Blog Archives

Catch up with Niall Munro

I was interested to find your website after I had just done a recent trip to the IoW in October (2019) to visit the places where I lived and of course Carisbrooke. We lived on the Island for only a few years, at various places: Wootton Bridge, Whippingham and Newbridge. So after 2 years at Whippingham Primary I went to Carisbrooke between 1961 and 1963 leaving at the end of the Spring term. I think I was in 1c then 2c and the only people I can remember are Shirley Knott and Dare Darkin (girls of course !).

I can’t get over the building that’s gone on since (but of course that’s everywhere now !) and the traffic queues especially between Newport and Ryde. I was just in time to see the final part of the School being demolished and I loved the video on the website – what memories.

After IOW I went to Fosters School in Sherborne which like so many grammar schools became, much later,  a comprehensive. Left there in 1968 and joined Thomas Cook for 33 years then retired in 2001. Its recent demise was a real shock for me and many of my staff and colleagues.

County Press Sports Day report 1963

Thanks to Chris Clarke for this. Click on the image for the full size version.

Guppy Shield Final line-up 1962

Thanks to Chris Clarke for this. Click on the image for the full size version.

Catch up with Mike Hoar

Mike’s biography is longish, so it’s HERE as a .pdf file to view and/or download.

Catch up with Jason Smart

I turned my back on Carisbrooke Grammar in 1967 with no regrets and embarked on a course at the Royal College of Music in London, where my principal study was the organ and my second the harpsichord. At the end of my second year I was privileged to be awarded an organ scholarship to St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. This was supposed to be a two-year appointment, but I ended up staying for three. The scholarship was conditional upon me continuing to study at the RCM, so after my graduate course finished, I embarked on an M.Mus. (which in the event I never completed) and had composition lessons with Herbert Howells, a name to be conjured with by anyone involved in classical church music.

As Organ Scholar I was effectively the chapel’s third organist although, as the title implies, the post was very much a training position. My time there was singularly devoid of nationally significant royal events, the only one being the funeral of the Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII, but personal highlights in my final year were finding myself having to cope single-handedly with Matins on Easter morning with the whole Royal Family present  (the organist being indisposed, and the sub-organist non-existent) and, a couple of months, later conducting the choir during the annual ‘big event’, the service for the Knights of the Garter, which that year was televised by the BBC (whose cameras studiously avoided showing me!). Much to my surprise a set of preces and responses that I wrote for the choir remained in use at Windsor for over thirty years and was broadcast several times.

Although there was something undeniably special about living in Windsor Castle, after three years I was ready for a change. I rather doubted that I was temperamentally suited to a life in cloisters, but I had no clear idea what else to do. My dilemma was solved when I was snapped up by Sandown High School who were looking for an extra music teacher specifically to teach the ‘O’ and ‘A’ level music students. I spent a year at Sandown and thoroughly enjoyed it, but the government was just beginning to make it compulsory for teachers to have a teaching qualification, so I decided I had better go to Newton Park College of Education near Bath and obtain a PGCE. Rarely have I made a worse decision. It put me off teaching completely. The only two worthwhile things I acquired during that year were a knowledge of the rules of snooker and, ultimately, a wife, Cathy.

Cathy landed herself a job teaching music in Bristol and I found a job there with the Department of Industry. Like so many people who join the civil service, I intended it to be only a temporary measure, but I found the work interesting and stayed. I eventually married Cathy in the long, hot summer of 1976 and before long we had a son and a daughter.

In 1986 I moved to Plymouth on promotion and that is where Cathy and I still live. You probably know the joke that runs, ‘You know when you’re getting old when you’ve worked for six different companies but always sat at the same desk.’ Well, that’s me. Changes in government policy over the years resulted in considerable evolution workwise. In the end I found myself working for a completely different department to the one I had joined, administering European grants to projects in Cornwall. It was hardly the career I had envisaged when I left school, but it paid the mortgage and has provided security in retirement. I used to wonder occasionally whether I would have been happier staying in teaching, but nowadays I look at the state of the profession and count my blessings. I don’t regret my choice.

