Category: Obituaries (page 1 of 3)

Old Shebbearian News

Arthur Andrews has died, full of years, at the age of 92.

Shebbear College was always close to his heart and benefitted from his lifetime of dedication to it.

His school days coincided with the Second World War and the beginning of the headship of Jack Morris. Despite hostilities, the school sought to give the young Arthur a rounded education including sport. Arthur became captain of the first team at cricket. In later years, at OSA dinners, he shared his memories of life in North Devon during a world conflict and of the transition from Leslie Johnson to the unique Jack Morris.

Most of us will have met him for the first time during his quarter of a century of service as Secretary of the Old Shebbearians Association from 1969-94. Throughout this long period, he conducted the affairs of the OSA with charm and efficiency. He set up the OSA Careers Panel to offer practical advice to senior boys facing the tough task of choosing a career. I am indebted to a Shebbearian article of John Page penned at the time of Arthur’s retirement. He writes, “Never testy or ill humoured, Arthur’s committees were civilised occasions. Jack Morris and his forebears would murmur in warm approval of all that he did.”

The Secretary is an important link between the alumni and the college and Arthur’s strong diplomatic skills were put to the test towards the end of his tenure when the whole future of the school was in the balance.

His wife Beryl provided outstanding support to Arthur during his years as secretary of the OSA and even in retirement they maintained their connections with the college. During a holiday visit to Australia great efforts were made to meet up with Old Shebbearians who were now living Down Under.

He was a distinguished President of the OSA in 1985 and lived to see the major transformation of the college in the 21st century.

The funeral for Arthur Andrews will be held at Woking Crematorium on 24th June 2020 at 11am.

This service will be for very close family only, but we ask that you raise a glass to Arthur at this time.

If you would like to make a donation in Arthur’s memory, then gifts are gratefully received for Woking and Sam Beare Hospice and can be made via Lodge Brothers Funeral Directors website.

With grateful thanks from David, Michael and Helen.”

Harry Aspey

Harry was born on March 4th, 1942 in Fulmer, Buckinghamshire – the same day as his RAF officer father was buried, having been killed on active service with Bomber Command in the Second World War. This had a profound effect on his life.
During his early life he lived with family in Newport, Pembrokeshire; Chedworth, Gloucestershire; and North Taunton, Devon; before becoming a boarder at Ruddle House in 1954, leaving in 1960 as Captain of House. Throughout his school life he participated enthusiastically – representing the school both in rugby and cricket, and taking lead roles in drama productions. He frequently entertained his family with amusing stories of his life at Shebbear.
While there, his inspiration was headmaster Jack Morris – for his strength of character, wisdom, knowledge and values – and Harry aspired to these throughout his life. He always held great affection for Shebbear and kept very close links with his peers and the OSA.
He regularly attended OSA committee meetings and annual reunion dinners in London and would return to Shebbear as part of the Careers Advice Panel, supporting pupils in careers guidance.
Harry edited the OSA section of the school magazine until recent years and enjoyed researching the lives of notable pupils for inclusion in these articles. He continued to express admiration that ‘this funny little school, tucked away in a corner of North Devon’ had produced so many remarkable and interesting individuals, who went on to make memorable contributions to society.
He was honoured to hold the position of President of the OSA during the millennium year 2000 and was guest speaker at Speech Day 1998.
After leaving school in 1960, Harry started on his path to becoming a leading journalist by taking a role as a trainee reporter on the Pontypridd Observer. It was here that he met his wife Christine and they were married in 1969. From 1961-1964 he was Chief Reporter for the Herts Advertiser, moving in 1965 to become Chief Reporter for Southern News Service, a freelance news agency serving all national newspapers, radio and television. He ran his own freelance news agency between 1967 and 1969, again serving national newspapers, television and working as a special correspondent.
Fleet Street beckoned, and he joined the Press Association (PA) in 1969 as a sub-editor. During his thirty years of service with the PA he held roles of increasing responsibility, including Weekend Editor, Chief Picture Editor, Chief News Editor, Managing Editor and finally Executive Editor before taking early retirement in 1999. Throughout his career at the PA, Harry was at the centre of all the national long running stories, including the problems in Northern Ireland. In fact, all the Aspey family were injured in the 1983 IRA bomb blast at Harrods — Harry’s first-hand account was written and transmitted to the PA while he and the family were in A&E being treated for their injuries. This appeared on the front pages of the national press the following day — always the journalist!
During his editorial tenure, he was responsible for coordinating the coverage of the Charles and Diana saga, the Hillsborough, Bradford and Kings Cross fires and many other disasters, the Falklands War and all the major royal, political and industrial issues. He mingled with the leading political figures, royalty and the movers and shakers of the time. However, he was extremely modest about his achievements.
He wrote and commissioned PA travel features, was a media consultant to the Commerce and Industry Group of the Law Society, and occasional lecturer to foreign journalists at the BBC World Service.
For ten years he was on the judging panels for all major UK Press awards – text and pictures – and then of course after many hours and days of analysing the entries and conferring with the other judges, would enjoy the gala celebrations at the awards ceremonies in London.
Harry took early retirement from the PA in 1999, but total retirement did not last long, and he became a media training consultant for the Thomson Foundation, whose purpose is to train journalists in developing countries. He saw it as an opportunity to pass on his skills to a new generation and give something back to the profession he dearly loved.
These assignments took him to China (living in Beijing for four months at a time on two occasions), Siena Leone twice, Iran, Beirut, Malawi (where he was made an honorary tribal chief returning home with the complete attire!), Botswana, Chana, Montenegro and Slovenia. After twelve years of this professional travel, he settled back at the family home at Bray Lake, Berkshire, continuing to enjoy holidays to far flung corners of the world with Christine.
When not travelling, he enjoyed tending his garden, collecting antiques and watercolours, walking his dog, and the wildlife on the lake — at one time he had a pet swan named Albert who would join him in the garden and even wander into the house.
Harry was a master of communication, a loyal friend, and had a great sense of fun coupled with witty humour. The many tributes from all over the world concluded that he was one of life’s great characters and one of a kind.
Harry died at the Thames Valley Hospice, Windsor, on March 22nd, 2017 after a brief but gallant fight against cancer.
Harry leaves his wife Christine, son Charles (at Shebbear 1988 – 1992), daughter Camilla, and three beloved grandchildren. He will be much missed by a wide circle of family, friends and colleagues.

