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Basil Le Maitre 1943-45

Bob Lawrenson (1943-48) reports: With his mother and younger sister, Basil was evacuated from his home island of Guernsey in 1940, just before the Germans invaded. They lived for a time in Hammerfield, Hemel Hempstead. His dad had to stay in Guernsey in his baker’s shop. Basil came to HHGS in 1943, the same year as me, and we were pals in the same form. He went back to Guernsey with his mum and sister in 1945. Even though D-Day was on 6th June 1944, the Channel Islands were heavily defended and not relieved until 1945.

Basil invited me to Guernsey for a holiday at Easter 1946. I did not see very much of the effect of the occupation except for vast concrete gun emplacements and a railway line on the road around the island. My main memory was our horse-riding every day on L’Ancress Bay beach on two horses that his father had got from the retreating Germans. Mine kept wanting to roll in the surf, with its saddle and me on. Also, whilst the boat trip from Weymouth was smooth on the way there, on the way back it was so rough that the 7-hour journey became 11 hours. I was ill. After a couple of years we lost contact. Then at an HHGS re-union in 1988, someone said that he had heard that Basil was selling ice cream in Venezuela. I pictured him on a trike in the jungle.

On holiday in Guernsey recently, I enquired about Basil in the very helpful St. Peter Port library and found that he had done well at St. Elizabeth College and had gone to London to train as a vet. I was given a local contact who was initially very cautious, but then told me that he had known Basil well. Basil had failed his vet’s exams and got a job as an assistant ranch manager in Venezuela. The ranch boss also owned a Firestone tyre factory, an electricity plant and an ice cream factory! After a couple of years, Basil married the boss’s daughter and they were given the ice cream factory as a wedding present. Hence the ice cream selling story. Basil returned to Guernsey a couple of times, with his four daughters, and was a real rancher type. He died of heart failure in Venezuela in 1995. The contact could not tell me anything of Basil’s family.

Geoff Leggett 1945-1949

Joining Hemel Hempstead Grammar School from Little Gaddesden School I started in the second year due to my advanced age. Because of the poor bus service I cycled to school which on winter mornings could be quite hazardous! I remember well having school dinners in the corridor and being friends with Stanley Miller and Francis Shean. After leaving school I did my 2-years National Service and then entered a commercial electronics college after which I joined EMI working on defence electronics from which I retired in 1990. My wife and I then spent eight years living in France and return there every year for enjoyably long holidays.

David Flint 1943-1948

On leaving school I continued with part-time study and after a long slog qualified as a civil engineer. I went to Trinidad as a road and bridge engineer for four years, to Tobago for one year, and later to Brunei for three years before returning to England to work on the design of bypasses and motorways. I married a Trinidadian but have been a widower for a long time and I now live near Basingstoke. A daughter and a grandson live nearby; a son lives near Dublin; and a daughter and two grand-daughters normally live in Sydney, Australia. At present, the Aussies are living with me for a year or perhaps two – it’s like going back thirty years but without the responsibility. Since retirement, a book-collecting hobby has developed into a little business of dealing in old books, particularly old children’s books, and selling them by post. I spend a lot of time on biographical research on poems and diaries that I have found with a view to writing books about them. “Annie’s Letters”, which is of family and Abbots Langley interest, has been compiled and published jointly with my brother, Roger Flint (1945-1951). Other major landmarks in my life are growing a beard at 30 and celebrating my retirement at 60 by growing a pony-tail down to the small of my back – I cut it off after a few years and people said: “That looks better”. I now let down what little is left of my hair at modern-jive dancing lessons. It’s better than PT! davidaflint@btinternet.com

Nancy Langston 1944-1949

I have been around the block! I left HHGS in 1949 and worked locally in Hemel Hempstead for Kents Brushes and McAlpines until the 1970's when I had my two sons John and Mark, divorced and remarried to John Newberry and had a daughter Jane. I lived in Bayswater and worked for a television publishing company where I met many famous TV and film stars. Have travelled the world by accompanying John on his various business trips for a number of years, have lived in South Africa and now back living in the road I was born in, in Hemel Hempstead. Through organising the two school reunions in 1988 and 2001 I have been lucky to have kept in touch with ex-school friends and appreciate their friendship. I have recently been helping with the school’s internet project "Hemel at War" and keep in close contact with events at the school. nancy@johnat72.plus.com

