R.D.Southward (SH 76-84)

“Bill came to St Bees as a boarder when his parents were based overseas in the Middle East. He started his schooling on Eaglesfield under the care of David and Jean Lyall. There were a number of children with parents based overseas and Eaglesfield was a second home to them. He went from Eaglesfield to Grindal, but then as Grindal was turned over to be the girls’ boarding house, he elected, along with a number of his house- mates, to transfer to School House, thus beginning his association with David Marshall.
Bill enjoyed physical pursuits, becoming captain of rugby, playing for the county, being awarded the Sword of Honour and playing cricket at 2nd X1 level. Colour Sergeant Barker had a quiet authority, backed up by his size, not to mention his voice barking orders across the crease.
By this stage Bill’s mother had moved to Bootle (near Millom), while his father was still abroad. Bill got permission to use a moped to go home at weekends. The 50cc bike was parked in David Marshall’s garage. A rare privilege. Bill started having driving lessons with a retired policeman in Whitehaven called Walter Wilson. He had his lessons on a Saturday night and Walter suggested that Bill have his lessons with me. This was duly approved and we would head for Whitehaven after games on Saturdays, have tea at my parents, then go for our two hour lesson around Workington before being returned to St Bees. We passed our tests one week apart. Bill’s test was not a text book affair. Half way round, while stopped at the road side, a young boy knocked on the window. The examiner wound the window down and the young boy asked, “Please mister can you fix my bike, the chain has come off?”. “Sorry son, I am conducting a driving test”, came the reply. “But mister, my dad will kill me”, the lad said. The instructor looked at Bill and asked if he minded and so fixed the lad’s bike. The test was then shortened so he could clean his hands before the next test!
At no stage during the upper sixth did Bill suggest that Walter had convinced him to join the police, but he had been discussing this with David Marshall, who provided a great reference for his police application – “a rough diamond (who) will make a most effective constable”. This shows Bill’s true qualities. He had considered what career might be best for him, while we all felt he had no idea what he was going to do.
Most of our friends went off to college, leaving Bill waiting to start his training and me back at St Bees resitting my “A” levels. Bill became a regular visitor at our house from now for the next few years – even when I wasn’t in. He was also a regular visitor at the Haile household. Bill often got offered his tea and so was well fed during the times he was at a loose end. His visits often involved ferrying a number of us through to Beckermet for a bit of R&R and lubrication of the vocal chords on a Saturday night. We gradually matured from adolescence to adulthood and our friendship developed. There were many memories of the two years I was in Cumbria after Bill left school. A lot of them concerned cars. Bill managed a couple of Ford Cortinas, a blue Ford Escort, a red Escort XR3i and a very leaky Fiat X1/9. The blue Escort looked like an unmarked police car and Bill loved seeing cars slow down when he got close to them! He always wanted to be a traffic officer and so it came as no surprise when he finally joined the traffic unit. He tried hard to kill us in this car! There is a corner between Rottington and St Bees where he nearly ended in the ditch with a ruined suspension.
 I did not see much more of him after those two years, but he still called on my parents from time to time, and once stopped my mother while she was driving through Whitehaven. She panicked when the police car started flashing its lights and pulling her over until Bill got out and said “Hello Gwen, how’s things?” Typical Bill.
I don’t know when I last saw him. The 20 years in between are immaterial.  I know that Bill would do anything for me if I called on him and help me out.

I am proud to call him my friend and he will be greatly missed by everyone.”

The St. Beghian Society, St. Bees School, St. Bees, Cumbria, CA27 0DS

tel: 01946 828093         
email: osb@st-bees-school.co.uk     www.st-beghian-society.co.uk