Below I?ve quoted posts originally made on the ?EXPERIENCES AT ST VEDAST (now St. James) AND THE SES? thread. This thread has become so lengthy it is extremely time-consuming to get to the middle pages of it without a link. Consequently, I'm afraid that many casual visitors will miss this content, which I found very compelling reading.
What I did was go through the thread, copying and pasting all posts by the three former teachers ? David Hipshon, Barrington Barber, and Will Rasmussen ? who apologized for their actions in the ?application of discipline? as David Boddy has called it. I also copied and pasted all posts by former students who responded, whether their comments were positive or negative. I didn?t edit anything except email addresses, which I replaced with xxx?s. Those email addresses are still obtainable by finding the relevant page in the original thread.
These posts are from pg 15 ? pg 25 on ?EXPERIENCES AT ST VEDAST (now St. James) AND THE SES.?
Posted: Sat Oct 16, 2004 5:43 pm Post subject:
Firstly let me explain that I was only told about this site a few days ago. I looked at it for the first time last night and I have only just finished reading all the contributions. I'd like, therefore, to begin by apologizing for seeming to ignore what you have been discussing. If you had contacted me in any way I would have been only too happy to respond. My e-mail address is xxxxxx. I would prefer to receive messages from people with names, rather than anonymously, but either way I'll do my best to enter a dialogue with you.
I entered the teaching profession in 1979 after obtaining the first of my history degrees and a post-graduate teaching qualification. My hope and intention was to help people and to make a contribution to society. It still is. I am deeply sorry if anything I have done has caused distress or resentment. Although some of the correspondence on these boards is malicious, misleading, one-sided and libellous I am only too painfully aware that some of it is not.
Tom: I'm afraid I don't actually remember you although I recognize your name. If what you say is true and I have caused you pain and unjust indignity, then I am very sorry. Please accept this apology as a first step towards understanding and reconciliation.
Dan: I remember you as a rather difficult and complex individual with a considerable degree of resentment at being in the school in the first place. I nevertheless liked and respected you. I met you at a party some years ago and was shocked by the implaccable hatred I encountered. I immediately apologized to you for any part I may have had in creating that feeling. I do so again. It's time to begin to resolve these feelings and I would very much like to meet you to start the process. Please get in touch.
Alban: You mention my throwing a board duster at you and a piece of chalk (which was apparently intended for someone else). Sorry. I don't remember the incidents you mention but I do have a vague recollection of you as a lively young man with a great sense of humour.
From my perspective it's important to remember the context of the times. When I was at Leeds Grammar School in the 1960s corporal punishment was normal and used by almost all the staff. I received, for instance, three whacks with a cricket bat for running in a corridor. We were regularly hit for minor midemeanors. I was slapped across the face for speaking out of turn. We accepted it because we didn't think there was anything wrong with it and believed it was making us stonger characters, better able to deal with the vicissitudes of fortune. After a gap year, three years at uni and a PGCE year I was offered a job at St Vedast. The school was still quite new and the prevailing ethos was one of restoring values to a society that was rapidly abandoning them. We believed that to have self-respect and tolerance you had to be well-disciplined yourself. The parents of our pupils wanted a strict school where teachers were obeyed so that there was order and therefore better opportunities for learning. In the context of the seventies, when there was a general perception that education had gone off the rails because school pupils were no longer disciplined, I was happy to teach in the way I myself had been taught in the belief that this would help my pupils and society at large. This attitude, combined with the smallness of the school which added to the intensity, undoubtedly led to the feeling of oppression that some of the correspondents mention.
I moved to St James in 1984, a year before St Vedast closed, and as the school grew, so in many ways did we. I was only 23 when I began and there can be no doubt that I was insensitive, over-bearing and over-zealous. I'm glad I wasn't a pupil in my own classes at that time. It must have felt stifling and oppressive. I'm sorry to all of you who had the misfortune to meet the arrogant and bigotted young idealist I probably then was. I've been teaching now for 26 years and although my present pupils know that I don't put up with anti-social behaviour and deliberate disruption to my lessons (detention is pretty much the ultimate sanction these days) I like to create an enjoyable learning environment and to encourage pupils to express themselves as much as possible. I think I've learnt to be sympathetic and understanding whatever the problems the pupil might have.
