Obituaries: 1950-1959 Leavers

John Beveridge (1950-55), 1936 - 2016

John Beveridge, who died recently aged 79, was one of the most successful and distinguished of Pauline oarsmen of his generation.  He was also a successful rugby player for 2 years in the St. Paul's School 1st XV; as well as a first class classics scholar who won a major scholarship in Classics to Jesus College Cambridge.

After Cambridge, rowing for Molesey BC, he won gold and bronze medals at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth Australia.

In the 1950s St Paul's School, as now, had many splendid masters.  Not the least of these was JH Page ("Freddie Page") who was President of the Boat Club.  It was a time when St Paul's rowing was always at or near the top.  Coached by Freddie Page, Beveridge rowed in the St Paul's VIII at Henley Royal Regatta in 1953, 1954 and 1955. The 1953 crew won the Princess Elizabeth Cup; the 1954 and 1955 crews lost only to the eventual winners.

For national service Freddie Page advised Beveridge to apply for the RAF, and arranged that he be posted to RAF Benson where the RAF rowing club was based. In those days successful service sports clubs were regarded as useful for recruiting; and national service men helped in achieving this. Thus it was that Beveridge rowed in excellent RAF crews in the Thames Cup at Henley in 1956 and 1957.

In 1956 Beveridge decided that when he arrived at Cambridge he would read Engineering rather than Classics, and so, with typical determination, during his national service he read on his own to take and pass the 3 science A levels required to allow him to begin reading engineering as soon as he arrived at Jesus College in Michaelmas 1957.

Once up at Jesus Beveridge soon made his mark on the river. He stroked Jesus to the head of the river in the Cambridge May Races and to win the Ladies' Plate at Henley in 1958.  1959 marked his first of 3 appearances at 6 in the Cambridge Boat Race crew, but it was not until his third appearance, as President, accompanied by 2 other Pauline oarsmen that he was successful in defeating Oxford by over 4 lengths.

John Beveridge married Margaret Shelton in 1961 with whom he had four children.Subsequently with his second wife Diana Millett he lived in retirement at Henley where for 7 years he was Hon. Secretary of Leander Club and played a strong part in its re-development, helping it to become the most successful sports club in any sport in the world.
John Beveridge.  Born 22nd September 1936, died 12th April 2016; is survived by his wife Diana, and 4 children, Fiona, Rachel, Justin, and Hallam. 

Written by: Douglas Calder (OP: 1952-57)


William B (Bruce) G Hopkins (1948-51), 1934 – 2016

Born in Ealing in 1934 my father was raised in Kingsbury, North London along with his elder sister Dera who survives him.  At the start of the Second World War he was evacuated to Family away from London, but due to illness of those looking after him he returned to the family home in Kingsbury in 1940.  As he said himself he returned “just in time for the Blitz”, but there is no doubt that period influenced his future career path. As a 6-year-old boy he spoke of watching the Few who fought the Battle of Britain spiralling in dogfights and contrails overhead, and he dreamt of being a fighter pilot one day.

Educated at St Paul’s School for Boys where gained his School Certificate, his passion as a lad was swimming where he excelled.  His circle of friends centred on the Kingsbury Baths, friendships that he renewed only a few years ago with a reunion at the family house here in North Walsham.

In February 1952 (before his 18th birthday) he started on the path he had dreamt of, and entered the Royal Air Force for officer and flying training, receiving his Commission and earning his Wings in March 1953. From then on he realised his dream, achieving combat ready status on the Venom and serving on that, and other fighter aircraft, in Germany and the UK through the 50s. This dashing young fighter pilot then met my mother during an operational deployment to Cyprus, swept her off her feet and they married in 1959. And they were to be a great Team during the rest of his career.

In the early 60s he was assigned to the Air Fighter Development Squadron just up the road from here at RAF Coltishall, and he was closely involved in the evaluation and introduction into service of the Lightning, the first single-seat high-performance, supersonic, radar-equipped fighter to enter service in the RAF.  In 1967 we moved as a family to the USA where my brother was born.  This time he was again at the leading edge of the introduction into service of a new aircraft, the McDonnell Douglas Phantom F4.  For 2 years he flew with the US Navy in St Louis, Missouri conducting experimental and production test flying on both US and British aircraft.

