Brian D Cudmore 1954-1962

Brian died in 2006 aged only sixty-four. I first met him in 1954, when we both attended Chichester High School for Boys and caught the train together at Littlehampton. We really became friends when we both ended up in class VB together and also through many sporting contests involving Lake House. On one occasion I ended up playing in goal for the opposition. I still shudder when I remember the pain I endured from saving a Cudmore shot from short range. I now keep wicket and not even the fastest fast bowler troubles me like Brian’s lethal right boot! At school, he was outstanding, academically, in sports and as a leader. He became a Prefect and Deputy Head Boy, as well as Captain of the Soccer XI. He went on to University to train as a teacher, but not before we shared a valuable and amusing time together at West Barrett & Co. in Littlehampton, as budding accountants. I soldiered on, but Brian wisely decided he had taken a wrong turning!

It is worth mentioning just how enduring schoolboy friendships are; for example, I have a photograph of Brian, Sean Irwin, Colin Walters and myself taken at Bignor in 1961. Sean and Colin both live in France now, but we are still in contact and I am grateful for their contributions to this obituary. Brian’s parents were very much part of the scene and many of us still treasure the time we spent at Brian’s house, for tea or a bed! His father was a policeman who had flown in Lancaster Bombers during the war and his mother was generous to a fault in the trouble she went to make us all happy and contented, especially in the food department. I know my brother Hedley, now in Australia, still talks about Mrs Cudmore and the “Good Old Days”. In later years we lived continents apart, but he obviously continued to attract friendship and inspired everyone with whom he came in contact. He was a great mountaineer and orienteer, loved sailing and walking; above all, he derived enormous pleasure and pride from his daughters and his wonderful wife, Sally. I finish this with Hilaire Belloc’s “South Country”, read at his funeral. But first, some thoughts from others, including Sean and Colin, both fellow Old Cicestrians:

Sean Irwin in the Gers

One of my enduring memories of Brian, a kindly giant of a man and talented sportsman, was his dedicated championship of modern jazz and my introduction to the original Ronnie Scott’s in 1958/9 on a visit to London by the school modern jazz club led by founder Brian Cudmore. It was an evening to remember for a bunch of country boys in Gerrard Street!

Colin Walters in Provence

I have no formal input to make, particularly since I had not seen Brian for maybe 45 years. But he was a sort of hero for me, because of his prowess at football and my complete incompetence at the game. I suspect he knew this – both about me and lots of his other peers, but he was as friendly, easy going and good fun with me as with everybody else. No pretensions whatsoever. I have lots of little memories – too insignificant to quote or maybe just one: he came to stay at our house once (maybe after a party or something) and, because we only had two bedrooms, he had to sleep on the floor of the lounge. Needless to say, he accepted his fate with a smile and was grateful for the night’s rest. Thanks to you Richard I struck up a renewed friendship with him – via email – in the last years of his life. Thank goodness I did. His emails were as cheery and upbeat as I remember him all those years ago, despite the grey cloud of cancer hanging over his head. I had hoped to accept his invitation to call in and see him in Devon, but sadly this cannot now take place. But I shall remember him.

Mike Clarke of Littlehampton days: 

I have some great memories of happy times spent with Brian and his friends in the summers of 1967 and 1968. Working in London at the time, I would often spend the weekends at his flat in Fitzalan Road in Littlehampton where he, Richard Kneller and Alan Gander lived. Brian introduced me to water-skiing and sailing with the Littlehampton Sailing & Motor Club and we both played rugby with Worthing Rugby Club. Our careers sent us separate ways, but we never lost contact over the 40 years always picking up where we last left off,  a sign of true friendship, which Brian always gave.

He will always have a special place in the hearts of Liz (my wife) and myself, as he was the matchmaker for us in the summer of 1967. He was a superman, kind, thoughtful, modest, dependable, quiet, and contented, with his own keen sense of humour and a highly infectious enthusiasm for sport, all things outdoors and for life itself. His courage during his battle with cancer was immense and testimony to his strength of character and to the man he was. Hilaire Belloc’s poem “The South Country ” selected by Brian’s daughter, Ellie, to be read at his funeral, captures the spirit of Brian, as well as our feelings towards him — I recall many a beer with him in Sussex pubs. I shall miss him, never forget him and cherish our memories of a real friend.

