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Mr. 0. J. EVANS, M. Sc., A.R.I.C.

THE School was first opened on September 29th 1914, and those of us who are privileged to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation this month will be imbued with a spirit of thanksgiving to all who have contributed throughout the years towards its great success.

Mr. G. 0. Williams, the first Headmaster, and a small but intrepid band of assistant teachers, set about the formidable task of establishing the School in temporary premises in Tirydail that had previously been used as a laundry. Despite the ramshackle nature of the buildings, they laid down the foundations which resulted in the School developing into a happy community with an active corporate life of its own, and where standards of work and scholarship were of the highest. The First World War and its aftermath caused considerable delay in the provision of new buildings, but these materialised eventually, and the School moved into the present premises on January 23rd 1928. Facilities for work were now first class, and all concerned settled down quickly and happily in their new environment. A storm cloud loomed ahead, however, and a tragic loss was suffered by the untimely death of Mr. Williams on October 1st 1930. I can pay him no better tribute than to quote the words inscribed on the memorial tablet on the wall in the Assembly Hall:

To Thy Large Heart And Humble Mind,
That Cast Into One Vision,
Future, Present, Past.

"Mae'i Enw Da Yma'n Dwr."

Mr. D. Davies Jones, the second Headmaster, commenced duties on January 1st 1931. He possessed the keen precise mind of the Mathematician, and his flair for organisation and administration were to stand him in good stead for his tenure of office. Expansion in the number of pupils admitted began to create accommodation difficulties as early as the middle thirties, and these were enormously accentuated by having to share the premises with a number of evacuated schools during the Second World War. There were also grave staffing problems during the war-time period. All these difficulties were surmounted with courage and resolution, and the good work done at the School continued without interruption. Mr. Jones embarked upon a well-earned retirement at the end of the Easter Term in 1954, and left the district to reside in Llanstephan. I am happy to state that he is still hale and hearty, and that he readily accepted an invitation to contribute an article to this publication.

I succeeded Mr. Jones in April 1954, being promoted from the post of Senior Chemistry Master at the School to become its third Headmaster. My first appointment as a teacher at the School dates back to September 1932, so that I am now commencing my thirty-third year of service. This enables me to bear witness at first hand to the sterling qualities of the Staff during this long period. Most of them possessed a strong sense of vocation, and their dedication to their duties, whether in the classroom or in out-of-school activities, was such that they will be remembered with feelings of gratitude and affection by many generations of former pupils. I can also pay tribute to the boys and girls who have passed through the School in my time. In general they were eager to learn, their honest endeavour was highly commendable, and they came from homes where the value of a good education was fully appreciated by the parents. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching them, and considered it a great honour. to be appointed their Headmaster.

Much has been accomplished at the School during the last decade. Our aspirations for improvements in accommodation, staffing, organisation and curriculum were all realised in time for the session commencing in September 1960. Thanks to the active support of the Governors and the full co-operation of the Carmarthenshire Education Committee, a large new extension to the existing building was planned, built, and equipped. Major modifications inside the old building were also completed, and contracts allocated to bring the electrical and heating systems up to modern standards. Additional teachers were appointed, and it became possible to achieve a complete reorganisation of form structure which permitted all pupils to follow a graduated five year course up to Ordinary Level. The new time-table introduced offered a wider choice of subjects at Ordinary and Advanced Levels, and it also became possible to divide large classes in the Sixth Form.

These improved facilities enable us to cater adequately for the needs of the area at the present time. There are now 643 pupils on the roll, of whom 138 are pursuing specialised courses in the Sixth Forms. Despite the increase in its size, the academic status and traditions of the School are being maintained at a high level, and we aim to turn out future citizens who can lead a full and abundant life and be of good service to the community.

I conclude by thanking all who have made the production of this Commemorative Booklet possible, and trust that its perusal will bring back a host of happy memories to all who have past associations with this very fine School.