In 1972 he was given command of 23 Fighter Squadron equipped with the Lightning Mk6, the final development of an aircraft he had helped bring into Service and then at the forefront of the Cold War flying Quick Reaction Alert from RAF Leuchars in Scotland – fighters ready at 2 minutes notice to intercept probing Soviet bombers. He led the Squadron for 3 years and this was truly the pinnacle of his operational career as a fighter pilot; he was recognised by the award of the Air Force Cross for his command and leadership skills, which was bestowed on him by HM The Queen.  He then commanded RAF Wattisham in Suffolk for 2 years at the end of the 1970s and the picture of him in your Order of Service was taken in 1978 as he assumed command of that station.  Again this was a unit at the forefront of the Cold War, with 2 squadrons flying the Phantom F4 on Quick Reaction Alert.  I suspect he saw this as the crowning moment in his career, having achieved far more than he had hoped for as a cadet in 1952.

After a few more staff tours, one at the Supreme Headquarters in Belgium, he elected to leave the Service in 1986.  He was never prepared to play the political games needed to achieve the very highest ranks in the Service – he merely believed in being the best you could possibly be professionally in your chosen walk of life.  He had served in uniform for 34 years, made a great many friends, flown over 3800 flying hours on 16 different types of aircraft (mostly fighters) and had inspired another little boy (me) as to his future career.  Huge achievement and a strong, but not overbearing, sense of duty characterised his RAF service, and I know he was immensely proud of what he had achieved. These traits were to be evident too in his retirement, but what did others think of him?  An Army Major General for whom he worked in Belgium wrote recently “I had a great respect for Bruce’s professionalism, and also his light and sympathetic touch, which made him such a valuable colleague”.

Life after the RAF was 7 years in Kent working for GEC Avionics in Rochester in Business Development, living in Maidstone. But just as he was turning 60 he decided to retire to Norfolk for good.  

Unwilling to just relax his sense of duty came to the fore again - he wanted to give something back having considered himself very fortunate in his own life. So for his first 5 years of ‘relaxation’ he was Secretary (a voluntary post 3 mornings a week) of the Norfolk Branch of SSAFA, the oldest of the Armed Forces Charities that provide welfare to those in need, and he played golf for the other 2 mornings.  From 1999-2013 he was the Secretary and Welfare Officer for the North Walsham Branch of RAFA (the Royal Air Force Association), another charitable organization delivering welfare to those in need. He was on the Committee and Captain for 1 year of the Veterans Section of the Royal Cromer Golf Club.  He was on the Committee and Chairman for a period of the North Walsham Community Centre. And last, but not least, he was Chairman of the Aylsham Bridge Club.  Golf and Bridge were his passions, but he was prepared to give back in amongst those and not just enjoy.

Again I turn to comments made in notes of sympathy to my mother: A truly charming gentlemen, modest though of such achievement. The Section owed a lot to Bruce for taking up the reins so quickly (after the next Captain became unwell) and without any fuss. That was typical of his attitude in that he would never let anyone down. He worked so hard for RAFA and helped so many people during difficult times. The Bridge Clubs at Aylsham, North Walsham, and Hoveton were so appreciative of his skill and gentlemanly manner. One remarked that he was the most intelligent, distinguished Chairman Aylsham had ever had.

He was a determined man in anything he did and would not quit easily.  On a family holiday in Western France in the early 80s he bought a windsurf board. For one day he relentlessly tried to get sailing without success and at the end his hands were rubbed raw.  The next day he was back at it, determined to succeed but this time sporting a pair of pink marigolds to protect his hands – ingenious and a style all of his own. On a family holiday in Menorca we all went donkey riding as a big group.  My mother had great difficulty getting on her mount to much hilarity of all including the Spanish owner. My father was not going to make such a fool of himself and took a run-up, mounting his ride in one movement in the style of Audey Murphy.  The donkey looked most surprised!

What of the family man?  He would say that he never really enjoyed his own childhood, and his mother was very ill for a lot of it. But he loved his subsequent family life and relished large gatherings, particularly with the Grandchildren. Although not necessarily a demonstrative person, he was proud and loving of his family, particularly my mother.  He would often remark at family get-togethers, much to the annoyance of my mother “I wonder what the poor people are doing”.  This was not a comment on the poor and possessions, but merely that he felt rich and lucky in life.

