon Secretary ….now I know I am a person of exceptional charm and decency but I was a bit bemused ….three to four weeks later  all was revealed …I was the new Hon Sec of the Old Askean Club ,soon to become the Social Secretary and for a brief period Secretary of the Old Askean Sports Club.

It was to remain a large part of his life right up until he died . I myself virtually grew up at Kidbrooke in the 60s and 70s watching the likes of Graham Smith, Charlie Wickens and Steve Dunmore strutting their stuff on the pitch prepared by Charlie Toms . In the summer while my Dad played Tennis I used to stroll round and watch the cricketers in action , it was only in later years that I realised why they liked me so much . During one of my early forays they kindly taught me how to keep score hence whenever this smiling 10 year old appeared he was greeted with much relief and invited to join them and was immediately presented with a score book and pencil! In fairness they always brought me tea although those that remember the Old Askean cricket teas may feel that was a dubious kindness! It was nice in later years for me to play both Rugby and Cricket at Kidbrooke , in fact I also played Tennis for them as well ….Dad felt it may have made me possibly the only person to have represented the Club in all three sports, there’s a trivia question for you.

Barry though played Tennis for the Old Askeans for a fair few years along with George Martin and his regular partner in the team Alan Sainty . Now he had an unusual style employing a double handed backhand when they were pretty much unheard of and also had a strange bowling service action . The two handed backhand went on to be adapted by most players so he could be said to have been a pioneer, the bowling serve though remained very much his preserve ! His partner Alan Sainty also had a peculiar style but together they formed a very good pairing as they were both very quick round the court and very adept at lobbing . This meant that some opposition became very frustrated ,one pair asked “Are we going to continue playing like this ,or are we going to play Tennis?”….To which the reply came back “This is the only way we can play” . At the end of the match my Dad and Alan shook hands but when they went to shake hands with the opponents found they had walked off the court!

They were nonetheless a very successful pairing until having been promoted a few leagues they found people who could smash consistently well,and the game was up or to be accurate it could no longer be up .

Barry was a great lover of all sport which he put down to an Uncle who used to take him to various events from Millwall to the Oval . He saw Bradman bat and the great Hungary side with Puskas at Wembley .  He remembered going to Millwall one week and supporting the Lions and the following week they would go to Charlton and support the opposition . This habit reached it’s zenith when he went to the 1947 FA Cup Final ,sat in Jimmy Seed’s seats (then the Charlton manager) and supported Burnley. It came in useful 50 odd years later when a Charlton fan posed a question as to who won the Cup in 1947 , he paused before answering “I may be wrong but I think Charlton won it 1-0 and Duffy got the goal in extra time” ,the chap thought he was a sporting guru . 

In later life he joined Sundridge Park Lawn Tennis and Squash Rackets Club where he served as Secretary and then as Chairman . He also formed a group that played squash doubles every Sunday night followed by what they described as comestibles basically pate , Cheese and French bread with numerous pints of Shepherd Neame and a small bells or a “ball smells” as it became known due to Barry’s love of spoonerisms . In fact most of the participants had nicknames given to them by him ,his was The Patron . 

Another was a chap called Reg Parkes who became Peg but was later elevated to Lord Rarkes . I shall close these few words as I did the Eulogy with the words of his Lordship who wrote to me under the title ….The man who made Sunday Nights fun

“The Patron also chose the teams on the night if you were in the first team you were in the stumblebums ,if you were in the second you were in the elite or thought you were .Sadly all this is now history and will never return following the passing of the Patron Sir Arry Bash or simply Barry Ash who is now in the great court in the sky ….rest in peace Barry”

