The Prescotian Webzine

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Charles Middlehurst by Geoffrey Dixon

Old Boys and former staff will be saddened to hear of the death of Charles Middlehurst He was a pupil of the school during the late twenties. I remember him in the English group in the sixth form, a sturdy self-contained boy - certainly no extrovert. He contributed to school life in many ways. He was a fine footballer and a successful athlete - his record for the 220yards stood for many years after he had left. I remember with pleasure his performance of Sir Anthony Absolute in 'The Rivals', our first play. He proceeded to Sheffield University where he read English and was awarded a Master's degree. He entered the teaching profession and saw service in several Lancashire schools.

During his war service he met and married his Welsh-speaking wife, Netta. When a vacancy occurred the school was pleased to appoint him to assist in the English department. Charles loved to tell the story, and he had many stortes, stemming from his wife's fluent Welsh. Having heard the rather personal remarks of garage attendants in Welsh, she would make suitable reply in the same language. It was sad she fell victim to spinal trouble, caused initially by a simple fall. Continuous medical treatment seemed to aggravate her condition and she spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair, Netta was a vivacious character, an ideal foil to the more sober Charles, his devotion to her welfare throughout her illness was exemplary.

The football team was very successful under his leadership, winning the Secondary Schools Shield in 1944 Charles continued to render valuable service to the English department, the dramatic society and the general hilarity of the staffroom. His comments upon the idiosyncracies of his pupils (and of his colleagues) were devastating: No staff meeting was complete without some wry judgment from Charles. I have heard many tributes from former pupils to his high standards, his fairness (nobody escaped), his firmness and, above all, to his mordant wit. It was the outrageous beliefs of apparently normal people which continued to amaze him - the Flat Earth Society was a frequent butt of his scorn. He appeared to be the embodiment of common sense

However this does not truly represent the whole Charles Middhrtturst Over the years I caime to value his advice on both personal and professional matters. Charles had feelings though they were well under control. A few years ago he met again the lady to whom he had been engaged in his student days. As he put it, lightning did strike twice in the same place and they planned to marry. Charles's friends are grateful to Gladys McBeath for providing him with some happiness at the end.

Our sympathy goes out to her on waht is virtually a second widowhood.

Charles Middlehurst had many of the qualities which go to the making of a good schootmaster. I can think of no higher praise.


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