Roger Horrell, Old Shebbearian, distinguished senior SIS officer and diplomat, died on May 21 at the end of a long and influential life.
Born in Dartmouth in 1935, Roger came to Shebbear after the Second World War and excelled both academically and on the sports field. Following National Service in Kenya with the Devonshire Regiment and his studies at Oxford University, Roger returned to Africa as a District Officer in the Colonial Service. Here he developed a strong affinity with Africa and Africans, winning the cooperation of often fiercely independent local politicians during the difficult time leading to Kenya’s independence.
On leaving the Colonial Service, Roger was recruited by the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) and served in Dubai before returning to Africa and posts in Uganda and Zambia. During his years in Lusaka, he developed close contacts with many of the principal militant refugees from the rebel Smith regime in Rhodesia. Roger’s work in winning the confidence of often competing parties proved invaluable when Margaret Thatcher and Lord Carrington organised the Lancaster House conference to negotiate the handover to majority rule in the new Zimbabwe.
On returning to London, Roger was responsible for MI6’s operations in Africa which included insurgent wars in Angola and Mozambique, as well as maintaining stability in Zimbabwe’s early years of independence and, eventually, the process of change in South Africa.
His final service appointment was as senior director responsible for personnel and administration. Here he was given the challenging mandate of increasing accountability and encouraging a more self-critical culture as a means of complementing the service’s early years buccaneering ethos which, though responsible for many successes, now needed modernising. This was also the time that John Major’s government publicly acknowledged the existence of MI6, leading to its establishment by statute and parliamentary oversight.
The well-developed sense of fairness based on firm liberal foundations, sympathy and support for colleagues shown, both as Personnel Director and throughout Roger’s service, speak of a man the OSA remembers with fondness and respect. He was our President in 1996 and an active committee member until very recently. His humour, intelligence, modesty and above all, warmth provide memories of a man whose character, worth and story provide inspiration to us all.
Our secretary Andy Bryan is looking for contributions for this year’s Shebearian Magazine. If you are an OS and would like to share your thoughts/experiences of the last 12months please get in touch with him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s OSA Reunion Dinner will be virtual. At 6:30 pm on Saturday, February 6th 2021, please join us on YouTube for a 30-minute video that aims to recreate the evening as much as possible.
If you are unable to watch the premiere on Saturday evening, the video will remain on YouTube for on-demand viewing.
There will be a virtual social meeting on Wednesday, February 17th 2021 at 6:30 pm. Please fill in this form if you would like to attend this meeting: https://forms.gle/i2T5rqACqhdyrH7F7
Unfortunately the 2021 OSA Reunion Dinner has been cancelled. A short video will be premiered on the OSA YouTube channel on the 6th February, the intended date of the dinner. The below letter from Dick Corbett Winder, current president of the OSA, contains more information:
Sadly but predictably, the current pandemic means that the OSA annual dinner scheduled to be held in the RAF Club on 6 February 2021 has had to be cancelled. I know just how much we will miss this annual opportunity for Old Shebbearians to meet, reminisce and catch up with long standing friends and news from the school. However, the association is very keen to make sure we can all keep in touch despite this setback and is, therefore, looking to organise an online event for that night which reflects OSA Dinner traditions as far as possible. We aim to do this through a short YouTube production which will follow the normal programme of our gatherings and contain film material about the school, short speeches by the Head, Head Girl and Head Boy and from me as this year’s president. We hope to end with the school song sung by current students, which, even if performed with less gusto, promises to be more melodic than our annual post dinner rendition. The event will be premiered on YouTube at 6:30pm on 6th February and be available thereafter for those who cannot make the launch. We also hope to arrange an online discussion for Old Shebbearians following the dinner in mid-February and are working on the details of how this will be organised. We are, of course, planning on a post-pandemic, conventional dinner for 2022 and have already reserved the RAF Club for Saturday 5th February that year. Meanwhile we will keep you up to date with details for the upcoming event on 6th February 2021. Could I ask you all please to make a note of that date and, if possible, join us on YouTube that evening at 6:30pm?
We have received the sad news that John Page has died. The following was written by David Shorney, a fellow Old Shebbearian
” John passed away a week after his 95th birthday. He was the son of Jackson Page and came to the school at at early age under the Head at the time John Rounsefell.
Both John and his father lived and breathed Shebbear, playing a huge role in the OSA and keeping in touch with Old Shebbearians. There was nothing John liked to do more than talk about Shebbear, he remembered everything in glorious technicolour and fantastic detail.
John was Honorary Treasurer of the OSA for several decades, you will find many pieces in the Shebbearian with his initials JHDP after them. He also made a big contribution to ‘A School Apart’
John’s wife Janet has requested no letters or messages of condolence.
We have received the following from Edward’s daughter.
