Issue 10 (2005)

New Penwithian Issue 10 (2005) 

Secretary’s Smidgin

We were delighted to entertain Mrs Tean Rising at our Reunion (see the report on page 2) and even more grateful to her for the generous donation of £500 to the Association. Her donation was not earmarked for anything in particular but we feel that, perhaps, we should consider using it towards the cost of a permanent memorial to Mr Rising.
This has been discussed by your Committee and the latest idea is to investigate the possibility of installing a stained glass window in his memory, perhaps somewhere in the old school building, obviously on the assumption that such an idea would be acceptable to the Governors and Headmaster of the present Humphry Davy School. Mr Rising was greatly interested in stained glass windows and perhaps a permanent memorial to him in this form would be a very fitting tribute.
If you have any other ideas then please contact me. If the project gets off the ground and when we have more details, we will contact members further for any contribution they may wish to make towards the cost of such a memorial.
Once again I am pleased to report that Life Membership has increased over the year. At the last count we had 409 names on the database and of these 209 had paid their £10 and joined up as Life Members. Only Life Members now receive a copy of this newsletter so if you hear of someone complaining that they did not get a copy this year, then urge them to fill in the form either in this issue or to visit our website [PLEASE NOTE: since this article was written our website has moved to ] Even if they are not complaining spread the word about Life membership and get more old boys on to the database.
The successful reprint of ‘Three Score Years and Ten’ would not have been possible without the financial support of some old boys who willingly loaned/donated money towards the set up costs. Sales of the book have now reached a level where we have been able to cover the production costs from Association funds and be still able to refund any money lent to us. Earlier in the year we contacted those who gave and have now reimbursed all those who helped us out. We are extremely grateful to those who donated a part or all of their loan back to Association funds. If by any chance we may have not contacted anyone who donated, please would they get in touch with me as soon as possible. By the way if anyone has not yet purchased a copy of the second edition I have plenty still in my garage!
We have also just ordered another batch of OPA ties so, if you do not have one, see the advert later on to find out how to get one. Even better come to the reunion and buy one direct.
Once again we are grateful to those who have contributed to the newsletter and to our loyal advertisers whose income does help us to defray considerably the costs of production and postage.

ANDREW COAK, Secretary

2004 Reunion

The 2004 Reunion was probably one of the best attended so far. Two old boys, Jacky Beare and Dr Arnold Derrington, who joined the Penzance County School as pupils in 1930 and 33 respectively, shared the honour of being the eldest old boys but they were upstaged slightly by the attendance of Mrs Tean Rising, the widow of Mr Thomas Craske Rising, Headmaster from 1945 until 1971, who died earlier this year.
Mrs Rising was invited especially to attend this reunion and did her utmost to meet most of the 70 plus old boys who attended. She was presented with a bouquet of flowers by the President John Coak, who recalled that he could not claim to have always been on the right side of Mr Rising but did remark that, after a rather sticky period in the sixth form, Mr Rising had noted in his end of term report that he was the most improved boy in the school. He also drew everyone’s attention to the new which had just gone on line with a great deal of professional help from old boy Stephen Rodda of and his partner Jeff Sanders of
The School song, which this year for the first time included the long lost second verse, unearthed by Wilf Jenkins, was sung very lustily with the usual rousing accompaniment on the pianoforte by Dr Nick Marston. A few members did suggest that perhaps the decision to drop the second verse had definitely been the correct one.
The usual photographs and memorabilia turned up on the night including a full School photo of 1933; an example of one of the specially leather bound books given as a School Prize for French to W.J. Bolitho in 1910, brought in by his son Horton Bolitho; two photos of the 1934 and 1935 Junior Cricket XIs from Jacky Beare; a rare school cricket cap and an even rarer Milocarian Trophy badge hidden in the pocket of Colin Polglase; a copy of Notes for the Guidance of Boys entering the Sixth Form produced by Nick Marston; and finally Martin Tutthil in an old red PGS cap.
In his short address the Secretary, Andrew Coak, welcomed Mrs Rising and said how much they appreciated her presence in this the first reunion after Mr Rising’s death. He thanked everyone for such an excellent turnout, the best ever, to honour that occasion. He also paid tribute to John Richards for once again producing the 2004 edition of the New Penwithian newsletter, which is sent out to all those who have taken out Life Membership of the Association.

Where Are They Now?