I would like to say one final thing about Mr Debenham. I can accept any criticism of myself. I think I deserve it and it helps me to become a better person and a better teacher. I think much of the vitriolic bile against him on these boards is unjustified, nasty and disgustingly puerile. He is remembered by hundreds of his former pupils as a man of outstanding integrity, humanity, vision and courage. At a church service a few months ago to celebrate his retirement as the founding Headmaster of St James the place was packed with former pupils and their parents who wanted to thank him. Their feelings were just as valid and genuine as those of the comparitively few who have contributed to the criticism of him on these boards. Many former pupils came to the reception afterwards and one of them said to me, "I never received a punishment from Mr Debenham that I didn't thoroughly deserve. He is the most just man I have ever met."
I'd like to end by reiterating my opening sentiments. I am saddened that I may have contributed to the continuing unhappiness of any of the correspondents and while apologizing to them I would urge them to get in touch with me privately. A few beers and some talking might begin the process of resolution. I sincerely hope that we might at least begin to understand each other more. Nothing would give me greater satisfaction.
http://www.whyaretheydead.net:/phpBB2/v ... &start=210
Posted: Sun Oct 17, 2004 6:31 pm Post subject: responsibility
Mr. Hipshon's posting failed to recognise that a headteacher should have complete knowledge of the type of discipline in use at their school. No good saying the head is a just man if he's not even aware of the disciplinary proceedures used by his staff. Might well be a just man; but the claim to "just" in the execution of his duty as head just doesn't hold, unless the perpetrators of these brutal forms of punishment were acting outside the authority of the head. In the latter case, what the hell are some of them still doing teaching there.
Mr. Hipshon's appology is welcome, although he reckons he can't remember any of the actual acts of violence inflicted upon any pupil.
That is difficult to believe!
http://www.whyaretheydead.net:/phpBB2/v ... &start=225
Posted: Sun Oct 17, 2004 6:58 pm Post subject: Reply to David Hipshon
Reply to David Hipshon
The views I?m about to express in this message are very much my own. I haven?t yet consulted other survivors of St James or St Vedast about your extraordinary post on this forum. Some of them may have very different views from my own.
Thank you for your post! This is the first apology I have read here from a former or current St James or St Vedast teacher and I welcome it. Thank you also for giving out your email address. I suspect that you will be receiving many emails from former pupils in the near future.
Tom: I'm afraid I don't actually remember you although I recognize your name. If what you say is true and I have caused you pain and unjust indignity, then I am very sorry. Please accept this apology as a first step towards understanding and reconciliation.
Don?t worry about not remembering me. It would be surprising if you did. I was at St Vedast for less than two years and one thing that I was very good at was keeping my head down and not being noticed. This was a useful survival tactic which helped me avoid much, although certainly not all, of the brutal mental and physical cruelty that was so common at the school.
What I say IS true. You once struck me around the head with great force for no apparent reason. However, I don?t expect you to remember this particular incident since you hit so many other boys during, and no doubt after, my time at St Vedast. As I remember it, violent blows to the head were something of a speciality for you. Quite apart from the pain and humiliation that such assaults caused, you must be aware of the danger of severe and lasting injury that might ensue from unexpected and violent blows to the head of a developing child. I hope you are also aware that, were you to behave in such a way nowadays, you would ? in my view, quite rightly ? run the risk of criminal prosecution. Speaking strictly for myself, I accept your apology to me as far as it goes although, as you suggest, I see this as only a first step, albeit a very welcome one, towards reconciliation. Rather than wanting ?a few beers and some talking?, I would consider my dispute with you closed on receipt of a full and unreserved verbal and written apology for your abuse of the pupils in your care. It really is as simple as that.
I leave your remarks about other pupils for them to answer.
On the subject of your own experiences as a pupil of Leeds Grammar School, I am sorry that you received ill treatment there, whether you ?accepted? it or not. As you will realise from many of the posts on this forum, the level of abuse at St Vedast and the old St James was probably a great deal worse than at Leeds Grammar School and was definitely not something that pupils generally ?accepted?, however much Mr Debenham might want to believe otherwise. Indeed, even today, the resentment and anger that many of us still carry at this appalling treatment is great.