(B.B.C. Controller for WaIes)

Mr. Williams to members of the staff, G. 0. to his friends, George to his intimates, and on occasions Georgic in a familiarly affectionate way to his pupils: that was how the first Headmaster of the Amman Valley Grammar School was known. His appointment in 1914, when the school opened, doubtless owed much to the fact that his illustrious father, Watcyn Wyn, had established and organised for many years a preparatory school in Ammanford which was known all over Wales as Ysgol Watcyn Wyn. It seemed fitting that, when the County School, as it was then known, was established a kind of family succession should be observed. Watcyn Wyn was a poet, a well known public figure, a character, a wit and essentially Welsh. To some extent, the son G. 0. suffered in comparison with his father. He tended to be shy and retiring, he did not like public appearances, he lacked the public gifts of his father and might be said to have been rather reserved in his enthusiasm for things Welsh. G. 0. Williams was more fluent and more at home in English than in Welsh, partly as a result of his up-bringing (English being the home-language), partly perhaps in reaction against the fame and reputation of a father whose public gifts had been denied to the son. His attitude to the Welsh language was part of his shyness, his reserve, and implied no lack of pride in his father's achievement or any sense of frustration on his part.

He was essentially a happy man. He was a very happy Headmaster, happy in his relations with the staff and with the pupils. What he worked for and achieved in overwhelming measure was a happy school. Education in his view was something to be enjoyed, a shared enjoyment for teachers and pupils. He was not a noted disciplinarian; he was never a bustling competent organiser eager to manage a school as if it were a well-oiled machine running silently and smoothly. There were visitors to the school who were surprised at what appeared to them to be disorder or at any rate an apparent lack on the part of the pupils of a sense of the presence of the Headmaster. But then G. 0. Williams did not attach much importance to "presence," his own or anybody else's. He was not concerned to project himself; he never believed in the idea that a Headmaster should be a detached Olympian authoritarian figure whose very appearance was calculated to create an effect. He was always natural and easy, unperturbed and slightly amused. His eyes always carried a smile which frequently broke over the heavy lines and creases of his kindly face. He had a quiet, lively sense of humour which was his effective weapon against a difficult, obstinate or fractious pupil, or even member of staff. He rarely, if ever, issued an order but he had a persuasive kindly way of indicating what he wished done and the affectionate loyalty which he gently commanded ensured that it was done.

He was a great lover of books with a well-stocked private library that he was proud of and which he was glad to share with young members of staff by freely lending them books. When the new school was opened in 1928 he was as proud of the school Library as of any feature of the splendid new premises so different from the tin sheds and the annexe "Zion Zinc" which the school had occupied in its early years. Incidentally, the temporary premises, though viewed in retrospect through the rosy hue of the years with romantic affection by old pupils, were a serious handicap to the smooth organisation of the school's work and many were the unexpected day's holidays which came in the winter through a failure of the heating system or heavy rain seeping through the class-room roofs. There was a general air of improvisation which the Headmaster seemed to enjoy. It was aided by his reluctance to decide on a time-table until the school had assembled for a new academic year and for a week or two the issue of a provisional time-table for each day as it came added a spice of unexpectedness to the day's work though it could be disconcerting for a teacher and for a class to find themselves together more frequently than either would wish. No-smooth, well-oiled efficiency was not a quality one associated with G. 0. Williams. He was not an administrator and he would smile quizzically at the notion that "what is best administered is best." He created atmosphere - an atmosphere of trust and tolerance, of good will and loyalty. He had a deep respect for persons as individuals and was always attracted to a pupil with the slightest sign of eccentricity. No one in Ammanford in his day felt constrained or compelled to conform to type. He had no use for a school which turned out recognisable products as if from a mould.

In his view a school was not a processing factory or a forcing-bed, but a happy forum or meeting place where boys and girls were encouraged to develop freely, in their own time and at their own pace, whatever gifts they had been endowed with. He was naturally pleased with the success of any boy or girl in the academic or athletic field, but he was not interested in producing results. Nor did he believe that the real achievement of a school could be assessed by quoting statistics. What deeply concerned him was the quality, intellectual, social and personal of the individuals entrusted to his care. He regarded it as a high privilege to be the first Headmaster of the Amman Valley Grammar School, and my wife and I are no less proud to have been on his staff for a period of years.



