Reminiscences of a pupil of the 1940s

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We recently received the following email from Reg Hunn, a pupil at Borden from 1944 - 1950, triggered by the obituary of Frank Nicholls,providing an insight into life at the school and beyond 60 years ago.


In an idle moment today whilst at a loose end , and for an inexplicable reason, I decided to look up the school on the web.

On studying the site I noted with sadness the passing of Frank Nicholls a while back.

He taught me English soon after his arrival at the school. As the author of the obituary rightly points out he was not tolerant of any mucking about and his love of poetry was very apparent as evidenced by the number of poems we had to either memorise, analyse or compose.


Although I forgave him years ago, the reason he has always been a pillar of my memories of my years at the school was the fact that he published in the school magazine, circa 1947 one of the poems I had submitted for a homework project [Editor's note: I was unable to locate a copy of this magazine - nearest I have is September 1948!). Being locked into train carriages to and from the island for an hour a day the ribbing I received from all the macho pupils hell bent only on a life chasing and clouting balls about was with me for what seemed like a lifetime. On the credit side and despite everything he did leave me with a lifelong delight of poetry.


The second and largest pillar would be George Dawkins whom I must credit with a major part of any success I have achieved in my life. He was the first to realise my leanings towards lateral thinking and not, as others had diagnosed, ‘trouble making’. He not only took me from near class bottom in Physics to top but engendered in me a love of physics and investigation which has stayed with me throughout my life. As a result I spent my life on development work related to high voltage cable dielectrics, became firstly a chartered engineer and thereafter managing director of a company in South Africa producing such products. The cherry on the top was the award of a Fellowship to the Institute of Engineering Technology. The amazing thing was that whilst George was renowned for giving the most painful clips to the ear known to mankind at that time, he set me on the path without any such incident. He was a truly amazing teacher.


The third pillar was Reg Goff who tuned my ability to appreciate art. When I retired twenty years ago because of that appreciation I took up playing with watercolours and now have a few wildlife related subjects scattered around the world.


My sincere thanks to all three pillars for their much valued contribution to my later years.




Reg Hunn [ 1944-1950]

When I sought his consent to publish his email, Reg followed up with additional information about life at the school and beyond:


As all my early school years were war years unique rules applied. For instance if you arrived at school early you had the pick of the shrapnel that laid about. As a result lateness was virtually nil. Discipline was more physical too. In the late 40s career opportunities and choices were also relatively few. When the war finished there was little organised for youngsters so we had to start our own youth clubs and organise our own functions. This coupled with a severe shortage of funds and general opportunities meant we had to stand relatively alone on our own two feet from a very early age. I don’t believe the same environment exists for either students or school leavers today. That is not to say I think either camp has it easier but I do think it means there are major environmental difference to consider but if you believe anything can be gained by publishing thoughts of a really old toppie such as I then go for it. At least Frank Nicholls will not now be horrified by my poor English!!


Comment received from Philip Drury:

Reg Hunn's letter was interesting and amusing proving once again the far reaching influence of teachers. Like me he had a sneaking regard for the old curmudgeon Nick. Nick would be amused to know that he disproved Shakespeare "the good (that men do) is oft interred in their bones".