1. John King ('58 - '62)
[This wasn’t prepared in advance, so I’m just trying to reproduce what I blurted out on the spur of the moment!]
Fifty years ago this month I started at Shrigley – on the first day of the new academic year, the 6th, to be exact.
In many ways I was rather untypical material for Shrigley to work on. Unlike many of the boys who went there at the age of 11 or 12, I was already approaching my 15th birthday. Two of my main interests were girls and pop music.
Again unlike the majority of new entrants, who had been Catholics since baptism at least 11 years ago, I had been a Catholic for only 1 year 5 months! I had been baptised in April 1957 in the chapel at the Salesian house in Aberdour. (Donald MacDonald who is here today, was also there then!) I had immediately expressed an interest in becoming a Salesian, but was told I’d have to be a Catholic a bit longer!
(I could perhaps add at this point – because it also makes me a bit different from most “old boys”, and although it's maybe somewhat audacious to say so in the present company – that by the time I was 30 I was no longer a Catholic. This was not because I lost interest in religion. My life has always been a spiritual quest and continues to be so. It’s just that my path did not continue to coincide with the Catholic way. It goes without saying that I have total respect for those who continue genuinely and out of conviction to find that theirs does.)
The following Easter, 1957, I came with a group of boys to spend a week at Shrigley. I was instantly caught up in the wave of high, happy energy that ran tangibly through the place. I was particularly impressed by the enthusiasm and humour two clerics, Bro. John (Darwell) and Bro. Eric (Baggaley, sitting here in the front row!). And, as I’ve said, I came back as a Form IV boy in the September.
Unlike my form-mates, all but one of whom had 2 or 3 years at Shrigley behind them, I had done very little housework! That was about to change!Also unlike them, I had played very little football and was hopeless at it.
I quickly discovered that my companions were not, shall we say, “picky” eaters – unlike yours truly, who’d hardly touched vegetables and many other foods. Within two weeks, the prospect of starvation had transformed me into a voracious omnivore!
So I was in some ways atypical material. What effects did the experience of Shrigley have on this material?
There were many, and I’ll mention only three of them.
For one thing, I have always said that no boy was happier at Shrigley than I was. (Equally happy they might well be, but none was happier.) Like all other boys I had certain talents, whose full development was wholeheartedly encouraged by the regime and by the staff. In my case these included music (violin-playing and singing) and drama; and I was also good at some academic subjects, especially English and languages. Other aspects were also developed, however: sporting ability, physical fitness, ability to tackle manual work, etc.
Secondly, I absorbed something that I only later learned to identify and describe to myself. It was summed up in something that in later life I heard a very wise man say. Happiness cannot be sought or acquired directly. Happiness is a by-product of totality. Doing something with total energy and attention is what gives a feeling of happiness. This enthusiasm was the feature of Shrigley life that had irresistibly drawn me, whether the activity was work or play or prayer or whatever.
Lastly, people related to one another at what I would call the level of the heart. When we arrived here for this reunion weekend, this can still be felt when men greet one another: when they say “It’s really good to see you!”, you sense that this comes from their heart and they really mean it. I think another word for it is love.
Fr. Felix died on May 11, 2009 and tributes to him may be seen on our MEMORIES page
2. Fr. Felix Glowicki S.D.B.
Fr. Felix intended this e-mail to Mike Kilduff to be used at the Reminiscenses during the 2008 reunion
Dear Mike and all my dear friends of the happy years we spent together at
Shrigley, it was there that my vocation developed, it was there that it grew
under the loving care of the Holy Spirit, it was there that I met so many
wonderful friends - YOU to help me grow as a happy, fulfilled and active
Salesian. Although most of you have not reached the goal of the priesthood,
nevertheless you, too, are Salesians.
My last and only attendance of our re-union some years ago, has shown me
how deeply you appreciate the training we received, and how happy and how
proud you are as Salesian Alumni - now involved in your own environment as
apostles of Christ in the Church and as followers of our dear Father and guide
St. john Bosco.
I feel really happy that you, from time to time, keep in touch with
me, lost somewhere in the jungles of the 7000 Philippine islands - so to
say. Actually, we run large and prestigious schools with high quality of
education and I have been holding varoius responsible positions - Principal of
Makati with 3600 boys, Cathechist twice, Rector for 25 years in several schools
and Administrator-economer for some 30 years - a lot of experiences,
but I want to tell you something, believe me; If I have been so appreciated
with so many works and projects in the past, I attribute so much of it to the
formative years I spent in England . and though the Good hand gave me a lot
of gifts and qualities - they could have remained dormant, had I not have the
opportunities to develop them - and thanks to our superiors and all of you
who had been extremely kind to me - as also to Wledy and Morek
in our first days with you. I do remember the first days in Shrigley, when
we arrived that cold evening of Nov. 25, 1947, without knowing a word, well
... some words of English and how you tried to make fun at our expense!
Those were difficult days for us, but at the end you made it so much easier.
Yes, I have just visited your - our website on the internet, and was happy
to see many of your faces - which, I am afraid, I could not recognize! Well,
the age is catching up - Felix is still young and the same! Congrats to all
new officials of our Association - Peter, Teddy and others.
I wish you a wonderful re-union and I'll be there for the occasion - in spirit
of course. Please, count me in.
If everything goes well, I may be in England next summer. In the meantime let
us keep in touch and let us keep that
Bosconian spirit not only in our hearts, but live it with our lives.
Best regards and love to all of you, your families and our friends.
with fond memories
FR. FELIX GLOWICKI, SDB
NOTE: This message was sent last September 15, on time for the reunion
because I really want to be there in Spirit!!!! But something went wrong on sending it.