My appointment as Headmaster of the A.V.G.S. dated from January 1st. 1931. I have every reason to be grateful for the warm welcome which I, a complete stranger, received from all concerned. I remember very well the fine morning of Tuesday, January 12th 1931, when I heard Welsh voices as I walked from the entrance gate to the front door - a very happy sound to one who had been for over 12 years an exile in the English Midlands. The Chairman of the School Governors, Col. W. N. Jones, J.P., came to morning assembly in the school hall to introduce me to the staff and pupils and to wish the school and its new Head success and happiness in the future.

A week later I was very pleased to accept an invitation to a welcome tea in Ammanford from the Headmasters of all the contributory schools of the school area from Ystradowen to Penygroes. The Chairman was the late Mr. William Williams, J.P., Head of Penygroes C.P. School, who, in his own inimitable way asked each Head in turn to speak and myself last to reply with my thanks for a most useful and happy meeting which began a period of over 23 years of co-operation between the schools for the progress and welfare of the pupils of the school area.

This was followed a week later by a complimentary dinner from my colleagues on the staff of the school and held in the school building. It was really first class and prepared without any outside professional assistance (I still treasure my copy of the artistic menu card), and was a very happy way of bringing us together outside the usual school hours.

The school building was then only three years old, and the 14 years in the old temporary buildings in Tirydail in which so much good work had been done, but a memory. But conditions were very different from what they are today. There were 360 pupils, of whom only about a quarter received free education, as the percentage of free places was only 25%. The remainder paid a terminal fee of 30/- and all pupils had to buy their own text books and pay their own travelling expenses by train or bus.

It was a period of industrial depression in the country generally and there was considerable unemployment in the school area. I remember that a considerable part of the time at Governors' meetings was taken up in the allocation of Bursaries and bus fares to deserving cases from a grant made by the Education Committee for the purpose. Even then there were cases of leavers on economic grounds.

Usually there was a two form entry of 70 pupils, but as the Free Place percentage increased to 50% and later still to 100% there was increased pressure for admissions, and it was decided to have a three form entry. The first increase in staff for this purpose was granted by the Education Committee in 1932, and the person appointed to this post was Mr. 0. J. Evans, who has been at the school ever since (apart from a period during the war on National Service), and has been the Headmaster for the last 10 years. From 1933 onwards the entry varied from 100 to 90 according to the varying dictates of the Ministry of Education with unfortunate results for candidates in different years. It also led eventually to an overcrowded school with 570 pupils, two forms without their own classrooms and classes in the school hall and dining room. After much pressure by the Governors and an enquiry at Carmarthen, plans were made for additional buildings on the extra land which had been purchased for the purpose, but the second World War came in 1939.

In 1940, with the use of the school by the Roan Boys School, Greenwich, partly on a shift basis, and also girls.from the Roan Girls at Tirydail, and from the Addey and Stanhope School at Garnant for Science classes on odd afternoons and Saturdays, there were about 820 pupils using a school built for 350. After the war economy was the watchword for some years, but the extra land came handy for building the new school canteen (we grew potatoes, etc., on it during the war), and although promises were made that a start would be made on the planned extensions at any moment, they were not forthcoming until recently.

I look back with satisfaction and thankful feelings for having been privileged to live and work with:

° friendly and helpful Chairmen and Members of the School Governors,
° conscientious and loyal members of the School Staff, and
° parents of my pupils to whom I always spoke in their native tongue, for I could see that it made it easier to confide their plans and wishes: 'Rwy am iddo ef (neu hi) i gael gwell siawns na ges i."

As to pupils, in my previous 16 years' experience in England and Wales, I found pupils much alike in all of them - quite human - but here I found some-thing more - a natural and ready response which I can only describe as typically Welsh or Celtic.

Another Head held this view. The late Mr. Gwyn Jones, B.A., then Head of Llandeilo County School, told me, soon after my arrival in Ammanford, of his impressions of dealing with them for the years before the founding of A.V.C.S. He said in his characteristic, serious way: "I liked the children of Llandeilo, but I loved the children of the Amman Valley."

I join with him by saying that I, too, loved the children of the Amman Valley.


(Senior Scripture Master)

It is ironic that my first memory of the school as a new boy in September 1915, is of picking my way carefully amongst the buckets and pans in the main corridor and then being sent home because the roof leaked so badly. The outbreak of war in 1914 had stopped the building of a new school and temporary premises had to be found. These proved to be very primitive and inadequate, but they were used until 1928.