David Haley

David Haley 1938 - 2012

David Haley 1938 – 2012


Shebbear has produced many good men. Among the very best of them was David Haley. That the old, remote school exists and thrives today is in no small part due to his commitment to help save it when closure threatened in the early 1990s.

While his life centred around his wife, Candy, and their four fine sons, an abiding affection for the college and the Old Shebbearians’ Association, of which he was Secretary for 14 years from 1993, came close behind. At Shebbear from 1952-56, he entered London University where he obtained a BSc degree in Estate Management. Then began a long and successful career in property and property management.

He died in April 2012 after enduring serious illness and was buried on the day that would have been his 74th birthday.

His deep involvement with the OSA came when Jackson Page appointed him editor of the old boys’ section of the Shebbearian magazine. He once described the pleasure of attending his first reunion dinner – and meeting for the first time many of those to whom he had written for news.

He was born at his aunt’s nursing home in Witney, Oxfordshire, where his father was the manager of a woollen factory. His mother was the youngest of twelve children who had been brought up in the area, farming land that was owned by the Duke of Marlborough.

They were a remarkable family. One of his aunts climbed the Matterhorn; another was matron in charge of the military hospital during the siege and relentless bombing of Malta during World War Two. She was awarded the highest medal possible for nursing staff. Many of his uncles continued to farm but the eldest, Frederick, became a Methodist minister. When David passed the 11-plus to Witney Grammar School, it soon became apparent that he was not happy there, so the uncle suggested a Methodist boarding school – Shebbear.

He soon settled in, eventually becoming a sub-prefect and prefect. He played rugby and cricket, mostly for the second teams but occasionally for the firsts. His opening shot for his 1st X1 debut was a mighty six which hit the Beckly pavilion roof.

He left Shebbear with A-level s in physics, pure mathematics and applied mathematics – and a love of singing and amateur dramatics.

Sunday worship, whether at his local Methodist or Anglican churches, depended very much on where he thought there might be the best singing.

It was while taking part in more than thirty musicals with a number of companies in London and Oxfordshire that he met Candy.

In latter years his home was Cold Norton Farm, near Cobham, Surrey, overlooking a sweep of lovely countryside to the east. Some 30 acres of land allowed him to raise and sell rare breeds of sheep.

