Harrow County School for Boys

Mr. W. T. Heys

The war had been over for two months.  No, not the war which many of you can just remember - but the first World War.  In that month of January 1919, Mr. Heys joined the Staff of Harrow County School, after serving in the Army Pyrotechnical Laboratory.  He had graduated at Durham University and then carried out research at London University under Professor Griffiths, culminating in the award of an M.Sc. degree.

Thirty-five years is a long time in the life of any man, and it is a very long time to have served on the Staff of one school.  Harrow County School was fortunate in the years immediately following the first World War; it succeeded in securing a number of men who were equal to the task of building the traditions and standards of the maintained Grammar Schools - not merely Harrow County, but the Grammar Schools in general, for these were their formative years.  First founded in 1902 (H.C.S. not until 1911),the early maintained Grammar Schools set themselves the hard task of equalling, and if possible bettering, the standards of the long-established Public Schools.  The burden of this task fell most heavily on the men who staffed the schools in the period between the wars; and how well they accomplished their aim may be judged by the immensely high prestige commanded by the Grammar Schools - a prestige which, founded on solid achievement, has survived the most violent attacks of recent years.

Achievement and prestige flow neither from plans, from buildings, nor from systems.  They come from men.  Mr. Heys is one of those men.  For thirty-five years he has laboured ceaselessly to create and preserve those things which have made Harrow County what it is today.  On such rocks the school is founded.

Mr. Heys has played an active part in innumerable fields.  A soccer and hockey player at the University, he was better known at Harrow for his tennis, and captained Old Gaytonians tennis club at one time.  To his efforts we owe in great measure our swimming bath, and he was also active in securing the pavilion.  Both he and his wife have been closely associated with the Old Gaytonians and in particular with their Dramatic Society.

We all know of Mr. Heys keenness on photography, and it will be no surprise to hear that he was for many years responsible for the taking of school photographs of all descriptions; though the number taken might well be a shock!

The high regard in which Mr. Heys is held by his colleagues is well shown by the fact that he was elected chairman of the Common Room for no fewer than six successive years.

Kenton House in particular will miss him, for he has been Housemaster for twenty-eight years.  No one seems to know for how many of those years Kenton has been Cock House - but it has happened, I think, twice in the last three years!

But for all these important and necessary activities, we must not overlook the solid work of high standard achieved in the Physics Department for which he has been responsible.  He is a stickler for orderliness and thoroughness, and most students have appreciated how right he has been to insist on these points as a foundation for sound work in science.  But I think he would be pleased - though perhaps not surprised - to know how many old pupils have come back to school and told me how valuable they had found his training in mental and physical tidiness for their everyday living.

No boy who passed through Harrow County is likely to forget Mr. Heys' strict discipline.  Liberties simply were not taken.  But perhaps only a proportion of boys came to know the kindly, wise experience which lay beneath, as I have come to know it.  An old boy came to school one day recently, and in the course of some questions he asked, I advised him to consult Mr. Heys.  He looked a little alarmed at the prospect (he hadn't always been a modle pupil, I must confess), so I said, "Don't worry - you'll find that Mr. Heys' bark is worse than his bite."  "Maybe so," was the reply, "but his bark was always enough for me!"

Now Mr. Heys is leaving us, for a bungalow in Devon by the sea.  With him and Mrs. Heys go the best wishes of the School for a long and happy and useful retirement; and when he is printing off (in that dark-room which I hear he is planning) old negative of the School and its peoples, I hope he will sometimes be encouraged to come and see us once more.  I know we shall be glad to see him.


from Gaytonian, July 1954

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