Cecil Owen Mackley: [Heath 1931–1961]

The impact of Cecil Mackley’s death has been heightened by its complete suddenness. Admittedly, he had suffered more than his share of sickness during the past few years. First he was found to be diabetic and then, just over a year ago, he underwent a severe internal operation: but the diabetes seemed well under control and he recovered remarkably well from the operation. Like most sensible people he had come to accept the fact that there is a difference between 58 and 28. He exchanged Fives for Bowls, cut down on some or his evening work and covered his bald crown with a cap. He constantly asserted that his teaching was not what it had been — a self-criticism hardly supported by news of two Hastings Exhibitions in History last December. At any rate, those of us who saw him daily thought that he had. come through a difficult year surprisingly well.

When we parted for the summer holidays he seemed in excellent spirits. Then, in August, I had a brief note from him beginning, “I’m engulfed in torpor even more completely than usual,” and ending: “I hope to be among everything in good time.” When I saw him again at the end of the month his doctors had diagnosed an inoperable tumour on the brain. He knew me, and talked for a few moments — characteristically about his Sixth Form historians — but his powers of speech and recognition failed rapidly and the periods of consciousness grew shorter and fewer. He died peacefully in his sleep on the .

There are very many things 1 could say about Cecil Mackley out of the fifteen years of our close association. But I am not going to say them, because all of you knew him — many of you for twice fifteen years. He was a good scholar, a dedicated teacher and a true Christian. I am proud to think that he honoured me with his friendship.

I feel that all Old Boys — whether his pupils or not — will think it right that the School should honour him in tangible form, and I am therefore opening a Fund for the establishment of a History Prize in his memory, comparable at least to the Fox and Reith Prizes. To do this fittingly, and to provide a suitable board in the Hall for the inscription of the annual winners, will take a considerable sum. I am hoping to raise at least three hundred pounds.

I know this is the season of Appeals, but this, you will agree, is something special. Will all of those who knew and respected C.O.M. — and that must be the great bulk of our members — send me something, however large or small, in his memory. Please make out cheques or postal orders either to me personally or to “The Mackley Memorial Prize Fund.” Your gifts will be personally and gratefully acknowledged.

W.R. Swale [Heath 1946–1971]

Extract from the Heath Old Boys Bulletin December 1961.

In the the Heath Old Boys Bulletin May 1962 W.R. Swale reported:

My most optimistic hopes for this appeal have been greatly exceeded by the magnificent sum of over £500 already received. An honours-board, matching those of the “Fox” and “Athlete’s” prizes has been fixed in the Hall and I hope to see the name of the first winner of the Prize inscribed before next Speech Day. Donations have come from every source: from a host of Old Boys, from present boys and their parents, from Rotarians, and from Methodists in Halifax and beyond. Of all this the most touching has been the mass of letters accompanying the contributions. Public orations and inscribed tablets are well enough, but these sincere expressions of gratitude and affection are C.O.M.’s best memorial.

The Heathen September 1962 contained a number of tributes to him and several Old Boys have shared their reminiscences of C.O. Mackley more recently.