On the subject of Mr Debenham, you write that ?much of the vitriolic bile against him on these boards is unjustified, nasty and disgustingly puerile. He is remembered by hundreds of his former pupils as a man of outstanding integrity, humanity, vision and courage.? I can only say that just about all of the vitriol I have read here about Mr Debenham is entirely justified! I suspect that, of the former pupils you mention who were so keen to thank him at the recent church service, few were contemporaries of mine at St James or St Vedast. Ascribing the words ?integrity, humanity, vision and courage? to Mr Debenham?s behaviour during my time at St Vedast would be a sick joke.
Posted: Sun Oct 17, 2004 7:29 pm Post subject:
Firstly, I personally feel that David Hipshon's post is genuine and comes across as sincere. I thank him for that, and I applaud his efforts to bring reconciliation - that is all I am personally after. I'm glad too that he has recognised that his actions were those of a young and inexperienced (my interpretation) teacher.
I can also understand the arguments that schools used to use corporal punishment twenty years before and am aware that in certain sections of society, there was a feeling that children were undisciplined...and if you read the manifesto of the UKIP you'll probably still find the same sort of complaint.
However, I think my real complaint with the way things were, which was not really touched upon in DH's post, was the culminative effect of all the factors. Firstly, there were the young an inexperienced teachers that lost their temper, true, but the older ones were just as bad if not worse. Very few had any control over the children (and it's not as if St Vedast was a school full of problem children) and so they resorted to violence - what sort of example is that for the kids. Nicholas Debenham MUST have been aware of this and did nothing to stop it. Secondly, the general level of discipline was so high, that there was never any let-up for the kids. It was a constant barrage of "do-this", "don't-do-that...whack" that meant the whole atmosphere was extremely depressed. Thirdly, there was no outlet for creativity in the school - even art lessons were removed from the syllabus for years, and even when we had them, it was "do-it-like-this". Lastly, the influence of the SES on both the Schools and our parents meant there was no let up once we got home (after our extremely long day).
Some of my complaints can be laid at the door of the SES and it's leader at the time, which massively influenced everything the schools did. Some of the blame should be shared by the teachers that lost their temper and lashed out at the kids. But most of the blame MUST be laid at the door of the Headmaster who allowed both of the former to continue unchecked. Not only did he do nothing to stop it, he encouraged and contributed to it.
So David, please do not try and defend Nicholas Debenham, he has many things to answer for. For example, the pupil who said "I never received a punishment from Mr Debenham that I didn't thoroughly deserve." obviously wasn't one of the two classes of children he caned because someone spoke in swimming!
As for certain content being " malicious, misleading, one-sided and libellous", then I would urge you to publicly discuss points raised that you feel aren't fair. I will certainly be happy to defend anything I have written (and a great deal that I haven't). I can say this though, that it generally takes a lot of courage to write about one's personal experiences in a public forum, and when one does so, it is normally done with a great deal of care.
Having said that, I re-iterate that the post was most welcome, and for me it serves as an admission that mistakes were made and you are sorry they were. We have all made mistakes in our past, I certainly am not proud of everything I've done in the last 20 years. I only have a problem with those that still feel they were justified in treating the children that way, and would still be doing so if it were not outlawed.
I truly hope that yours is the first of many similar posts from those that taught in the schools during those hellish years. No-one can give back what was taken away, but an apology goes a very long way if it is sincere.
Posted: Mon Oct 18, 2004 6:05 pm Post subject:
Thanks for your recent posts and E-mails. Keep them coming. The strength of feeling in them is indicative of great hurt and resentment and I would like to do everything I can to help. There are no qualifications on my apologies for contributing to your feelings of pain and anger. I am truly sorry. If any of you would like to meet me let me know by E-mail. I'm away over Half Term but get back 30th October. I would welcome the opportunity to face up to my mistakes and the people who have suffered as a consequence of them.
Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2004 12:48 am Post subject:
I wish to amend my above posting as follows:-
I would fully endorse every word of the last post by Lowpass. From the age of eight I witnessed and was subjected to identical levels of 'punishment'. My brother and I were at St Vedast from day 1, September 1975. One of the unfortunate 50 or so guinea pigs who through some perverse twist of fate just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This thread has come along way since I wrote it's first posting back in February this year. I had managed to escape by the time David Hipshon came along but I welcome his apology. However if I was one of those that had suffered at his 'over-zealous' hands, I would need to look him directly in the eye and hear him actually say the same words to my face before I could fully believe it.
However since David Hipshon arrived after I left, by the same token he was not there when the brutalities of the early years were committed. On this basis, since I left in 1978, he is not qualified to make any comment about what happened in the 1975 to 1978 period, and you need look no further than the latest 'Lowpass' posting to get the full flavour of that abomination.