Mike Nicholls 1943 -2023

Taken from the Old Askean Magazine in his presidential year of 2017:
Mike was born in South East London in 1943 and joined Aske’s in 1954. He tells me his mother was interviewed by Ned Goddard whilst he was interviewed by Charlie Prince; his dad was working as a lorry driver for a Waste Paper Company so really couldn’t afford to take time off. Mike says that Ned was quite a daunting gure for his mum but she was certainly not afraid of him. Ned said that his Maths was quite good but his English left room for improvement. He didn’t seem to realise that a different kind of English was spoken in the Old Kent Road area says Mike!
He captained the 3rd Eleven School cricket team and left Aske’s in 1962 with three A Levels and several O Levels. His first job after leaving Aske’s was with Distillers Company for a year and he then studied at the Borough Polytechnic for four years taking a “Sandwich” course in Chemical Technology specialising in Polymer Technology. Following that he worked for Gillette Industries for 3 years and then another 3 years for Van Leers, a Dutch packaging Company who produced steel and plastic drums for the oil industry.
By this time his father had started his own business in the waste paper recycling industry and, since Mike had always wanted to run his own business, he joined his father in the family business in the mid-seventies that later expanded into condential data destruction. The family business currently operates from two sites in the Blackwall Tunnel area and, having passed on the family business to his son, he is soon to retire.
He tells me he will always be grateful for the education he received at Aske’s which was only possible by having brilliant and supportive parents.
He currently lives in Petts Wood and has a son, two daughters and grandchildren and, because it is impossible to go through life without suffering some disadvantages, his wife and himself are, like our ex-President, Charlton season ticket-holders.

George Martin RIP

It was a moving funeral ceremony with emotional tributes from his son Kim and grandson David, both celebrating the 92 years that George had graced the playing fields at Kidbrooke.

George played in every team for Askeans and in his later years, was captain of the most successful side – the B’s which went unbeaten for two seasons.

There is a saying that “They broke the mould when they made him”.

It’s a phrase that applies in spades to George Martin, a man who was Team Secretary for a staggering total of 36 years, a fact that drew a collective intake of breath at the service.

Even those of us who had been members of the club for over 5 decades didn’t realise just how long George had been working his magic in getting teams out every week of the season.

Long before mobile phones and email, George handled getting Askean teams onto the various pitches, not just in Kent and London, but all over the country. A tough enough job until you remember that Askeans ran 7 teams each week of the season. For the mathematically challenged that’s over 100 players! If someone dropped out from the Princes, George had to make at least 14 calls to organise a reshuffling and to let the captains know of the changes. Hoping that he could reach all the players concerned at home….not easy on a Friday night before the pubs shut!

And he did this for 36 years…no wonder he lost his hair…..I suspect he might have pulled it out himself!

Not only was he a cornerstone of the Club for such a long time, but the finest tribute, which was much repeated yesterday was ‘He was such a lovely man’

By George..they got that right!

This Tribute to George was written by Shutey aka Dave Shute

Brian Burgess – Obituary by his son Stuart

Many thanks Mark and hello everybody.

There are many faces here I know, but there are also many that I don’t, so for those of you I don’t know, I am Stuart, Brian’s son. And the fact that I don’t know you all is enormously gratifying as it means that there are people that I have never met in whose lives Dad played a part, and who cared for him enough to come today. On behalf of myself Carol, Kate, Toni and Dena, we would like to thank you all for the cards and kind messages of support you have sent. Also, thanks to your donations to the Alzheimer’s Society, we have currently raised over £1,100.

So, Dad, Brian, Burge, Uncle Brian, Grandpa, most of you here will have known Dad by one of those names. For the purposes of today, to avoid any confusion, I will call him Dad. Because to me and Kate, he was Dad. But he was also all of those other people too. To Carol. He was Burge, to Toni and Dena he was Uncle Brian, to his many friends and colleagues here today, he was Brian, and to Eleanor, Francis, Alice and Tom, he was Grandpa

No matter how well you know someone, there are always parts of their lives, or parts of their character about which you know very little. For instance, I know very little of Dad’s work life. I knew what he did, I knew he was successful, but I never saw him in action, so to speak. I never saw him as his work colleagues saw him. Also, there are many of his old colleagues here that may never have seen him as, and may find it difficult to imagine him as “Grandpa”. With this in mind, as well as myself, there will be some other people speaking today. Dad’s great friend and long- time colleague Phil Brown will tell us more about what Dad was like to work with, and the grandkids, will tell us about Grandpa. Between us, hopefully we can pull together the various strands that made up his character, and give a flavour of all of the elements that made him the man he was