He was a kind man but he believed in children achieving success through their own abilities and not through being given a bye in life. Indeed, I remember as a 12-year-old playing squash with him – he never let me win unless I deserved it.  Wind on 40 years and on their Golden Wedding Anniversary family week in Spain he played snooker throughout the week to win with his grandson Alexander – Alex did triumph eventually though. 

In his last few years he was troubled by health issues, which no doubt frustrated an ex-fighter pilot who was used to being in control.  In particular, he suffered for 7 years with trigeminal neuralgia, which is a most painful condition, and arthritis of the spine in the latter few years.  Throughout, such was the man that he remained stoical and uncomplaining to the end.

So in sum his was a life of success and achievement. He was a determined gentleman with a sense of duty and a desire to give something back, but also a loving and kind, husband, father and grandfather.

Gone now and greatly missed.

Peter A Mawer (1954-57), 1941 - 2016

Peter Alexander Mawer was born in Putney on the 19 April 1941 and lived there for most of his life. He attended Willington School in Putney and in later years became a governor of the school.  He went to St Paul's in 1954 and departed three years later to attend the College of Estate Management in Kensington to qualify as a Chartered Auctioneer, Estate Agent and subsequently as a Chartered Surveyor.  He then joined his lifelong friend and fellow OP David Cons in the Estates Department of the Legal and General Assurance Society in Aldwych and then the City.  

He moved on in the mid-sixties to Montague Evans to do valuation and professional work where he became an Associate partner.  Peter’s father was an Estate Agent in Putney and when he died suddenly in 1980, Peter left Montague Evans to take over his late father’s practice.

Peter was a rower at school and joined Vesta Rowing Club in 1959 whose boathouse is on Putney Embankment. He subsequently became a Life Vice President.  For a number of years he was an official at the annual Head of the River regatta.

Peter married Lesley and whilst Peter had no children, Lesley had a son and daughter and grandchildren who bought love and laughter into his life and home.

Peter’s great interests were in music particularly Jazz and the Arts.  He had a wide circle of friends including a number from School and was an authority on theatre, ballet and films.  He enjoyed his life and walked the towpath from his home most days, as well as practicing Pilates and yoga.  Peter and Lesley also gave wonderful parties at their house to watch the start of the Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race each year.

He was diagnosed with Lymphoma cancer last July and after several months of painful treatment, he died peacefully earlier this year.  

He will be sadly missed by Lesley, his step children and his many friends.

Peter Westbury (1951-56), 1938 – 2015

After an adventurous life lived to the full, Peter died quietly in hospital on 7th December 2015. Born in Roehampton in 1938, Peter was evacuated with his sister Anne to a farm in Lancashire for the duration of the war, before returning to his parents’ home. While on the farm Peter learned to drive at the age of seven. His father Brian was a director of a family business importing cane and rattan products.  

At St. Paul’s Peter coxed the Colts V111 before concentrating on achieving individual success as a sculler. He was also a keen member of Troop 1 in the Scouts and continued with scouting as an ASM after leaving school. At a summer camp in Cornwall, he calmly killed a rabbit with his bare hands, then skinned and cooked it for supper-a true backwoodsman. He became a good friend of RLS Bennett and his wife Frances, accompanying them on organised trips abroad, and the friendship endured for many years. 

Peter read Mechanical Engineering at the Northampton Institute in the University of London. Although he did not complete his degree course, due to his father’s death and the need to become involved in the family business, Peter was always proud to call himself an engineer. Having bought a large house in the Surrey Hills, he married his first wife Sue and had two daughters, Nicola and Louise. Both Peter and Sue enjoyed recreational flying and both obtained their private pilots licences, but Peter’s main passion in the 1960s was motor sport. 

In 1963 Peter made his name by winning the British Hill Climb Championship in a car which he had designed and built at home. The next year he was loaned the unique Ferguson-Climax P99 and won the Championship again. He went on to further racing success in Formula 3 and then Formula 2. He even finished 9th in his only F1 race, the 1969 German Grand Prix. Further details of his racing career can be read on the BRDC website. What it does not mention is that Peter proudly wore the hat band from his old school boater stuck round his crash helmet. He might have had even more racing success were it not for the time spent developing his Felday Engineering business, initially building 4-wheel drive cars in conjunction with Rob Walker and Tony Rolt, then rebuilding and preparing engines for a list of famous drivers and finally designing a competitive F2 engine from scratch. At Peter’s funeral Derek Bell, who went on to multiple wins in Le Mans and Daytona 24 hours races, acknowledged his great debt to Peter for giving him his first big break and preparing his car immaculately. 