Few of us have obituaries posted on the web, but I found this one about Brian from some people who obviously knew him well:

Brian Cudmore (1942-2006) Brian trained at St Luke’s College, Exeter and taught in West Sussex before returning to join the staff and many national icons at Exeter. One recalls “He proved to be an unswerving ambassador, not just for the teaching profession but for humankind”. Later, he was appointed to the Staff at the College of St Mark and St John, and with other talented staff and technicians built up a national reputation for the outdoor and adventurous activity courses, he jointly led. At both these institutions, he influenced all who were fortunate to be associated with him.

Throughout this time he was regarded as a man of honesty, integrity, appreciation, kindness, with caring skills in abundance and one who was a brilliant advocate for the outdoors and our subject. Beyond the ITT Institutions, Brian achieved greatly with OCR and MLTB. The SW Moorland and Mountain Accreditation Scheme and Off-Site Safety Certificates’ stature owe much to his leadership and persistence. Brian had a rare and almost unique capacity to listen to others with undivided attention; a flattering response for any speaker. His demeanour always reflected a respect for others. Attention to the highest levels of sound risk management has ensured that former students have taken this common sense approach to daily life with their families. Importantly, he broadened team game players’ vision and awareness into love of walking, reading a map, canoeing and sailing, proving he will be remembered with lasting gratitude. He was deeply respected and was an inspirational teacher. He was totally trustworthy in his work and life and proud of his Morris 1000 Traveller! There is a ‘little bit of Brian’ in so many teachers out there now. He will be remembered as a thoroughly dedicated, principled, determined professional, a lovely man and a delightful colleague to work alongside He leaves a family who are a ‘mirror image of Brian’ himself – long may they live to keep his heritage alive. He was a very special, infectious, compassionate and modest person taken long before his time. With thanks to Chris Rose, Martin Underwood, Sam Peach, Martin Cooper, Martin Corck, and Geoff Edmondson OBE.

The South Country, by Hilaire Belloc 1870 – 1953:

WHEN I am living in the Midlands
  That are sodden and unkind,
I light my lamp in the evening:
  My work is left behind;
And the great hills of the South Country         5
  Come back into my mind.
The great hills of the South Country
  They stand along the sea;
And it’s there walking in the high woods
  That I could wish to be,  10
And the men that were boys when I was a boy
  Walking along with me.
The men that live in North England
  I saw them for a day:
Their hearts are set upon the waste fells,  15
  Their skies are fast and grey;
From their castle-walls a man may see
  The mountains far away.
The men that live in West England
  They see the Severn strong,  20
A-rolling on rough water brown
  Light aspen leaves along.
They have the secret of the Rocks,
  And the oldest kind of song.
But the men that live in the South Country  25
  Are the kindest and most wise,
They get their laughter from the loud surf,
  And the faith in their happy eyes
Comes surely from our Sister the Spring
  When over the sea she flies;  30
The violets suddenly bloom at her feet,
  She blesses us with surprise.
I never get between the pines
  But I smell the Sussex air;
Nor I never come on a belt of sand  35
  But my home is there.
And along the sky the line of the Downs
  So noble and so bare.
A lost thing could I never find,
  Nor a broken thing mend:  40
And I fear I shall be all alone
  When I get towards the end.
Who will there be to comfort me
  Or who will be my friend?
I will gather and carefully make my friends  45
  Of the men of the Sussex Weald;
They watch the stars from silent folds,
  They stiffly plough the field.
By them and the God of the South Country
  My poor soul shall be healed.  50
If I ever become a rich man,
  Or if ever I grow to be old,
I will build a house with deep thatch
  To shelter me from the cold,
And there shall the Sussex songs be sung  55
  And the story of Sussex told.
I will hold my house in the high wood
  Within a walk of the sea,
And the men that were boys when I was a boy
  Shall sit and drink with me.

 

 

 Richard D Wood-Kneller

Danbury, 4 October 2006