3 Bob Hilton('43 - '55)
Memories of 1942
I spent a large part of my 1942 summer holiday at Shrigley, at the invitation of the newly ordained, near neighbour, Fr John Corcoran.
In residence were the Staff, Philosophers and a band of Lay brothers and lay workers, some of whom lived on the premises, others, eg the carpenter, elsewhere.
These workers were employed on the farm, at the St Joseph's workshops, in the kitchen and in the garden, which produced fruit and vegetables for daily consumption by the Community. In charge of the garden was the gentle, Joe Dickenson.
I can still taste the wonderfully fresh and crisp pears from the fan-trained trees on the inside of the high brick wall.
I was, as an 11-year-old, overwhelmed by the company of such wonderful people. Indeed, it proved to be the beginning of a life of music-making. August 15th saw my first Shrigley concert. I was, for the first time in my life, the piano accompanist. I still cherish the experience. The play was one written by Fr Herbert Bamber (Prefect of the House for many years).
The tree seedlings, from the wood, planted on the outside of the Garden Wall, were the project of Fr Harry Wrangham (Prefect of Studies), of whom I was in awe. I helped to keep them weed-free.
These were planted out as young saplings, as a belt round the top playing field. They were then,1946-1947, cared for by Bro Frank Rogers and the whole of his Form (Upper Elements, I seem to recall). They spent hours and hours tending them. We also planted rhododendrons along the length of the drive.
Frank (younger brother, Eddie) was a gifted violinist and talented cricketer. However, he had a damaged kidney, not helped by being struck by a cricket ball whilst in the nets. It happened during an evening playtime. I saw it, and watched him being helped back to the house. This must have led to his untimely death.
In the lean-to, open sheds on the same garden wall, were shelves of oak planks, cut from trees on the estate. Later, the whole wood was cleared and replanted....a successful commercial venture. Around 1946, this oak wood was used to make a set of desks, with traditional lids and seats, for Rhetoric, in what is now the main reception room.
Bro Reginald Wilkinson (another near neighbour of mine) had made all the wrought ironwork, candlesticks, door furniture, etc. for the church, as well as machinery for the farm (see below),
but I don't think he was involved with the desks. I may be wrong. I have the feeling the this was project that was shared with an outside firm.
In 1943, a very large acreage of rough grazing land was ploughed up for potato planting and the war subsidy. My elder brother and I spent our Easter break doing nothing else. We helped to spread tons and tons of manure from carts, which had been designed and made by Bro Reginald and the carpenter. We then spent hours on the 4-man potato planter, designed and made by the same team. When I enrolled in the September of that year, our first major task was to spend a month picking the same potato crop. That was the year I learned what fitness was.
PS Fr Thomas Hall (Rector), was totally involved in the farm. He insisted, against Bro Reg's advice on the length of the new carts' towing bars. One, fully laden with manure, bent alarmingly down in the village. Another tractor and trailer had to go to the rescue. Whilst the manure was being transferred, the local Bobby came past on his bicycle and chatted. He didn't allude to the fact that the two Fordson tractors had the same number plate.
Hope this is helpful. Bob
Bob's notes have led to further correspondence which can be found HERE
4. Gerry Wright (1958-61)
LIFE AFTER SHRIGLEY
On leaving Shrigley in July 1961, I returned to the Crosshill district of Glasgow. In August I joined Holyrood Catholic Senior Secondary school. By October it was obvious that I was not going to be able to settle back into the state school system, so I left at the end of that month.
I got a job as a trainee colour chemist with JS Criag of Glasgow.
I was also by this time back with my old friends who had kept in touch during my Shrigley years, and with some new found friends. Bishop Graham, our parish priest, also had me back serving the 11 am mass every Sunday.
This was also a time of discovery. Discovering Independence, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Cinemas, Dance Halls, (and in these dance halls, Glasgow violence.), and Girls. It was in one of these dance halls that my friends threw me bodily on to the stage to sing with the band, my 1st gig so to speak, and I have been singing in Rock n’ Roll bands ever since. In fact, I still do. I also had my 1st beer at this time though can only remember going in to the pub but not leaving it.
In July 1963 my family moved to Bicester in Oxfordshire and I went to work as a Laboratory Technician for Oxford University. As it happened, I put together the ‘A’ Level chemistry practical exams for among other schools – Shrigley- for the summers of 1964 and 1965. If it all went wrong and blew up in your face, OOPS!
At Bicester I became a member of the Parish of The Immaculate Conception. I am still a member and for the past 26 years have been a church warden. In 1964, you can imagine my surprise, when our Parish Priest took ill and the parish was supplied by Frs. Gallagher and Blackburn SDB both of whom were my masters at Shrigley. Until that point I did not know that there was a Salesian Community at Cowley in Oxford. I took a trip down there one day to be greeted by Fr G Williams who was in charge.
At this time Mods and Rockers arrived and I was a Rocker and had many British bikes. Models such as BSA, Royal Enfield, Triumph. Francis Barnet etc.
In Oct ’65 I joined the Civil Service where I stayed until I retired in 2003. During my service I had many Interesting jobs; including amongst them was Jobcentre Manager, Undercover Fraud Investigator, Project Manager, Fire Office, and Health and Safety Officer. On my retirement I was awarded the Certificate of Meritorious Service.
In the winter of 1968 I met Sallie who was to become my future wife. We courted until we got married on 1 March 1975. Our first daughter died but our surviving daughter Louise is well. Not too long ago she was Tony Blair’s PA at No 10. She is now a communications officer for Oxfam.
I now work 3 days a week as a Risk Assessor for Homebase.
All the jobs I have undertaken have involved working with people and the training I received at Shrigley equipped me well in undertaken them. Little did I know that when I entered Shrigley, the training for my future life was beginning?
Shrigley 1958 - 1961