But memories are concerned chiefly with people. How well I remember our teachers, even those who remained only for very brief periods. In those days during World War there were great staffing difficulties. What a headache it must have been to the headmaster of a new school

The staff was a happy one; certainly the Head, Mr. G. 0. Williams (usually referred to as "Gow" amongst the pupils), was well loved by all who knew him. Always neatly attired in a grey suit with a woollen waistcoat, he was forever rattling his keys and money in his trousers' pocket.

The Senior Mistress, a Miss Roberts, who taught French and some English, was a "martinet." She was slightly lame and the sound of her limping along the stone corridor was always a signal for silence in neighbouring classrooms. When she was angry there was a quality in her voice which sent a chill down my spine. How charming she was, I found many years later. Miss E. Davies, the English and Latin Mistress, later became the headmistress of the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School for Girls, Carmarthen. Our Welsh Mistress was Miss Owen, and Miss Wyatt, a tall figure with a manly stride, taught Geography. School dinners at sixpence per day were prepared under the guidance of Miss Norton and later by Miss Violet Lewis.

There were never more than four masters in those early years. Mr. Comery, the senior, taught Botany and Chemistry. I had a suspicion even in those days that he was better at teaching Botany than Chemistry. Mr. Ben Smith, unkindly called "Schmit," had replaced Mr. Bodger, the Art and Woodwork master, who had joined the Forces. Mr. E. Evans, later left for South Africa to take a post in Johannesburg University. There was a procession of Maths teachers: Mr. E. Watkins; Mr. J. Lewis, a splendid teacher - I think I would have made the grade in that subject had he remained longer; then there was Mr. Edwards, who, possibly because of his chubby appearance, we called Mr. Bumble. I could write a book on "Old Bumble." He was quite useless as a teacher. His technique in a Geometry lesson was to stick a sheet of an exercise book on the board and then with a closed fist point at the angles of a triangle, not realising that we couldn't even see the triangle. But he was a lovable character. He had a splendid tenor voice, which proved a valuable asset in preparing the school choir for a public performance of "Hiawatha's Wedding Feast". He had been a member of a Male Voice Party touring Canada, and was easily persuaded in class to narrate his experiences there. I suspect this wasn't unknown to the head. There was the famous incident when Mr. Williams burst into the room in the middle of a story. Bumble, however, rose to the occasion superbly and without any loss of dignity said, "What did you say your answer was, Sidney John?' Another Sidney John, quick on the uptake, answered-a good example of perfect co-operation between teachers and pupils.

Rapid changes came with the end of the war and additions to the staff came in quick succession. Miss M. Hodgson laid the foundations of a great tradition in the Geography department. Miss Lilian Lewis infused new life into the English section. Under her direction the School Dramatic Society became firmly established, and even in my time several plays were produced, notably, 'The Merchant of Venice." Miss Lewis later married another member of the staff, Mr. A. Oldfield Davies, who is now Director of the B.I3.C. in Wales. Could this have had anything to do with Donald Peers' success on radio and television? for Donald was a prominent member of the cast in that production of "The Merchant of Venice."

Miss Gladys Bowen took over the Biology department from Miss Yeo. Then came Mr. Vanstone, Miss Browne, Mr. Arthur Davies, Miss A. Rees, Mr. j. A. Owen, Mr. Ifor Thomas and Mr. R. 0. Rees. Mention of the last two reminds me of the early struggles of the Rugby team. We were mere chopping blocks to the neighbouring schools, but gradually things improved and eventually Llandeilo were beaten, and there was great jubilation when at last we drew with Llanelly. I remember one year, Llanelly had a particularly good team, so we included "Tômah" in the pack, where his 14 stone proved useful, and 'R.O.' where we hoped his sprinting prowess might help. We still lost!

I was a very small boy when I first came to school. I went about in awe of the boys of the upper school. I'm sure that I even addressed some of them as "sirs." The names of many appear on the memorial tablet in the present school hall.

