Month: February 2008

Rev F. John Stanbury

John Stanbury came to Shebbear from Launceston as a pupil in 1956 and left at the end of the winter term in 1963 having gained A-levels in English, History and Geography. He was an editor of the magazine, librarian, prefect and shared the duties of organist at Lake Chapel with John Trevitt.  Later, he was ordained as a Minister in the Methodist Church.

In the autumn of 2006, he was diagnosed with cancer. He died aged 62 on January 20, 2008, at the Sir Michael Sobell House Hospice in Oxford. The funeral took place at All Saints Methodist Church, Abingdon, where he had been the much loved Minister, on January 30.

In 2005 he attended the “40 years on” reunion at Shebbear with his wife Rosemary. She said it had been “an unforgettable experience”. He was the devoted father of Susan and Christopher.

John Mill

A day boy at Shebbear in the 1930s, John Mill would eventually hold a senior position with the Independent Television Authority. Not only was his office in Knightsbridge, London, but his flat overlooked Harrods.

When he left Shebbear at 15 in 1939 where under Leslie Johnson he enjoyed English, Maths, Music and Art and excelled at running, he worked firstly as a clerk with a meat company in Bude. In 1943 he was called up for military service and learned how to fly gliders after being conscripted into the 6th Airborne Division. On his way to Normandy by ship to take part in the D-Day landings he was injured by shrapnel. Once ashore, he was taken to a farmhouse to be treated. While there the farmer’s wife gave birth to a boy who was immediately named John.

After the war he entered Morley College, London, to study personnel Management. He joined the ITA as a personnel manager before being promoted to executive administrator.

In the mid-1950s he returned home to help on the family’s 400-acre farm at Walter’s moor, Shebbear. Five years later he decided to become a probation officer and contacted the ITA for a reference. Instead, they invited him back to work for them again and he stayed until taking early retirement to look after his parents. After their deaths he lived in Cyprus for several years before settling in Westward Ho!

John, a gifted painter in both oils and water colours, died in January 2008, aged 83.

(We are grateful to Reflecting Shebbear, the village magazine, for the biographical details in the this obituary)


2008 OSA President – Norman Venner

Four Venner brothers were at Shebbear from 1944 to 1963. Two of their sons were to follow.  At the same time two sisters were educated at Edgehill.

Meanwhile, their father Thomas, farmer and agricultural merchant and a true believer in all things Shebbearian, found time to chair the appeals committee which raised money to build Pyke House in 1965.

A dormitory in the new house was named “Venner” in recognition of his work and the family’s contribution to the school. Now, the name will appear again on the panel which records all the Presidents of the Old Shebbearians’ Association.

Norman Venner, second of the brothers, was elected President at the Centenary Reunion in January.

Born in the Parish of Bampton in 1939, he was a boarder from 1950-56. After Shebbear, he qualified as a Public Health Inspector and worked for local authorities in Barnstaple, Northam and Bideford.

He left local government in 1965, moved to Cheshire and worked for Odex Racassan as Technical Sales Manager for eight years. The job took him all over the world.

Another move took him to Flintshire in North Wales when he was appointed Managing Director of Celtic Furniture Manufacturing Ltd. Then it was into business for himself with the opening of Venner’s Restaurant in Wrexham.

A heart attack forced him to sell the business in 1998 after 16 successful years. For the next five years he helped his wife run her outside catering business until she, too, had to sell because of illness.

Norman is involved in Freemasonry. As a Grand Officer he attends many Lodges and committee meetings. He is a past President of Wrexham Rotary Club and is currently vice-President of his local Conservation and Heritage Society.

He attends his local church regularly and when vice-chairman of the appeals committee helped raise £600,000 for renovations between 1996 and 2000.

He is helping his wife market a cookery book she has written to raise £65,000 for the Hospices of Cheshire and Wales. They are three-quarters of the way towards the target.

He married Patricia, a farmer’s daughter from South Molton, in 1964. They have two sons and two grandchildren.