His defence of Debenham just proves how much he and others are still trapped by the iron stricture of SES thinking that can transform something which is so blatantly obvious to a clear sighted person, and thus the entrenched view is maintained. I am prepared to take Mr Hipshon's comments at their face value and accept that he actually believes, to this day, that his defence of Nicholas Debenham is realistic, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary as any net reader will know. I hope that in this context he will take Lowpass's response seriously, and for once, not choose to ignore what is now common ground amongst so many former pupils of St James and St Vedast in the early years.
What is truly astonishing and revealing is that Mr Hipshon fails to penetrate the mind-set to which he continues to be subject. This manifests in an abject refusal to admit that Debenham stood at the point of intersection between the pupils in his charge and the misguided and, in certain respects, reprehensible regimen emanating ultimately from Leon MacLaren via the SES. If Mr Hipshon wishes to demonstrate that he is no longer a clone, his first step is to open his mind and face the facts - or at least to admit the possibility of those facts being true, a possibility that cries out for exhaustive investigation.
At the same time I applaud his courage to be the first of all the teachers who have been mentioned in these posts to make an honest admission of his guilt, but this is only a first step and we sincerely hope that he will willingly do this face to face. More examination needs to take place of what the processes were about. It wasn't that he was just a young and naive teacher putting into action an education that he had experienced as a young child, but that he was part of an abusive regime based on ignorance of the highest order. Once again the point must be repeated of the clear distinction between the corporal punishment that he and his generation went through and the blatant child abuse that went on at St James and St Vedast. Two very different things.
Katherine Watson's concerns appear to be for truth, I hope not the defence of an ossified structure. For these schools to go forward, fearless thinking that demonstrates a release from stale and brainwashed attitudes of the past is needed. May more of the present day teachers have the guts to speak out. It is a difficult process for anyone who has followed a philosophy for most of one's life to acknowledge that the most powerful philosophy in the hands of the zealot can become demonic. This is what happened in the day schools of the 70's and 80's.
Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2004 9:46 pm Post subject:
I was a pupil at St Vedast school for boys from 1978 to 1984.
For my first two years we were at Queensgate before moving to Hampstead. While at Queensgate Nicholas Debenham was my headmaster and thankfully I avoided being caned by him by keeping my head down. I was absolutely terrified of the man and his reputation for caning. He seemed to me a quiet, calm man but too calm, like a volcano about to erupt. I never heard him shout at anyone which unnerved me all the more as he seemed aloof and difficult to predict. Would he blow up in my face one day? He seemed like a compressor but did he have a safety valve?
Nicholas Debenham seemed to express himself ok when he caned boys. Maybe this was for him a physical outlet because he caned hard. Even though I was never caned by him myself, I have the vivid memory of a boy coming out of his study having been caned by him. The boy was in great pain and very very distressed. He would instinctively hold his backside only to shock his hands away as touching his injury would increase the pain. His distress caused him to lose the strength in his legs so he next went to sit down but stood back up before touching the seat as he wouldn't be able to sit down again with any comfort for hours if not days. He just didn't know what to do with himself, reduced to an emotional wreck as he was. He was crying, not quietly, not with any dignity, but uncontrollably.
The boy was a couple of years older than me, maybe twelve or thirteen.
At school in Hampstead my headmaster was Julian Capper, another quiet man but thankfully he used to shout at us now and again. What a relief. We new what sort of man he was as he expressed himself and showed emotion. I have never been convinced that Julian Capper was happy caning us boys, but did so as it was school policy. My count-up came to twentyone strokes by the time I left St Vedast, usually two strokes at a time and once three.
Other punishments at school were the slipper- or rather a plimsole from the changing room and the ruler across the hand. Items thrown at pupils were the blackboard rubber, chalk and on one occasion the teachers half eaten apple. One teacher was kind enough to allow us to choose between the 'hedgehog' or the 'bicycle'. The 'hedgehog' would see the teacher take the hair at the base of your hairline between his thumb and index finger. Then in one swift movement he pulled his hand up along with a small tuft of your hair. The 'bicycle' saw a similar grip between thumb and index finger, pull the hair outward a bit and rotate, this time it was the hair found just above the ear.