Kevin Ellis 1949-1955

My first job after leaving school was in a life assurance office in the City of London. Subsequently, I did my National Service with the Royal Air Force and, following training, was posted to Iraq as an Operations Clerk in the air traffic control tower of RAF Habbaniya. Just before my demobilisation date, I and all the other British personnel in Iraq were caught up in the military coup which resulted in the assassination of King Faisal and the country’s Prime Minister. We were then effectively imprisoned for some considerable time before arrangements could be made for our repatriation. On returning to Hemel Hempstead as a civilian, I married in 1959, and my wife Sheila and I had three children (all of whom went to Hemel Hempstead School). I worked at different times in Hemel and London until the late 70’s when my work took me and my family to the Midlands. We settled very happily in Malvern, Worcs., that is until Sheila was diagnosed with cancer in 1994. As I had just taken early retirement from my job as Chief Executive of a national agricultural organisation, I was able to take on the role of ‘carer’ – a task which lasted nearly 10 years until Sheila's death in 2003. In 2004 I moved from Malvern to Cambridgeshire, to be nearer to my two daughters who live near Huntingdon. Later that year I met Maggie, a retired teacher, who had recently lost her husband to cancer. We eventually married in 2006, and now live in Knebworth, Herts. So, I have almost come ‘full circle’, albeit that I now reside on the opposite side of the county. Ambitions for the future – to grow old disgracefully. kevinellis1@ntlworld.com

Una Potton 1946-1952

I now live in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada and have been here since 1968 with my husband, where we have raised two sons. bgaudaur@eagle.ca

Joan Sonia Whiteman and Peter Hodgson

Peter attended HHGS 1936-1941. Joan Sonia evacuated to Kings Langley from London with her family September 1939. We met on 13th September 1939 when the school re-assembled after the outbreak of war and she joined form IVa. When we both left school we remained friends, eventually marrying in January 1945 when I was in the RAF. After I was demobilised we moved to Radlett and had two sons. I trained as a teacher at Goldsmiths' College and taught in Watford and Borehamwood. When both of our boys were at school, Joan 'got on her bike' and also trained as a teacher at Wall Hall and obtained a teaching post in Radlett. I was promoted to the headship of a school in Sawbridgeworth in 1961 and the family moved over to that side of the county. Joan obtained rapid promotion too becoming first a Deputy Head and then a Head of schools on Rye Park and Bishop's Stortford. We both took early retirement and led a very active life in our home in Standon. Joan died in 2009 when our family had grown to five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. pkhodgson@btinternet.com

June Scott and Brian Ellis - 1940s

Although we were both at the school in the mid to late 1940’s it was not until 1966 we met and married. By that time we had six children between us from our previous marriages. June had remained in Hemel working variously at John Dickinson, McAlpine and Addressograph and I had recently retired from the Fleet Air Arm and joined the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Our first home was in Boxmoor but more space was required and we moved to Felden. From there we moved to Scotland in 1973 (working now for the Civil Aviation Authority), remaining there until the late 70’s. After Scotland we moved to our present location, Hindhead in the Surrey Hills, convenient for travelling to the office in London and latterly to Gatwick. brian.ellis@lineone.net

James “Monty” Clark 1940-1947

When I left the 6th, I did my duty serving His late Majesty in the R.A.M.C. as a nursing orderly, 2nd class. I was on the hospital ship El Nil, formerly King Farouk's royal barge, treating boils on the way out and clap all the way back. The El Nil and I were decommissioned about the same time, and I then had the good fortune to be accepted at Guy's Hospital medical school. Got my MBBS in 1955 and served my time in Hertford County Hospital, Luton, and elsewhere. Decided to become an anaesthetist in 1957. Married a Guy's Registered Nurse, Sheila Gilbert.