‘By Memories Chain We Linked Remain’
Mike Hunter (44),  bless his heart, was the first to make contact after last year’s newsletter. He is determined to keep his 100% record of a mention in every newsletter. After a memory jog by John Oates’ article he recalls singing, in the middle of the playing field so that they were not heard, to the tune of Oranges and Lemons, the following ditty: “Bring me your journal” Said Tom Petts infernal “Five marks are your loss And now off to Boss” Does any one have a variant? Mike Hunter’s letter was closely followed by one from Malcom Rudlin (Staff) who was able to put some names to the U15 XV ’64 photo. He identifies: back row  Kitchen (7th) and Thomas (8th) from left, seated  Robson (3rd ) and Reynolds (6th) from left and on ground left  Evans. As he goes on to say ‘Many familiar faces but memory going’.
Which brings me to Derek Polgrean writing from St Austell, he not only enclosed a photo of himself and fellow clergymen with Mrs Sibson (see page 5) but also makes the very valid point that it would be helpful if we gave name badges to those attending the Reunion. It can as he says be embarrassing to talk to someone and only afterwards realize that we should have known them – memory and age again. Good idea Derek I will try and remember them for the next reunion. He also passes on the useful information that people attending the reunion may consider staying the night at The Queens as he and his wife had done for the Girls Reunion earlier in the year.
Congratulations to Dr Franklyn Trevarthen (47) who was elected a FRAeS in 2003. Now living in Welwyn he is a specialist in Aviation Medicine. He recalls spending his last year at the Girls Grammar as all his subjects were taught there. Perhaps he qualifies for the Girl’s Reunion as well? Another early email came from Michael  Hamilton  (51) (M H Rosenberg in former life) in the USA which I am sure summed up the feelings of many old boys:
“I have just received and read my New Penwithian. I was quite taken aback to hear that Mr. Rising had died, although of course he had reached a very fine age. He was an important figure in the formative years of so many young men, and I for one certainly owe him a debt of gratitude. The additional verse to our old school song is great. I just loved ‘The effort’s better than the prize, the team before the player’  that old fashioned virtue is oh so desperately lacking in this “results at any cost” country.”
Wilf Jenkins (42) has continued his ‘exploratory work and following his revelation of the lost verse of the School Song now has answered the question posed by Nick Marston (70) (our resident reunion pianist). It was H Hayes who wrote the music for the School song.
Patrick Hanlon (53) writes in from Erdington to record the death of Laurence Snell (26) who died on a pilgrimage to Lourdes at the age of 90. He was a historian of some note and was well acquainted with A.J.P. Taylor. We have also heard of the death in Canada of Paul Bettis (51) and of Peter Burgin (59) who was closely associated with St Ives RFC. As we go to press we have heard of the death of Ric Rutson, aged 68. He was well known locally for his rolls in amateur dramatics, he made his stage debut in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at the Penzance County School and then at the Minack in 1954 in Euripides Iphigenia in Taurus with the combined grammar schools.
If you do hear of the death of an Old Boy please let me know.
This year is the fiftieth aniversary of the ’55 entry and we seem to have attracted a few from that golden year. Mike Gee and Mike Friggins have both called into the North Inn. Mike Friggins with wife Joan came back for a second helping. Mike Jones and Howard Eddy turned up one evening as did Des Hosken (54) and Dave Rundell whom I had not seen for 42 years. Both were accompanied by their wives and we discovered that an old Air Force friend of mine who had served with me in Oman had been an early boyfriend of Dave’s wife Jane. The family of Chris Symons camped in the back field and Chris joined them when the weather was fine (not true really).
Bret Harvey turned up on my doorstep one Sunday morning on the way to, I seem to recall, a wedding reception and Martin Tutthill earlier in the year popped in with a brown paper bag containing some gems for the archives. One of them is printed later. We all agreed that it would be good if all ’55ers could make the Reunion this year. Put the 29th December in your diary now and if you know any others from our year bring them along.
Stuart Guppy (52) alerted me to the Rescorla TV documentary on Channel 4 (see page 5) which he found very humbling but he also wondered how the people of Haylc liked being referred to as a ‘village’.
Lionel Pollard (46), over from France, called with a cousin also an Old Boy but unfortunately I forgot to make a note of his name. He was from Newlyn anyway.
David Wright (56) made contact with me initially through Friends Reunited. He is living in Australia. As an asthma sufferer he does not like travelling to UK in the winter so always misses Reunions. He suggests the occasional summer one. He also tells me that Dennis Thomas (?), a retired airline pilot is now living in New Zealand and perhaps they should organise their own Reunion down under on 29th December each year!
Tony Casey (60) emailed to volunteer as the year representative for 1960 but also to find out what had happened to his life membership card.
Other Old Boys who have made contact in various ways either by calling in at the North Inn, writing or emailing are Roy Nicholls (59), Justice Hattam (58) Arthur Hosken (52), Chris Jervis (52), John Harper (43), Terry Pope (52), Bob Quixley (Staff), Terry Johns (58) Alistair Harvey (74).
Finally I am grateful to Rod Elwood (54) who sent me a copy of The Penwithian of 1917. One excerpt that took my fancy was the following entry from the then Old Boys Secretary:
“Many an old boy will be surprised to hear of the marriage of Al Craze, otherwise ‘Mouchoir’, which took place recently. Mouchoir could never think of the French for ‘handkerchief  hence the nickname”.
It did remind me so much of the valiant efforts of Frank Murray and Alan Tregenza to teach me French.
Keep your anecdotes and letters coming. You can always contact me via e-mail