He was born Brian Edward Burgess in Camberwell South East London on 1st June 1941, to Robert and Iris Burgess. For the first 4 years of his life, his Dad, (henceforth known as Grandad Burge) was away fighting in the war, primarily in Italy and North Africa. (If you have read Spike Milligan’s war memoirs, Grandad Burge was involved in the same manoeuvres as Milligan’s regiment). As a result, Dad spent his early years primarily with his Mum (henceforth known as Nanny Burge). Nans sister Auntie Beat lived nearby with her daughters Margaret, Jean and Maureen, and Dad grew up very close to his cousins. I am delighted that Maureen is here today together with Don, Andy, Melanie, Debs and Linda and it’s also great to see Margaret’s son Paul here with his wife Chris. 

Shortly after the war, Dad’s brother Peter was born and the family moved into a new council property in Edmund Street. The family were not poor, I don’t want to overstate things, but they were certainly not wealthy. Grandad Burge worked as a carpenter and Nanny Burge did various factory jobs to keep things ticking over. Now one thing we can probably all agree on was that Dad was very focussed, hard-working and ambitious, and I think these early years helped to shape his drive and his determination to better himself. 

He won a scholarship to Haberdashers Askes school at the age of 11, and at 18, became the first member of his family to go to University, studying Electrical Engineering at Northampton College, which is part of City University. He was bright, but he was also a believer in the phrase, “Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration”. He worked hard to achieve his goals, and he continued to work hard throughout his life.

He joined the London Electricity Board (or the Liquorice Light Board as he insisted on calling it for some reason) and during this period he married Mum and had two children (me and Kate). After a few years Dad decide the LEB did not offer enough opportunity and he left electrical engineering to join the Management Consulting Firm , PE Consulting. I am not sure how long he had the urge to work abroad but I do recall some talk of us moving to Nigeria in 1970. This did not happen but 2 years later we moved to Rhodesia, where Dad joined RISCO, (The Rhodesian Iron and Steel Company) based in Redcliff. This was Dad’s entry into the mining industry, an association that would last the rest of his working life. 

Redcliff was right in the middle of the country, and in terms of environment, about as different from Camberwell as you could get. And Dad loved it. He embraced the African lifestyle, and indeed he went on to spend the best part of 20 years working in Africa. There was a real feel-good atmosphere in Redcliff, a lot of young bright ex pats working hard and affording themselves a life they could have only dreamt about in the UK. However, after 5 years or so, the political situation in Rhodesia was becoming increasing volatile so in early 1978, Dad moved to Rossing, part of RTZ, based in Swakopmund in Namibia. 

At the time of moving to Rossing, Mum and Dad divorced and Kate and myself returned to UK with Mum. We lived apart from Dad, indeed several 1000 miles apart for the best part of 15 years. During that time Dad never let me or Kate feel as though we were unloved or that he did not think about us and our welfare every day. We knew he loved us, cared for us and fiercely wanted the best for us and would do everything he could to help us achieve it. 

Around this time Dad, married Carol and became “Uncle Brian” to her young daughters Toni and Dena, who I think were 7 and 5 at the time. Again, they were never in doubt that he loved them as his own and would do anything for them. He never took his parental responsibilities anything less than seriously, and none of us are in any doubt that he did everything he could for us.

As I said earlier Phil will be talking of Dads time with Rossing and RTZ shortly, so we now fast forward 20 years to 1998.  Dad and Carol had returned to the UK, and were living in Ewell and Dad had just retired.

Now I think it’s fair to say all of us were worried about Dad retiring. He was so dedicated to his work, so focussed and driven that I think we all feared he would go crazy with boredom, not to mention what his continued presence in the house would do to Carol. But Dad just focussed his drive and energy into other areas. He and Carol travelled widely, Cuba, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and many more, often in the company of Carol’s sister Thelma and her husband Roy, and it’s great to see Thelma here today. He was an enthusiastic member of the Old Askean’s Rambling Association, and took on the role of treasurer for around 10 years. He also, together with his partner in crime Charles French was a stalwart member of the Seymour Avenue resident’s association, and again it’s good to see so many of his friends, neighbours and fellow ramblers here today. Most crucially though, when he retired, he had just become a Grandpa, as Eleanor was 6 months old. And Dad absolutely loved being a Grandpa. But there are people far better placed to talk about Grandpa than me, so I will leave it to them shortly.