The tools of his trade were the telephone, his trusty typewriter and a sharp and retentive mind. But he eschewed new technology, believing communication by email not to be secure.

He instilled in his family his personal motto: “Never put anything off until tomorrow that can be done today.” 

Thus the minutes of the OSA Committee were written in longhand as the meeting progressed, typed neatly when he got home and sent in the post the following day.

Indefatigable in all that he did, he would make the long journey to and from Shebbear in an afternoon and evening on countless occasions , picking up and dropping off fellow Old Shebbearians en route, even if it meant going out of his way.

The visits were for career advice evenings, Speech Days or Governors’ meetings. It was David who strongly advocated during the debt crisis that some of the school’s property interests be sold to clear a large debt. Now Shebbear is firmly in profit.

His office at his pretty farmhouse was a large table in the dining room. Rarely missing was a dog – or five – at his feet. Candy, a self-employed solicitor, worked in an adjoining room. There was much affectionate banter between them.

In his property management portfolio the jewel in the crown was Montrose Court in Princess Gate, South Kensington. One of the caretakers was a member of the nearby Polish Club, so, for many years, OSA committee meetings and even one reunion were held there.

A service of thanksgiving for his life was held at All Saints Church, Ockham, Surrey, on April 20. John Ruckes, a contemporary, said at the service:

“Several Old Shebbearians are here today who will testify that life at Shebbear in the late forties and early fifties was really tough but David and I learned to cope. It provided a perfect foundation for our lives ahead. He was a very special man to whom Old Shebbearians owe a huge debt of gratitude.” 

Ken Brown, a business associate, recalled the day when David secured the Montrose Court contract.“He was polite, fresh faced and cheerful and totally in command of his brief.” 

He and his colleagues had expected the negotiations to be over well before lunch. Instead they lasted for 14 bruising hours. “He knew the property backwards and contested every amendment we wanted. We were run ragged that day.”

The David Haley memorial seat at Shebbear College

The David Haley memorial seat at Shebbear College

C W Barfoot

Cyril Barfoot, senior maths and physics master at Shebbear from 1943-57, has died at the age of 93.

He came to Shebbear as one of J.B.Morris’s first recruits with a 1st Class mathematics degree from Birmingham University. Many Shebbearians had reason to be grateful for “his beautifully lucid teaching”.

He was also a first rate model engineer, photographer, stage electrician and scoutmaster of Troop 3.

He left Shebbear for a similar post at Edgehill when his children, two girls and a boy, began to get older and it was necessary to move to Bideford for their education.

While at Edgehill, he was appointed to the permanent panels of examiners for Oxford University O-levels and London University A-levels.

It kept him “more than fully occupied” during the months of June, July and December.

Only a few years ago he was a guest of honour at the OSA President’s reception, following Speech Day at Shebbear.

A Quaker funeral service took place in Bideford on February 14, 2008.

Rev F. John Stanbury

John Stanbury came to Shebbear from Launceston as a pupil in 1956 and left at the end of the winter term in 1963 having gained A-levels in English, History and Geography. He was an editor of the magazine, librarian, prefect and shared the duties of organist at Lake Chapel with John Trevitt.  Later, he was ordained as a Minister in the Methodist Church.

In the autumn of 2006, he was diagnosed with cancer. He died aged 62 on January 20, 2008, at the Sir Michael Sobell House Hospice in Oxford. The funeral took place at All Saints Methodist Church, Abingdon, where he had been the much loved Minister, on January 30.

In 2005 he attended the “40 years on” reunion at Shebbear with his wife Rosemary. She said it had been “an unforgettable experience”. He was the devoted father of Susan and Christopher.

John Mill

A day boy at Shebbear in the 1930s, John Mill would eventually hold a senior position with the Independent Television Authority. Not only was his office in Knightsbridge, London, but his flat overlooked Harrods.

When he left Shebbear at 15 in 1939 where under Leslie Johnson he enjoyed English, Maths, Music and Art and excelled at running, he worked firstly as a clerk with a meat company in Bude. In 1943 he was called up for military service and learned how to fly gliders after being conscripted into the 6th Airborne Division. On his way to Normandy by ship to take part in the D-Day landings he was injured by shrapnel. Once ashore, he was taken to a farmhouse to be treated. While there the farmer’s wife gave birth to a boy who was immediately named John.