Association Website

Have you visited the Old Penwithian website yet?  We are grateful to Stephen Rodda (63), who with his partner Jeff has set up the new site for us.

Only Life Members of the Association now receive the annual newsletter New Penwithian. A single subscription of just £10.00 secures life membership and an application form can be downloaded from the website.
The Reunions page on the website contains details about all future gatherings with photographs of our annual meeting together with details of our regular pub meetings throughout the year.
Our gallery will have photographs each month of a featured year; we hope with your help to increase the visual archive in the gallery.

[PLEASE NOTE: since this article was written our website has been re-designed by Steffan Barnes of “Picture Penzance”, who also hosts the site for us.  The new URL for the website is  This is our official website and, as you’re reading this, you must have found it!]

Eleven Plus

As the Old Penwithians Association celebrates its 11th birthday, we thought it might be an appropriate time to look back to the beginning.
It was in the Summer of 1993 that Phil Dennis and Martin Orchard, who were contemporaries at Humphry Davy Grammar School, first toyed with the idea of having a ‘whole school’ reunion. There had been several year group reunions but as far as they knew there had never been an attempt to bring together people who had attended the School at any time between its inception in 1910 and its closure in 1980.
By word of mouth and the local press the idea was floated and several people turned up for the first meeting. There appeared to be general support and a similar event was arranged in October 1994 at the Queens Hotel in Penzance. This time the word had spread much more widely and more than forty people attended  some travelling great distances to be there. A number of former members of staff turned up and former headmaster Mr. Rising sent a letter of endorsement, which was read out, but he was unable to attend because of illness. Future plans were discussed and a vote was taken on the proposal to have an annual reunion. An organising committee was elected and in essence the present association was established. This ultimately led to the first reunion of its kind on 29 December 1994 when more than seventy people attended.
At the October meeting Martin Orchard had become the Secretary and Phil Dennis the Treasurer. There was a need for a treasurer because those attending had been asked to make donations towards the costs of setting up the meeting which had been met by Martin and Phil from their own piggybanks. Not, he hastens to add, from the well known high street bank at which Phil is the Manager! In a moment of weakness, former member of staff Bill Burnett volunteered to set up and manage a database of names and addresses of former pupils and staff. Information for the database came in thick and fast and it wasn’t long before the number of names reached two-hundred. Communicating with these people became the next priority and the annual newsletter was born.
The first edition of the newsletter was cobbled together using a desktop publishing program on a home computer. When looking for a title a few were considered, including Cornish Grammar, but the committee were drawn to the title of the old school magazine the Penwithian. Ben Batten, former English teacher at the school, volunteered to proof read the draft copy and the first edition of New Penwithian came off the press in July 1996. It was perhaps the amateurish nature of the first edition which prompted John Richards to put his wide experience of printing and publishing at The Cornishman at our disposal. He was very quickly co-opted onto the committee and since the second issue he has arranged printing of the newsletter.
In December 1999 Martin Orchard resigned as secretary for personal reasons. Since he had also assumed the role of Editor of the newsletter there were two vacancies to fill. We were also conscious of the fact that we did not have a chairman/president. Several people had been approached but there were no takers and the annual reunion that year became a crisis meeting. Fortunately for us, after being away from Cornwall for over thirty years, Andrew Coak had come to the meeting with his brother John, landlord at the North Inn in Pendeen. Andrew had come out of curiosity and hoping to meet up with some old friends, I think John had come along to keep his brother company in case there was nobody there that he knew!. Nevertheless, by the end of the evening Andrew had become our new secretary and John our first chairman. John Richards had also agreed to edit the newsletter as well as getting it printed.
So it was that the revitalised committee met for the first time at the North Inn, Pendeen in the Spring of 2000. At this stage in its life we did not have a formal name for our association but did not have to look very far. Just as we had borrowed from the past for the title of the newsletter so we did again and resurrected “Old Penwithians”  the name of the original Penzance County School Old Boys Association.
Since then the association has gone from strength to strength. The reprint of Three Score Years and Ten, the history of the school written by the late Ben Batten and Laurence James, which had always been the particular dream of Martin Orchard, was finally realised. An association tie was designed and manufactured and proved to be very popular. The “Old Penwithians Online” web site was designed and launched thanks to old boy Steven Rodda, who also offered to manage and host the site for us. Today the database holds details of four-hundred and ten former pupils and staff, two-hundred and nine of whom are paid up life members who receive the annual newsletter free of charge.
Martin Orchard chose “From Tiny Acorns …” as the title of his article for the first edition of New Penwithian. Indeed, he and Phil can be well pleased with the fruits of their founding labours. To quote Martin again  “mighty oaks and all that”.


