It was a shock to all when we learned of the sudden yet peaceful death of Michael Blinkhorn in early September, for he had been a very familiar figure in the life of Wycliffe for over half a century. Having taken the dog for a walk, he returned to his armchair with a cup of tea and just fell asleep.
Michael was one of the very first pupils in Wards House when it opened in 1945 under ‘Spud’ Murphy, and was present again when the decision to demolish it was made seventy years later. In the interim, particularly in his role as Chairman of the Estates Committee, he had followed the major alterations and expansions to the physical building as the school attempted to keep pace with providing boarding facilities of a quality demanded by current pupils and their parents – not to forget the lucrative commercial market for course accommodation during vacations.
Michael left Wycliffe in 1948 from the Modern VI Form and trained as an Auctioneer and Estate Agent at the London College of Estate Management, where he qualified FAI. A break for National Service saw him commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery and he returned to Gloucestershire to undertake Articles with the Estate Agents, L.W. Bailey (OW) on The Promenade in Cheltenham.
In 1954 Michael, now FRICS, set up his own Estate Agency in Broadway, Worcestershire, which he ran successfully until the giant corporate agencies began systematically to swallow the relative ‘minnows’ and, in 1988 his business was sold to the Nationwide Building Society to which Michael was appointed a consultant. Never one to be idle, Michael had himself elected as a County Councillor and served Worcestershire for some twenty years. As a motoring enthusiast he also served a term as Chairman of the Bugatti Owners’ Club.
His consultancy expertise was readily appreciated by Wycliffe’s Council of Governors, to which he had been appointed in 1972, and he was asked to chair their Estates Committee, advising on properties, land acquisitions and planning. His advice and long experience of both the business and the College, was much respected, and continued until his retirement from the Trustees in 2006.
On retirement he undertook his honorary term as a Vice-President of the College.
Michael’s cheerful demeanour was still to be seen around, whether at OW events, anniversary celebrations, or at the Old Wycliffian Lodge, of which he was a long-standing member and Past Master, for he was also a high-ranking officer in both the Masonic Provinces of Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. He will be fondly remembered as a cheerful welcoming presence, a delightful raconteur and a person who always prepared himself with commitment, precision and a mastery of detail.
The Wycliffian Society sends its condolences to Michael’s wife, Nancy and their son and two daughters, of whom both Jonathan (J & H 1982-87) and Nicola (IG 1983-85) are Wycliffians.