Retirements and Long-Serving Staff Leavers

Mrs Maggie Clower / 1994 to 2015

School Librarian


Maggie arrived at Royal Russell in September 1993 to take charge of the School Library with its rickety fixed wooden shelves where currently computer rooms, C1 and C2 are located. There was not a computer in sight; instead a card catalogue provided details of books in stock including a masterpiece on Decoy Ducks – enough to drive any one quackers! Slowly she worked her charm on the Headmaster, Dr Jennings, and finally saw her dreams fulfilled. Building the new Library was part of the drive to push up results, increase the academic clout of the school as well as being a suitable means to celebrate the sesquicentenary. Over the years, she has introduced a large number of innovations: a computerised catalogue; the introduction of computers (initially with a 5p per minute internet usage – Maggie stood over users armed with a stop watch); Library induction courses; Library skills courses; lunchtime talks; a Library intranet site; developed online resources; weekend opening prior to exams; and visiting authors. She has been an excellent supporter of the English department, being very involved in promoting love of reading and organising writing competitions. We thank Maggie for making the Library a focal point of the school community, popular with both pupils and staff; for an atmosphere that balances pupil noise, behaviour and work ethic despite the challenges of the ‘hole’ in the ceiling; for her enthusiasm, energy, patience and tolerance, especially for those who forgot to return overdue books; for allowing and supporting the use of the Library as an excellent venue for so many events both during the day and in the evenings; and finally for promoting library skills and personal enhancement of the mind to several generations of Russellians. There is no Dewey category that covers, Maggie, for she is ubiquitous. We wish her a long and happy retirement as, sadly, Maggie has put herself out on permanent loan.


Mr John Piggin (XJP) / 1974 to 2013

Cambridge Housemaster | Director of MUN | Head of History

John was appointed by Mr Bradshaw to the History department and joined fresh from university in 1974. (To put that into context I was in Year 3 at the time). John quickly established himself as an excellent classroom teacher and was appointed Head of History in 1976. He moved on to become Housemaster of Crispin House and then of Cambridge House in 1985. In this position he established the house ethos that has seen Cambridge as one of the cultural and sporting centres of Royal Russell life.

Model United Nations is one of the outstanding areas of excellence at Royal Russell and we have developed an international reputation on the MUN circuit for the quality of our students and for the quality of our own Conference held here in October. MUN holds this position within the school as a direct result of his enthusiasm and leadership and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his outstanding contribution to the MUN and to the School over the past 39 years.

John is a passionate sportsman and he has communicated that love for football, hockey and cricket to generations of Russellians and still very much enjoys playing himself. John has led ski trips and expeditions, he has travelled far and wide recruiting new students and is always ready to volunteer to support the school. It is not at all surprising that John was one of the staff team that led the 66 mile walkers on the Vanguard Way and completed every step, although I understand he did travel home to his own bed each night!

Friendly, open and interested: John is deeply respected by his students, parents and by his colleagues and I have also witnessed some true Mr Piggin worship at Old Russellian events this year. It is no surprise then that John has needed two staff to replace him!

Chris Hutchinson, Headmaster

Mrs Julia Kirby-Jones / 2000 to 2013

Buchanan Housemistress | Head of Food Technology

Julia retires after a distinguished career which brought her to Royal Russell in 2000 as Head of Food Technology. She has inspired enthusiasm amongst students and set very high standards as well as being a published cookery writer.

Julia has been a positive influence on many and in particular on the competitive Buchanan girls as their Housemistress for the past 11 years. Always in the thick of it, Julia has contributed to numerous ski trips and African adventures and is now looking forward to her retirement with loyal husband Alan.

Chris Hutchinson, Headmaster


Julia served as a tutor, under the leadership of Keith Owens in Crispin House. She later took on the additional role as his deputy a year later. Over the next year Julia introduced creature comforts such as a TV and Hi-Fi in each of the tutor rooms; new sports kits,games at Christmas, a House stand in the Christmas Fair to raise funds for improved furnishings, amongst many other things. That was enough! She moved the following year to Buchanan House and has worked tirelessly to provide a safe well-ordered environment for the girls.