TV Documentary on Rick Rescorla

Did you see the TV documentary The Man Who Predicted 9/11 which told the story of Rick Rescorla through the memories of his wife Susan and his friends in America and Hayle?
Rick, as the Head of Security for Morgan Stanley, the largest tenant of the World Trade Center, was credited with saving the lives of the bank’s 2,700 employees. His calmness and courage on the day ensured that only six Morgan Stanley staff died. Tragically he was one of them.
Although Rick has already been ‘remembered’ in a memorial in Hayle as featured in our 2003 Newsletter, formal recognition by the authorities in the USA is still awaited and it is hoped that the documentary will help to get the recognition that he deserves.

Ruby Sibson Remembered

DEREK POLGREAN (44) has sent in an interesting photograph taken on the occasion of Mrs Ruby Sibson’s 80th birthday at the Admiral Benbow in June 1973. Mrs Sibson, the wife of the former Superintendent Minister at High Street Methodist Church, and also a local Methodist preacher herself, taught Religious Knowledge for many years at the School and eight of her pupils eventually went into the clergy.
Extracted from the The Cornishman 14th June, 1973:
Five of eight clergymen who have been taught by Mrs. Ruby Sibson when they were at the Humphry Davy Grammar School, took her to dinner to celebrate her 80th birthday.
Mrs. Sibson is the widow of the Rev. W. Vickers Sibson, former superintendent minister at High Street Methodist Church.
She began her career during the wartime teacher shortage as a junior mathematics and English teacher and Ruby Sibson remembered later moved to religious knowledge on the strength of being a local methodist preacher.
The eight pupils, taught by Mrs. Sibson, who entered the clergy are: the Rev. William Leah, a minor canon at Westminster Abbey; the Rev. Robert Murrish, Methodist minister at Mevagissey; the Rev. Geoffrey Perry, rector of St. Ive; the Rev. Derek Polgrean, Methodist minister at Tywardreath; the Rev. Ken Rogers, curate of St. Paul’s, Truro; the Rev. Dr. John Sampson, Methodist minister at Plymouth; the Rev. Peter Trembath, Methodist minister at Bath and the Rev. John White, Methodist minister of the Church of South India.
The Rev. Polgrean said that when two of them realised that eight of their friends, from two forms taught by Mrs. Sibson, had entered the ministry and that she had just celebrated her 80th birthday they combined to “take her out for a thanksgiving dinner.”

Letter Received

I don’t know if you remember me but we shared the Prefect’s Room for a year (1962/3 I think). I got in touch with Rob Simons through Friends Reunited after more than 40 years and have exchanged a number of emails.
In one he mentioned that you ran the Old Penwithians Association. Although I have lived in Canberra (Australia) for over thirty years, I do visit the UK every three years or so and visit Cornwall whenever I can. Having said that I haven’t been down to Cornwall since 2000. However, my wife and I are planning to visit next year and would be very interested in timing our trip to coincide with a function of the Old Penwithians.
Do you have a formal membership, fees, newsletters etc? How often does the Association meet? Do you have reunion style functions? If so, I’d be happy to subscribe.
Just before I finish this quick note, I thought I’d remind you of the one clear memory I have of you:
We were in the Prefects Room  half a dozen of us, most enjoying a smoke. There was a knock at the door and you, being the nearest, answered it. You had a cigarette in your left hand and hid it behind the door. The visitor was ‘Boris’ Hogg, the master responsible for the Prefects. What you had forgotten is that the door was made of ill fitting slats.
Boris kept you talking for ages and not one of your so called ‘friends’ was going to relieve you of your cigarette.
After what must have been an agonising time – I think the cigarette was by this time burnig your fingers – Boris wrapped up the conversation in his usual lethargic manner with: “Andrew, I don’t want to worry you, but I think the door’s on fire!!!”
It’s amazing what sticks in one’s mind for over 40 years great days!
Hope you remember me and that you will reply.
DAVID WRIGHT (1956-1964)

