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NEWS > 1574-2024 Anniversary Features > Ken Walter CGS 1944 - 1951

Ken Walter CGS 1944 - 1951

In our school's 450th anniversary year, we are so pleased that alumnus Ken Walter celebrates his own anniversary in 2024 - it's 80 years since he started at Cheltenham Grammar School!
The First XV Rugby Team 1950-51 (Ken Walter, front row, second in from left
The First XV Rugby Team 1950-51 (Ken Walter, front row, second in from left

I had no idea what to expect when I walked through the Cheltenham Grammar School High Street gates in September 1944 complete with new uniform and mortarboard.

I was a very nervous boy aged 10 and had passed the scholarship from Holy Apostles Junior School, Charlton Kings, with two other pupils. One was a lad called Brian Buckle who was an evacuee but returned to London with his family after the War. The other was David Young who I had met in 1938 and to this day is still my oldest friend and we still meet up regularly.

To me the start was overwhelming; I had little confidence and should probably have started a year later. I recall vividly not understanding much of what was being taught e.g. What is a right angle? - never heard of it. There was a ritual of new boys being ducked under the tap in the school playground accompanied by a little bit of bullying which was soon sorted out.

Because the War was still on, many of the Staff were females and very understanding, but a ' cuff around the ear ' (and sometimes much harsher punishment) was commonplace from some of the male teachers. Somehow, by the third year, I knew what was expected of us boys and understood how the School worked. The end of Term appraisals (known as inquests) were absolutely terrifying when you stood before the Head, Form Master and a couple of others who were very critical if your work hadn't been up to scratch.

I managed to pass the Bristol University School Certificate but did not progress to University as there were only a few universities in existence and these were reserved for the brightest. The School did however, send quite a number to them as there were some very clever boys at the School.

The War was still being fought but I can't really remember being affected too much by it except for sticky brown tape being stuck to the windows in case they were shattered and also sandbags in the corridors. Everything else proceeded as normal as possible including School dinners supervised partly by ' Lovsey' the Caretaker, who hovered at the entrance to eject any naughty boy.

Sport, especially Rugby and Cricket, played a huge part in my school life. I have to thank teachers Horace Cooke, Illtyd Pearce and Joe Curtis for their encouragement and support. Incidentally, Illtyd played scrum half for Cheltenham RFC (the Town) and it was my privilege to partner him at half back just after I left School at 17 years of age. A month or so earlier he had been teaching me.

Apart from David Young I am also in regular close contact with John Western (1943-48) and Tony Forth a couple of years younger who was best man at my wedding.

Summing up, and what I can remember in 2024 after the initial wobble, is that my school experience was tremendous and after staying in the Sixth Form for two years I very reluctantly had to leave as I was 17 and National Service awaited me.

 

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