During my four years at the school, Andrew made an immense contribution to my development academically and as a person.
As I studied English to A Level, was in Oxford House while he was Housemaster, and played in the First XIs in hockey and cricket (and was coached by him for two years in the football Second XI before moving onto the First XI at that time coached by Mike Kefford). There were many occasions when his help and guidance were sought and warmly welcomed, not least in my final year as House Captain and Head Boy. This was always given with due consideration, honesty and positivity.
I had the opportunity to meet up with Andrew and Lorna again after he had retired as he chanced upon a review in the local paper about a talk I had given while then working as a Countryside Ranger for Cornwall County Council. Needless to say, apart from the welcome chance to meet up again, my services were quickly engaged in doing a similar presentation to one of the clubs with which he was involved and I did overhear a comment to a fellow club member about how my achievements reflected the culture and traditions of a certain school where he had previously spent some time.
I arrived at that school in 1968 after my Dad’s sudden and early death the previous year, fulfilling his wish that boarding at the Royal Russell was the best way forward for me. He was very much a role model for me, as was his brother who continued to be a guiding light for many years until his death 10 years ago. The respect and admiration that I still hear in conversations about my father and uncle reflect my own feelings about them both. Andrew as a person and teacher, and all he did for me, can be measured to those same high and exacting standards. I can’t think of a more fitting tribute than to refer to the influence all three of them had on me in the same breath.
I got to know Andrew in my last two years at RRS (1965-67).
Unfortunately, he was never my English teacher, but it was from the sports’ field and on the school stage - and from an incident in a school corridor - that my memories stem.
Once in a cricket match, after I’d dropped a catch, he commented, ‘Never mind, Peter, it happens to the best of us. It happened to me, once.’ It was a characteristic, clever, kindly and amusing quip which helped to defuse my embarrassment.
And then, in a chance meeting in a corridor, after I’d cut my thumb badly, the question arose, whether I should play in the hockey team that coming week-end. When, with youthful bravado, I said I would, he mock punched me with encouragement. His obvious approval of my decision meant so much to me then that I remember it to this day.
Small things, but important to a boy growing up.
There were companionable times, too. After A' levels, in those halcyon summer days, after the effort of study, Dale Wright, a contemporary of Andrew's, put on ‘Arms and the Man’ and many of us sixth formers, about to leave the school, had the pleasure of acting alongside his Major Petkoff. Fun days, indeed.
And then, a year of two later, he wrote to me when I lay seriously ill in hospital. I’d scrawled a few lines to him in pencil on a scrap of paper, to which he replied ‘My only regret is that I can’t claim to have taught you English.’
Charm and kind generosity, indeed.
I’m sure there are many others who, unable to find the words at the time, grew into a better understanding of how important he had been, just when they needed it. He was intelligent, generous, amusing and optimistic. He made you believe in the best of yourself, that you were capable of good things.
Surely, the most profound and cherished gift that any teacher can bestow on his young charges.
Thank you, Andrew, for your encouragement, when I needed it most.
Sixty or so years ago the dynamic between teachers and students was not what it is today. We were fortunate at “Ballards” with our teachers, but I suppose we most readily took to Andrew because he was only fifteen years older than we were. I was lucky to have worked closely with him in my roles as captain of both the Hockey and Cricket elevens and benefited from his support, advice and humour.
Golf was not on our curriculum but when Andrew dabbled in it one or two of us joined him in hitting golf balls on the playing field. Soon he lent us clubs and left us to our own devices. We were eventually stopped from hitting balls over the dormitory block - fortunately before we broke any windows or killed anyone in the cloisters! So I suppose I can almost blame him for getting me hooked on golf. I once returned to play cricket for the Old Russellians and was lucky enough to score a few runs (unusual for me) and Andrew congratulated me after the match on the quality of my golf shots at the wicket!
Other fond memories include when he invited three of us to his home, after we had finished our A levels, to play Bridge and enjoy a few beers and cigarettes (for goodness sake don’t tell anybody!). Andrew was good enough to escort us back to our houses as it was quite late when we finished. Who were we? Well me, School and Cambridge House captain, the St Andrews House captain and the number two in Oxford house who was also Football captain. He made us feel that we were grown up!
When my wife and I were on holiday in Cornwall several years ago I telephoned Andrew and spoke to him and Lorna to arrange to see them in Lostwithiel. Unfortunately we could not fit it in on the days we had available. So it did not happen - which has been a matter of regret to this day. His telephone number is still in my mobile phone!
A lovely man, fondly remembered.
John Miles (1952-1960)
I had the fortune to be at Royal Russell from 1962-65 and to be taught or should I say encouraged in English and History by Andrew who was an inspirational instructor in both subjects. He nurtured my interest in literature and writing which has stood me in good stead since I left. In a classroom he could hold everyone's attention with ease and was always happy to discuss any topic with you afterwards.
On the cricket pitch he was an enthusiastic player for the Sunday 'Masters' team which sallied forth and played good village cricket throughout Surrey. As their official 'scorer' the position got me out of the school regularly but also gave me the opportunity to get to know Andrew better than most in a more relaxed setting. With his position in County Schoolboy hockey he managed to get most of the 1st team opportunities for county trials although as only Captain of the 2nd XI that didn't stretch down to myself - I'll forgive you Andrew!
But basically he was a thoroughly genuine man who could communicate his love and passion for his subjects with ease.
Nigel Scandrett J.P.
Andrew was my housemaster for all the time I was at Royal Russell and when he found out that I was "Mine Host" at the Cricketers Inn in Addington Village in the early 80's he promptly invited myself and my wife to a tea party on his lawn which he hosted with Lorna.
We were able to share many memories together, sitting in the sun outside his house. He had also been responsible for my career as an officer in the Merchant Navy in his role as Careers Master.
A sad loss of a remarkable man.
Anne and Brian Purchese (1956 - 1964)
I am writing from Tasmania. The tribute you’re sent is beautifully penned. The sentiments exactly recall those unforgettable times, a man who could move mountains, and as well mention of Mr Green, has reduced me to tears.
Thank you for sending this news to me. I didn’t know he retired to Cornwall, though I can imagine him being happy there and it sounds like he had a long and healthy innings.
Andrew Foot was to me an inspiring English Literature teacher who could take the characters in a text from the page and turn them into three-dimensional people who spoke directly to the reader.
He was my teacher in the Sixth Form (73-74) and the fondest memory I have of him was taken us literary sceptics through The Canterbury Tales. He revelled in Chaucer's bawdry which chimed perfectly with the mindset of a group of teenagers and ensured we persevered in grappling with the Old English narrative.
Thank you Andrew. You kindled a literary flame in me that still burns bright."
I was at RRS 1968 - 1976 which I found an enjoyable time and was there in 1972 when the School was threatened with closure.
Although I wasn't taught by Mr Foot, I knew of the respect that the pupils had of him and what a wonderful career he has had at RRS.
Mr Foot was deputy head master in my days, English teacher and a passionate cricket coach.
He was a great man, had a wicked sense of humour and a brilliant connection with the kids. The most memorable thing about him is that he really cared about us.
I was very fortunate in that I was in the first group of students who were taught A level English by him. There were only three of us in the group so we got to know him very well. We were so privileged to have him as he proved to be a wonderful teacher and mentor who expanded our horizons whist giving us a moral compass to guide us through the rest of our lives. Fortunate indeed to have had him teach us, RIP Andrew
Bobby Mason (nee Tainton) 1957-1967
He really was a great and inspirational teacher. My A grade at A level Eng Lit (when I only got C's in the other two) was really down to his influence, and certainly helped shape my future as I then went on to study English at Warwick Uni. I remember so well his kind, gentle manner and his sense of humour and of course his love of Shakespeare. To this end you may find the attached picture taken when we were performing in his production of The Merchant of Venice. I played Salerio, Madeleine Portia. It was probably around 1979 but the year is not given on the programme.
I was also interested to note that Andrew was involved in the Careers Service at shant (as we called Royal Russell back in the dark ages!). I have always marvelled at how accurate careers advice I was given there turned out to be. Having analysed my interests I was advised to consider Advertising and Tourism. The main part of my career was spent at The British Tourist Authority (as it was then known) as Advertising Manager..so the advice really was spot on!
It's always sad when someone passes away, but there is the happiness that Andrew lived a long and wonderful life which contributed so much to so many.
Although I have been remiss in not attending recent OR events, I really do intend to visit Royal Russell when a future opportunity arises. Hopefully with my very close and oldest pals Gillian Keenan and Zana Berryman who have been life long friends since our days as boarders in North House. We have often spoken of bringing our daughters along (hers is my god daughter and vice versa and they have heard so many stories about our school days!).
Many thanks again & kind regards.
Christine Samuels (formerly Bool)
Andrew Foot was a wonderful man with a classroom manner that simply reeled us all in, with both our affection and our admiration.
He was the first person I can recall who subtly bridged the gap between student and teacher, particularly amplified with his participation on the sports field, where he achieved an almost honorary role as “one of the boys”, whilst at the same time maintaining the utmost respect that his position merited. A difficult and rare achievement.
We had exceptional Staff, all special in their different ways, and I always felt that, to a person, they too all admired Andrew Foot as that very special person, a man who was totally dedicated to the School.
A true legend.
Roger Tallentire (1954-1961)
One of my most vivid and pleasurable memories of attending Royal Russell school was my A-Level English classes with Andrew Foot. All five of us would bundle into his small dark quiet office which regularly had the lingering aroma of tobacco from a sneaked in cigarette. Always smartly turned out in a tweed jacket and tie he delighted in reading Keats, Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, bringing their words to life like no other. His gentle quiet voice picked up all the nuances as he murmured through Keats and the onomatopoeia of Owen. I can still hear him now. Every session was an escape into another world. Without doubt he inspired me to love words and language – that’s what great teachers do.
Jeffrey Tribe (1976)
Andrew was the most important influence in my time at RRS. He seemed to be a real father figure for me after my father died when I was five. I actually became an English teacher - only retiring a couple of years ago - and his enthusiasm was part of that decision. The only field sport that I was sort of OK at was the one he looked after - Hockey. Even taking me for a trial for Kentish school boys. No - I didn’t get in as he said he withdrew from any decision involving me! I really admired him for that.
With best wishes,
I am indeed saddened to hear of Andrew Foot's passing.
Andrew Foot was inspirational to many and shaped so many young lives, with his ability to reach out to all with such respect.
Royal Russell and Old Russellian's will no doubt remember Mr Foot with great fondness; his legacy lives on!