I would sincerely like to thank my form tutor of four years, David Hipshon for his contribution to this site. David was another who scared me. I left school afraid of almost any man in there twenties and this continued for ten years or so. Silly really isn't it? But David was in his twenties and had a profound effect on me.
To read his words posted recently showed me that he too is a man capable of emotion and compassion. I can even empathise with him as he has revealed what I have always suspected, that he was abused as a child too.
I personally do not need to pursue my old teachers for apologies as I have left St Vedast and all it's bad experiences behind me now.
Having said that, David Hipshon's need to apologise in general and the fact that he now teaches in an 'enjoyable learning enviroment...encouraging pupils to express themselves' is music to my ears. Children need to be encouraged and motivated and this is where the skill in teaching is, not just the content of the subject.
David Hipshon, for me, is no longer the teacher in the video of Pink Floyd's, The Wall. And to a certain degree, I am not afraid anymore.
http://www.whyaretheydead.net:/phpBB2/v ... &start=240
Posted: Thu Oct 21, 2004 11:04 pm Post subject:
Thanks, Danny. I remember you as a quiet boy with an uncanny ability to get lost on cross-country runs! I was deeply moved by your post and would like to wish you all the best.
I'm away for a week now so won't be able to respond to further posts during that time. I welcome the Inquiry and hope that some resolution may emerge.
Posted: Fri Oct 22, 2004 3:20 pm Post subject: St. Vedast
To all St.Vedast & St. James ex-pupils, especially Matthew Woolf and Tom Grubb.
I must first of all apologise unreservedly for any pain or humiliation that I inflicted on any boys at St.Vedast in the 1970-80's.I realise now that in the position I was priviledged to hold I sometimes must have abused my power and made boys suffer unnecessarily.At the time that was not my intention.
I was rather inexperienced as a secondary school teacher having only taught art students before. Although I had been well trained by my father and grandfather[a professional boxer in his youth] and had worked as a professional artist for some years previously, I had never had formal tutorial training although at the time my art school diploma was officially good as a teaching qualification. I was also an M.S.I.A. during my proffessional career. I was a part-time teacher at St.Vedast because I spent half my time at St.James as well.
To give you all the relevant background, I had grown up in a fairly tough time And had learnt to fight for myself through what was then quite tough junior and grammar schools in the 1940-50's, and as I was a rather puny boy I had quite a hard time. But I did manage to hold my own.
When I was asked to teach boxing at St.James/St.Vedast it was based on the idea that most boys tend to fight and it was better if they learnt a formal version than just to be left to use whatever methods came to hand. I trieed in teaching boxing to give the boys all the techniques I'd learnt in the same way I was taught. But I did try very hard to match boys of similar weight and skill as much as possible. I am pleased to say that there are still old boys that tell me that they enjoyed the boxing lessons, and they weren't always the toughest ones.I agree that some of my methods of punishment were a bit crude but I assure you that I was not motivated by the spirit of sadism. I tried to keep it to the least painful I could under the circumstances. I realise it probably didn't look like that to you, but I never gave out anything I had not been put through in my own youth. I was probably too hard on you for the times. I beg your pardon in the hope that you might allow for a different upbringing slanting my methods.
I am impressed by the tenacity with which you have pursued your investigations into the early days of the school and I agree with you that love and wisdom were not always in plentiful supply. This is not an excuse because I accept my responsibility for causing some of you unnecessary pain and am deeply mortified by any of my previous ill-judged behaviour.
I do think however I have helped to encourage and produce some first rate artist,quite a few who have been accepted in top Art Colleges including one recently at the Slade School of Fine Art.
There has definitely been a flourishing artistic development in the school and that doesn't happen by chance. I still have a few drawings from the earliest days that stand up to the best. My remit in art was first to teach drawing of a classical,naturalistic form which I think was successful.
