Heslop, Ken J

Heslop, Ken J

Ken Heslop died peacefully in his sleep on 21 April 1995, having been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease for some while. His death removes from the scene one of the great servants of Hurst.

Born on 13 July 1912 his school days were spent at St. Edward’s, Oxford. From there it was but a short step to Merton College where he read French and also obtained a Dip. Ed. He began his teaching career in 1936 at the Preparatory School of Campbell College, Belfast. He saw war service with the Devonshire Regiment in which he held the rank of Captain. From 1946 to 1954 he was a Housemaster at Magdalene College School, Brackley.

He arrived at Hurst in September 1954, taking over from J. Russell Perry and bringing with him three young masters – Harry Maxwell, David Deane and Michael Bickmore. Joined later by Brigid Raby and George Hill, they must have formed one of the best prep school staffs of all time.

Such a staff was needed. It is no secret that all was not well with the Junior House where the facilities, along with academic standards and sporting standards, were not as high as they might have been. Under Ken’s leadership they swung into action. Tremendous emphasis was placed on the virtues of discipline and hard work. He gave a great lead with his legendary teaching of French. (Few ex JH/JS boys will forget the regular routine of daily verbs!) His view was that anything could be achieved if sufficient effort was made, and the school was certainly made to work.
All this began to tell in the classroom and on the games field. Standards began to rise as did the numbers in the school. In his eighteen years, they increased from 75 to 176. Overall, there was a feeling of certainty of purpose in the Heslop regime. Every member of the school – boy, master, mistress or matron – knew exactly where they were and exactly what was expected of them.

He was an austere man, but there are many still who will testify to his wisdom and compassion. He had a very good understanding of prep school boys – far more so than they ever realized. In all this he was accompanied by his wife, Peggy, who was a great support not only to him, but also to all who belonged to the Junior School. It was a great sadness to all who knew them when she died of cancer in June 1971 – one year before Ken was due to retire.

As the last survivor of those days, I feel very honored to have been asked to write about KJH. I learned a great deal from him in my formative years as a prep school master for which I am most grateful, as well as being privileged to have known and worked under someone who was firm and steadfast in all he did as Master, a highly efficient practitioner of French teaching and above all, one who was courteous and polite in all his dealings with his fellow men.

Contributed by Roger Moulton.
Master of Junior School

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