Email from Malcolm Ruckledge [Heath 1954–1962]

I have just discovered the HOBA web site and found it extremely interesting reading, particularly the reminiscences. Thank You.

I have somehow managed to dig out of the recesses of my memory most of the members of my form, 1B 1954. They are:-

Adams, Andrews, Beaumont, Brierley D., Brierley S., Crowther, Devine, Donoghue, Garbutt, Gidley, Green, Kingstone, Lee (son of Harry Lee), Morley, Murgatroyd, Nelson, Radcliffe, Rawlings, Ruckledge, Russell, Simpson, Sutcliffe K., Sutcliffe ?., Topliss, Watmough, Warton.

I am sure that there are others whose names escape me. Nuttall and Prosser joined the class later.

Our form master was ‘Froggie’ Guy and our form room was room B in the corner next to the office.

Froggie taught us Latin and History; both left me bewildered. School didn't excite me, I was in the Scouts and wanted to be out walking the hills or exploring on my bike! It wasn’t until the third year when I was in bottom set Maths, taught by Harry Lee the woodwork teacher, that things changed. He was a brilliant teacher who brought trigonometry, algebra and geometry to life for me. He woke me up to the extent that I rose to the top set in the fourth year and took O-level a year early and in the fifth year somehow managed to scoop the maths prize. (The only year the prizewinners didn't appear in the Heathen!) I owe much to Mr. Lee.

I opted for 5G because I preferred the broader range of subject, only to find later that this barred me from taking sciences in the 6th form. I, therefore, had to repeat the year in 5S.

Surprisingly, my best O-level was History. ‘Caggie’ Carter dictated 14 questions to us and stated that 8 of them would come up in our O-level. We spent the year memorising the 14 answers! When it came to the exam, my history notes magically appeared before my eyes and all I had to do was copy them down. My only experience of a photographic memory. Needless to say, my knowledge of any of that is now zero.

Harry Birchall’s P.E and games, i.e. rugby, didn't do much for me. I was saved by the replacement for ‘Caggie’ when he left. I, sadly, can’t remember his name, but I think that he played for Rochdale Hornets. He coached me in the long jump and triple jump leading to me breaking the school record in both and later breaking the triple jump record at Borough Road College.

An old Heathen, Keith Mitchell, was working in the area and came back to start a new sport for us, basketball, which for me was a welcome relief from the rugby field. This became my, and my family’s, major sport, and I became a National League referee and managed the England and Great Britain juniors for 6 years.

I mention these three teachers, Mr. Lee, my jumping coach and Keith Mitchell, because they inspired me to want to be a teacher who was able to do for others what they had done for me. I hope that I came some way to achieving that goal. I became a teacher and was a head teacher for the last nine years of my career until I had to retire prematurely.

I can now spend all the time that I want in the hills!