I was impressed by your response to Dr.Hipshon's messages and have only become aware of the existence of this site and wish to add my apologies to his.If any of you wish to contact me directly my e-mail is xxxxxxxx. As I am now a bit elderly and am not used to using the internet you will forgive me I hope for not contributing much more to this site. However I will answer e-mails as soon as possible. You will all be relieved no doubt to know that that I have now retired from teaching and would say I sent all my children to St.James and hope that they don't regret it. I wish you all well and hope in time your pain and anger will be resolved. Matthew and Tom and Alban and friends my sincere apologies.Please forgive me. BB
http://www.whyaretheydead.net:/phpBB2/v ... &start=255
Posted: Fri Oct 22, 2004 7:27 pm Post subject: Re: St. Vedast
Dear Mr Barber
Thank you, your apology is both welcome and appreciated. About 25 years too late, but appreciated nonetheless. And as they say, better late than never at all. On reading what you say, it does appear to have a tone of truthfulness and honesty about it, but to be completely assured of your heart-felt sincerity, I would ideally of course, need to meet you and hear you repeat this as I look you in the eye. Perhaps we shall meet at the forthcoming Inquiry. It is there and then that I look forward to being able to forgive you personally for what you put us through.
I welcome too the fact that, up to this point, this has all taken place on a public internet-forum such as this. Full transparency is now essential after all the years of secrecy and cover-ups. If you keep trying to sweep things under the carpet in the hope that they will disappear, eventually the pile will protrude so much that everyone starts tripping over it. It feels a bit like this is what has been happening.
I too must echo Tom's eternal gratitude to Mike Gormez for setting up and hosting this site. Thank you Mike. We would never have got to this stage if it hadn't have been for the Internet.
Last edited by Matthew on Fri Oct 22, 2004 8:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
Posted: Fri Oct 22, 2004 7:31 pm Post subject: Reply to Barrington Barber
For some reason I didn't expect to hear from you Mr Barber, but I am sincerely glad that you made the effort and I thank you for not trying to defend the regime or the actions thereof. It is also very welcome to read an unreserved apology.
You see the problem from where I stand, is this. We remember the brutality, the sadistic regimes and the people who were enforcing them. We remember the vigour with which you carried out your tasks and that's how the image stays in our memories. The very simple act of apologising and admitting that you made mistakes which you now regret changes that image that has been held for so long. We remember you as believing whole-heartedly in what you were doing, and until that memory is broken, then you remain tormentors in our minds.
For my part, I accept your apology with gratitude, and hope that others can follow the precedent set by David Hipshon and yourself.
Posted: Fri Oct 22, 2004 8:09 pm Post subject: Barrington Barber
I would like to thank you for your apology. My belief is that I am responsible for my actions and the results they have. If I have harmed someone then I really need to look at what I have done and face it. Someone once said that communication is the result we get. My sense is that you are genuinely sorry. Personally I have been moved by your and David Hipshon's apology and I feel myself letting go of some of the pain I have been holding for so long. I would like Nicholas Debenham to recognise that under his watch I suffered in a way a 4,5,6 year old child should not suffer. I personally remeber you beating our whole class once for something I had done. I remember the time well - we were in the crypt in St Albans. You lined us all up one by one and beat the whole lot of us. That was when I was 4 or 5. I am now 33 and I remember it very clearly.
I am not sure if I need to meet you - but I am glad your offer is there and I may take you up on it. Perhaps if you would like to make amends - you could speak to Nicholas Debenham and see if you can persuade him to look into his heart and see if he feels responsible for any suffering.
I wish you well. I hope Daniel is doing OK. He suffered alot at school. I still have a cartoon you did of a school trip we made to Greece.
St James pupil
Posted: Sat Oct 23, 2004 10:51 am Post subject: About BB and the school St James
I always remember BB as a caring and nice man. Boxing was a scary sport but to this day I still have a good right hook which has saved me on ocassion. I realised that he had little teacher training but I have always looked upto him during my years at St James. Some of his methods could have been described as a little rough at times. But I strongly believe he never knowingly mean't harm and he always tried to get the best from his pupils.
I cannot unfortunately say this about all of the other teachers although I did really like many of them and still do to this day. I hardly passed any exams at St James but after attending a normal comprehensive school I pased O'levels and A' levels and went on to university and have been successful in life since. I have no idea why I didn't pass exams at St James but I remember getting laughed at in the comprehensive school for not being able to do long division.
In the SES I never really understood what I was doing there but I suppose I learnt to paint, decorate and garden at an early age. I do remember one SES member attempted to sexually assault me on about three ocassions. He was about twenty and I was about 12/13. He didn't get very far other than very forcefull attempts to fondle me once at Queensgate, once at Sarum chase and once/twice at Stanhill court. Also at Stanhill court he leaned over a bathroom partition and poured harpic in the bath I was about to get into I assume in an attempt to terrorise me. I have never told this to anyone and have no wish to do anything about this now as I feel its just something I have to live with. I was extremely terrified at the time. As far as I know this person is not involved with the schools today.