Not surprisingly the girls thrived within the caring environment where every birthday is marked, and all achievements are celebrated in the weekly house meetings. Julia gained a great deal of respect from pupils, parents and House tutors for the calm, confident and sensitive way in which she dealt with everything, paying attention to the details and always finding an answer to even the smallest of enquiries.

She may come across as polite and deferential – but give her a House competition to compete for and you will see another side to her. It’s no surprise to those who really know her that Buchanan girls walked away with a stack of trophies in her final year as housemistress.

As well as being an inspiring head and teacher of Food Technology, Julia is remembered for her contribution to the Senior School annual ski trip and her participation in the Kenya project; in both extremities of temperature and location, she still managed to uphold her role as the Audrey Hepburn of Royal Russell. Those who witnessed her abseiling down the Chapel tower dressed as a jester for the Vanguard Challenge will notice that not a hair was out of place!

Victoria Corcoran, Food Technology

Mr Bob Ellis / 1994 to 2013

Deputy Housemaster Oxford| Swimming Pool and Lettings Manager

Bob was appointed to Royal Russell as the swimming pool manager in August 1994 and soon moved to become the School Facilities Manager leading our lettings programme. Bob moved into Oxford House as Deputy Housemaster in September 2004 and has been a listening ear to many of the Oxford boys over that time and particularly as tutor to the younger boarders.

Bob had three boys – Ben, Andrew and James – who came through the school with great success and were outstanding sportsman and CCF members who went on to University to study Business, Art and Architecture respectively. Creative and inventive with a love of cooking and of the natural world, Bob was a major participant in the Kenyan visit, sitting round camp fires with the Maasi in Tanzania. 

He was an invaluable help on Geology trips and the Geography trip to Italy and has been a helping hand in many co-curricular activities. He has an exciting retirement planned around his home in North Yorkshire and his grandchildren in Brighton.

Chris Hutchinson, H



Bob’s main contribution to the school, as far as I am concerned, was as my Deputy in Oxford House for nine years.

Bob came to Oxford with no background in boarding or teaching. He threw himself into the job as House Deputy, acting as a right hand man to me and a father figure to the boys in the house. Bob was Oxford green through and through – his three boys were all Oxford boys as well. 

He was a great supporter of House Sport, in particular he coached the almost unbeatable swimming squad (8 wins and 1 second place in 9 years). Bob was also a real lover of house events, whether it was laying out the cakes for the Christmas ‘cake eating competition’, donning his black-tie for The Snowball, or manning the BBQ in the summer.

Bob’s 50 year working career started as a 15 year old miner in a South Yorkshire pit. It ended with heartfelt good wishes from some of the many boys he has influenced in his time in Oxford, both as Deputy and the Year 9 tutor. Enjoy your retirement Bob, you will be much missed.

Steve Greaves, Oxford Housemaster

Mrs Sue Addis / 2005 to 2013 

Teacher of Mathematics

Sue Addis joined Royal Russell in 2005 having previously been Head of Maths at Sedgehill School. She retired at the end of the summer term 2013 after 8 years of dedicated and expert teaching where she has given mathematical confidence to a whole generation of Russellians. 

Sue has been a great supporter of all school events and activities in particular of ‘Russell’s Got Talent’ and the School Play.

Chris Hutchinson, Headmaster

Dr John R Jennings / 1996 to 2011 


Dr John Jennings was educated at West Buckland School in Devon, where he was Head Boy in his final year. He studied Biology at Queen Mary College, London, and went on to complete his PhD thesis in Marine Biology.
Prior to becoming Headmaster of Royal Russell School, he taught Biology at Dulwich College, he was Head of science at Trinity School and from there he moved to Blackburn as Vice Master of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School. He joined RRS in 1996 and amongst his many achievements for the school, was his election to membership of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference in 2003. He also became Chairman of the London Division of HMC in 2009.

