In Memoriam

We would welcome Obituaries from any old russellians who knew these people. Please submit these to the membership secutary or via email or by post to the School. 

Jane Patricia Hall (nee Shinn)


Following the untimely death of ur dear friend Jane Hall, Old Russellians Edwina Good and Chris Gough attended her funeral at Bethel Baptist Church in Farnham, Surrey on 9th October. Jane died two months to the day since she attended the funeral of her and our dear friend Bill Cave. Many of us have happy memeories of OR boat trips with Bill.

Jane had a great love of music and sang with the Lydian and Carillon singers whose uplifting singing at the funeral was a great tribute to such a very special lady.

Chris Cough (RRS 1951-1955)

Old Russellians Vice President


Jane Hall with Bill Cave










Maria Latessa (Head of EAL) (at school 1993-2017)


We were very sad to hear news on Friday 21st April that Maria Latessa, our inspirational, loyal and long serving Head of EAL had passed away at home, after losing her fight with cancer. A service to celebrate Maria’s life was held on Saturday 6th May when the Chapel was full of staff, ex staff, 3 Headmasters, current and Old Russellians. 

Our condolences to Maria's sister, Claudia, her partner, Neil Marshall and her parents, Giovannia and Antonio.











Viktor Ivanelo (at school 2009 - 2013)

Old Russellians will remember that Viktor had been missing since late February 2017. You will be very sad to hear that Viktor’s body was found by Surrey Police 0n 28th March. 

His death is currently ‘unexplained’.





Shirley Balaam, wife of retired Headmaster, Ron Balaam (at RRS 1981-1996)


Old Russellians will be saddened to hear of the death of Mrs Shirley Balaam, a very special Headmaster’s wife on 18th January 2017, after a short period in hospital. She was a very popular and supportive member of the school community and indeed of the Old Russellians. Shirley’s funeral was held at the village church in Upper Beeding on Friday 10th February. Nearly 200 people attended.






Ronald Arthur Smith (at school 1938-1940)     

We were sorry to hear from Ron's brother, Derick Smith, that Ron passed away in December 2016, aged 92.   When Russell Hill was bombed in 1940, Derick went off to Devon for the repair period, but Ron, being that much older, did not return to Purley.




Roger Billington (at school 1931-1941)     

We are sorry to announce the sad death of Roger Billington on 10 September 2016, who was aged 91. Roger visited the school in 2008 when he was treated to a great performance of HMS Pinafore, where he had himself played the part of Josephine back in the 1939 production. Pictured above left is Roger with 'Josephine' performed by Old Russellian, Helen Knight (at school 1999-2008). We send our sincere condolences to Roger's family at this sad time.





Robert Clark (at school 1993-1999)




It is with great sadness that we announce the death of this young (35 year old) Old Russellian, who passed away on 30th May 2016 after a short illness. Rob leaves behind a lovely wife, Lisa and little girl, Abi, born on 14th March 2013.


The Order of Service


Rob's funeral was attended by 160 people in Bickley, Kent, including his Housemaster, Martin Tanner, and his art teacher, Keith Owens. 


Geology Field Trip Collage - Rob wearing an orange jacket.








Neil Anthony (at school 1973-1980)

Old Russellian, Neil Anthony, dies at the young age of 53, of cancer. The Old Russellians were saddened to hear this news on Thursday 3rd December 2015. Neil stood on the O.R. committee from 2005 until 2010. At school he was Head Boy and Captain of Cambridge House during his last year. He will be fondly remembered by everyone who came into contact with him over the years and we wish our heartfelt condolences to his family at this very sad time. 

Neil's Profile Summary

Service of Memorial

Newspaper Tributes

Elena Baltacha Award received by Neil's Family 








Margery Henley (née Gendle)(at school 1926-1933)




Passed away on 6 November 2015 aged 98.   

She leaves children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and many friends who all loved her very much and will miss her terribly.  She was a kind and generous woman – an inspiration and example to us all.

She was very grateful for the friendship, security and opportunities given to her by the school.


Michael Pearson (at school 1942-1951)

I am sorry to inform you that yet another of our contemporaries has passed on, on Sunday 18th October. I reconnected with Michael just before the 2003 reunion. We had a drink afterwards & reminisced about when he had just been made Head Boy (1949), we climbed a tree together behind the chapel, were spotted by Crispin (Crippie) & ordered down to earth again! The wrestling matches we used to have in the Cambridge Upper dormitory & in the Prefects' Room. He was two or three years older, so taller & heavier, but I got him down a few times. I was still only in Form Four! We remained in touch until Alzheimer's started to take its toll a few years ago. Say "hello" to the other ORs, Michael. R.I.P.


Kind regards

Pat Bygate(Bruno 1945-51)



Angus McGill (at school 1935-1943)


We were sorry to learn of the death of Angus McGill on Friday 16th October 2015.


Photo 1: Descriptive Writer of the Year and the MBE for Services to Journalism
Photo 2: O.R. sisters Dorothy and Jean McGill, both school award winners for Public Examination Achievement join Angus at an Old Russellian Reunion Day
Photo 3: By Jak the cartoonist



Michael Kefford (Cambridge Housemaster and Head of Latin) (at RRS 1964-1974)


We were sorry to learn of the death of ex member of staff Mike Kefford in early October.

Peter Caplan (at school 1965-1972) writes:

On Friday I had the privilege and honour to perform a reading at Mike's funeral, at the request of the family. A number of OR's were on parade: Tina Oldham (now Pepler), Simon Linssen, Ian McMaster, Christopher Newdick, Zena Hillier (now Crabtree), and Jane Buley (now Hillier). Despite the sad circumstances, we all agreed that we would try to attend the next OR Day, in May 2017.


Roy Williamson (Retired Head of Junior School) (At school 1966-1987)

We were sorry to learn of the death of Roy Williamson, former Head of the Junior School, who very sadly died on 29th September. Roy's funeral was held in Bournemouth in October. 


Bernard Mansfield (Head of Maintenance in the 1970s and early 80s)

We were sorry to learn of the death of Bernard Mansfield, husband of Bursar, Dorothy, who died in September 2015. He and Dorothy worked at RRS during the late 70s and early 80s.


Margaret Starkey (Cambridge House Matron in the 1970s)

We were sorry to learn of the death of Margaret Starkey (widow of Col Starkey, Cambridge Housemaster and CCF Commander) who was a Matron at RRS in the 1970s.


Sadie France

At School 2003-2009 (Buchanan House)

Sadie France (the inspiration behind the School's Charity for this year, Teens Unite Fighting Cancer. Sadie's Memorial Service was held to a packed congregation in Great Hall on Friday 10th April 2015. Her English teacher, Mrs Donna Pepperdine, said this:

Teaching Sadie was fun

It’s hard to find a particular Sadie story that would be right for this... often just classroom nonsense really, where you kind of had to be there, the sort of things you might remember over a drink or have a gentle joke about in the staffroom.  Whether it was gossiping about the footie boys in the year above, stuffing her face with marshmallows to whop the Chubby Bunny Xmas competition, totally abandoning the no-make up rule or simply being great company on the ‘shopping holiday’ to Utah, we all remember lots of things that make us smile.  More generally, we remember that even as a teenager, who could be very funny and at times really dizzy, Sadie had a real drive to do the things she wanted to do.  We remember how determined she was to get her grades – even that dreaded Speaking and Listening GCSE English mark; amazing when you consider the confident way she spoke to so many people later.  We remember her determination for teacher training and how clear in her mind she was that she wanted to work with children.  When we saw her a few years later, qualified and with a job, she had decided to travel and we remember the fearlessness with which she was going to go and do that.  She was the same when we met after she was diagnosed, still very funny, always laughing, still so kind and looking for the best in everything and everyone…. And with that same determination to do the things she wanted to do. 

She is still such a huge part of this school; Buchanan House is full of photos, and hand-drawn posters and banners expressing the students’ love for Sadie: her inspiration is still so strong.

While our Royal Russell memories of Sadie may not be identical, they reflect that we all felt the same way about her as a pupil and a person.  In English, it often made me smile to mark her work: big, bold, girlie writing, easy to read, circles above her ‘I’s, instead of dots.  Sometimes, she drew it with a big heart.  And that’s how we remember Sadie most.




Richard Szuman

At School 1967-1993 (Retired Housemaster)

We are sorry to advise you that Mr Richard Szuman, retired Housemaster, very sadly passed away on 29 December 2014. Richard joined the school in 1967 and retired in 1993. He was Head of Biology and a very respected and popular Housemaster of St Andrew's House.

Malcolm Gamlen

At School 1953-1960

We were sorry to hear from Tony Millinger that Malcolm Gamlen had sadly died in September 2014.

If anyone can provide us with a photo or obituary, we would be very grateful.

Colin Johnson

At School 1944-1951

Once again it is my sad task for the second time this year to report the passing of one of our contemporaries. Colin Johnson (St.Andrew’s House) died peacefully in a coma on the morning of Wednesday, July 23rd, following a heart attack the previous day. He would have been 79 next month.

Colin and I only re-established contact in about 2008 through the OR Newsletter. We corresponded by e-mail (also exchanging jokes), became Facebook Friends and, when I was over for Headmaster’s Day in 2009, we managed to have a 40 minute chat on the telephone. It was an extremely pleasant, long-distance friendship, and a glowing example of how two people can come together after decades, considering that, while at Ballards, apart from a couple of rough, schoolboy encounters when I first came, and in spite of being in the same form, our contact was practically non-existent! When we re-established contact, Colin’s principal memories of the School were an ongoing feud with Matron Jenkins over her confiscation of certain foodstuffs from his parcels, and the misbehaviour of one or two older boys. Having read my “Ballards Days” memoir, he wrote to say how much he had enjoyed it, but saying also, “I am not as forgiving as you are”. He did also add, however, that John Killey was his favourite prefect. Nevertheless, he came across as a far gentler & more humorous personality than I had remembered him. Even now, I am not sure if his attendance dates at school are quite correct because if he attended Russell Hill, he would have been pre-1946. Nor do I recall him being amongst the group of us who left in Summer 1951, but his name does not appear on the School Roll of September of that year.

Colin told me that, after leaving Ballards, he completed his National Service in the RAF before being packed off to Canada. There he served 30 years as an officer & detective on the Toronto Police Force. He was medically retired in the late ‘80s due to cardiac problems. He had also been widowed in the meantime so decided to return to the Isle of Man in 1989, leaving his two grown-up children, grandchildren, and three step-children in Canada. In April of the same year, he met his second wife, Helen, and they were married in the October.  Helen remained his faithful companion to the very end. Our deepest condolences go to her and all Colin’s family.
Pat “Dog” Bruno-Bygate


Nilay Patel

At School 1985-1992

It is with deep regret that we inform you of the sad and sudden death of Nilay Patel who was Head Boy of Royal Russell in 1991-1992 and head of Crispin House. He suffered a virus in May 2014 that attacked his heart. He was a bright young man, who was a great sportsman, father of two (6 and 2 years old) and was a Consultant Urology Surgeon.

Please click here for words from his fellow Head Prefect Lakshmi Wijeyewickrema. 

The funeral was held at Oxford Crematorium on Friday 23rd May 2014. Any words of comfort can be sent to Sue Tanner

and she will ensure that they get passed on to Nilay's wife and family.

The School has received many tributes to this young man which they have passed on to his parents. Some can be viewed here:

Tribute from Ron Balaam (Headmaster 1981-1996)

Tributes from ex staff and O.R.s


Anthony Michael Mason (known as Tony)

At School 1963-1968

It is with sadness that we report the death of Tony Mason, who was a popular student at Royal Russell during the 1960s and who played a large part in the sports department. Our condolences go to his family and close friends.
We would welcome obituaries from Old Russellians that we can post here please.

Oleg (Alexey) Golovko

At School 1999-2003

We are extremely sorry to report the very sad death of Oleg Golovko on 15th April 2014. Whilst walking on the beach in Odessa, Oleg slipped and cut his head. He passed out and was found the next morning having drowned. Oleg would have been celebrating his 30th birthday in November 2014. Our very sincere condolences go to his family. Our very sincere condolences go to his family.
Revd Philip Tait (Chaplain and Head of R.S. at Royal Russell 2001-2006) writes this: Such a likeable, polite and easy-going pupil; it's a real tragedy for his family and all who knew him and they will all be in my prayers.




John Michael Sheppard Ayles (known as Mick)

At School 1946-1950

We are very sad to report the death on 27 November 2013 of Michael ("Mick") Ayles. He had been suffering from an extended illness for some months but died peacefully in a hospice at Bostall Heath, near to his home in Sidcup, Kent. Our deepest sympathy goes to his widow Sheila and to his family.

Additional words provided by Pat Bygate (at school 1946-1951): "I also knew Neb’s parents quite well, since both of them worked at Harrods while I was there from 1951-53. They once invited me to spend the weekend with them while Neb was on a weekend pass from his National Service duties. My parents moved out to Kent in 1955 so, living only in Sidcup, Neb used to pop down on his motorbike sometimes & drop in for tea. We would meet up occasionally at OR Dinners and, during the last eleven years, with the advent of e-mail, our contact had been much closer, although the last time we met was at the OR Dinner in 2002.
Neb was also unique in that he showed true Christian feeling by being the only boy to maintain regular contact with the extremely unpopular St.Andrews housemaster, Stanley J. Rendall, after his ignominious departure from Ballards in the summer of 1947. “Stan” was what we would call today a “Bible-puncher”, but seemed sadly incapable of practicing what he preached when it came to sparing the rod, or rather his hard, leather-soled slipper!! Neb reported that Stan actually married & became a father in later life. An experience which seemed to have mellowed him considerably. The friendship continued until Stan’s death in 1995 at the age of 95!"


Derek Green

At School 1942-1948

We are sorry to announce the sad death of Derek in September 2013.

Derek Roydon Green (Sat school 1942 - 1948), who died in September 2013, had the distinction of being one of life's cheeriest companions, both at school and later in O.R. activities. His humour stimulated fun at every event - weekend rambles, river trips, the annual November suppers and in O.R. teams for cricket, soccer and hockey fielded against school elevens. In earlier days - pre-social media and discos - he initiated with Keith and Rosemary  Angel  'Record Evenings' (yes vinyls!) at O.R. members' own homes where we would listen to each others' selected LP records of choice.  And Derek was among the starters of O.R. Club evenings with dancing, usually upstairs at central London pubs. He was a stalwart attendee of "Hotel Ballards". This was during the summer bank holidays when O.R.s were invited back to school, organising self-catering, sports, quiz-nights and rambling around the school woods and the Shirley Hills.

Derek is survived by his wife Pam, very much an 'honorary O.R.' herself, their daughters Janet and Carol, grandchildren and their great grandson. The funeral was in his hometown of Huddersfield.


Laura Clifford (née Coward)

At Russell Hill 1934-1939

We were sorry to hear that Laura Clifford (née Coward) at school 1934-1939 sadly passed away at Sunrise Senior Living, Purley, also in Russell Hill Road, just a few doors from Russell Hill School (now Thomas More School). Laura visited RRS in December 2012 and was most impressed with the new buildings and how friendly the Sixth Form were toward her. She can be seen here looking at her entry in the school register from 1934.



Eileen Isobel Sarll (married name: Fitzgerald)

At School 1937-1946

We are sorry to announce that Eileen FitzGerald (nee Sarll) passed away peacefully at home with her family on 6 June 2013, following a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease.
Eileen was at the School from 1938 - 45 (Rosebery). She married Desmond and returned to her home town, Cambridge. She had four children and eight grandchildren, and kept in contact with former members of the School. Her brother, Donald (1939 - 1943), also attended the School and lives in High Wycombe.

Pauline Lea (née Liley)
At School 1943 - 1951

We send condolences to the family of Pauline who died on 23rd April 2013.

Alex Sitnikov

At School 2002 - 2007

We are sorry to learn of the sad death of Alex Sitnikov who only left RRS in 2007 and has died at the young age of 23.

Mr Pat Hecks

School Governor 1993 - 2005

The Old Russellians were sad to hear of the death of a former Governor, Pat Hecks, who died on 9th February 2013 aged 78. As well as being a Governor of RRS he was also a former Governor at Croydon College and Purley Oaks School, and Mayor of Croydon in 1993.

Mrs Mary Faith Raeburn

English Teacher from 1982 - 1991

We have been advised that Mrs Mary Faith Raeburn who taught English at RRS from 1982 to 1991, died at home after a short illness, on Sunday 20th January 2013.



David Browning  

At School 1939 - 1945

We are sad to report that O.R. David Browning died towards the end of 2012.  Because of David's enthusiasm for his school days, his wife, Margaret asked Tony Ford (at school 1947-1958) to speak on behalf of the O.R.s at his woodland burial on 17th December, which he was pleased to do.  Tony's address is downloadable here. In the summer of 2011 Tony had visited David at his home in Hemel Hempstead and this was the first of their 'meetings' about their schooldays, albeit a decade apart from each other. Margaret said that their talks about the school brightened up David's last days in hospital. Read More.   ***** ***********************************************************

Brenda Fox  

House Staff Until 2006

We were sorry to learn of the death of Ms Brenda Fox, Housemistress of Queen's House from 2005 to 2006, following some years as Matron. We understand that Brenda died peacefully at her home in Cornwall during the Autumn of 2012.

John Stuart Willis

At School 1952-1961

We were very sorry to hear of the sad death of Old Russellian, John Stuart Willis, who died on 13th September 2012 after a long illness with cancer. John was just 69 years old. The Old Russellians Society would like to offer their condolences to John's widow, Shirley.

John W D Hughes

At School 1940-1946

We were sorry to learn of the death of John W D Hughes who died on 31st August 2012. Our sincere condolences to his wife Cynthia and his sister Joyce Hughes, also an Old Russellian. John's funeral was held on 13th September 2012.

Dale Wright

Wife of Lanky Wright and Matron at school 1947 - 1974

We are advised by Pippa, daughter of Dale Wright that her mother (William's wife) sadly died on 9th June 2012. Dale took over girls' boarding after William (known as Lanky) died and before that was House Mistress of St Andrew's. She stayed in contact with O.R.s such as Roger Ballaster, Ken Hewitt, Tony Warner, David Liley. The Old Russellians wish to express their condolences to Dale's family.

Keith Leslie Angel

At school 1937 - 1944

We are very sorry to announce the death of Keith Leslie Angel who was at school from 1937-1944, and was one of the longest serving members of the O.R. Committee, being Chairman from 1968-1970. Keith's wife, Rosemary, and his brother, Brian, are both O.R.s and were at his bedside, along with his younger daughter Helen, when he died on 30th May 2012. He was 84 years old. On leaving school in 1944, Keith became a keen participant on the social side and a very active member of the O.R. Committee. He married Rosemary in 1956 and they had 3 daughters, Susan, Janet and Helen, and lived in Worthing. The couple set up their own travel company in Brighton where they ran a very successful business for a number of years.

Dilys Birkett

Teacher at school 1946 - 1969

We were sorry to hear that ex teacher Dilys Birkett died on Friday 23 March. Dilys had given many years of service to the School. She had kept well and in good spirits, though she had moved into care before Christmas 2011 to Oaklands House in Reydon, Suffolk. Dilys had lived at Wangford in Suffolk for many years, close to the School where she had taught until retirement. At RRS she was Needlework and Domestic Science Teacher, and head of both Junior and subsequently Senior Hollendon House, joining The Warehousemen Clerks & Drapers' School in 1946 and leaving in 1969 from Ballards (now Royal Russell). Dilys had kept in touch with many Old Russellians and had greatly enjoyed attending events and meeting O.R.s at the reunion at Pam Barrable's farm in 2008.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been published.
Valerie Grover née Gill (at school 1942-1954)

James Dawes

Left School 2007, St Andrews

The Old Russellians were very sorry to hear of the passsing of James Dawes and wish to send their condolences to James's family on this sad occassion.


Brian Ward-Jones

At school 1944-1952

We are sorry to report that Brian Ward-Jones (Oxford House 1944-1952) passed away on 2nd January 2012. This photo shows Brian (seated 2nd from left) when he was an Oxford Prefect in 1952.