We were sorry to learn of the death of a regular correspondent and loyal OW in Arthur French who was a day pupil in both the junior and senior schools between 1931 and 1939. His commitment to the school was unusually close for he was the son of a staff member, E.J. (‘Froggy’) French- Art Master from 1920 to 1945. Unsurprisingly, Arthur had to carry the soubriquet of ‘Tadpole’ when in the lower forms. Unfortunately, his mother died when he was nine and the close-knit community of Wycliffe provided security for him, his father and his two younger siblings, Marion and Philip (J & DB 1937-45).
Arthur had a good school career, spending three years in the Sixth Form, becoming a School Prefect and Head of his House and winning school prizes for Public Service, Mathematics and Science. He was Secretary of Lit Soc, when minutes were both detailed and compendious and he remembered having responsibility for the school swimming pool in the holidays when Mr Jenner was away – de-chlorinating, removing the surface leaves and repelling outsiders.
One of Arthur’s outstanding features was his meticulousness, particularly with records. He was a mine of information on a very wide range of subjects, particularly history and genealogy and it is unsurprising therefore that he spent his professional career in Education. He left Wycliffe in 1939 with an Open Scholarship in Mathematics at Queen’s College, Oxford. Although he took a First Class in Moderations, his final year was truncated, as was the wartime pattern, to provide the ‘short course’ or ‘war degree’. It was during one of his vacations that he spent his time packing up the books from the Wycliffe library prior to its evacuation to Lampeter. He followed them on his bicycle.
As a Conscientious Objector and pacifist, Arthur spent the early years of the war in full-time Civil Defense in Kilburn, London, supervising air raid shelters – and it was here in 1942 that he met Joy Adams whom he subsequently married. Joy unfortunately died in 2007, but they had four sons: Chris, Roger (who died young), Patrick and Daniel.
After the Blitz and the Battle of Britain, conditions in London eased and Arthur was able to begin his intended life in teaching, largely still a reserved occupation. He spent 1943-45 at Wycliffe College Junior School and then 1945-6 at Marling, before taking up a year’s appointment at Gloucester Technical College. He was then free to exercise his compendious knowledge in helping the Museums Service, first as Assistant Organiser for Derbyshire (1947-9) and then as the first Organiser for the West Riding.
This led to his being invited in 1955 to lecture in Education at the Ministry of Education Teachers’ College (later Makerere College) in Uganda. He stayed in the country for some fourteen years, learned the local tongue and was a regular Lecturer on Uganda TV. He travelled widely, supervising students on teaching practice throughout the country. In 1969 he was seconded to the USA as Visiting Lecturer at the Teachers’ College, Columbia University in New York.
Arthur returned to the UK in 1969 to become a Lecturer at Bishop Otter College, Chichester and the first Warden of Crawley Teachers’ Centre in West Sussex – a job he did for 13 years, specialising in counselling, inter-personal skills and relationships training. Throughout this time he was also a member of the Board of Theological Education, the Advisory Council for the Church’s Ministry in the Church of England and a member of the Chichester Diocesan Education Committee.
He retired from his Education responsibilities in 1983 and, with Joy, moved to Ipplepen in Devon. Here he could immerse himself in work for the local community, study History and his own family history and update himself on modern communication technology. His acquisitiveness for new knowledge never left him. Sadly Joy died in 2007 but Arthur stated that “I intend to use loneliness constructively- particularly helping ‘the oldies’.
Arthur’s commitment to others, to his principles and to his Faith remained strong and in his actions and career he epitomised many of the Wycliffian values and attitudes that he would have imbibed subconsciously from the school and WAS when he was a boy living on the campus. He died on Sunday 10th January 2016, peacefully in his sleep, at Brambledown Nursing Home, Denbury, and Devon at the age of 95.