Arrived in Montreal, Canada, in March 1963 in 5 feet of snow. In November, 1963, I very narrowly missed being on Air Canada Flight 118 that exploded in mid-air. In 1964 I started as an anaesthesia consultant in Oakville, Ontario, a dormitory town of Toronto. I'm still there today.

In 1992 I retired for the first time, from anaesthesia, and started full-time as a consultant in managing chronic pain. (I stopped passing gas and since then I've been in pain, so to speak.) In 1999 I retired again. My third wife and I built an Andean hideaway, on the Equator at 10,000 feet above sea level. My Spanish was not much better than my schoolboy French, and we soon learned that I was not cut out to be a gentleman farmer. Returned to Oakville in 2002, bankrupt.

Today, I have built up an enormous practice and have become something of a local guru of Chronic Pain. I might have another go at retirement in 2010, though basically – I think it sucks. kracljam@yahoo.com

Jon Wexler 1940-1947

I was aged nine when World War Two broke out. We lived in Palmers Green north London. My mother taught French, my father taught chemistry. Mum’s school was evacuated to Hemel Hempstead, Dad’s to Downham Market, and my older brother into the army OTC. They couldn’t cut me in half so I went off with Dad to Norfolk, and in 1940 for one term to King’s Lynn Grammar where the prefects kept order by whacking the ‘littlies’ with their heavy house slippers. Then the Germans invaded the Low Countries, my Dad said “You’re outta here” and packed 10-year-old me off to Highgate School in north Devon. Second class posh, it was another edifyingly brutish English public school, but bearable for me thanks to pre-conditioning against sneaking and provocative emotional displays by rough tutoring from said older brother. In 1942 with great foresight the school decided the blitz was finished and returned to London. After commuting 90-minutes each way to Highgate Hill from home in Apsley for one impractical term, down came the V1 buzz bombs.

Again, “You’re outta there” said my father, and so it was that I came to HHGS second form at age 12. No fees! Girls!! Friendliest kids!!! No bullying. Best teachers I ever had. Taffy Evans for French and German, Harrison for English, Miss Dale for history, Attwood for maths, Quarrie for chemistry, Shackley for physics. Mrs Thacker for art, and geography I can’t remember but the poor lady had a really bad time from us. At play we had ‘Kingy’ and ‘Jimmy Knacker’ all around the netball court. Great games, I wonder if they’re still played by kids of today. School lunches on trestle tables all the way along the corridor by the science block. Senior boys at end of year went out of curriculum to play the girls at hockey and tennis, that was a bit of fun! My only distinction at sports was throwing the cricket ball. I came third. I once scored 15 not out with the under 14’s but could never equal it with my eyes open.

Passed Matric in 1945 and HSC in ’47. Too young for University so had to stay on in the 6th for a third year. Mr Screeton thought I should be made Head Boy to prevent further misbehaviour out of boredom. Finally made UCL in 1948 to do Chemical Engineering, and in 1951 followed my brother who’d gone to Australia already in 1947. Life here in Melbourne has been great. I had 27 years working in various manufacturing industries and finished up with a consulting business designing products and processes for passive fire protection in building construction. My wife of 55 years was a social worker, our son is an orthodontist, our daughter works at fine art, and I am now a volunteer making aids for disabled people in my home workshop. jwexler@bigpond.net.au

Lennie Lee 1935-1940

I left school on my 16th birthday on 4th October, 1940 and started work at Sun Life Alliance on the 7th October. Volunteered to join the Royal Navy in 1942 where I stayed for 12 years. I now live in Chichester with my wife Sue.

Pat Bowers

During the 1930's the Ewing family moved to Boxmoor from Scotland and both John and Bill attended the Grammar School. Though our years coincided latterly Bill and I did not connect until introduced by Bob at the end of the war and we were married a couple of years later. John and Joan Wortham were friends at school and they married soon after John's return from a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp. Bob, too, spent the war years as a Japanese prisoner-of-war in Java and Changi jail in Singapore.

Early married life was spent in London with Bill working in the City but in 1960 we returned to Hemel with three children and in time for Jean, the eldest, to start the next onslaught on the School. This continued into the 70's and the Comprehensive era with the fifth offspring leaving in 1979. Before marrying I was nursing at University College Hospital but I did not work whilst the children were young. I had a number of part-time jobs before I joined the Civil Service to work in the Ministry of Transport offices in Hemel. My next move was to London and the head office of the Medical Research Council where I stayed for 15 years, retiring in 1988 as their Chief Welfare Officer.

Sadly, John died in 1987 and Bill in 1988. At this time four of the ‘children’ had emigrated to Australia so it seemed a logical move for me to join them and after much paper-work I was accepted as an immigrant and I arrived in Australia in June 1990. I soon found a home on the south coast of New South Wales and, after two years, I decided that I had done the ‘right thing’.  So the house in Hemel was sold and I found a permanent home in Ulladulla (a derivative of the Aboriginal name for ‘safe harbour’) and now, 20 years later, it is still that safe harbour for me.

The family are spread around Australia: Jean in Queensland, Allan and Tricia In Bunbury Western Australia, Mary in Melbourne and Jill in Sydney whilst Bill still lives in Bedfordshire. Bob, now 90, is living in Kent and still going ‘his way’! but, sadly, Joan died in 2008.


Pat Smith 1935-1940

After leaving school in July 1940 this work-shy young man eventually got himself a job at Hemel Hempstead Post Office after much prompting from his father. And so I began working on the counters handling more money that I had ever seen in my life. After two and a half years of very hard work the Army called and I found myself at school again training to be a wireless operator in the Royal Corps of Signals. Just after my nineteenth birthday I was aboard ship on my way to India where I served for just over three years, firstly in the Chindit campaign on the North India   Burma border and then with an Indian Airborne Division. September 1947 saw me back at my old job at the Post Office. I missed the tropical climate and the freedom I had experienced in the Army. I longed to move on. In the meantime I had met Jean who was later to become my wife. She had been transferred from a Post Office in Suffolk. In late 1948 my aspirations were fulfilled and I secured a contract with the Post Office of Southern Rhodesia and sailed for the warmer climes of Southern Africa on 20th January 1949. I subsequently arrived in Bulawayo and commenced work in a place that was still in the 1930’s. At least it was warm, there was no rationing and housing was not a problem. Jean was very eager to join me and travelled out on her own to join me in Bulawayo where we were married on the 29th October 1949.

After a very pleasant seventeen years in Bulawayo, despite the declaration of UDI by the Smith Government in 1965, and also gaining two daughters and a son on the way I moved, in 1966, on promotion to Salisbury the capital city of Rhodesia. There I joined the administrative side of the Post Office. I climbed my career ladder and eventually became the Finance Director of the Post and Telecommunications Corporation. After the granting of independence to the country in 1980 all was well for the first eighteen months when politics then began to interfere with my work and things became very uncomfortable. We had no option but to leave with a great deal of regret leaving behind family and friends of many years. We returned to England in January 1983and settled in Suffolk where I have stayed ever since. I am very much involved in the voluntary sector and with the Parish Church. Jean died in 2007. We had been married for 58 years. w.smith989@btinternet.com

Edward (Ted) Wiggins 1939-44

I attended HHGS through the War, 1939 to 44. After leaving HHGS I joined De Havilland Aircraft Company and continued to live in Kings Langley until I married my wife of 59 years Sylvia, a Watford girl (Roy Dimmock was my best man), and we moved to Hatfield. As an aircraft designer, I was recruited by Lockheed Aircraft in 1957 and they transferred the entire family to the USA. I retired from Lockheed in 1990, having spent the final 13 years on the Hubble Space Telescope. We live near San Francisco, and split our time between here and our condominium on Maui, Hawaii.

I was trying to remember names of my classmates, and am disappointed that I could only come up with about three-quarters, and I'm not sure of the spelling of some of those: Roy Dimmock, John Higgins, Clive Mears, Paul (Percy) Boyne, Laurence (Tod) Swallow, Paul Downes, Pat (Piggy) Higgs, Pat Chilman, Janet Goodman, Ann Mehl, Brenda Wilmott, Audrey Fawkson, Jean Baxter, Audrey (Doggy) Barker, Keith Lindsey (took our wedding photographs), Pat Simpson, Jemima Duff, Colin Blackman, Ian Crystal, Doreen Kingswood, Audrey Periam, Paddy Farrell, James Bishop and Olive Jones. I would be delighted to hear from any ex-classmates at: evwigg@att.net or by post. Ted Wiggins, 10147 Bonny Drive, Cupertino, CA 95014, USA.

Gillian Walsham

I began my first year of teaching at HHGS in September 1959. The best 5 years of my life, so lucky to be guided by those wonderful experienced teachers. Mr Robinson was keen for children to go skiing so in 1960 I organised and led the first school ski trip to Austria and also for the next three years to Switzerland and France. I left to marry and travel overland to Australia in July 1964. I returned to teach part-time at the Headmaster’s request in September 1970 by which time it had become a Comprehensive school. I already had two children by then who were at nursery but became pregnant with our third so only stayed 2½ terms (teaching sprint-starts at 8 months!) closely followed by our fourth. I am still in touch with three pupils from my years at Hemel Hempstead. All were in my very successful senior netball team photograph in the recent literature.

Jean Findlay and Denys Crouch

Denys and I were married in 1951 and had 5 children. Denys was a Bevin Boy, had a spell in the Army then worked for a shipping company in London. In 1954 he was offered a job in the Far East and we spent several happy years in Singapore and Malaya. We came home in 1960 and he entered theological college at Rochester. He was an Anglican priest in Kent and Carlisle for 17 years but, sadly, died in 1979. I trained as a pharmacist, but after 28 years of married life was out of touch so took a cookery course. This resulted in a variety of jobs, including 4 months in Atlanta and 4 years in a stately home. Since retirement I have travelled extensively keeping up with my scattered family. I am now settled in Rowde, Wiltshire. Denys's sister, Sybil (1941-46) emigrated to Canada in 1966. She had 2 children and 3 grandchildren and died in 2007.

Pat Pannell 1946-1951

I married Bryan Sharp in 1957 after a whirlwind romance! We actually worked at McAlpine’s in Hemel Hempstead where we met at table tennis practices. Our dating schedule was as follows: Monday 9th September, had a drink at Two Waters in the pub by the canal; Tuesday, went to the pictures; Wednesday, didn’t meet; Thursday, dancing at Watford Town Hall; Friday, out for a drink; Saturday (14th September 1956), Bryan proposed. Married 10th August 1957. Still together, and they said it wouldn’t last! Photograph (above left) first anniversary at Water End Barn, St. Albans. We moved to the Isle of Man in 1962 and have been very active in our local tennis club: Bryan has been Club Captain, Chairman, Coach, Umpire, Referee and is now Club President and is still playing. I have looked after the Juniors, Coached, Umpired, Refereed, and am now Club Secretary and Public Relations Officer. I have also been Secretary of the fund-raising since the Club bought an acre of farm land in 1966 which now has three outdoor floodlit courts plus one indoor court and a two-storey clubhouse. The clubhouse was opened by former British player Joe Durie in 2001 ready for the Inter-Island games when we were visited by Prince Edward and Sophie. Unfortunately I had to give up playing about four years ago. The club has also named a new trophy in our honour – the Sharp Trophy – to be played for annually as a Senior/Junior Doubles event. Each senior plays with a junior and the seniors are allowed only a 1st serve so that they don’t serve too hard for the youngsters. Some of the juniors were as young as eight and played really well with a 10-year-old being in the winning pair. Our daughter Julie recently treated us to an Isle of Man trike ride, where we went on a full trip of the Island’s famous Mountain TT course on a huge three-wheeled motorbike with a 1.2 litre engine. We were regaled in full leathers and helmets looking like “Hell’s Grannies”. We always did love motorbikes but I had to sell mine to pay for our honeymoon!

Robert Burns 1964-1969

My name is Dr. Robert Burns PhD FLCM FHEA BA (Hons). I was a pupil at Hemel Hempstead Grammar School but left in 1969 due to health reasons. I am now Associate Professor of Music at the University of Otago in New Zealand and have published Transforming Folk (2012) through Manchester University Press, a monograph examining the notion of Englishness through music during the twentieth century. I have consistently published in many academic journals (see my Otago website information http://www.otago.ac.nz/music/ourpeople/otago010064.html). Prior to academia, I was a professional studio and touring musician in London and performed on many television programmes such as Not The Nine O'Clock News, Mr. Bean, Blackadder, Red Dwarf, French and Saunders and the Lenny Henry Show as well as many advertising 'jingles'. I also performed with David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) Pete Townsend (The Who) John Lord and Ian Paice (Deep Purple), Eric Burdon (The Animals), James Burton (Elvis Presley), Jerry Donahue (Fairport Convention) and Frank Gambale (Chick Corea). I owe my musical success to Mr. Leslie Sanders and Mr. Bernard Brown (from the LSO who taught me the trumpet on Saturday mornings). I would like to get in touch with my teachers from 1964 to 1969, I appreciate that some may be deceased but Mr. Evans, my German teacher, was a saving grace for me when I was on tour in Germany, Mr. Hendy was the main cause of my PhD studies, and I know Mr. Sanders passed away, but what a music teacher!

Further information available from the following links:



Maureen Colbert, by her daughter

Maureen Colbert Eastwood passed away July 2012. After leaving England in 1957, she and her husband Trevor raised their three children in Northern Rhodesia/Zambia where she worked as a Registered Nurse. In 1969 they emigrated to Perth, Western Australia. After Trevor's death in 1979 she moved with her sons to Utah to join her daughter and grandchildren. She stayed busy working at the local hospital and directed and acted in the local theatre groups. 

Steve Quarrie 1956-64

I now live in Belgrade, Serbia. At school one can never guess where one will end up, and I would certainly never have chosen Yugoslavia as a destination, though I would have known where it was on the map! On leaving HHGS I spent six years at Cambridge University doing Chemistry, then three years post-doc at Manchester University trying to get out of Chemistry, followed by a research career in government service in what was at that time the UK's Agricultural Research Council, then the Agricultural and Food Research Council, then the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). All of this happened in Cambridge; well, Trumpington, just south of Cambridge, at the Plant Breeding Institute.

Having managed to shift sidewards from Chemistry I developed a career in crop physiology, focusing on wheat and drought stress, which then evolved into genetics around the time the Plant Breeding Institute got privatised, and my work was transferred to the John Innes Centre in Norwich, where I worked for 11 years before taking early retirement in 2001, and moved to Belgrade, where I have recently celebrated 10 years of marriage to a Serbian Professor of Botany, but that's another story. Incidentally, the current director of the JIC is another Old Hempsteadian, Dale Sanders. I suppose I must have come across him while at school, but our paths have never really crossed – he moved in more illustrious circles than I did, being a mere government research scientist.

Although formally retired I still work essentially 7-plus days a week, as retirement gave me the opportunity to do what I wanted to do, whether I get paid for it or not. So, I currently teach PhD students at Belgrade University Faculty of Biology how to do research, I taught undergraduate students in Parma, Italy for 10 years, I've been a visiting Professor at Newcastle University since 2003, initially in the Schools of Biology and Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, and now the Business School where, with a colleague of mine at the School, we have just won a 7-million Euro project to do research on food marketing and school meal procurement. That will keep me out of mischief for the next five years. As well as this, I give regular training courses (1-2 per month) around Europe on how to do research and write project proposals – courses in Ljubljana last week, then Belgrade, Brussels and Podgorica, Montenegro to give before coming to the UK for a seminar at Lancaster University, several days discussing our new project at Newcastle University, then Christmas. And so it goes on – never boring! Oh, yes, and projects on rural development in Serbia when I can get the money.

In 1999 I wrote a diary of my experiences in Serbia while here for two weeks during the NATO bombing campaign – a unique occasion in my life that left a deep impression on me. So, you could say I'm now trying to repay my friends in Serbia for the damage inflicted. So, that's where I am now; well, in between visits elsewhere.

Steve would be pleased to hear from anyone who knew him at school: steve.quarrie@gmail.com

Gordon Wingrove 1964-71

I joined Hemel Hempstead Grammar School from Belswains School and my wife, Angela Sykes, joined from Corner Hall School although we did not know each other really until my final year. Angela is the only daughter of Kathleen Sykes (née Hoar) who was one of the first pupils at HHGS and is in the photograph of First Pupils on this website. In lower school one of my vivid memories was the Art class with Mr Cox. I had such little talent but such enterprise that I regularly was allowed to clean out his fish tank rather than taking part in the art task. Not good for my art but I was happy to help and escape! Conversely I enjoyed the woodwork class with Mr Boucher and still have the table that I made. My mum proudly had it in her ‘front’ room for many years and I inherited it back when she passed away. 

I was reasonably good at sport and played for the school football team and represented the school at the District Athletics as well as winning some races on school Sports Day. In the Sixth Form I studied Pure Maths, Applied Maths and Physics and these were the base for my later life in Civil Engineering. In Applied Maths there were only four of us in the class: Lynne Andrews, Christine Seymour, Colin Coulson and me. In all honesty the other three were all better than me but I worked hard to remain close to them and achieve the grade needed to enter University. I became Head Boy in my final year. Interestingly, whilst I really liked Mrs Hughes as a teacher and mentor, she told my parents that she had voted against me becoming Head Boy because she didn’t think that I was academically capable of completing my A-Levels and undertake the responsibility of Head Boy. Whilst I was very proud to be given the role I think she was probably correct!

I graduated from Newcastle-upon-Tyne University and then joined Durham County Council in 1974 as a graduate engineer and later became a Member of the Institute of Chartered Engineers (MICE). I retired from the County Council in 2011 after 37 years designing, constructing or maintaining the County’s roads and structures.

My wife Angela and I married in 1976 and we have two daughters. When the girls were young and we were driving around the County I used to say “Dad built that road or that bridge” and as they grew up they would say “Did you do it all on your own!” They certainly took me down but I have pride in the work that I was involved with.

We still live in Durham and unfortunately rarely return to Hemel Hempstead as most of our relatives have sadly passed away.


Alan Winter 1967-71

I was at HHGS from 1967/71 and left after the end of the 5th year, after 3 years in the "M" stream. Form tutor was Margaret Hodge, and other teachers included Doug Trickett (Maths), Claude Prior (French), Dan Doggett (Geography); Jack Boucher (Woodwork). I was fairly quiet at school, although my form was quite a noisy one overall. After a career mainly with BP Oil, and Xerox I now work part-time and run some social media pages. More about me at http://alandwinter.blogspot.co.uk/p/alan-d-winter.html

Tim Gibbs 1954-60

I was the first of four from our family to go to HHGS. I was followed by sisters Liz and Jane and brother Jonathan but unlike those three I was no great shakes whilst there and left at the end of the First Year 6th in 1960 to join a sandwich course to become a Merchant Navy Engineer Officer. Although Hemel Hempstead is a long way from the sea and not having any connections whatsoever with the sea, it turned out to be a great career choice and I have been involved with the marine industry ever since. I “came ashore” into management in 1972 and worked for various companies in London, Aberdeen and Chichester and retired in 2005. This only lasted for about a month, when a friend asked me to go to China to try and sort out a problem shipbuilding contract he had there! That prompted me to form my own small marine consultancy company which kept me busy for nearly five years but then I started to wind things down. I had moved with my partner to Bideford in 2007 and, when not working, began devoting time to work as a volunteer on the narrow-gauge Lynton & Barnstaple Railway. After a couple of years of early starts and 50-mile round trips I gave that up and now volunteer as an Appropriate Adult at Barnstaple and Exeter police stations. We have grandchildren in Stockport, New Mills, Hove and Bideford which results in quite a lot of travelling and regular house invasions but in 2017 I have escaped some of that as I am working again – this time doing auditing cargoes for The Crown Estate associated with their aggregate dredging licences around the UK. tim.bideford@btinternet.com

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