Known throughout the school as “Gabby”, Bill Gibbons was at Shebbear from 1948-56. His home was in Lynton.
He became a Ruddle House prefect and played rugby and cricket, captaining both the 2nd XV and 2nd X1. A hardworking boy, he gained a County Major Scholarship to the University of North Staffordshire (Keele) then one of Britain’s newest universities.
In a letter to the Shebbearian in 1958, he wrote: “The main interest in this university seems to centre on the Foundation Year in which one studies all the subjects under the sun. In short, you are given ideas, or ideas are created by you, which you have no time to follow up, and as a result some form of Chauvinism creeps in. However, the first year does give you time to think over your choice of degree subjects and gives you an idea of subjects you might otherwise be totally be wholly ignorant of …”
We were never to know the subject in which he graduated but at some point later he emigrated to New Zealand where he worked as an administrator in education. In 1985 when his old school friend Geoffrey Wrayford, then Vicar of Frome, featured in a news story about officiating at the marriage of an American whose family links with the town went back to the Middle Ages, the story appeared in newspapers around the world.
From Wellington came a letter from Bill saying he had spotted the item. He added he was married, had two small boys, aged three and six, “a house, a mortgage, three quarters of a car, a stamp collection and an overdraft!”
In the 1990s Bill visited the Wrayfords at their new Ministry in Minehead and later one of the Wrayford children stayed with Bill and his wife in Wellington.
Sadder news was to follow. A letter to Geoffrey from Mrs Christine Gibbons said Bill had passed away towards the end of 2005. He would have been about 67