On a wider level, family was always very important to Dad. He loved seeing Maureen and Don for lunch, and kept in regular contact with his brother Peter’s wife Carol. When we kids started to form relationships and get married, he and Carol embraced our partners into the family. My wife Debbie was welcomed by Dad and Carol from the word go, and both Kate’s husband Jon and Toni’s husband Jonathan managed to attain “Approved Son in Law” status, which is no mean feat. He was even prepared to live with the fact that Jon is Welsh. Though Jon has observed that Dad was always very quick to text when England beat Wales at the rugby

He loved family gatherings. In his later years when the family were together, he would usually start tapping his wine glass and then launch into a speech about how much he loved us all, and how proud of us he was. We never doubted it, but he felt the need to remind us. He would sometimes get tearful and say how he wished Nanny Burge could have been here to see all the Grandkids and how well they were doing. But mostly he would tell us how lucky he was, though in truth it was us who were the lucky ones.

Dad always enjoyed a good debate when the family was gathered and politics was a favourite topic, with Dad being a life-long Tory voter. We kept hoping that he would see the light and embrace socialism but he never did. This lead to some hearty family discussions, which usually panned out as Dad versus the 4 kids. Toni always said that Dad had raised us to stand up for ourselves and not be afraid to argue our point of view. He then seemed a bit affronted when it transpired that our points of view did not always align with his and we started arguing with him. We always said that it was a testament to his good parenting that he had raised 4 socialists. And Dad loved a debate right up until the end. Toni’s husband Jonathan remembers at family gatherings that Dad would tip him the wink and then throw a conversational hand grenade, usually involving Boris, or Jeremy Corbyn, just to see who would react. And we always did.

Dad also had a great sense of humour. Many of you here today have commented on how funny and quick witted he could be. He had a few “go to” gags: whenever anyone told him he had food in his moustache he would say he is saving it for Ron – later Ron. He also used to do this thing when he said he’d only had one glass of wine and then slip his elbow off the table – all the kids will be able to demonstrate this to you later.

He enjoyed a good laugh and when he lost it his shoulders would go up and down, and tears would come into his eyes. He had an eclectic taste in humour. He loved the Goon Show, Bluebottle, Eccles Major Bloodnok et al, and Dad would frequently for no apparent reason say, “He’s fallen in the water”. One of his favourite bits was Eccles having the time written down on a piece of paper. Think about it. We were considering playing the Ying Tong song as you were coming in to the service today, but Carol actually does a great version of it so we might be able to persuade her to give you a rendition later.

As an aside, I had to register Dad’s death at Guildford registry office. This is the same place that Peter Sellers got married to Britt Ekland in 1964. As a Goon fan, Dad would have loved that.

Other of Dad’s favourites were less sophisticated. The Mel Brooks movie “Spaceballs” which was a take-off of Star Wars would have him giggling his head off as the leading character “Dark Helmet” accelerated his space ship from Warp Speed to Ludicrous Speed. He also really liked, and I will say this only once, “Allo Allo”. There’s no accounting for taste

He was not a religious man but he did seem to think there was some supernatural force controlling all the traffic lights to turn red just as he approached. Also, in the last few years when he begrudgingly agreed to give up driving, he did not let this stop him from hurling abuse at other road users from the passenger seat. “What’s that clown doing?” “Get a move on”. You get the picture. Patience may be a virtue, but it was not one of Dad’s. This trait he seems to have passed down the family.