Music has remained my primary interest and has sustained me through the often unpleasant vicissitudes of life. Since leaving Bristol I have mostly steered clear of parish churches, but for many years I had a loose association with the adult voluntary choir of Rochester Cathedral, occasionally accompanying them during vacations at services in the cathedral and elsewhere and also touring with them several times in the USA and Germany. After I retired from the day job in 2009 I devoted myself for a while to accompanying local community and chamber choirs, although eventually I had to relinquish this work as it had become a full time occupation that left me little time to learn genuine organ repertoire and pursue other, more relaxing interests.

My appointment to Windsor in 1969 very sadly put an end to the Renaissance Motet, the Early Music choir I had formed with friends from Carisbrooke Grammar and with whom I enjoyed so much fun. That was quite a painful wrench, but its legacy was a scholarly interest in Tudor music of the Reformation period, an interest that remains extremely keen. Over the years I have made my own editions of much of this repertoire and have had a few of them published. On one occasion my editing earned me a minor award in the USA. I also manage to maintain a slow, but regular trickle of modest discoveries about Tudor composers and their music with the result that my name crops up every now and again in footnotes, acknowledgements and CD inserts. I am content with that.

Google Street View 2011

The school seen from Wellington Road in 2011 – before the redevelopment.


More about Carisbrooke Grammar – and its demolition!

For lots more about Carisbrooke Grammar join the Isle of Wight Heritage Group on Facebook and search for “Carisbrooke Grammar”. This page is listed there thanks to Jason Smart.

Somewhere in that group I found a September 2017 video which explores the school during its demolition – Carisbrooke College is building an entirely new school on the site! The head says that “at last” they will have a building “fit for purpose”!

Check out Google Street View: their images are from 2011, pre the re-development of the site, and show the school more or less as I remember it. CLICK HERE to see Street View 2011 images on this website.

Catch up with Philip Hurden

I was not born on the IOW but arrived during Cowes Week of 1958 because my father had joined the Prison Service at Parkhurst. My first school was Parkhurst Junior in Albany Road, just off Honeyhill in buildings which are now the Island Learning Centre. I was fortunate to pass the 11+ and therefore attended Carisbrooke Grammar School from September 1959 graduating up through Forms 1b to 5b.

I was not particularly studious and struggled to attain the 6 ‘O’ Levels that I achieved with modest grades. My main interests during those years were sport related which distracted me from the need to study. I did however move up to the 6th Form and managed to pass my three ‘A’ Levels with fairly good grades, much to my surprise.

My father was transferred off the Island in early 1966 and my parents left the Island on 1 May 1966 so the last three months whilst I continued at Carisbrooke to take my ‘A’ levels was spent living with another family at Parkhurst. After leaving Carisbrooke in July 1966 I spent the summer holidays working at the Little Canada Holiday Village in Wootton, as I had the previous summer. I eventually left the Island on 4 September 1966.

The very next day I started my banking career with Midland Bank at Eastleigh branch near Southampton. I spend 10 years in the Southampton area before gaining my first appointment to Stroud branch in Gloucestershire as a Branch Accountant. Further appointments followed in Gloucestershire and Bristol before I became a (traditional but now long extinct) Bank Manager in 1985 at Corn Street Bristol branch. I was later transferred to the Cheltenham Area in 1987 where I worked as a Business Banking Manager, Corporate Banking Manager and lastly a return to  Branch Management. During this time Midland Bank was taken over to become part of the HSBC Banking Group. I retired from banking on 31 January 2002. I have lived near Cheltenham for 30 years.

Apart from some invigilating work for the Institute of Bankers and some time spent at the local Senior School helping out with finance, I have enjoyed the pleasures of a fairly long retirement improving my golf handicap and taking several holidays a year. I have been happily married for 46 years and have a son who lives in the USA, with two granddaughters, and a daughter who lives near Southampton.

