Mr Ian Clark

Ian Clark was appointed from Thornbridge School, Sheffield,by the then Headmaster, Malcolm Smith, to join Kit Haworth’s Classics department in September 1967. He became Head of Middle School in September 1973. This was a newly created position which was the start of a pastoral revolution in the school. It would not be an overstatement to suggest that the strength of the present day pastoral structure, much praised by OFSTED in recent inspections, owes much to the insight and hard work of Ian at this time. On the death of Reg Pattinson, Ian became Deputy Headmaster in January 1978, a post he has held until his retirement this July.

Ian attended Portsmouth Grammar School until 1955 when he moved to King Edward VI School, Southampton. From here he won an Open Scholarship to read Classics at Bristol University. This proved to be an excellent choice of university because not only did he graduate with an excellent degree, but more importantly he met his wife Janet. Someone once said that if you were completely lost in some foreign field the one person you might hope would walk round the corner would be Ian. Unfailingly cheerful, always ready to listen and with the uncanny ability to show a keen interest in anything you may care to say, Ian never sits still and many has been the time, either before the start of school or at the end of a long day, that he would be actively involved in some form of community service. This might involve his commitment to the church, helping an old person with his/her garden or helping to organise Christmas dinners for the old and needy.

At school he appears to be forever running between appointments. Indeed, an abiding memory for many of us is when he broke his leg, soon after his appointment as Deputy Headmaster, but then continued somehow to canter around the school despite his broken fetlock.

He has run chess at the school since he first came. The time given and the organisation of the different teams has been immense, requiring logistical skills and patience that would have been beyond many people. He has helped to run hockey teams and on one occasion at Merchant Taylors’, Northwood, a heavy thunderstorm caused the matches to be abandoned. Ian as umpire was soaked and the next his colleagues saw of him was when he wandered through the staff common room in his underpants — which were reminiscent of the baggy shorts he used to wear when dashing down the right wing in the staff soccer team. On another occasion, when the Master i/c Hockey Fixtures had made a slight error, by sending the wrong RGS teams to Oxford whilst the Oxford teams were en route to High Wycombe, a situation akin to Gerard Hoffnung’s bucket arose. Colleagues were found to be chasing each other up and down the M40/A40 in both directions, Ian uncatchable in his rather mature, cream Morris Minor Traveller.

Ian has always participated fully. He is one of a group of staff who joined the RGS in the late sixties and early seventies who have remained at the school and played and socialised together. Apart from staff football, Ian has played regularly for the staff cricket team. One of his greatest feats was surviving a torrid over from the RGS’s future England opening bowler, Philip Newport. Phil, the leading school batsman, had been dismissed for a duck and was not best pleased! Ian stood his ground without flinching. He was a founding member of the 5am staff golf club. This would then see him rushing into school to complete his tasks before leading assembly.

As a colleague, Ian is always steadfast and loyal, no matter what the circumstances. He has served the RGS with distinction under three Headmasters. His breadth of Mr Ian Clark knowledge and appreciation of what makes RGS such a special place is unrivalled. Many a generation of boys owes much to the kindness and thoughtfulness of a man always prepared to give of his time and energy whenever, wherever. Many members of staff experiencing professional or personal difficulties have also been grateful for his support.

Ian is unique and will be much missed by all at RGS. We wish Janet and Ian a much deserved, long and healthy retirement. Janet can now continue her tour of the British Isles whilst accompanying Ian in his continued support of Wycombe Wanderers. They will also be able to find more time to visit their growing family and enjoy their grand-children. We are all delighted that Ian is retaining his connection with the school as Secretary to the Old Boys’ Association and we hope to see them regularly in school either for a cup of coffee, or at staff and school functions.