Members’ News (Summer 2011)

Vicki McCoolHaving trained as a nurse at UWE and worked at Frenchay as a Staff Nurse from 2000-2004, Vicki McCool (88-95C) moved, in 2004, to Oss, Holland, her partner Marc’s home town. She now works as a Critical Care Nurse at UMC Hospital in Nijmegen and has become a fluent speaker of Dutch (or ‘hurdy-gurdy’ as she’s renamed it) to the extent that she frequently speaks Dutch automatically, making family phone calls confusing at times! On April 26th James Perry (93-00F) wrote with news that he would be getting married on the 29th April 2011 to Kate Naylor. We hope they had a wonderful wedding day, and look forward to further updates and photos of the happy day! Richard ScreechRichard Screech (94 – 01B) writes with news of his recent wedding to Rhona Gibson on 26 March 2011 at St Mary’s church in Dalmahoy, Scotland. Richard is a QC senior analyst with Actavist and keeps his cricketing skills honed playing for North Devon and Newton Tracey cricket clubs (Aha! Your name’s now down in a little black book for next year’s OWBA cricket match, Richard! –Ed). Rhona is a financial administrator with Parkwood Leisure and plays hockey for Taw Valley Ladies. Douglas and Rachel Mugambi (nee Williams 96-03F) wrote with news of the birth of their second son – George Owen – born on 19th Feb weighing 8lbs 9oz. Congratulations to Mum, Dad, and baby George! We look forward to further updates about you all. Mary ScreechAnd congratulations also to Mary Screech (96 – 03B) who married Tony Napoli on 23 May 2011 in Florida! The couple was married on Sunset Beach by close friend Mia Molek. They met while Mary was working at The Heron Supported Living in Marathon, Florida. Tony is a chef at The Hurricaine in Marathon. He’s also a musician and plays in several local bands. We recently received news of the death of RL Needham (left 1938C). If anyone has any reminiscences and/or photographs of Mr. Needham please contact us. Robert Maddock (1943-1947C) passed away on 3rd July in St Mary’s Hospital on St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly. Mr John Thorpe (1942-50C) passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, in the Severn Hospice on 26th April after a long battle with cancer. An obituary for John is below.  

John ThorpeJohn Thorpe (1942-50C) John was born on 20th January 1932 in Pinner, in north-west London. During the Second World War his family evacuated to Devon. It was as a boarder at WB that John discovered a love of sport, and in particular running. Having taken part in the school’s runs, including the infamous Exmoor, John was hooked and running became an important part of his life.   Upon leaving school, John joined the RAF, serving for 3 years in Bomber Command. The RAF soon recognised his talent for running, assigning him to the safe haven of the motor pool. When the Korean War broke out, John was told to remain behind at base as he was such an important member of a sports team that regularly beat the other forces teams! John returned to civilian life in 1953 and, deciding to use his RAF experience, went to work at the de Havilland Aircraft factory in Hatfield. He soon left the factory floor for what was to become his true calling, the insurance industry, where he became an expert in large company claims. His spare time was spent competing for St Albans City Athletic Club in cross-country, road races and on the track. He was soon making headlines in the local sports press. In June 1955, John was invited to compete, as a last minute substitute, at a special track event in Paddington – the attempt to break the unofficial world record for 1.5 miles. The great Gordon Pirie broke the world record by 5 seconds. John, described by the national press as, “an unknown insurance clerk from St Albans”, also broke the world record and went on to Represent England and Great Britain several times. You can see the race at: In 1959, the focus of John’s life changed when he met and married Dilys Morgan, who he met at his local church group. Over the next 10 years the couple had 3 daughters. John enjoyed greatly being a ‘hands-on father’. Life revolved around his young family, but John didn’t give up his running.  He remained dedicated to running, and went on to serve the St Albans running community in many ways, eventually becoming a middle distance coach for young athletes. He was also involved in the Insurance Athletics Association organising events, and serving as committee treasurer. After their daughters had grown up, John and Dilys moved to Albany House, Clun, having fallen in love with the house at first sight. Both John and Dilys soon became involved in the community. In 1999 John joined the Memorial Hall Committee, giving to it the time and enthusiasm he once applied to his running, and ended up the chairman for the last 4 years.  If John couldn’t be found at home, he was usually to be found at the hall, with Megan the dog at this side, opening up for people, putting out chairs, and generally looking after the place. John’s family and friends will remember him as a quiet, industrious man, who could never stay still for long, whose consideration for others was overriding. He faced cancer with stoicism and remarkable patience. He passed away peacefully at Severn Hospice surrounded by family and friends.