There were, naturally, groups of particular friends-ours was a small one of some four or five. We sat as near as possible to each other throughout the years. I remember we cut a double Maths lesson of Miss Browne's one afternoon in order to attend a Labour Demonstration. Inevitably the "gap" was noticed and reported to the Head. The following morning we faced his wrath. "Faced" perhaps is the wrong word, for we were told to bend over and lift up our coat tails. I believe that had it been a Liberal Demonstration we would have got off much lighter.

I must mention a famous character of my upper school days. Tarzan - a red head from Llandybie, was a terror to some boys (and staff, I think), not only in our school but to members of visiting schools' Rugby teams. There were occasions when damage was done to Form VI room walls and furniture, and I remember that at the end of one school term, bills for repairs were enclosed with our "reports." Even Myer Cohen, a junior member of the Sixth, with all his inherent forensic skill, could not deny the justice of our punishment.

I find it difficult to stop reminiscing, but the space allotted to me has already been used up. My years in school were extremely happy. This must have been the experience of most of us. May the old school continue to be the same to future generations.


(Professor of Geography,
University of Durham)

It is now over ten years since I last saw the A.V.G.S. and over twenty since I left it, but on odd occasions remarkably vivid memories are conjured up by the impact of various incidents.

The most recent of these made its impression in May of this year in West Africa. At a small trading post on the border of Sierra Leone and Guiree three of us, dusty and thirsty, asked for something with which to wet our whistles. For the first time since 1936 or so I was offered Vimto, and was immediately transported to the tuckshop outside the school gates where a Mr. Davies on winter days dispensed small tots of Vimto and hot water to cold small boys. Most of my impressions of the school are equally random (but less concerned with the stomach)-of Amanwy, the caretaker and bard, either smilingly leaning on a broom and giving wise advice or irascibly bushing his eyebrows at some especial foolishness, of Mr. Comery and later "0. J." himself (if I may be irreverent) incredibly making one piano dominate a hallful of lusty voices raised in Blake's Jerusalem, of sleepy sunny lunch hours on the Gorsedd with once near friends-but I ramble.

Trying to impose coherence on my memories I end with an impression of a good school-and this is more than triteness. A good school, I am coming to believe, is a rare and precious thing. The size was right in that one remained an individual without being cossetted, and of course the buildings held the numbers for which they were designed. Discipline there was but neither Draconian nor variable. Teaching and training I am sure was good although then too many boys and girls left before full advantage could be taken of them. Without, as I recall, any cramming one had the chance of learning deeply and well in a whole range of subjects in the Arts and Sciences. Personally, I shall always owe much to D. T. Rosser (or Terra Rossa as he figures in one out of a collection of verses I composed and still have). Vicariously I took pride in the achievements of a series of wonderful Rugby teams, joined with others in the delights of Friday play readings, and the annual frenzied competition of the Eisteddfod. When one coukl do all this and more, live in sympathy or at least tolerance with one's masters and remember them even now very clearly as real human beings, then by any standards A.V.G.S. was a good school If offered indemnity, I might even produce the afore-mentioned verses as proof that even schoolboy wit was affectionate "au-fond." My set of School Magazines from 1932 to 1939 reinforces this impression of a real school with masters and children rather than an education factory with assembly line techniques and units of input and output. May it never change!

My salutations for the half-century and best wishes for the centenary.


(University of Toronto, Canada)

A COUNTRY has many traditions and if, as often happens to anyone living away from home, I find myself talking about Wales to people of other countries, this word "tradition" is one which looms large. The conversation turns around such things as the tradition of choral music in Wales, of eistedd-fodau, the traditional hospitality and friendliness of the Welsh. But we have yet another tradition, one of which I have become increasingly aware and of which we should truly be proud. We have as a nation a desire and reverence for education, for the power of self-expression, for knowledge. Ours is a country where the local "bardd" is rightly esteemed, and the teacher a much-valued member of the community. This traditional respect for learning surely owes much to the excellence of the local school, to schools like the Amman Valley Grammar, now celebrating the fiftieth year of its founding.

It must be the exceptional pupil who is not aware on his first day at school that he is about to inherit something precious and to begin an experience in learning which will shape his whole life. For those first bewildering weeks he is something of an outsider, overtly conscious of his brand-new uniform and satchel, the very newness of which seems to emphasize how far he has to go before becoming one with this privileged community. Almost imperceptibly the process begins, the superficial changes which mark a growing identity with his surroundings. But of much greater significance is the way in which his mind develops and reaches out to grasp all the many things that are his to know. The next six or seven years will be a constant challenge, a series of rewards and disappointments, of feuds and of friendships. Above all, it will be a time when all the curiosity, creativeness and intelligence he naturally possesses will be given free play, stimulated and fostered. This indeed was my experience.

I would be hard-pressed to select any one event to highlight my schooldays. There was, of course, the Saint David's Day Eisteddfod, a major event in every school year, prepared for weeks in advance, the rivalry intense between Hywel, Glyndwr, Dewi and Llywelyn. There were the school plays, sports days, Form VI parties, examinations in the school gym. There was even the memor-able occasion when a film company invaded the school! But in thinking back, what I remember most often is a typical morning assembly in the hail, with Mr. Davies-Jones setting a tone of solemn dignity, Mr. 0. J. Evans accompanying the hymns with a flourish, a Form VI student waiting in lonely state to read a portion of the Scripture, the school staff ranged impressively behind him. Some of those I remember have now left - Mr. J. A. Owen, Miss H. M. Browne, Mr. A. H. Davies (Dai 'Rith to many generations), are among those who have retired; others like Mr. F. H. Pugh and Mr. Trevor Thomas have gone to different schools - but for us they will always belong at the A.V.G.S., and for me they, and all who remain, symbolise what was best in my school experience.

Everyone during his years at school has many teachers and many valued memories. I remember, for example, the constant challenge of English classes with Miss Jenkins, from whose quiet probing questions there was no escape, questions that forced us to think when we would often have preferred a more passive, anonymous role. I remember, too, Latin with Mr. Trevor Thomas, then with Mrs. Adams, both surely among the most animated of Latin teachers. French, first with Dr. Thelma Morris then with Mr. Timothy, was always a particular joy and I have, too, a warm if somewhat painful memory of Geography classes-Mr. Trott's long ruler at the end of an even longer arm had an amazingly far reach. My experience with Chemistry was brief but memorable. Although present pupils benefit much from Mr. 0. J. Evans's direction as headmaster, it is sad to think that Form II will never again see him battle mightily to pull two half-spheres apart. But these examples could go on indefinitely. History classes, Biology, Maths, Music, all bring back welcome memories and every old pupil could certainly add to this bit. More than anything else, it must be the teachers who set the tone of a school, and ours blended warmth with discipline and humour with application. They reminded us, too, that the true measure of success lies not in spectacular achievement but in the realisation that we each have a God-given gift which we must develop to its utmost. Each one of them more than merits our deepest respect and gratitude.

Thirteen years have passed since I left school - sufficient time to gain a measure of objectivity as to the value of my school experience. Practically any school, good or bad, will provide countless nostalgic memories of school-days, but only a truly good school can withstand the test of time and experience. As a child I had a child's unquestioning belief that this was the best of schools. To have doubted would have been unthinkable. Now, after further acquaintance with the educational process in this and other countries, my enthusiasm may be more qualified; criticisms of detail might arise. But, such as these are, they seem of little importance when compared with the fact that the whole programme at the A.V.G.S., now as in the past, has academic excellence as its aim. The format of the school may change in the future. More buildings may be added, and it may become comprehensive in nature, but this pursuit of excellence, which I remember with gratitude from my schooldays, is something which must not, and surely will not, change. Ours is a school which for fifty years has held fast to this national tradition, and with such as its foundation, its future is secure.


(Chief Registrar and Consultant
King's College Hospital, London)

IT may seem a far cry from the heat and glare of an operating theatre light to the cloistered calm of the school and, superficially, there appears little relationship between the insistent call of bells tolling the end of each lesson and the drumming of trolley wheels at the close of each operation. Yet for me, the pattern of these sounds, predictable and unchanging, was firmly established by my first footstep within the boys' entrance of the school in 1947. The memory of that overcast day is still vivid and the awe inspired by the long stone face of the building is still recalled with some discomfort. Happily, the roughness of the walls was soon removed by the warm companionship of many friends and the inclemency of that September morning replaced in my mind by cloudless days in front of the school on the lawn, or of sunlit aromatic laboratory benches.

Those disciplined embryo days were heavily spiced with pine shavings, genders and geometric shapes in the lower forms and the retorts, prisms and formaldehyde of the upper school. Those years prefaced the entry into an academic life and remained rigidly ordered throughout. The unquestioned laws accepted by pupils through years of tradition, when 'viewed In retrospect, encouraged individual characteristics rather than submerged them. There are, consequently, numerous examples of this in the number of outstanding personalities created by the school.

Faces, however, arrive and depart, but the school, despite its recent extensions and other acquisitions, fundamentally remains unchanged. To this end witness the religious shine of the hall floor, the portraits on the walls and the brightness of those acres of windows on entering each classroom from the coolness of the corridors. Memories of those years are vividly punctuated by the personalities of the masters-some now retired, others still present, all remembered with profound respect and not a little affection. Many will recall one such disciplinarian, now unfortunately retired, who stood with unspeaking grief over a line of recently felled trees bordering the school lawn. Thereafter applied mathematics became a subject with much human warmth.

There were also present those who impassively demanded the highest quality of work from each individual and whose standards were largely unattain-able. Yet these same teachers made no pretence to hide their delight at the frequent returns of old pupils to the School, whether distinguished or otherwise.

Not unexpectedly, throughout each term there flowed a constant stream of humour shared in by pupils and staff alike. Those institutional schoolboy bowlers are remembered now only for the witticisms they extracted from the masters in return. One recalls how the studied schoolboy care which was required to ruin a sequence of the filming of "David," was observed with obvious delight from the staff common room. Nevertheless the film preserved from those years a facet of the school's many faces.

In this connection one remembers with pride and with regret at his passing, Amanwy, whose daily care of the school betrayed little of his poetic genius, That broad face, and the irremovable cloth cap that framed it, commanded immediate respect from all pupils. They walked on the green apron of the lawn only with his consent and hurriedly departed at the appearance of his lawn mower. Yet there was the kindness of the bard best portrayed by lrlwyn thus:

Gwerinwr mewn gwirionedd,
Mewn heddwch diddiwcdd,
Amanwy gadd amynedd
I fyw yn hardd hyd ei fedd.

My attendance during those post war years brought contact with the increased wealth of the community. Therefore, impressions remain of free milk with the greasy smell of bottle tops, noisily dispensed mid morning from their crates, and of the school orchestra's attendance at the opening of the Regal Ballroom. It was on that occasion, when the mid-summer heat played havoc with the catgut of the string section, that the "Caliph of Bagdad" was heard in many different keys- simultaneously.

During those years there occurred also the first migration of forty pupils to Paris, resembling perhaps more of a second invasion fleet than an educational visit.

In those years at school, when the cold wind blew from Russia, the stone walls became a curtain that effectively shut out the harsh ways of co-existence. The security engendered in the classrooms made battles and politics insignificant and the bitter realities, the Korean war and Viet Nam, were for the most part of little importance. The strength of this shelter was such that it did not seem incongruous, therefore, when a master questioning the late arrival of a wayward pupil was blandly informed that he had "just returned from Dien Bien Phu."

With the passage of time detail becomes obscured and one's impressions clouded by more recent events. Therefore, with little apology, I would add a more personal final note touched perhaps by the aseptic ritual of a surgical career. The memories of those seven short years spent at the A.V.G.S. which remain clearest are of the immeasurable benefits imparted by the extra-curricular training. Unobtrusively, one was taught to strive and to reach for pinnacles, to discipline one's self and to make personal sacrifice in order to obtain greater things. One was taught to view the amoeba beneath the microscope and to see through it to the stars. This is not the result of any syllabus but is the mirrored reflection of the experience of fifty years. This heritage, and the standard of teaching so often shown to be equal to all others, leads me with pride to quote Plato in "The Republic" discussing the instruction of the philosopher:

"If we pick those who are sound in body and mind and put them through our long course of instruction and training, Justice herself can't blame us and we shall preserve the constitution of our society…."

Date this page last updated: August 24, 2010