Written by Rick Harmes, OG’68

Inspirational teachers can have a profound and lasting influence on their students. At 18, school leavers often don’t have the maturity or self-confidence to express their appreciation properly to their teachers, particularly if they are waiting for exam results and are wary of tempting fate! However, in our case, the search to track down two inspirational teachers half a century later has, we think, been highly rewarding for all concerned.

Nigel Watson’s official portrait of SGC notes (p.89) that ‘by the early 1960’s almost every one of the teaching staff was a graduate, and there were some outstanding teachers among them. John Hindley was a witty and scholarly teacher of classics for 15 years until his departure… Jim Donnelly, appointed in 1961, was an exacting teacher of modern languages for more than 30 years’. As former students of these outstanding pedagogues, we were excited in May 2018, at our 50 year reunion at the College, to discover that after so many years it might still be possible to track them down and meet with them again.

In August 2018 we met Jim Donnelly (92) for lunch at the Queen’s Head in Weybridge. Jim was accompanied by his son Paul (OG’79). He seemed very pleased to be regaled by stories of his most memorable quips, including his characterisation of rugby at St George’s as ‘la religión del colegio’.

(From left to right: Chris Steele, Rick Harmes, Jim Donnelly, Glen Cawdeary, Paul Marley.)

Earlier this year four OGs visited John Hindley (94) at his care home in Perranporth, Cornwall. John and his family moved to Cornwall in 1975 when John took up post as Head of Classics at St Austell College. Our visits to him were arranged by his son Martin (OG) and by his daughter-in-law Barbara.

Now that we have re-established contact with these inspirational figures from our school days, each of us will maintain contact with them in our own way. But these ventures into our shared past have brought us closer together too. We will now continue meeting, either as the ‘linguists of ‘68’, or as the classicists of that year.

(From left to right: Peter Kornicki, John Hindley, Paul Marley)

*We are sad to announce that John Hindley died at his care home in Perranporth, Cornwall on Boxing Day. Our thoughts and prayers are with friends and family during this sad time.

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