Introduction by Doug Murgatroyd
Having only just got a handle on how to access the Old Cicestrians Website and learnt only recently how to “upload” information onto it, I thought that an appropriate area of interest would be Teacher Memories. To this end I have begun the process of collating articles we have previously published in past newsletters and, hopefully, will add others that you the readers might contribute. To this end if you email me at email@example.com with your own memories I would easily be able to paste them directly into this section of our website. Also do let me have your ideas on other areas of interest.
Eric Smedley (1915 – 2004) (a précis of the Rev Patrick McManus’s address at Eric’s funeral with additions by Tony Wheatley and Eric Bassett)
Eric was born soon after the start of WW1 and was part of a large family of eight of which he was the youngest. Times were not easy, but Eric secured a place at Manchester Grammar School, as prestigious then as it is now, and then went on to Manchester University where he read Modern Languages. In 1937 he was appointed French Master at the School.
Eric spent WW2 in the intelligence Corps, spending some of his time as a despatch rider in Wales. After demobilisation he returned to his job at the School. Old Boys recall his teaching with affection and respect. His charm, cultured approach and ready smile, his encouragement and gentle cajoling more than adequately communicated the language he loved to those whom he taught. He was also an inspirational House Master of St Wilfred’s and took a close interest in its former pupils.
He was married to Emmie and had three children, Frank, John and Sybil. Sadly, John’s tragic death at the age of 24 affected Eric greatly, but family and time slowly healed the wound and the coming of grandchildren, a great source of pride to him, did much to assuage the grief. The family travelled abroad, especially to France. His mastery of the language is apocryphal and family and students on trips can vouch for the compliments he received for his perfect accent. France, its language and its literature were a joy to him and he was still reading a French tome shortly before his death.
Eric loved Golf and was a member at Goodwood for many years where he won a number of trophies. He revelled in the joy of the game without ever seeking hierarchical club status. Eric had underlined in a book he had been reading: “A thought of good brings forth good just as surely as lighting a lamp dispels the darkness.” Eric’s life shone in many ways: in education, in the family, in caring relationships, in golf and in music.
Behind this sensitive man, who in conversation in later years referred to “the evils of our time,” dwelt a quiet strength and a belief that “all will be well”. At the end of his funeral service the congregation filed out, appropriately, to the strains of “La Vie en Rose.”