"http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd"> '60 D of E

Downer's Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme Activities


Compiled from Jeff Lewis’s and Andrew Forester’s contributions to the 'DGSEUK' web site on the, now defunct, 'groups.MSN' service.

The Award Scheme started in 1956 as a test that anyone should be able to pass if they tried.  It consisted of doing a hobby for 6 months, a first aid course, some community work (quite a few helped my dad at the local Spastics Centre gardens which had become overgrown) and the best bit of all was the expedition of 3 or 5 days depending on whether it was for the Silver or Gold.  Each section had its own records and tests.  Downer started the Scheme in November 1959 with 'Nobby' Clarke in charge and many teachers helping.

Expeditions were on foot or by canoe.  I can remember canoeing the River Avon with Warwick castle towering above us.

Starting off

'Nobby' Clarke’s poor old car, how did it manage so many canoes?

Looking out of the main gate towards Shaldon Road. L>R are Andrew 'Fuzz' Forester, Julian Clarke, Mr Douglas 'Nobby' Clarke, Dennis Sandor and ?

The canoes were made in the school’s woodwork shop - led by Peter Davies - after-hours, some for the school and some by boys who wanted their own.  They were wood and plywood frames covered in canvas and painted.  Oh did they rip easily.  They were used in the Duke of Edinburgh’s (Gold) Award Scheme three-day expedition along the River Avon from Chesford Bridge past Warwick castle to Offenham.

Duke of Edinburgh's Silver Award winners and teachers 1960.

This photo was taken in the woodwork shop sometime after the November 1960 presentation of Silver Awards.  Some are wearing their award lapel badges.  We were the first group to complete the Scheme at Downer.  In all 25 boys passed, so some are missing from the photo.  Aren't we tidy in our Sixth Form uniforms?  They are black blazers not the maroon (which I quite liked) of the juniors.

I have numbered them clockwise from back row left and ending with the front row master, Peter Davies (with his hands behind his back).

Back row from the left:
1. Geoffrey Gibbons
2. Herbert Garner
3. Stuart Lewis
4. Roger Sweet
5. Geoffrey Ridgway
6. Julian Clark
7. Dennis Sandor
8. Jeff Lewis (me with glasses, wish I had that much hair now)
9. M Kennedy
10. John Lowth
11. Tony Lancelot (slightly forward of back row)
12. Michael Mancktelow
13. Robert Head
14. Mr A Stuart ? the geography master.
15. Mr Douglas 'Nobby' Clarke the RI (Religious Education) teacher who was in charge of the award scheme at Downer.

Front row R>L:
16. Mr J J Gorsuch, biology master
17. I D New
18. Michael Patterson
19. Chris Thornton
20. Paul Blakeley
21. Richard 'Ricky' Houghton
22. Gordon Searle
23. 'Flash' Cornes, PE (Physical Education) teacher - what other nickname could you give someone with a prominent gold tooth?
24. Mr Peter Davies, the woodwork master (see 'aside' below).

Did the Scheme and these teachers continue at Downer into the 1960s and 1970s?

The first Gold Awards were presented in late 1961 or early 1962 at St. James's Palace to ten boys - P Blakeley, J Clarke, H Garner, R Head, T Lancelot, J Lewis, S Lewis, M Mancktelow, I New and G Ridgway.

Four years into the scheme there were 750 winners that year, too many for the Duke of Edinburgh to present the badges and diplomas individually, so we were all lined up zigzag fashion and he toured the lines 'inspecting the troops', speaking to a random few and the badges were handed out later.  It was partly a disappointment that I had not met him personally and partly relief as I was scared-stiff he might talk to me.  I can only remember thinking how bald he was.

And no, after 40 years I didn't remember all this, my mum saved newspaper clippings from the Harrow Observer and Daily Mirror from which I pieced this together with my own memories.  She also saved my canoeing expedition notebook, Award record book and even my School Report books.

It is only in later life that one realises how much of their own personal time staff spent organising this; I took it for granted at the time.  Initially only boys took part but, being a co-ed school, the girls joined-in soon after.

Now my little aside: Peter Davies, the woodwork master, was supervising a PE lesson when 'Flash' was away.  To us boys he seemed very old (I later found out he was aged only 28) and some were ragging him about being old and unfit.  They didn't know he played rugby at a reasonably high level.  Anyway, he sat on the floor at the bottom of the 25 feet climbing ropes, back straight and legs straight-out in front and, like a circus performer, used only his arms to climb to the top of the rope - still with his legs straight out.  Everyone was really impressed and tried to copy him without success - you need real muscles for that.

© Jeff Lewis August 2000

But maybe there were a host of muscle-bound woodwork masters at Downer:
The guy who silenced the class when he ascended the rope, hands only, legs at right angles, was… Francis Bernard Lock!  The fact that FB Lock was so unathletic (i.e. short and fat) was what made the feat so gobbsmacking.  I have never forgotten the stunned silence that followed “baldy” ascending and descending at right angles!  That is why we were all for ever in awe! - Geoff Ridgway

Jeff's Cutting


Photographs from D of E '60 and '61 (Snowdonia)

© Andrew Forester

L-R: Eddie Clayton, Mick Patterson, Geoff Ridgway, Ivor New, Paul Blakeley, Jock Brown, unidentified, Jim Laxton with Douglas Clarke in foreground
Back Row L-R: Geoff Gibbons (?), Nigel Dimmock, Geoff Ridgway, Jock Brown, Ivor New.  Front Row: Eddie Clayton, Andy Forester, Mick Patterson (head), Mike Mancktelow, Paul Blakeley (head), Jim Laxton.  The RH head in the front row has been a mystery for some time but now Paul B. has officially claimed it!

L-R: Jim Laxton, Mike Mancktelow & Eddie Clayton cooking what passes for food, namely Bully Beef + Swell, Pom and Oxo.  Swell was freeze-dried mixed veg and Pom f.d. potato.  The veg' reconstituted with stream water in which numerous sheep had pee'd, poo'd and died, flavoured with Oxo and mixed with a can of bully were standard rations...
1960 - Top of Moel Tryfan L-R: Mike Mancktelow, Roger Sweet, Geoff Ridgway, Paul Blakeley, Chris Thornton, Andy Forester, Gordon Searle, Nigel Dimmock, Geoff Gibbons.