A Scavenger Reminisces

I came to Humphry Davy (PGS) late in the day, not until the sixth form, having previously been sent to Truro Cathedral School for my sins. I attended for only three years, but all my memories are happy ones.
The relative freedom went straight to my head. Boarding school has a way of suspending emotional development, and at Humphry Davy I suddenly opened my eyes to a world of literature, art, music, discourse, parties, and girls. Poor girls, I realise now how they must have dreaded the queue to get into our canteen while we lounged against the wall outside the new block, looking them up and down and dreaming our dreams.
And hockey! Instead of turning out afternoon after afternoon to have my face ground into the sticky mud which is now the home pitch of the Cornish Pirates, here was a game I could really play. The Scavengers suited my mood perfectly, genuinely competitive but with a whiff of rebellion. In his annual report on HD’s sporting achievements, Mr Rising famously spared only six words  “Sixth form hockey continues to flourish”  and his most wry expression for the Scavengers. What a meanie, since that year we had taken apart not only all the girls schools in the area but such serious opposition as Penzance Men and Porthcurno Exiles. I actually scored a goal against the latter on their windswept ground above the Minack, emerging dazed from a scrum in their goalmouth and absent mindedly tapping the ball in which everyone else had temporarily lost interest between the posts.
I studied languages. French with Mr Grover, whom I still see, mostly at IMS concerts, still looking impossibly young. Latin with Noddy, who looks even younger, what are these teachers on? Latin was my undoing. Did I say all my recollections were happy ones? There must be a selective gene in the memory which blocks out such things as double Latin on a wet Tuesday morning.
And of course English, my lifelong obsession. My three mentors were Ben Batten, Ernie Tarbett and ‘Perry’ Mason, with occasional poetry sessions with the boss himself. I have a specific image of each of them: Ben trying to convince us that Bridges and Hopkins were poets we should appreciate, and wincing at the robustness of our opposite opinions “let’s not be superior about this, chaps”  Ernie T’ urging us to try harder with our Chaucer by reminding us again and again and again that we were the top whatever per cent it was, the cream of the country’s pupils  and dear Perry, blushingly evading our penetrating questions about the exact relationship between Tennyson and the man to whom he dedicated some of the saddest love poems in English.
They and the other staff did their best to cope with my teenage arrogance and redirect me wherever possible towards my work. But it was an uphill task. There were the counter attractions of chess in the prefects’ hut, billiards in Richmond Church Hall, pirate radio full of fabulous sixties pop music, long earnest discussions on every subject from high ethics to low humour, sporting achievements such as lofting a hockey ball through the art room window (to the fury of Charlie Mac), and, oh yes, girls.

In the school hierarchy as well as in the classroom I underachieved. At some early point in my HD career Craske’s eyes met mine, and sparks flew. That was that. Though I enjoyed (illicitly) all the privileges of being a prefect, I never was one, despite staying past my nineteenth birthday. My only advancement came in my very last term when I was the proud recipient of a Monitor’s badge, presented by the Head with an ironic flourish. Flushed with hubris I went straight out and gave Mike Jasper 50 lines, but he told me to ***** ***’, something for which my training had sadly failed to prepare me. It was my first and last act of authority.
Although I appear on no rolls of honour, I still feel grateful to the place where my life suddenly expanded into culture, colour and sensation. I have attempted to repay this in part by sending both of my own children there, and serving for ten years myself as a governor, culminating with the selection of the current Head, Rod James. Not the least pleasure of governership was the thought of Tommy’s face if he could see me ensconced at the heart of the school he loved. Unfortunately by then he was too ill. But though little affection was lost between us, I respected him too, his strength and his utter dedication.
I still remember all the words, or at least the two traditional verses of the School Song, and used to threaten to sing it loudly to my children when they misbehaved. It is the only one of my schools to survive to the 21st century, and I am very glad to see it going on from strength to strength. I only hope the students are still having as good a time as I did, well, perhaps not quite as good . . .


MSF still runs a business in Penzance, writes several regular newspaper columns, and has published a number of books on Cornish themes, being elected in 2005 as a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd.