Andrew Foot - Tributes
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)
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.
Remembering a humorous gentleman and one of my favourite teachers. I have never used red ink or used the word ‘nice’, both forbidden by him. One of my fondest memories of him was when he would ask us if we had read a book, and we would reply ‘no, but I have seen the film’. RIP, Mr Foot.
Neil D. Isard, pupil at Royal Russell, 1964-1972
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)
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!
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 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,
Have only just stumbled on this news and it brought back a flood of memories on my short but enjoyable time at RRS.
Mr Foot, was deputy head when I got there and although he never actually taught me, I remember him as being one of that cadre of teachers at the school at the time, that exuded calm professionalism and had the ability to perform that magic balancing act of being able to be friends with the students whilst effortlessly maintaining their respect.
Thanks for the memories and congratulations on a great innings.
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
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)
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 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.
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)
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.
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 remembered by Andy and Dave King
Mr Foot was our House Master in Oxford House from 1969-1974 (Andy) and 1971-1976 (Dave). Both of us remember him as a kind, fair and inspirational figure, in a quiet and restrained way. Our frequent misdemeanours (invariably being caught smoking) were always equably punished and achievements rewarded in the same measured way. He also had a great sense of humour and fun.
He taught both of us History and English at different stages through to A Level and encouraged each of us on reaching the Sixth Form to attempt the Oxford University entrance exam as well as other academic endeavours. He was tremendously supportive of our efforts each year in the then annual Elocution Competition. Dave also built a very good relationship with Mr. Foot when acting as scorer for the Cricket First XI in 1976, a very successful season for the school in that famously dry and hot summer.
More than this, however, we remember him for demonstrating through his teaching that there were other ways of seeing the world than the liberal philanthropy that underpinned the school’s philosophy then, without ever undermining it. He, and English teacher Eric Hester (‘Eric the Red’), were the only staff who helped us to discover the ideologies to the left of centre. We both particularly recall lessons given over to studying different newspapers’ interpretation of the news and the quick dawning that they weren’t simply reporting it. Journalistic spin was compared with the ways in which authors of fiction lead us to believe in their characters and stories. The point was nicely made.
Andy: He taught History with an eye to including the stories of ordinary people and questioning the traditional narratives around historical events. That inspired me to follow History: first at University and then in a career as a curator in social and industrial history museums from which I have just retired.
Dave: Similarly his advocacy of a humanistic consideration of any problem was inspiring: I particularly remember him pointing out the importance of ‘standing in someone else’s shoes’ as we studied ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, trying to view the world from different perspectives rather than assuming only one way was the right way. I never forgot Mr. Foot’s passionate love for literature while I was studying for an English degree, nor his fairness and good humour when I was working in many different teaching situations subsequently.
Andy: I also remember Andrew Foot quietly supporting my (unsuccessful) attempt to set up a branch of the National Union of School Students - probably always a doomed endeavour at Royal Russell but it speaks volumes for Foot’s qualities as an educator that he allowed me to do it.
After he retired, he occasionally visited our mother, a fellow schoolteacher who also lived in Cornwall - a very kind gesture. We regret that we never managed to coincide with these visits, both engaged in careers far from Cornwall, as we would have liked to tell him what an inspiring figure he had been for us both.
Schoolteachers whom you admired and respected, and remember with fondness and gratitude, are thin on the ground. The kindly, warm-hearted and sentimental 'Mr Chips' of fiction is a rarity in real life. Andrew Foot was an exception. As an original and inspirational teacher of English and Drama, and a talented and exemplary cricket and hockey coach, his extended influence on both the pupils he taught at Ballards and the school's survival, evolution and administration are legendary and well documented. His influence on me and my generation has been especially profound and long-lasting, a debt some of us were pleased to be able to acknowledge in his later years.
Andrew was still in his mid-twenties when I arrived at Royal Russell in the 1950s. He had joined the staff in time to correct a serious accusation against my father, who was Secretary of the school at a questionable time in its governorship. This was an early indication of his innate integrity, and the skill and determination which underpinned his successful efforts to save the school when its very existence was later threatened. In a sense, he became the heart and soul of the school through his longevity and dedication.
I was not one of Andrew's academic pupils, but my best friend at school (as he still is), Bob 'Tigger' Betts, recalls as a fourteen-year-old being entranced by his narrative skills in bringing Mr Pickwick and his companions - Sam Weller, Tracy Tupman, Nathaniel Winkle et al - vividly to life with a variety of accents and gestures. A class cricket and hockey player himself, he turned us both into decent sportsmen, gaining us County qualifications on the hockey field, and instilling in me a love of cricket which has never faded: I still play, at the age of 81 - and for Surrey no less!
Most importantly, perhaps, Andrew treated us, in our senior years, as adults, and - when A-level exams were finally over - welcomed us into his home where he and his wife, Lorna, were unstinting hosts. He sometimes persuaded the genial history master and ex-war hero, Major Crispin-Smith, clandestinely to join us, such was his charisma. It was that transition, as much as anything, which made us want to stay in touch over the decades, and in the last dozen years or more, Tigger and I have made frequent visits to Andrew's retirement cottage in Cornwall to share a pub lunch and a few beers, along with reminiscences of Ballards. He flatteringly called us his favourite students, but I suspect he said that to all the boys.
We were lucky, of course, to encounter Andrew and experience his gifts as both a teacher and a human being when there were not many years between us, enabling us to enjoy his companionship, not just as pupil and teacher, but as a lifelong friend. Needless to say, we shall miss him deeply.
Clyde Jeavons, with Bob Betts