Old Uffingtonians Association (1994)

   Willesden County Grammar School                         Ex-Pupils 1924-1967                    


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An Elegy to Mr. Edwards,
my old Chemistry Teacher

I was quite affected on hearing of the death of my old Chemistry teacher Mr. Edwards.  I searched out my old Chemistry textbook _General School Chemistry_ (First Ed. 1956, Revised Impression 1964).  It is a measure of my fondness for this subject that I have kept it all these years, covered in a clear plastic film, complete with original sleeve (I usually remove these, as I like the natural beauty of a well-bound hard-back book, but in this case, being relatively immature it has my name written in my 13-year old hand on the front top right hand corner of it (again, usually this would be on the fly page) and there tucked inside the front cover...which I did not recall was there before...was...

... an old exam paper... marked by Mr. Edwards himself! It is dated 'June 1968' and entitled 'Chemistry' - 'Christina G. 3W' (the top stream). This is a written paper for which I scored 37.5 (out of 50) and then there is a second typewritten sheet in which one had to fill in the blank spaces, for which I was awarded 34.5, with an overall mark of 73% ('A').

I was clearly proud of this for on the back I have jotted down the fact I also received an 'A' in English, 80% in French ('A') and 76% in German ('B' - still came third).

Looking at the exam, I wonder how it compares to today's exams.

There are people one encounters in life who, although you may not be aware of it at the time, have an enormous impact on one's life.  In the case of Mr. Edwards, the influence was exceedingly positive and encouraging.  He taught from 1945 to mid- 70's (_?) and died in May this year at a hospital in Wrexham, aged 91.  He clearly had a remarkable influence on many, for he later became a councillor and was mayor of Stoke Newington - facts I have only just found out recently.

Mr. Edwards was a great inspiration to all for many of my class mates went on to take Chemistry at higher levels, including a friend, at York Uni, and my sister, who took Chemistry at Surrey as a joint degree with French.  Many of the best pupils in my class went on to lecture in the hard sciences or is trained in medicine. Another went to Iowa and Rutgers to lecture in Physics and Chemistry.  I myself took the subject to A-Level and thanks to my accompanying Biology O-Level and Economics A-Level, proceeded to study Psychology as a science honours degree.  So we can safely say, Mr. Edwards was a true credit to his profession, an old-fashioned master in cape and mortar board and a kindly school masterly air.  I can never remember him as ever being sarcastic.

And so I have shed a little tear for one of the rare souls who made a deep impression on my childhood sensibilities and inspired a genuine love of learning in me at a tender age.

Christina Giscombe
Sunday 23rd Sept 2007