Derek Watmough: [Heath 1948–1956]

Derek Watmough was born on and joined Heath in September 1948.

It would be hard to overstate his contribution to the cultural life of the school in the first half of the 1950s. He had leading roles in every major Dramatic Society production including Rosalind in As You Like It (Heathen 1952 2(6) pp. 31–34), Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Heathen 1955 2(9) pp. 23–25) and Marlow in She Stoops to Conquer (Heathen 1956 2(10) pp. 21–22). He was perhaps most memorably cast as two formidable matriarchs — the Citizen’s Wife in The Knight of the Burning Pestle (Heathen 1953 2(7) pp. 22–26) and Lady Bracknell in the celebrated 1954 production of The Importance of Being Earnest (Heathen 1954 2(8) pp. 21–22) jointly directed by Eric Taylor and Walter Swale.

Derek’s contribution to the annual concerts was even greater. He sang in the choir, played violin and viola in the orchestra and was the soloist in the popular classical piano pieces Mozart’s Rondo all Turca (Heathen 1952 2(6) p. 34), Chopin's A flat Polonaise (Heathen 1953 2(7) p. 21), Grieg’s To Spring (Heathen 1954 2(8) p. 23) and Liszt’s Liebestraum (Heathen 1955 2(9) p. 26). His violin playing was of a high enough standard to earn him a place in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and he was on its 1955 European tour.

In spite of this Derek was discouraged from studying music at university and he reluctantly enrolled on a classical languages degree course at Durham. After a few months his love of music proved too strong and he changed courses.

On graduating Derek taught at the Royal Grammar School High Wycombe and then the Skinner's School in Tunbridge Wells. From the early 1970s until his retirement in 1992 he was a much valued staff member at the Beacon Community College in Crowborough.

For 30 years he was the music director of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Choral Society and an occasional conductor of the Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra.

In 1992 Derek was awarded an MBE for services to music and he died on aged 82.

John Raymond Crossley [Heath 1951–1959]

You can see tributes to Derek from the Beacon Academy and the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe.