NICHOLAS GEORGE CHARNWOOD SEARLS
Nick Searls died suddenly and unexpectedly on 6 June 2006 while on holiday in the Scilly Isles.
He was educated at Lancing and The Royal Academy of Music and came to Hurst as the assistant director of music in 1967. When Neil Page moved to Malvern, Nick became the Director of Music, which post he held until he became Housemaster of Fleur de Lys. He retired in 2004 after 37 years devoted to Hurst.
Nick was no narrow-minded musician, and had many interests. He was a fine cricketer and a distinctly useful squash player. For the last ten years of his life he became addicted to golf and was still improving at the time of his death, which came as a great shock to everyone. He was a fine organiser and was primarily responsible for the success of the College’s 150th year celebrations in 1999. He was devoted to his wife Penny, their son Ben (Eagle 1994-99) and to his step children and grandchildren as well as to his sister and his niece.
At five o’clock on 20 June a very remarkable event took place at Hurst. Well over four hundred people packed into the chapel to give thanks for the life of Nick Searls. At Penny’s request, there was no mourning or black; it was a joyous occasion to mark the passing of a splendid man. Robert Ebdon had, at short notice, gathered a choir of some fifty voices, and a grand sound they made in singing John Ireland’s “Greater Love hath no Man” and Benjamin Britten’s “New Year Carol”. Gerald Buss (former Chaplain) took the service and also spoke along with six others who were described in the service sheet as: Mary Searls (Sister); Hugh Thomas (Friend); Sue Smith (Step-Daughter); Gavin Payne (Step-Son); Neil Morris (Pupil/Tormentor); George Hill (Golfer/Erstwhile Colleague).
There were emotional and amusing stories of episodes in Nick’s life, but the celebration outweighed the inevitable sadness. Maybe the photograph on the front of the service sheet summed up the whole atmosphere, for there we saw a can of lager, a log, a pair of gardening shoes and a golf ball! After the singing of Jerusalem brought lumps to many throats, everyone adjourned to the inner quad for refreshments and reminiscences galore.
7 July 2010