I was enrolled at Maple Bank, Hallfield, in about 1951, aged just seven years old.
I was taught under Mr Rigby and his wife who ran the 70 full-time boarders at Maple Bank. I remember there was a senior dormitory on the second floor, over the school proper just a few minutes along Church Road, towards St George’s church, which All boarders attended on Sundays.
I loved the school and most of the teachers. I was taught Greek and Latin by Mr Fisher – the then Archbishop of Canterbury’s brother. His wife taught me drawing and watercolours, a talent that I was unaware of.
I went on to become a senior prefect by ‘default; and won 12 prizes in my last term.
Back then, the morning roll call reflected 222 students and we were addressed by the Geography master. We began with the hymn: Ten thousand Times ten thousand.
I remember we would drive at 100 mph In Mrs Faber’s Jaguar Mk Seven to the annual Cricket match with Downside School, among others.
I took – and passed – the general examination, amid vomiting beetroot from nervous anxiety. Upon leaving Hallfield, I went on to Marlborough in 1957, which had just, thankfully, given up fagging! (Also known as making younger boarders undertake menial tasks for older ones).
And then in 1961, I entered Worcester College, Oxford University. Towards the end of that year, I undertook a gap year at the Massey Ferguson Factory in Vienna, Austria, and the Quality Assurance Lab in Easter Wiener Waltzmuhle, Schwechat-bei-Wien. I was delighted to experience three months of Vienna’s classical music and opera season for free, courtesy of a friend and fellow flautist who was there on a Music scholarship.
From 1962-66 I continued my studies at Oxford University and from 1966-1970, I graduated and moved to London to work at Guys Hospital.
I moved to Barbados in 1976 where I spent three years working as an Orthopaedic Surgeon before becoming a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon and working across the globe in cities like San Francisco, Sydney and Brisbane.
I soon moved back to Abingdon, Oxfordshire, where I spent two years training in a six-man GP practice, before choosing to emigrate to Canada and settling down to work in a family practice In Vancouver.
I enjoy my life and spend my spare time painting, doing pottery, and photography.
… So that’s what became of one of Hallfield’s 1951 alumni – Anthony French. I would love to hear from my old classmates.
Photo caption: Soccer team 1955-56, we had just beaten West House 5-4. Our centre-half captain scored the 5th goal from behind the halfway line with a high shot which the West House goalie caught on the chest and knocked him and ball into the back of the net…luckily for us, just as end whistle blew!