John and Sue Jennings along with their children Victoria, Thomas and Charlotte were resident at the school for 15 years and all 3 children were educated at RRS.
We would like to wish John a very long and happy retirement in their new home in Coulsdon and many happy days on their yacht and in their new boat.

Mrs Amy R Roseweir / 1985 to 2011 

Maths Teacher & Madden House Tutor

Although Amy started at Royal Russell as a teacher of maths and Deputy Head of Madden House, she was indispensible in the general community of the school. Amy sang in the Choral Society, she sat on the Parents’ Association committee, she was the Assistant Librarian, she taught extra maths to struggling pupils, and generally made herself available to anyone who needed help, from babysitting to cat sitting to setting up before, and washing up after, events to just being there for you!!
Amy not only retired in July 2011, but she also married The Revd Michael Field and will now move to Northwich with Michael for a well-earned retirement but we think she will be just as busy as ever! Good Luck Amy and God Bless you and Michael for your future together.

Mr Adrian Moore / 2008 to 2011 

Science Teacher

This is a brief tribute to Adrian and his contribution to the Physics department and Science in general. Adrian has been a great colleague and an exemplary teacher ever since he joined us three years ago. He has a never ending source of anecdotes, film clips, stories which bring colour to his lessons (and the chat with staff in between). He has been a great support to other teachers – always cheerful and ready to help a student or colleague in need. We have managed to coax him out of retirement for the last two years but failed this year. We all wish him a long and happy retirement – lots of happy hours in his aeroplane - and hope that he will join the growing band of ex RR teachers who appear on the premises from time to time.   

Celia Roe

Mrs Karen Ingrams / 1988 to 2011 

Year 4 Teacher & Director of Studies

After leaving Durham University with a degree in Geography, Karen studied Agriculture at Edinburgh University for an MSc. Karen first taught Rural Science, Biology and Physics in Suffolk. For a bit of adventure, for which she is renowned, Karen spent the next two years travelling around Afghanistan, India and Nepal and for a year taught English in Lahore. 

When Karen returned she decided to embark on a farming career! She worked in the Pentland Hills - lambing, sheering and dipping sheep. For a little variety Karen returned to London to work in a Casino off Park Lane. She worked on a project for North Sea Oil and went on to do a PGCE in Liverpool. Her teaching started in Skipton, North Yorkshire where she taught for five years and then a further year in London. 

What next you may well ask, well it was off to Islamabad, Pakistan where she became Head Mistress of a British School for a further six years. Now, most of us would not have covered half this impressive career in our lifetime, but then came working at Royal Russell. After two years, she was given the job of Director of Studies which she has done brilliantly ever since.

Karen has had such an interesting career but an even more adventurous personal life full of challenges such as travel, running marathons, climbing mountains, riding and walking to name but a few.

Karen will be sadly missed at Royal Russell and we offer her and husband Bernie our very best wishes for their adventures in India before returning to…let’s wait and see!



James C Thompson 
Junior School Headmaster

Pam Francis / 1999 to 2010

Reception and Year 1 Teacher  

Pam Francis came to Royal Russell in 1999 from Sanderstead Junior School. She worked in the reception classes for seven years and in Year 1 for the last four. Over the years Pam has given hundreds of children the best possible start to their school life. This has been borne out by the very many grateful parents who have always gone out of their way to express their gratitude over the years and indeed have continued to do so, especially on hearing of her impending retirement.

Pam is the consummate professional, always going the extra mile to help the children in her care to achieve their potential. Her wonderful enthusiasm for nature has enthralled the children allowing them to look at the world through new eyes. Her amazing creativity has inspired children and colleagues alike! 

Pam is also gifted at sewing and needlework and her latest creations, making bird costumes, helped to make Year 1's assembly this year a visual delight.

Pam has been a kind and supportive colleague and she will be missed by us all, but we wish her a long and happy retirement pursuing all her many varied interests.


