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Roger Horrell 1935-2021

Roger Horrell, Old Shebbearian, distinguished senior SIS officer and diplomat, died on May 21 at the end of a long and influential life.

Born in Dartmouth in 1935, Roger came to Shebbear after the Second World War and excelled both academically and on the sports field. Following National Service in Kenya with the Devonshire Regiment and his studies at Oxford University, Roger returned to Africa as a District Officer in the Colonial Service. Here he developed a strong affinity with Africa and Africans, winning the cooperation of often fiercely independent local politicians during the difficult time leading to Kenya’s independence.

On leaving the Colonial Service, Roger was recruited by the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) and served in Dubai before returning to Africa and posts in Uganda and Zambia.  During his years in Lusaka, he developed close contacts with many of the principal militant refugees from the rebel Smith regime in Rhodesia. Roger’s work in winning the confidence of often competing parties proved invaluable when Margaret Thatcher and Lord Carrington organised the Lancaster House conference to negotiate the handover to majority rule in the new Zimbabwe.

On returning to London, Roger was responsible for MI6’s operations in Africa which included insurgent wars in Angola and Mozambique, as well as maintaining stability in Zimbabwe’s early years of independence and, eventually, the process of change in South Africa.

His final service appointment was as senior director responsible for personnel and administration. Here he was given the challenging mandate of increasing accountability and encouraging a more self-critical culture as a means of complementing the service’s early years buccaneering ethos which, though responsible for many successes, now needed modernising. This was also the time that John Major’s government publicly acknowledged the existence of MI6, leading to its establishment by statute and parliamentary oversight.

The well-developed sense of fairness based on firm liberal foundations, sympathy and support for colleagues shown, both as Personnel Director and throughout Roger’s service, speak of a man the OSA remembers with fondness and respect.   He was our President in 1996 and an active committee member until very recently. His humour, intelligence, modesty and above all, warmth provide memories of a man whose character, worth and story provide inspiration to us all.

Reflections of a year in lockdown…

Dear All,

Our secretary Andy Bryan is looking for contributions for this year’s Shebearian Magazine. If you are an OS and would like to share your thoughts/experiences of the last 12months please get in touch with him at

John Page 3rd November 2020

We have received the sad news that John Page has died. The following was written by David Shorney, a fellow Old Shebbearian

” John passed away a week after his 95th birthday. He was the son of Jackson Page and came to the school at at early age under the Head at the time John Rounsefell.

Both John and his father lived and breathed Shebbear, playing a huge role in the OSA and keeping in touch with Old Shebbearians. There was nothing John liked to do more than talk about Shebbear, he remembered everything in glorious technicolour and fantastic detail.

John was Honorary Treasurer of the OSA for several decades, you will find many pieces in the Shebbearian with his initials JHDP after them. He also made a big contribution to ‘A School Apart’

John’s wife Janet has requested no letters or messages of condolence.

Edward Kenneth Coombe

We have received the following from Edward’s daughter.

Please note the death of my father aged 95.  He attended the College from the late 1930s with his brother Ronald and his future brothers-in-law Denis and Edwin Guy.  He always spoke very warmly and highly of his time there,most especially of being taught by Jackson Page.  He took organ lessons at school in Lake Chapel and was a church organist until relatively recently. He went straight to Oxford on leaving in 1942 I believe, where he joined the university Air Squadron to begin his training as an RAF pilot to fly Lancasters for the rest of the war. It took him many years to return to academic work as a mature student completing his undergraduate degree at Oxford in Geography and finally his PhD in Geomorphology there at the age of 70.  His topic was the nature and origins of Chesil Beach a subject of fascination to him from childhood as Portland was his family home.
He was President of the OSA for one year in the late 1990s.

The 2020 Reunion Dinner is one month away

The 112th OSA Reunion Dinner is now only one month away, on Saturday 1st February 2020. Buy your ticket now from the event page to reserve your place.

Shebbearian magazine

OSA Secretary, Andy Bryan, is looking for articles to include in the OSA section of this year’s Shebbearian magazine.

Just a couple of paragraphs about your life since leaving Shebbear (with or without photo) which might give present Shebbearians something to aspire to.

Please send to andybryan4954@gmail.comclosing date 31st October.

Gap student vacancy

Shebbear College requires a Boarding Gap Student for the summer term (beginning 18th April and ending on 7th July).

The post is a residential one and would suit either a recent school leaver or a graduate looking for some experience in a school. Duties include helping with all aspects of the school from Pre-School to Year 13 and supporting the boarding staff.

Accommodation and all meals are provided with the post. If you are interested please send your CV with a covering letter asap to the HR Manager, Andrea Stairs at