Ralph Best: [Heath 1943–1950]

Ralph Best died at his home in Heath Crescent, Free School Lane, Halifax where he had lived for many years.

I first met Ralph in September 1943 when we joined the Heath senior school. Four of us, all a little short of our eleventh birthdays, immediately became good friends. Ralph and Jim Kape had been at Salterhebble school and Joe Akroyd at All Saints, while I had spent the three previous years in Heath junior school where Mr Moxon was headmaster.

Ralph, along with another of Ralph’s friends, David Sharpe, was always close to the top of 4B1 and every subsequent year.

I remember very well the cycling holiday Ralph and I had in the summer holidays of 1948. In a 750 mile round trip which took us youth hostelling to the south coast and back, we also stopped for a few days with my aunt and uncle in Surrey where we apprehensively awaited our School Certificate results. When these arrived, Ralph had three distinctions (officially called Very Good) and six credits (I had to make do with one distinction, seven credits and a pass).

In the sixth form, Ralph received a higher school certificate in French and German (both with oral) subsidiary Latin and English Literature — together with the school’s modern languages prize.

Those seeking a place at Oxford or Cambridge entered the third year Sixth. Ralph became Head Boy but soon departed for national service on receiving a Hastings Scholarship to the Queen’s College Oxford which he took up after national service in 1952.

I did not see much of Ralph in the years that followed. He spent a number of years in Germany where he met and later married Sigrid. Eventually he returned to Halifax where he was a master at Crossley’s. Sigrid, who died last year, taught languages at Heath.

About two years ago I got Ralph’s contact details, courtesy of HOBA, and soon found that he regularly visited a son who lives near Bromley Kent. I live in Purley Surrey, some sixteen miles away and we met up in Spring 2019, reminiscing over a very long lunch. We planned to meet again this Spring but the lockdown and his sad death prevented this.

I know that Ralph kept in touch with school friends David Sharpe, David Huddleston and Joe Akroyd, maybe others, who will be equally sad to hear of his death.

Roger Crowther [Heath 1940–1951]