Old Parmiterians memorial visit to Ypres
20 and 21 April 2015
Old Parmiterian Geoffrey Woolley defended Hill 60 outside Ypres on the night of 20/21st April 1915 and for his bravery was awarded the Victoria Cross.
A service of commemoration on the hill, 100 years to the hour, was superbly organised by the 7th Rifles and led by regimental chaplain Rev ‘Pip’ Smith. Dr Rob Johnson from Oxford University opened proceedings with a short inspirational talk on the strategic importance of Woolley’s actions on the hill. Regimental buglers were located around the Memorial and the full regimental band provided rousing support for the hymns. The service was concluded by Nicholas Woolley, Geoffrey’s son, who related his father’s experiences on the Hill as told to him when he walked the Hill with his father a year or so before his father died in 1968. Throughout, the ceremony was recorded by a BBC television team as part of a news report for BBC South Today.
St George’s Church was the venue for the Old Parmiterian Memorial service. Father Brian Llewellyn, the priest in charge at St George’s led a very dignified service honouring not only Geoffrey Woolley but also the 103 Old Parmiterians who gave their lives fighting for justice and freedom in the First World War. The School Captain and the Captain of Woolley House contributed readings and the Commanding Officer of the 7th Rifles, Lt Col James Bryant read Woolley’s official Victoria Cross citation before delivering an inspired reflection on Woolley and his heroic deeds. The President of the Old Parmiterians and the Headmaster led the reading of the Roll of the Fallen as all 103 names were read. Nicholas Woolley gave a very personal address about his father and the congregation raised the rafters with a rousing rendition of ‘Jerusalem ‘. Father Llewellyn gave the Blessing before the buglers sounded ‘No more Parades’.
At dinner, Nicholas Woolley once again addressed the party concluding with a surprise - the presentation of his father’s full medal bar [including the Victoria Cross] to Lt General Sir Christopher Wallace KBE.DL for safe keeping at the Rifles Museum in Winchester.
Ten days later, many of the troops gathered in Bethnal Green Gardens to witness the unveiling of the VC stone commemorating Geoffrey Woolley outside Bethnal Green Library. Again the 7th Rifles turned out in force and many of the participants adjourned after the ceremony to The Approach Tavern to toast GHW’s brave deeds one more time in true Parmiterian style – a fitting end to an historic couple of weeks in the long history of Parmiter’s School.
Sincere thanks to Mr Colin Tattle and his wife Jill for arranging a fantastic experience for all involved.
Old Parmiterians - a brief history
Parmiter's School dates back to the will of Thomas Parmiter in 1681. Until 1977, it was a boys' school based in Bethnal Green. When the decison was made to move Parmiter's School to Hertfordshire, it became a co-educational school and in 1981, the London school closed.
We have a thriving Old Parmiterians' Society, which consists of former students from the Bethnal Green school as well as those who attended the Garston school. The two branches of the Old Parmiterians' Society work closely together.
The Old Parmiterians' Society celebrated its Centenary in 1998. It was founded and exists to promote regular contact and communication amongst former members of the School and with the current School.
The family ethos of Parmiter's School is extremely important to all members of the Parmiter's community. The loyalty and affection that students feel for the school helps to ensure that they stay in touch for many years after they have left. The Old Parmiterians' Football Club flourishes and many Old Parmiterians use the facilities of the School, especially the Thomas Parmiter Sports Centre.
The Old Parmiterians' Society organises regular events and these have included:
- annual reunion events
- Founder's Dinner
- family summer barbecue
- annual Old Parmiterians' Dinner
- Ladies' Night
Class 3A 1950-51
From the back row, left to right:
Chappell, Seabrook, Silk, Vile, Gromoff, Munns, Moscow, Pearson
Tyrrell, Moore, Freestone, Crow, Greenaway, Clews, Peach, Fordham, Tyler
Hallam, Sims, Lloyd, Langley, Charlie Kingsland, Dent, Smith, Drake, Blake
Evans, Owers, Mills, Pummell, Cass, Jacobs, Foster
A few years later...........
Some of Class 3A visiting the school in Garston.
From left to right:
Tony Mills, Ken Mansfield (1946 intake), Joe Vile, Martin Jacobs, Michael Rose, Frank Munns, Fred Seabrook, Brian Coulshed (Headmaster), Tony Holmes, Ron Pummell.