It was after a family holiday to the Island during the Easter holidays in 1987 that I began to wonder how my former school colleagues had faired. So armed with a list of ‘A’ Level results from the 1966 summer exams which my mother had cut out from the County Press, my old hymn book (which many of you will no doubt remember signing each others during those last few days at Carisbrooke), and a copy of the local telephone directory which I had obtained courtesy of Midland Bank, Newport branch, I started the long haul of locating as many of the 6th formers as possible, initially telephoning their parents. An early success was to discover that David Charman lived  some 10 miles from me and also worked locally in Gloucestershire. I therefore contacted him and arranged a lunch meeting to seek his opinion if a re-union would be of interest. He agreed and therefore over the next three years or so and with the help of others I had managed to trace and who were very keen to be involved, the first re-union was arranged in Newport in July 1971 to celebrate our leaving Carisbrooke 25 years earlier. A visit to the school was also arranged.

In all I had located almost 100 former school colleagues and 14 teachers. Of these over 50 attended that first re-union and 2 teachers also came. Quite a few others confirmed that they would have liked to come but the date was inconvenient. It was interesting to note that many lived beyond UK shores. At that time I also discovered that six of our former teachers had passed away.

Thereafter we have had a further two re-unions and I am grateful that Carol Owen (nee Edmunds) and Janet Yates took over the reigns in organising these. The next re-union is scheduled for 2021 and I look forward to attending. Whilst some have suggested it be perhaps away from the Island, I personally feel that only the Island can do justice to such an event.

I have retained the lists I compiled of former school friends and teachers so if anyone would like a copy please contact me by email.

Although only living on the Island for eight years and since 1966 having no direct association with it, I have nevertheless retained a fondness for it. There are so many things about the Island that I am regularly drawn to visit it and it never seems to disappoint.

Catch up with Keith Capelin

I was an academic duffer at school, just not interested – especially in maths and physics. After leaving school I started out as an apprentice electrician at J S White in Cowes, I think I was the last apprentice they ever took on. I was still an apprentice when they closed the shipyard and BHC agreed to take over my apprenticeship. I worked at Osborne in the R&D section and up at The Needles at the rocket site (which I loved). Most importantly I went to Tech College doing electronics on day release and evening classes.  I loved maths there, probably because I could relate it to what I was doing.

I was involved in The Isle of Wight music festivals and other things with the Foulk brothers. During that period I married Pam Drury (also ex-Carisbrooke) and became a dad.

After completing my apprenticeship I went into telecoms and joined STC/ITT in South London. They gave me a company car and sent me to Antwerp. Having got the travel bug and being offered money I joined a company called Seismograph Service Ltd which worked in geophysics/oil exploration with me doing instrumentation. The work was often in remote places and could alternate between places like West Africa and Northern Canada. This took me away from home, which was still on the island, almost continuously but I was a duck to water and after several years of global wandering joined another company called Exploration Consultants as a consultant.

My marriage suffered as a result of me being away so much (or perhaps when I came home!) and there were now two more daughters.

I was with ECL for 20 years and was working in the office as Technical Operations Manager and living in Wallingford and Henley on Thames for the last several years.

My second marriage failed and I re-married a third time. This time to someone I was working with and we also had a daughter.

I left ECL and started up my own consultancy company and also a separate software development company building subsea navigation systems for the oil industry. My business partner was a much younger guy than me, a mathematical engineer from the IoW, although we met in Reading.  Both companies were successful but stressful. The software development company was treading on the toes of a large French equipment manufacturer and they kept trying to buy into us. We eventually sold the consultancy to a UK company and the development company to the large French company.

I am now retired and living near Petersfield in the countryside. I have a large garden and lots of “boys toys” like a tractor, chain saw and log splitter to play with. I am a qualified diver but just very warm water these days. I am fortunate that my youngest daughter loves the sea and I have been able to buddy her on some exciting dives. I am also involved with adult appointments for the scouts in Chichester.

Footballers’ reunion 2015

From Chris Clarke, September 2016:

A few lads from the school football team had a catch up about 18 months ago when Joe Burgess (school goalkeeper) visited the Island from New Zealand – so here is a photo taken at the time and we are, left to right, Dave Charman, Terry Lewis, myself, Joe Burgess and Martin (Alfie) Hinds.


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