I don’t think many of you will remember me as I was quiet at school and quite happy to sit back and watch and listen to the rest of the class madness go on around me. You may, however, remember I ran Mr. Pusey’s 5th form lunch club in the youth centre building.
I read a member’s comments about how teachers shape your life and help make you the person you are today. Although I was not particularly any good at anything at school I loved every minute of my time at Mayfield. Mr. Weetch was one of my teachers and like everyone else in the class I was ‘dropped on like a ton of bricks’ and had my share of caning by The Right Honourable Gentleman for Ipswich. It was a very enjoyable year. Mr. Cutting was next, and my daughters love the story of when Mr. Cutting caned me for having my face. Yes, it’s true. Mr. Cutting was writing on the blackboard, turned to face the class, looked straight at me and said, ‘What are you smirking at Stothard. Share the joke with the rest of the class’. Instead of doing the sensible thing and remaining silent I replied, ‘I always look like this sir’. Mr. Cutting thought I was being cheeky and, as many of you know, he caned at the speed of a Gatling Gun. I managed to get away with six rapid strokes; on my non writing hand of course.
I always enjoyed Mr. Braham’s Art and Printing classes and really took to them. In my last year at Mayfield I spent a lot of time in the newly built printing room, setting up type for posters and other school printing. This interest led me to my first job in an advertising agency in London’s West End. I started as a messenger and went to South East Essex Technical College to do Graphic Design and Lettering. Thanks to Mr. Braham, I enjoyed my two years in advertising but it was thanks to Mr. Pusey’s love of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme and adventure that led me to join the London Fire Brigade at eighteen. When we started our DofE Gold Award we were sent by Mr. Pusey to Ilford Fire station, at the old Ley Street site, one evening a week for six weeks. About six of us went from 5E4. We introduced ourselves to the Station Officer in the appliance bay and during the introduction the fire bell sounded. Firemen appeared, sliding down the pole and through doors from every direction, jumped aboard the two fire engines and sped off into the damp night leaving us in a cloud of exhaust fumes. I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve got to do that’.
I was shocked and very sorry to read of the death of Richard Furlong. When I left the London Fire Brigade Training School I was posted to Whitechapel Fire Station and on one of the first fires I attended was in a cabinet makers in Shoreditch. Through the intense heat and thick smoke I heard a familiar voice, it was ex-Mayfield boy, Richard Furlong. Richard was called Twizzle by his brigade mates at Shoreditch because of his slim build and height. Whatever confronted us on the fire ground Richard was always cheerful and never down.
Richard Furlong did an outstanding job at the Moorgate tube disaster. Because of his slim build, he managed to squeeze through a gap in the train wreckage to get to one of the last survivors of the crash. She was a young City of London probationary policewoman. The WPC was trapped by her legs and Richard promised to stay with her until, unfortunately, she had to have a foot amputated in order to free her and save her life. Richard Furlong was awarded the British Empire Medal for his actions at Moorgate. I have a great picture of him at a spectacular fire in Whitechapel in 1972, which I’ll dig out and send in.
I was later posted to Stratford and Richard moved to Poplar, but spent some time with us at Stratford. At one fire we attended the crew was; Richard Furlong, Kenny Porter, Ted Jones and myself. The whole crew were Old Mayfieldonians.
Like Richard I was awarded the BEM for my fire service and I was also awarded The Royal Humane Societies resuscitation certificate twice for saving lives. I have not mentioned these awards to brag, but to share them with Mr. Pusey and Mr. Braham, and thank them for making me the man I am today.
I used to live in Dawlish Drive, opposite Pauline and Daryl Carpenter and Marilyn Bosworth. I was pleased to see Christine Hoye is now a member , one of our old gang, also Hazel Howells. I still keep in touch with Colin Boyce and Christine Wiltshire. I now live up in County Durham but I would love to come south to attend a reunion one day and swing the lamp.