He wasn’t perfect- he could be bad tempered, cantankerous, he had a short fuse, and Carol bore most of the brunt of this. But Carol was a wonderful foil for Dad, supportive but not afraid to take him down a peg or two when required. And it was required fairly often. He ate and drank too much, again traits some, if not all of us kids have inherited. Though I think only Kate has taken on his partiality to bacon fat. The doctors constantly told him to cut down. He did for a period of about 6 months a few years back. But it made him unhappy, so he started again. I think his philosophy was that he would rather have 2 years enjoying life than 5 years being miserable.

So whilst it is very sad that he has gone, it is very easy to celebrate him today, because his was a life well lived. Everyone who met him mentioned that he enjoyed life, he was a character, he was the life and soul of most gatherings he attended. And as I said at the start, he made an impact on many, many people.

On a personal level, some people have said that I am like him. They may mean I am a grumpy and cantankerous old git who drinks too much. But I am always flattered when people say this because Dad had so many positive characteristics. He was very generous especially with good food and wine. Funny, clever, kind, fiercely loyal to friends and protective of his family. 

He had such strength of character and strength of purpose, nothing daunted him. If confronted with a difficult situation at work I would often think, “How would Dad have dealt with this”. Sometimes this helped. Being honest sometimes it made things worse, but hey no one has a 100% success rate.

There is a song by Peter Gabriel called “Father Son”. If you haven’t heard it, please take some time to listen to it, it is one of the most moving songs I have ever heard. It contains the lines

“I can hold back the tide, with my Dad by my side”

And I think that was how all of us felt about Dad. His strength of character somehow rubbed off on other people. He somehow made people feel stronger, made them feel emboldened, just by being there. And that’s not a bad legacy is it? So that’s all from me. I am now delighted to welcome Dad’s great friend and long-time colleague Phil Brown to tell us more Dad’s working life.

Brian Burgess – Obituary by his Grandchildren

For me, it was the rst me that I took the London Underground aer grandpa died was when grief rst hit me properly. For those of you who don’t know, when I was younger, Grandpa and I would spend a designated day on a ‘tube run’. This would involve me planning a necessarily confusing route around the underground network, changing trains a dozen or so times throughout the day, usually with a McDonald’s lunch sandwiched in the middle of the day. I’d carry a notepad around with said route printed o*, and we’d note what time we’d get on and off each train and made each connection.On the numerous occasions we’d get strange looks from commuters, grandpa had a stock reply ready for them:‘It’s a cheap day out!

Of course, we all have our own memories of him. Take how he’d always greet Eleanor and Alice. He’d smile, suffocate them with a hug, and the question ‘what are you?’. And they’d know that they weren’t getting away from the hug until they affirmed his answer of ‘gorgeous’.

Tom knew this feeling too. Only instead of ‘Gorgeous!’, Tom would be forced to answer, ‘What are you?’ with ‘Stupid.’The little things, too. The ice cream stand at the Ashley Centre in Epsom. His DEFEANING sneeze. His handing out of the sweets at half time at the football. His judgements of our ‘diving’ competitions from the footstool in the living room. Making paper chains for Christmas decorations, as we made them progressively longer and tested his dexterity in hanging them up.

The Christmas shows we used to put on for his benefit, capped off with Tom’s triumphant renditons of ‘Humph the Camel’ His entire body reverberating as he chuckled away at one of us, when we inevitably said or did something of grave stupidity, usually followed with the immortal words- ‘you silly sod’. He was always telling us how proud he was of us all. I hope he knows how proud we were to call him our grandpa.

Obituary of Brian Burgess by his work colleague and friend Phil

I first met Brian in 1979 when he and Terry Ball interviewed me for a job at RTZ’s Rossing in Namibia or South West Africa as it was at the time. I had known Terry Ball before but not this rather fierce Africa Corps chap. Thankfully we seemed to hit it off and when he and Carol visited my family and I in Lancashire I knew in my gut that we would end up working together.

That started a relationship that has lasted for 43 years and has grown frombeing a boss/subordinate relationship to one where I consider him to be one of my closest friends. Brian was proud to be an electrical engineer but he was one of the most able human resource practitioners (personnel managers) of his era. I say of his era because it is only in the last 3 months or so that Brian and 3 other friends, were discussing political correctness and the current woke society at work. He said he was happy to have left all the bull to the new generation and he was glad that we had worked during the good years!