Overall its was not all moans and groans at St James school. I do remember swinging one Latin teachers brief case on a rope outside the window at Chepstow villas while he was teaching a class below and also some of the boys urinating from the top of Queensgate late at night onto the crowd waiting in the street below. Although Debenham thought he knew what his pupils were upto there was much more mischeif, petty theft, buying alcohol and ciggies while under age and other activities that he ever got to see.
Posted: Sat Oct 23, 2004 1:35 pm Post subject:
had Barrington Barber as an art teacher, boxing teacher and he was my CO while I was in the cadets.
I never had a problem with him and I remember him with some fondness. Mr Barber was a kind man of good judgement and I wish him well and hope he is happy.
x St James
Posted: Sat Oct 23, 2004 1:56 pm Post subject: Barrington Barber
I can only speak for myself but I never had anything but respect for Mr Barber. In my mind he could be tough but he was fair unlike some of the others.
If you read this Mr Barber, I hope you are well and enjoying your retirement
St James pupil
Posted: Sat Oct 23, 2004 2:19 pm Post subject: Barry Barber
Despite some of the very unfortunate things that happened to me in my early life. Not in any way related to Barry Barber I may hasten to add.
I will always see Mr Barber as a true friend and a good teacher and someone I trust.
Good luck on your retirement
Posted: Sat Oct 23, 2004 4:05 pm Post subject: Re: Barry Barber
I am heartened to read this praise for Barry Barber. I wish I could say he was like this in the first 2 to 3 years of St Vedast. It seems he may have gone on to reform himself (or at least with some of the boys) and this is good to learn. Once again I would like to accept and thank him for his apology. On the positive side I remember him as a very talented cartoonist.
Posted: Sat Oct 23, 2004 9:10 pm Post subject: To David Hipshon & Barry Barber
Thank you both for taking the trouble to respond with apologies for your previous behaviour as teachers. Your words are very welcome and do make a difference to me even now - in a life that you very literally touched.
I was at St Vedast 1975-80 and received many blows from both of you during those years. These included punishments with plimsoles, ropes, canes and facial slaps as well as frequent angry verbal barrage.
I remember strongly the humiliation of your punishments as they were usually done in corridors and classrooms in full view of 25 or more other boys.
I was utterly miserable for much of my time at St Vedast because of the continual threat of violence from staff and my own lack of control of over events. My parents were dutiful SES members and I existed in a claustrophic bubble of SES abnormality.
I find it fascinating that you both offer explanations for your violence towards children by describing your own childhood corporal punishment or 'tough' times. It makes me wonder that there has probably been a cycle of violence against children going back to eternity where adults continue 'to do as was done to them'. However I do think that you two (DH and BB) should perhaps examine your own actions a little further.
DH, you say that hitting children 'stinks' and you abandoned it 20 years ago - but you continued to work under a man (Nicholas Debenham) who carried on caning boys until the late 90s, isnt there a contradiction there?
BB, my main memory of you is actually holding a cane in your hand. ....However my memories of you are not all bad. I did enjoy the cadet force because we could smoke, swear and shoot and I now appreciate the long evenings & w/ends you must have spent taking us to various military establishments, thank you for that.
I would be very interested to know to what extent did Nicholas Debenham encourage you to use 'corporal' punishment in the 70s and 80s. Also to what extent do you think that the hierarchical SES structure encouraged you not to act as humane individuals but as victorian disciplinarians.
I know that this all happened 25+ years ago, but it was 5 years of my life and I will remember it till I get Alzheimers. My sense of outrage is still strong and I suppose I am trying make sense of what I recall as being a 'mad' time of my life. It would help me forgive you and understand the past if you could do a little more 'remembering' yourselves. What influences were going on in your lives at the time to make you behave like that?
I will send this to both your emails
http://www.whyaretheydead.net:/phpBB2/v ... &start=270
Posted: Sun Oct 24, 2004 10:03 am Post subject:
Dear Matthew W., I would like to meet you and give my apologies to you, face to face a.s.a.p. if this suits you. Could you e-mail me with your telephone number and we could then arrange a meeting. regards BB.
Dear Dan Gregory and other St.James pupils-
Thank you to all who were kind enough to say good things. I appreciate it, although it doesn't lessen my contrition. bless you BB.