KENNETH ANDREW FENN
Although Ken Fenn spent a relatively short time at Wycliffe- three years in the Prep and only one in the senior school- his connections with, and affection for, the school remained for over seventy years. Ken died in Wokingham, aged 94, on the 11th September 2017 and, according to his son Derrick (P, J & SH 1959-68) those school memories were very dear to him until the end.
Ken was the son of an Old Wycliffian, Harold George Fenn (SH 1898-1901) and he came to the Prep in 1935, later passing into his father’s old House, School House, in 1938. However, the onset of war and the requisition of the school premises by the RAF, meant that he left at the end of his first year of the Senior School rather than be evacuated with the school to Lampeter.
Ken was not old enough to join the armed forces, so he went to work for the Bally Shoe Company at their London office in Regent Street, parading with the Home Guard back at Ickenham in the evenings. Eventually, called up for war service in 1942, he joined the heavy artillery. After finishing his training he was awaiting embarkation at Portsmouth when he suffered a bad knee injury whilst playing football. He was hospitalised and unable to go with his unit for the Operation Torch landings in southern Italy, where casualties were high. However, he did land on the Normandy beaches near Arromanche on D Day plus 6. He followed the subsequent campaign through Normandy and into Germany, being finally demobilised in 1947.
He returned home to Ickenham and Bally Shoes and would regale his friends with his experience of fitting Edmund Hillary’s climbing boots before the latter’s successful first ascent of Everest in 1952. He married his wife Lillian in
1949 (Wycliffe contemporary Melville Watts was his best man) and his son Derrick was born in 1950. Ken had started playing rugby at school and continued when he joined the army, playing for his regiment and later for Wasps once settled back into civilian life.
Ken and Lillian bought a successful newsagents and tobacconist business in Teddington in 1957 and continued to run the shop until retirement. He was a keen gardener and allotment holder and he took up bowls, playing at county level for Middlesex.
When the Old Wycliffian Lodge was consecrated in 1952, with his own father Harold as a Founder member and later Treasurer, Ken was encouraged to join indeed to become the Lodge’s very first Initiate in 1953, aged 30. This meeting took place in the Stroud Subscription Rooms, where the Lodge then met, and was conducted by the Headmaster, George Loosley, assisted by Kenneth Bird, the Head of the Preparatory School – indeed a formidable combination!
Despite living a distance from Gloucestershire, Ken was a regular Lodge member and became the Master for 1967-8. Subsequently he was awarded Provincial rank in 1972 and promoted in 2004. Ken was able to be present with four contemporaries at the Lodge’s Golden Jubilee meeting in 2003 and, ten years later, he received from the Provincial Grand Master the Province’s 60 year Certificate of Service.
Ken and Lillian celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary in 2004, but after Lillian’s death in 2007 Ken carried on at home until, becoming increasingly frail and forgetful, he moved to Lord Harris Court, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution home at Sindlesham, where he was most appreciative of the care he received and where he always used to refer to it as ‘the hotel’. He died peacefully on 11th September and his funeral was held at Aldershot Crematorium on 27th September 2017.
(Amalgamation of appreciations provided by the family and that delivered in the OW Lodge meeting in October 2017.)