Nat Billington died from lymphoma on 1st September 2015, aged 44. He was a clever and confident boy who became fascinated with computers at Colet Court, where he and I signed up to give weekly computer lessons to a teacher each. His interest carried on through St Paul’s, where with friends we built dial-up multi-user games. At Queens’ College, Cambridge he read Computer Science.
At university we started the company that would be become Oyster Partners, one of the seminal digital agencies in London. As the Web became more about marketing, it began to leave Nat wanting for a sense of purpose. He was CTO of, and eventually ran, clinical pathways company Map of Medicine. It changed attitudes and is driving quality and safety in healthcare across the world. Having sold it to Hearst, and spent some time observing corporate America from the inside, he left to form Synergy Energy with his great friend Steve Brooks. There he realised his ambition of a true portfolio career, managing Synergy’s investments, acting as an adviser and mentor to those businesses, and doing the same to help prisoners in his work with the Longford Trust (http://www.longfordtrust.org ). He also found time to create an ambitious new company, Product Health.
Nat became a great developer of people and an impressive leader. His wife Hannah and sons Phin and Jacob had a profound effect on him. All of his intellect, curiosity and focus remained, but added to them were even greater empathy and the wish to involve himself with others.
When he received his first diagnosis of lymphoma, he tackled it with the same rigour and focus and calm optimism he had demonstrated in the rest of his life. I have not met anyone who knew him when he was ill who wasn’t struck by how upbeat he was; how expert he became in his disease and its treatment; and how he remained thoroughly interested in how everyone else was doing, continuing to be a networker, a mentor and a loving husband and father throughout.
Graham attended both Colet Court and St Pauls, before graduating from Jesus College, Oxford (1983-86), MA (Hons) in Zoology. He was gregarious and full of life, so the marketing world was an obvious choice including time with the likes of L’Oreal, Reckitt & Colman, Unilever, and eventually his own consultancy company.
He was a passionate sports supporter as well as rugby player for the Old Paulines and Harlequins. Sports led him to become the Group Product Manager for Lucozade Sport before he moved to Sydney and there became Head of Marketing for the Australian Rugby Union. This period enhanced his support for England! His other passion was travel with a couple of world tours, and delivering corporate training in several countries, visiting nearly 100 over his life. One of these trips was with his girlfriend, Susie. They settled in Sydney in 1995 but decided to separate although remained friends. It is fair to say that Graham was not the easiest person to live with. Graham returned to London and became a very passionate, and vocal, supporter of the Harlequins. The link with the team goes back to our father who was Physio of the team from the late 1950s when rugby was amateur.
In 2016, Graham was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour. Surgery followed and he was able to continue to travel for training and sport, combining Lions tours and World Cups. Unfortunately, the tumour continued to grow, and in November 2019 he had a stroke. After a couple of years, which included hospital, rehab plus covid delays, he took up an invitation to return to Sydney and stay with Susie. During the couple of years that followed they grew closer and, even though wheelchair bound and struggling to communicate, they married in April 2023. This was to be a short marriage with his death in June. He is survived by his wife, stepsons and brother.
Edward Max died from complications arising from type 2 diabetes on 3 January 2023.
At St Paul’s he was a weekly boarder who adamantly declined to conform. He obtained a copy of the pass key to the Boarding House and used to roam at will, particularly to sample the delights of the public houses on the other side of the River. It was one night in the Blue Anchor that he was found with a pint of Fuller’s London Pride in one hand and cigarette in the other playing Space Invaders. According to legend, he politely asked if he could just finish his game of Space Invaders before being frog-marched back to school. That led to a week’s suspension from school.
His contemporary Marcus Hardie remembers that “he was always great company, very entertaining and with an innate sense of comedic timing”.
Ed played as a very good second row forward in rugby as well as being a rower. He performed in many of the school plays. He loved music and played the viola and violin – and later the bodhrán.
His offer of a place at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford came completely out of the blue as very few of the staff at St. Paul’s had noticed Ed’s exceptional interest in, and understanding of, a wide spectrum of English literature. Ed read voraciously from a young age, plenty of Science Fiction for sure, but everything else as well because this was something which he was interested in. His dramatic skills came into their own while he was at Oxford with him appearing in play after play, some of which travelled to the Edinburgh Festival, though it can’t be said that this helped him focus on his studies.
After Oxford he went to study at the Central School of Speech and Drama and then embarked on a career as an actor. He worked extensively in repertory theatre as well as in the West End, for the RSC and the Royal National Theatre. Acting roles include Turkey in Bartelby (Redshift), Ollie in Laurel & Hardy (Derby/ Watermans/ Funfactory Productions), Friar Laurence in Romeo & Juliet (Duke’s Lancaster), Peachum in The Beggar’s Opera (Belfast Lyric/Opera Northern Ireland), Harald Torfason in The Pretenders (RSC), Laser Wolf in Fiddler On The Roof (Belgrade, Coventry) and Birdboot in The Real Inspector Hound (Frinton).
In 2000 he trained as a teacher at the Institute of Education and in 2001 took up the post of Theatre Director at Ampleforth College (where he was greeted by an astonished Father Chad aka Ben Boulton). He left in 2003 to take up the post of Artistic Director of Frinton’s Summer Repertory Theatre where he raised the bar with the quality of his productions. Ed was recently awarded an MA in Storytelling from the University of Loughborough.
Ed lived life to the full and was always kind and enthusiastic. He is survived by his wife Anna and his children Miriam, Johnny and Olivia. Ed described having a family as his greatest adventure and his proudest achievement.
Richard, Robert and James Max (with thanks to Simon Marriott and Marcus Hardie).
Sean Mitchell, actor, singer, US Marine, software developer, devoted husband and father, and Old Pauline 1975-1980, died of brain cancer in August 2020 at age 57.
American-born, he became internationally aware because of the multicultural student body at St Paul’s and its exchange program that sent him to Germany. After St Paul’s, he earned a degree in computer science at Stanford University, along the way serving 4 years in the US Marine Corps, where he rose to sergeant. Many of his later enthusiasms were shaped by his years at St Paul’s. His success in software development at Microsoft owed much to his instruction in math and science, and his theatrical achievements began with backstage work for a St Paul’s show. After leaving Microsoft, he pursued his passions for acting, singing, and teaching in the Seattle area, giving memorable performances in How I Learned to Drive, many Shakespeare plays, Waiting for Godot, and A Christmas Carol. He taught programming concepts and helped to build sustainable computer science programs in local schools.
Sean had a gentle wit and generous soul. He knew something about almost any topic and could strike up a conversation with just about anyone. An engaging and giving performer with a booming bass voice, he was also an appreciative audience member with an unmistakable laugh. He always sang, with the Stanford Fleet Street Singers, the Microsoft Baud Boys, in the church choir, and simply around the house. He was known for his unfailing kindness, endless patience, one-dimpled smile, and completing the New York Times Crossword Puzzle in ink–also informed by his St Paul’s education. Diagnosed with glioblastoma in July 2019, Sean faced every treatment and setback with optimism, never losing his exuberance and determination to live life to its fullest.
Sean is survived by his wife of 28 years, Elizabeth; three children, Gene, Grant, and Gus; mother, Carol; sister, Jenny; brother George, and countless beloved family and friends.