Report from the Rifles Club

Greetings from the WVRC in these unusual times. We hope you’re all well and safely inside. As you might imagine shooting has been rather quiet over the last month or so as we do our part to reduce the impact of Covid-19 on our communities. During these quiet moments, we’ve taken the time to reflect on the past. Our Chairman, Jack Furtado OW (1951-56, Masons House), has this year stepped down so we took the opportunity to talk to him about his past with Whitgift and what it means to him.

Who was your favourite master?

I believe my “favourites” were those, in hindsight, whom I respected the most. The Headmaster, E.A.G. Marlar probably tops the list. If I ever meet him in the hereafter, I’m sure I’ll not be able to address him as anything but “Sir”….

Lieut-Comd E.F.Hall DSC, RN (room 19) was my English Language master. He had that magic mix of strictness combined with humour. NEVER any mucking about in his classes. The fear that Horace, a large cane-sized wooden blackboard compass he kept in his middle drawer, might be employed, also ensured no mucking about! It was never used. He was also OC Navy Section of the CCF.

Doug Hussey was our History master whose humour we enjoyed a lot. Similarly, Mike Scott our Geography master was a man we all “got along with” very well. He was ex-Army, I believe, and was also an officer in the Army section of the CCF.

Bob Schad our Maths master, was a younger master than most and again, earned our respect.

What was your first memory of Whitgift?

The day after the weekly evening Goon Show on the radio, our “gang” would get together, about 6 of us, in the Junior playground and go through the whole show; each of us mimicking a character. We were rated according to how well we mimicked the characters. This mimicry helped me greatly when learning French and Spanish – my accent, particularly in Spanish has always been very good – all due to mimicry.

How did Whitgift prepare you for the real world?

I believe that might be wrapped up in one word – confidence. My success in school gymnastics, thanks to the weekly brilliance of Mr Harry Bennett leading to my winning the Senior School Gymnastics Medal (which I still treasure!) My success in the School Swimming team, winning most of the diving versus all our opponents, and success with butterfly stroke. I was too small for School team rugby but was scrum 1/2 for Masons Senior League! Stood me in good stead for when I left school and played in OWRFC.

I really enjoyed the Army section of the CCF (with plenty of full/small bore shooting), followed by my joining the Honourable Artillery Company, Infantry Bn on leaving School all of which contributed so much to the privilege of my being accepted by the Brigade of Gurkhas (6GR) for my National Service, after successfully completing the Officer Cadet Training at Mons OCS in 1960. Without confidence none of this would have been possible.

What was your most memorable moment at School?

Big School – prize day in 1956, having NEVER been up there for ANY prize – went up there to be presented with my Senior Gymnastics medal, wearing for the first time my blazer with the swimming colours badge (top breast pocket) sewn on by my mother the night before!

Do you have any favourite humorous stories?

After my pathetic four O Level results, ex 9 subjects, the 2nd Head, Mr (Percy) Ewen “invited” my father and me to see him. Turned out both of them had been students at the School at the same time. My father was advised that if he harboured any intentions for me to stay on to take A Levels, to forget them as Jack was not capable of ANY success.

Father wanted me to stay on and at least get Maths at O Level, so all agreed to stay on until the end of the year to retake Maths at Christmas. 10 days before the exam I was laid low with chicken pox!! Thus stayed on until the end of 1956 Summer Term, to take Maths again – success with a grade 5!

Our biggest thanks to Jack for the interview, and our best wishes for him and his future pursuits in Golf, Shooting and his numerous other activities!

Finally, a big thank you to Bob Jackson who has been taking the time to offer local beer deliveries from his Brewery. “Since all the pubs closed they have diverted all our energies into doorstep deliveries of all important ale within our community. As Churchill ensured in the darkest days of WWII, beer supplies must be maintained. The fighting spirit must be maintained and amazingly we have hardly had time to draw breath. The most popular order is for a 10L or 20L beer in a box, just like the 3L wine boxes from supermarkets.” Please go to where you can order a huge selection of wine, cider and ales to within a 15 mile radius of Flimwell.

We wish you all the best for everyone and their families, hopefully we can see some of you down at the range soon! Until then, stay safe!

Henry Parritt OW (2009-16)