James C Thompson 
Junior School Headmaster

Liz Howard / 1999-2009

Head of Learning Support

Liz Howard provided excellent individual support and encouragement throughout her 10 year period at Royal Russell School. This time enabled pupils to optimise their skills and progress successfully through the school. 

Sandy Gavin & Marion Gooch / 1988-2009 

Year 3 Teacher & Learning Support

The Junior School said “Farewell” to Mrs Sandy Gavin who has taught Y3 since 1988 and to Mrs Marion Gooch from the Early Years part of the Junior School who was the classroom teacher for Y1 from 1988 and latterly has been responsible for the Learning Support teaching. The Headmaster, Dr John Jennings, says in his summer term newsletter “I am very grateful to both Mrs Gavin and Mrs Gooch for their outstanding service to the school. A whole generation of children have benefitted from their enthusiasm and expertise and we hope that they will remain frequent visitors to the school.” 

Rose Gedney / 1997-2009

Head of Geography

Rose retired in July 2009 after 12 years at Royal Russell, during which time she has been Head of our dynamic and successful geography department. She has organized a wide range of school visits with a focus on volcanic experiences, offered step aerobics for the sixth form, built stage sets for school plays and has organized a wide range of activities which have raised over £40,000 for cancer research. 

Ian O'Brian / 1991-2009

Head of Games & PE

Ian retired in July 2009 after 18 years. He joined us from Bexley Grammar School in 1991 as Head of Games & PE. During his time as Head of Department he has managed the building of the swimming pool, the levelling of West Pitch and the extension of the Sports Hall. The school has established a reputation for outstanding sportsmanship in the full range of competitive sports, bringing us to the forefront of competitions in Croydon, Surrey and occasionally at National Level. Our pupils enjoy a wide variety of Sport which is an essential part of their physical development. PE has also been introduced as an academic subject in its own right with pupils now studying PE at GCSE and A level. 12 years ago Ian took over as Housemaster of Keable House. Under his direction the House has an excellent welcoming and supportive atmosphere, and has been thriving in inter House competitions. 

Chris Hedges / 1987-2008

Headmaster Junior School

Chris joined Royal Russell in 1987 as Head of the Junior School. He took the school from 125 pupils starting at age 7 to a massive 300 starting at age 3. He and his family lived in the grounds of the school and became part of our very close community. Both his children, Victoria and Andrew are now Old Russellians with families of their own. Chris and Hazel look forward to spending more time with their growing family and living a new life in Westgate on Sea. We wish them both a very happy and healthy retirement. 

Shirley Brewer / 1988-2008

The Uniform Shop

For more than 20 years Shirley had been looking after the uniform of RRS pupils. Initially she worked in the boarding girls' sewing and laundry room and latterly she was responsible for kitting out the entire school with uniform in the uniform shop. The school shop and ‘fitting room' was in the block behind the Dining Hall. The school shop had to be demolished to make way for the new building.

There will be many staff, students and parents who will miss Shirley's happy smile and willingness not just to sell uniform but also to repair kit, make curtains and do 1001 other jobs that require a ‘needle and cotton'. Shirley was given a fond farewell on the Chapel Quad surrounded by friends and family. We all wish Shirley the best for the future. 

Peter Moore / 1992-2006

Deputy Head Senior School

The first time I drove into Royal Russell School, I was apprehended by Peter, who was busy supervising a fire drill in the drive by the Junior School. He informed me not to move until he said so -- and that has pretty much been the case ever since!
Peter was directly responsible for the management of the academic staff and pupil discipline, a task which he performed very efficiently but with a good slice of humour! He was a great fan of Monty Python, and in the spirit of ‘What did the Romans do for us?', I ask the question: ‘What did Peter do for Royal Russell?' The staff will not forget his outrageous jokes in the Common Room at break; I'm still dreading further punchlines of the Hunchback of Notre Dame joke. Equally, I am concerned how we will maintain staff morale without the wave of elation that passed through the Common Room on the day he announced that he had ironed his last shirt of the term! He was renowned for the originality of his anagram and caption competitions for the staff, the winners always being suitably rewarded with a bottle of fine French wine. His colour-coded ties enabled staff to know whether it was an Entrance Exam day or not. And who could forget his annual decree to the School on whether the snow was suitable for snowballs?

