Death of Bomber Nicholson

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Re: Death of Bomber Nicholson

Post by PeA31 » Wed Oct 08, 2014 8:08 pm

Bit of a latecomer to this chain but I would certainly like to attend some form of memorial event at Horsham - can't attend the Bedford one. Chris has cost me a lot of money over the years as I have tried to follow his advice, delivered at the lunch table on several occasions, to choose champagne if possible, but only the very finest. This of course was delivered to 11 year olds.

The other piece of essential advice came from Roger Wilson, and may have saved me money. When teaching me bridge he insisted that many a homeless man was walking the streets of London because he didn't get his trumps out in time.

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Re: Death of Bomber Nicholson

Post by Topsy » Sat Oct 18, 2014 5:14 pm

I attended the memorial service in Bedford for Chris Nicholson on 11 October. CWN's early years and his time at CH were spoken of in addresses from Peter Webb and Bernard Biggs. Not surprisingly, it was very much a Bedford Modern School occasion and the church was packed, principally by BMS staff, parents and old boys.

I though that those who couldn't be there might like to know that we listened to:
the Prelude to Act 1 of Parsifal;
Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 ("Let me not to the marriage of true minds // Admit impediments. Love is not love // Which alters when it alteration finds, // Or bends with the remover to remove ...");
an address by Peter Webb introducing the hymn Who Would True Valour See and talking of the LHA years;
an address by Bernard Biggs talking of CWN's later years at CH and about his musical, literary and philosophical loves;
the third movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 25;
an address by Sandy Hebblethwaite (mother of three of CWN's BMS pupils);
then, magically, CWN's own voice in a recording of Six of the Best, a Radio 4 series in which inspirational teachers featured (CWN was heard exploring the nature of tragedy with a classroom of 11 and 12 year olds - "Tragedy - no 'd' in front of the 'g', gentlemen: t-r-a-g-e-d-y, tragedy" before discussing the film ET, Greek tragedy and (in the full version of the broadcast) a poem by Seamus Heaney);
a recording of Jessye Norman singing Richard Strauss's Beim Schlafengehen (the third of the Four Last Songs);
readings from a book of tributes compiled on CWN's retirement from BMS by Richard Claridge (a BMS friend and colleague);
George Herbert's poem Teach me, my God and King - sung as a hymn (memories of CWN reading 'Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back ...')
an epilogue by Michael Potter (the BMS colleague and friend who had apparently organised the memorial service and written the order of service); and
Bach's G Minor Fantasia.

I spotted, in addition to Peter Webb and Bernard Biggs, Duncan Noel-Paton, Tony Waller, and Bob Hailey. Chris Burns was the only other Old Blue that I found.

The BMS community evidently held CWN in great affection and the reflections of Peter Webb and Bernard Biggs added the CH and other personal dimensions. That said, it was predominantly a Bedford event and Old Blues were thin on the ground, so far as I could tell. If anyone knows of a plan to remember CWN at CH in some different way, that would be wonderful. I rather think it should involve champagne.

Mark Turvey
LHA ThA 67-74

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Re: Death of Bomber Nicholson

Post by J.R. » Sun Oct 19, 2014 5:23 pm

Many thanks for that comprehensive report, Mark.
John Rutley. Prep B & Coleridge B. 1958-1963.

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Re: Death of Bomber Nicholson

Post by Straz » Tue Oct 21, 2014 1:11 am

Many thanks for this Mark.
I had hoped to attend the service myself, but sadly I was unable to.
Paul Strange
Leigh Hunt A 1969-71
Peele A 71-75

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Real Name: Clive Ma.B Col.A 1970-1977

Re: Death of Bomber Nicholson

Post by Clive » Tue Oct 21, 2014 9:55 pm

I'm pleased to be able to report that the CH representation at Bomber's memorial service in Bedford was very significantly better than indicated in Mark's otherwise comprehensive post.

Your correspondent - Clive Thompson - was there (together with Mother); as were...: Mike Mitchell; Peter Hiett; Tim Collard (together with his elder son Dan - Bomber's godson); Steve Harrison (together with his wife Louise); Robert Gillett; Martin Newman and Piers Gielgud. Two Old Blue brothers were also there but I regret I didn't catch the name(s). And I thought I spotted Roger Eades. I'm sorry that I didn't spot Mark, and Chris Burns, and I'm amazed they didn't spot us: the word 'Specsavers' springs to mind! Also - in addition to the members of staff Mark lists - I can report that JE (John?) Dennison, John Trappes-Lomax and David Bussey were all there, plus Mrs (Jean) Waller and I believe Mrs Noel-Paton.

Rex Sweeney sent his apologies. And I know that there were many others who would have been there if they could.
I'm sorry you couldn't make it, Paul. Likewise Crispin Southgate and 'PeA31'.
Of course it is especially sad that Dr Richard Palmer could not be there.

All in all it was a very good memorial service. There were many great anecdotes, many 'treasured memories'. It was, as Mark says, quite electrifying to hear the recording of Bomber in the classroom - at the end of which there was a marvellous outbreak of spontaneous applause! And to hear the tributes read out from so many BMS boys was very moving: reassuring, though hardly surprising, to know that he was appreciated there just as much as he was at CH. He was a terrific character; a unique schoolmaster - kind, generous, and extraordinarily inspirational; and a loyal and selfless friend.

It was wonderful to catch up with so many good friends. Christopher would have been particularly delighted about that.

And I was especially pleased to meet Bomber's twin sister, his niece, his nephew and his great-niece.

And yes OF COURSE there should be some kind of memorial for him at CH.

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Re: Death of Bomber Nicholson

Post by Topsy » Tue Dec 02, 2014 1:27 pm

I'm mortified not have spotted Clive and others at CWN's memorial service in Bedford. I can only plead that my own immediate contemporaries were absent and that I failed, because we're all so much older now, to recognise near contemporaries and indeed some staff.

I shall, as recommended, take myself off to the opticians!

I see from the CHOBA news that -

Friends and former students, with the blessing of the family, are keen to establish a lasting memorial at Horsham in the form of endowing a prize for the existing annual sixth-form competition for the translation into English verse of poetry from foreign languages; this prize is especially appropriate in his memory, as poetry was one of his chief loves, and he was a man of broad and cosmopolitan learning.

Any Old Blues interested should contact Stephen Harrison (ColB 71-78) at

Mark Turvey
LHA ThA 67-74

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