Please note the death of my father aged 95. He attended the College from the late 1930s with his brother Ronald and his future brothers-in-law Denis and Edwin Guy. He always spoke very warmly and highly of his time there,most especially of being taught by Jackson Page. He took organ lessons at school in Lake Chapel and was a church organist until relatively recently. He went straight to Oxford on leaving in 1942 I believe, where he joined the university Air Squadron to begin his training as an RAF pilot to fly Lancasters for the rest of the war. It took him many years to return to academic work as a mature student completing his undergraduate degree at Oxford in Geography and finally his PhD in Geomorphology there at the age of 70. His topic was the nature and origins of Chesil Beach a subject of fascination to him from childhood as Portland was his family home. He was President of the OSA for one year in the late 1990s.
In the most unusual year the OSA joins with the College in congratulating our Old Shebbearians who have graduated from University this year – including four who have achieved First Class Honours Degrees!
Lucy obtained a 1st in Environmental Geography (BSc Hons) from Cardiff University, Philip (Pip) graduated from the University of Exeter with a 1st in Mandarin Chinese & French with International Relations, Ella achieved a 1st in Public Relations from the University of the Arts, London and Meg studied at the University of Plymouth and gained a 1st in her BEd (Hons) Primary (Art & Design with QTS).
Arthur Andrews has died, full of years, at the age of 92.
Shebbear College was always close to his heart and benefitted from his lifetime of dedication to it.
His school days coincided with the Second World War and the beginning of the headship of Jack Morris. Despite hostilities, the school sought to give the young Arthur a rounded education including sport. Arthur became captain of the first team at cricket. In later years, at OSA dinners, he shared his memories of life in North Devon during a world conflict and of the transition from Leslie Johnson to the unique Jack Morris.
Most of us will have met him for the first time during his quarter of a century of service as Secretary of the Old Shebbearians Association from 1969-94. Throughout this long period, he conducted the affairs of the OSA with charm and efficiency. He set up the OSA Careers Panel to offer practical advice to senior boys facing the tough task of choosing a career. I am indebted to a Shebbearian article of John Page penned at the time of Arthur’s retirement. He writes, “Never testy or ill humoured, Arthur’s committees were civilised occasions. Jack Morris and his forebears would murmur in warm approval of all that he did.”
The Secretary is an important link between the alumni and the college and Arthur’s strong diplomatic skills were put to the test towards the end of his tenure when the whole future of the school was in the balance.
His wife Beryl provided outstanding support to Arthur during his years as secretary of the OSA and even in retirement they maintained their connections with the college. During a holiday visit to Australia great efforts were made to meet up with Old Shebbearians who were now living Down Under.
He was a distinguished President of the OSA in 1985 and lived to see the major transformation of the college in the 21st century.
The funeral for Arthur Andrews will be held at Woking Crematorium on 24th June 2020 at 11am.
This service will be for very close family only, but we ask that you raise a glass to Arthur at this time.
If you would like to make a donation in Arthur’s memory, then gifts are gratefully received for Woking and Sam Beare Hospice and can be made via Lodge Brothers Funeral Directors website.
With grateful thanks from David, Michael and Helen.”
The 112th OSA Reunion Dinner, held on Saturday 1st February 2020, was a well-attended event and President, Philip Daniel, was pleased to give a warm welcome to the new head, Caroline Kirby, and her husband Robert, as well as the other guests, Ashley Barlow (Head of Art), Ben Hilton (Head of St Petroc’s) and head boy and head girl, Robin Dalton and Jess Biggs.
He went on to speak fondly of the recently passed Dick Birch, who was head of history and deputy head in Philip’s time at the school. He also thanked Simon Weale for all his hard work and wished him well in his new post in India. He said how much he had enjoyed the opportunity to visit the College and was grateful for the support of Paul Lockyer (Chairman) and the rest of the committee throughout his time in office.
He had learnt much about how the OSA supports the school and had particularly enjoyed the events he had attended, including the visit of artist Jeremy Annear, the production of Fiddler on the Roof, the Leavers’ Service, the 6th Form Dinner, various sporting events and, of course, Speech Day.
He closed by appealing to those present at the Dinner to consider attending the regularly held committee meetings and to offer ideas of fund raising to ensure ongoing support for the College going forward.
Mrs Kirby then responded, concentrating on giving her early impressions of the school, and in particular of the Shebbear weather, which was at its worst when she came for interview. She continued with some amusing anecdotes about several of the staff, Mr Barlow and Mr Butler in particular, before reminding Mike Tucker (who taught for many years at our rival school) that the 1st XV had defeated West Buckland for the fourth consecutive year in 2019.
She closed by giving huge thanks for the support of the OSA and assured all present that she would be dedicated to ensuring that the interests of the College and the OSA would be at the heart of every decision she made in her time Shebbear.
Then Robin Dalton and Jess Biggs gave a glowing report of the school year with its range of social, sporting and academic successes, before Dick Corbett-Winder was confirmed as President and Oliver Sinden as Vice President for 2020.