In 1973 Peter retired from racing, closed his business and concentrated on boats and planes. By then his marriage has broken down. In his early 40s Peter embarked on a new career by qualifying as a commercial pilot. He flew for an air taxi company as well as doing two six-month stints in Australia for a survey company. He also flew a private jet for a wealthy individual. 

In the early 1980s he met Jenny and she moved into his Holmbury house with her daughter Claire, and they eventually married 1998. 

Peter, who learned to sail in Salcombe as a child, bought his first yacht jointly with Sir George Martin. Another yacht was bought later for chartering out in Turkey. In 1989 Peter and Jenny sailed their 50’ catamaran Star Trek to Turkey and then in 1995 across the Atlantic and spent the next ten years sailing around the Caribbean between December and April. 

In 2006 they bought a new family home in Tobago, selling their house in Holmbury and purchasing a smaller house in Dorking for use on their visits back to the UK, often timed to coincide with Silverstone and Goodwood. In Tobago Peter started another business, buying several rental villas. 

Peter enjoyed major projects in which he could use his engineering skills, such as constructing a tennis court in his steeply sloping Surrey garden and building an infinity pool at his house in Tobago and was never happier than when he was in his comprehensive workshop. He also had a mischievous streak. When on holiday in Scotland at the age of 15 and still quite small, he was spotted bowling along a country road in his father’s 2.5 litre Riley RM. By the time the shocked policeman had turned round, Peter had stopped and changed seats with his mother. When coxing at school he tried depth charging other crews with Tizer bottles filled with water and calcium carbide. Years later when in Houston, Texas on a flying course, he and a friend tested the shock load capability of a glass fronted hotel elevator by jumping up and down in unison. Not surprisingly, it came to a grinding halt midway between floors in full view of the restaurant.  

Peter loved to socialise in pubs and characteristically provided in his will for a big party in his old ‘local’ for all his former drinking companions. Peter held strong opinions and did not suffer fools gladly, but he was charismatic and exciting, interesting and interested to the end and his friends and family miss him greatly.

Written by: John Holder (1955-60) with contributions from Nick Campling (1950-54), Paul Boon (1951-56) and Jenny Westbury.

Michael L Wood (1949-53), 1936 – 2016

Michael was born to Joseph Lawrence & Phyllis Wood in Streatham 9.4.36. After a period at boarding school in Somerset, Michael spent three years at St Pauls and was happiest indulging in his passion for sport and in particular cricket. After completing his National Service, Michael began his working career with the National Bank of India where joined the Eastern Staff for which a posting to then Rhodesia awaited him. The posting was never fulfilled and Michael decided his future lay with the National Provincial Bank, which later became the National Westminster Bank.

He spent several years in branch banking in and around the City. On one occasion, when working at the Oxford St branch, he confronted and pursued a man trying to extort money from the cashier with what turned out later to be a fake bomb.  The judge commended Michael for his bravery.  

Michael also spent a number of happy years as a schools’ liaison officer for the bank targeting the next generation of bankers.  During this time he was instrumental in starting up the schools under-19 rugby tournament at Twickenham.  This was a perfect match for Michael, combining his passion for sport with his professional career.

Married to Liz in 1962, they settled in Chelmsford in Essex to raise a family.  Three children followed, Nicola, Amanda and Matthew and in time five grandchildren.  In retirement Michael and Liz settled in Danbury to share their passion for gardening and golf.

Michael was always one to share his time and knowledge. As a coach at Chelmsford Rugby Club, as part of the NatWest caravan club both as a caravaner and Chairman of the Club. Latterly as Vice Chairman of Danbury Parish Council and an active member of the Danbury U3A. Always active, always supportive and always with a smile.  He is very much missed.

Address: Lonsdale Road, Barnes, London SW13 9JT • Tel: 020 8746 5390 • Email: opcadmin@stpaulsschool.org.uk