After the war he entered Morley College, London, to study personnel Management. He joined the ITA as a personnel manager before being promoted to executive administrator.

In the mid-1950s he returned home to help on the family’s 400-acre farm at Walter’s moor, Shebbear. Five years later he decided to become a probation officer and contacted the ITA for a reference. Instead, they invited him back to work for them again and he stayed until taking early retirement to look after his parents. After their deaths he lived in Cyprus for several years before settling in Westward Ho!

John, a gifted painter in both oils and water colours, died in January 2008, aged 83.

(We are grateful to Reflecting Shebbear, the village magazine, for the biographical details in the this obituary)


Brian Letheren

Brian Letheren, a member of an old established Hatherleigh family with strong Shebbear connections, died shortly before Christmas 2007. He was 67.

He was at Shebbear from 1951-56, leaving with eight O-levels to join his father in the family firm of agricultural merchants. He later took over the business and eventually saw it combine with Oke’s of Holsworthy and Heard’s of Morwenstow, all also run by old boys – with many Old Shebbearians among their customers.

At Shebbear, Brian won his 1st XV Rugby Colours, played for the Second X1 cricket team and was a promising athlete. The Shebbearian of Summer 1955, records that he won the 880 and 440 yards, setting new Middle records for both. He also won the shot and was second in the discus.

Edwin Guy

The younger brother of Dennis, Edwin Guy died in December, 2007, at the age of 82. He was at Shebbear from 1939-42 and in Ruddle House.

Like his brother, he was an excellent sportsman playing for both the 1st XV and 1st X1. He was also very musical, a good singer and a member of the choir. He gained his Oxford School Certificate.

Edwin was a popular figure with both boys and staff. He had an engaging sense of humour and excelled in end of term plays. After Shebbear, he returned to his home village of Exbourne where he lived for the rest of his life. He joined the family business of Master Bakers and Confectioners and became a Director of the company, along with Dennis.

He kept up his love of sport playing cricket and football for Exbourne and Okehampton for many years. He is survived by his widow and sons, Andrew and Philip, both Old Shebbearians, and their children.

Roger Colwill

An obituary in a newspaper in Victoria, British Columbia, tells of the “incredible spirit” of an old boy who entered Shebbear more than 50 years ago. A friend was quoted as saying: “Any time you spent with him, you came away feeling a better person.”

Born in Tintagel and brought up in Launceston, Roger Colwill was to spend five years at Shebbear from 1954-59. On leaving he trained as a chartered surveyor with a large surveying company in Plymouth.

He emigrated to Canada in 1968 where he had a successful and lucrative career in commercial real estate in Vancouver, becoming Associate Vice-President of Royal LePage. He retired at the age of 47 and devoted the rest of his life to environmental issues.

He suffered a severe stroke 10 years ago and spent more than three months in hospital. He was left with impairment to the left side of his body and had to learn to walk again. He fought back, accompanying his former tennis partner on jogs on an electric bike. Naturally left-handed and a keen artist in watercolours, he soon learnt to paint with his right hand. The results were “good”.

From the moment of retirement, he “devoured” environmental literature. His “green activism” began with taking part in a project to remove an evasive species of the broom plant that was threatening wild flowers at a local beauty spot.
He also introduced “Green drinks”, informal monthly gatherings at a Victoria pub for those concerned with the environment.

Roger died, aged 65, in September 2007 while having a cup of tea with his wife Barbara. He also leaves a son Mike, 27, and a daughter Sarah, 25.

David Roberts

An Exeter boy, David “Rat” Roberts followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and entered Shebbear in 1941. He was to stay until the late ’40s. He was a member of the 1st XV, became Assistant Scout Master of Troop 2 and was a prefect. Later he qualified as an engineer, specialising in water projects and land drainage. After marriage to Jean, they went to Nigeria for a number of years where he worked for the Government before the country became independent.

When Milton Keynes was still only in the planning stages, David was deputy engineer for land drainage and spoke of the “limitless funds” made available.
He and Jean returned to Exeter when his parents needed their help. In recent years he had been involved in work on the restoration of the Tiverton Canal.

He died on May 18, 2007. He and Jean had no children.

Among Old Shebbearians who attended his funeral at Exeter Crematorium were David Marshall, Ted Lott and Michael Hohl.

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