Yet all this pales into insignificance when compared with his enormous contribution to the cultural life of the School as he succumbed to his annual desire to dress up in a startling array of costumes in the staff Christmas Review. He relished the pantomime atmosphere: ‘Oh yes he did!' The only thing I won't miss is the ‘speaking thermometer' which would start each day by telling me the temperature in Nice.

On a more serious note, the pupils' health was always close to Peter's heart, and the smokers will miss their regular meetings with him in the bushes around the grounds. Peter's work with detentions often made him unpopular with the pupils, but we must be the only school in the country to get public recognition in the form of the Croydon Environmental Award for litter collections in local roads by detainees under his direction. As I sit I my corner office, I shall certainly miss the reassuring sound of a high-pitched engine followed by a blur of French number plates –- designed to confuse the witnesses and speed cameras -- as Peter set off round the grounds in pursuit of a hapless miscreant whose number was up!

As Peter set off at the end of the Summer Term to walk to his home in the South of France, the staff were pleased to equip him with the striped pullover, beret and string of onions required to integrate with the natives. I am most envious of his chosen location for retirement, having visited him there in the past. His house is just out side Grasse and has a delightful balcony that looks out over the rolling hills leading down to the Mediterranean Sea in the distance. Once settled in France, he will be free to pursue his love of rocks, wine and lobsters; but even he admits this may not be enough to fill his time, so he has been trained as an inspector in the new structure of school inspections and will return to England to harass those of us left at the chalk face!
His love of the great outdoors may also inspire him to reappear for our A level Geology field trips, Year 4 walks on the South Downs and, perhaps, another World Challenge trip, just as long as it includes a trip down a gold mine!

I am sad that the time came round so quickly for Peter's retirement. Peter is a distinguished mathematician and an excellent Deputy Head. We all benefited from his extensive experience, his hard work and his commitment, which were essential ingredients in the success the School has enjoyed, with improving exam success and HMC membership. Peter was an excellent colleague and friend throughout the ten years I have been at Royal Russell, and I am sure that it won't be long before I find an excuse to drop in on him in France to make sure that he is managing to fill his time constructively. 

Dr J R Jennings



Shaun Lightman / 1973-2006

Teacher & Housemaster

Shaun arrived at Royal Russell thirty-three years ago, four months before the School so nearly went bankrupt: I don't think the two events were connected. He has played a major part in the renaissance of the School since his arrival.
Over the years he has taught PE and R.E., his original subjects, as well as History, Social Studies, Economics and Public Affairs, Citizenship, PSHE, and Commerce. He also, of course, set up and ran the highly successful Business Studies Department. One of his major contributions has been on the pastoral side of the School. He was House Tutor and later Housemaster of Transition House, the house for Year 7 and Year 8 students only. He was Boarding House Tutor of Oxford – appointed one day before the beginning of term and expected to move in within twenty-four hours! Later, he became Deputy Housemaster of Crispin and Housemaster of Madden – then situated down in today's Junior School.
Then there were the many activities he helped with or ran: Young Enterprise, Cross-Country, Dancing Club, Chapel and many sports teams, including of course his beloved athletics, where he was spotted every year in his Commonwealth Games jacket.
Apart from Shaun's many, many achievements at Royal Russell, he remained our most eminent sportsman. And what a record: 1961 world junior record holder; 1967 British 50-kilometre champion and ninth in the World Championship; eighteenth in the 1968 Mexico Olympics and sixth in the 1970 Commonwealth Games. He has kept going, coming fourth in the world over-55s in 1999 and breaking the 5,000-metre Polish all-comers' record for the over-60s in 2004.
Shaun will be just as busy in his retirement as President of the Surrey Walking Club, Day Chaplain at Southwark Cathedral and much more. We wish him the best for the future. 

Simon Keable-Elliott