Mind you, I think that the good years for many of his colleagues were a result of the efforts of Brian who converted from being an engineer to being a consultant and then was appointed as the Personnel Manager of the Rossing venture in “pre independence” Namibia, moving there from Rhodesia.

The removal of apartheid labour laws in South West Africa allowed Rossing to set itself up as a model employer in this emergent nation. Brian planned and led this with his responsibilities for people, housing, training and development, health and social services. Permanent employees, not contract employees, brought their families to this desert outpost where they lived, played and developed, were educated and integrated, first and foremost as a Rossing family, regardless of their ethnicity or background. Brian worked very hard to lead this radical development programme, we also played hard and we had fun. The personnel team of Brian, Keith Jenner, Norman Trethewey, Wotan Sweigers, Johan Swanepoel and I used to meet in Brian’s office to plan and recap on the events each week. This gave a fascinating insight into the progress of the plans but also gave a chance for us to develop our own team. I honestly have never laughed so much before or since. One time I remember Brian just about falling off his chair when Keith Jenner was telling us how not to dry off a cat in a microwave oven!

Such interludes didn’t stop our hard work but did make for memorable times. Brian and I used to go to Johannesburg to sort out pensions or medical aid issues but also took the opportunity to get to know each other. The whisky billfor nightcaps at the Carlton Hotel were sometimes larger than the the bill for the meals!Brian became the Engineering manager at Rossing for a short period and, being an electrical engineer originally, he coped admirably with the changed emphasis. However he was soon asked to go to Palabora, RTZ’s copper mine in South Africa, as their Personnel Manager. This was a time of change in southern Africa and Brian led the company through the early days following the Mandela release with its universal suffrage and emerging unions, especially the NUM, then led by the current South African President, Cyril Ramaposa.I thought Brian and Carol were going to be “Africa hands” for ever more but before long RTZ wanted him to relocate to their head office in St James’s Square. There Brian and Tony Davidson together pioneered Rio’s international succession planning and senior management development programme. This added even more international exposure to Brian’s African experience and he travelled across the globe identifying and developing the Company’s talent. There was also a relatively short spell in Salt Lake City where Brian was appointed as the personnel leader of RTZ’s largest North American operation before he came back to London and to St James’s Square where Brian eventually had his palm crossd with silver following which he took an early retirement.Stuart has talked about Brian as a family man but he was part of our working family and there are too many stories to fondly relate today. Our colleague, George Macras, remembers Brian getting up in the middle of the night, in the middle of the Namib, grumbling that Haley’s Comet could have hung around until it was time for Brian to get up.All of his friends and colleagues will tell of Brian’s midnight curfew after dinner parties. He tried to be fierce of course but my children, along with many others including of course Toni and Dena, can only speak fondly of “Uncle Brian”. Tony Davidson talks of Brian rescuing him from being led astray in the Soho fleshpots after an international conference.

For the last few years Brian and I and 3 or 4 other ex colleagues have played golf a few times a year and when the golf became too much for him Brian was chief buggy driver and critic. I well recall a short golfing holiday in Spain more notable for wine and snoring than the quality of our golf. We also had memorable lunches, particularly at the RAC Club where Brian, much to the annoyance of Tony Davidson remained a member! Brian was, of course, so very proud of his children, step children and grandchildren, and whenever Olivia and I would visit Carol and Brian we would be brought up to date about who in the family was doing, or had achieved, what accolade or experience. He always told us how lucky he was to live within striking distance of his family. We also always drank copious amounts of wine from his seemingly bottomless supply sourced from his local Majestic!

Many of our mutual friends have been in touch with me since they heard the news about Brian and without exception they all remember a good man, a friend, a colleague who never held back or shied away from issues. He tackled the difficult subjects, he worked hard and played hard. Had a great sense of humour and of the ridiculous. He was a kingpin, the “go to” person and had the respect of all he worked with.

He was a very good friend and I will miss him

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:

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!