Mr. H. S. Parkinson
At the end of this term, so I'm told, Mr. Parkinson is going to join the ranks of those who have ceased to take an active part in the life of Harrow County School for Boys. Well, he deserves a happy retirement. I don't say a restful one, because, in Mr. Parkinson's case, rest would not involve any great degree of happiness. As I remember him, he was always on the look-out for fresh activities on which to exercise his energies and generally successful in finding them and then carrying on with the new task in the most genial and debonair fashion.
If my memory doesn't lead me astray, as it not infrequently does, now-a-days, Mr. Parkinson joined the staff of what I still call our school in 1921. To most of the readers of these words that will seem a very long time ago. And they will be right in thinking so. Thirty-two years is a very long time for a master to serve the interests of one school in every way he can think of and do it cheerfully and successfully all the time. He came to us from Wallasey Grammar School: his first post, I think, after he had served his country in the First World War in Egypt and France. Before that he studied History and other things at Leeds University, which gave him the degree of Master of Arts. When he came to us he was appointed to teach History as his main subject, but I really think he could have taught almost anything - so versatile was he - and in point of fact he did teach quite a lot of English and sometimes French as well. Anyhow, he was certainly a most successful teacher of History right through the school and up to University Scholarship standard, as many of his old pupils have good reason to know.
But Mr. Parkinson excelled in other directions too. I well remember how when I was making preparations for the production of Dekker's "Shoemaker's Holiday" and mentioned to him that I wished I had a backcloth that would suggest a street in the London of the days of the first Elizabeth, he offered to paint one. I begged him to go ahead with the idea, and I was immensely gratified and impressed when he showed me the finished article, which was used in the show and greatly admired.
Then there was his organisation of the Athletic Sports, which he took over from the late Mr. E. J. Atkinson after the latter had left us to become a headmaster. This was a most exacting task, but Mr. Parkinson did not flinch from it and well maintained the high standard established by his predecessor, despite the difficulties of the war years.
Mention of the war reminds me of a valuable and delicate service that Mr. Parkinson rendered to the school at that time. He undertook the sad task of keeping a record of the casualties suffered by Old Gaytonians in the fighting (and training work) on sea and land and in the air; and the school and all friends of the school are deeply indebted to him for the care which he bestowed on this self-imposed duty. Like everything else that Mr. Parkinson did, this piece of work was performed with meticulous attention to detail; and the result today is enshrined in the striking War Memorial which preserves the record that he compiled.
But Mr. Parkinson has not been content with school activities alone. He was for many years before the late war Hon. Secretary and later Chairman of the Committee of the Harrow Branch of the League of Nations Union of those perhaps too optimistic days. He also took an active interest in the affairs of the Assistant Masters' Association and in due course became Chairman of the Middlesex branch of that organisation. With all this he has found time to take part in the work of the Harrow Youth Committee, and more recently to become the Secretary of the Church Council of St. Mary's Parish Church on Harrow Hill.
Altogether, Mr. Parkinson has lived a good and full life in Harrow, and when he says goodbye to H.C.S., I suspect he will contrive somehow to fill up his time quite happily and thoroughly enjoy the resulting activity. That, I am sure, is what all those who know him will wish for him.
Gaytonian July, 1953
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