Harrow County Staff

Mr. A. Amos

Old Gaytonians of all ages were immensely saddened to learn of the passing of Alec Amos, who died peacefully at his home near Newbury on Christmas Day 1983 in his 89th year.

To compress the long, rich and rewarding life of such a well-loved and respected figure into a few paragraphs may seem inadequate. For Alec did command the devotion and respect of all who knew him.

Born at Cwmcarn in Monmouthshire (despite what seemed to us a Welsh accent, he would remind us that he was an Englishman), on 17th November 1895, he attended Pontyavaan County School from 1906 to 1910, where he played soccer for the 1st XI. After service in the First World War in the Royal Artillery in France, Italy and Germany, he went on a Teacher Training Course at Borough Road College from 1919 to 1921. There he met his future wife Dorothy, daughter of one of the staff.

He went on to Sheffield for a further year to take his P E qualification and then obtained his first teaching appointment at Sir John Cass School where he taught Geography until 1924. During this period he played rugby for Harrow RFC.

Alec and Dorothy were married on 20th December 1924 and immediately afterwards, in January 1925, he joined the staff of Harrow County School under Randall Williams. He succeeded Captain Jock Turner who had introduced rugby to the School a few years previously. For some years he travelled daily from Finchiey where he was living but in August 1928 he and Dorothy moved to Pinner Park Avenue where they rived for the next 47 years.

He stayed at Harrow County for 35 years, until his retirement in the Summer of 1960. The many hundreds of boys who passed through the School during those years will all have their individual and personal memories of "Swannie", as he was affectionately called, because his tall slim figure and upright bearing made his neck seem long. Not a few will have been bearers of letters from their parents, asking to be excused games, addressed to "Mr Swan".

Those fortunate enough to continue to know him during his long years of retirement - and those who met him for the first time during that period - would readily testify to the enduring respect and affection in which he was held.

As P E master at School, Alec's responsibilities were primarily rugby, swimming and athletics. He also took a keen interest in the then infant Old Gaytonians Athletics Club, founded in 1921. He was for many years a Vice-President of the Club and was President from 1965 to 1971.

His first love, however, was rugby. He was a founder member of the London and Home Counties Schools RFU, the Middlesex County Schools RFU and the English Schools RFU, all of which he served with distinction and in high office. He was also a founder member of the Old Gaytonians RFC, of which he became Vice President, President and a Life Member.

Alec and Dorothy moved to Wimbledon in 1976 to live with their daughter, Barbara, and in 1978 they moved to Frilsham near Newbury. Throughout his long and particularly happy retirement Alec retained a keen and active interest in all Old Gaytonian activities, especially rugby and athletics. He was a regular and welcome visitor to Sudbury until shortly before his death and it was entirely appropriate that he should have been present to conduct the official opening ceremony of the new clubhouse in May 1982.

Alec was endowed with qualities which endeared him to many, far beyond the immediate circle of the Old Gaytonians. He had great personality and strength of character, but perhaps it was his utter and complete integrity and sincerity which epitomised the man. Withal he had an impish sense of humour and simplicity of manner. He was irresistible.

With no time for malingerers or faint-hearts, Alec certainly did not believe in mollycoddling. His upright attitudes and high standards turned boys into men; he did not do it alone (there were his colleagues on the staff who shared the task with him and helped make Harrow County School outstanding) but it is what he would most proudly wish to be remembered for - and is.


Obituary in Old Gaytonian 1984


Brian Hester (1940-47) writes:  When in the lower forms I was convinced by Amos's treatment of us that his previous job experiences must have included a stint as prison officer in a military prison such as the one depicted in the movie "The Hill". I note several other contributors still carry the same conclusions. Looking back, Swanny has my sympathies. He was always working against the clock trying to get herds of us small boys in and out of gym or swimming kit quickly enough so that we might accomplish something in the remaining portion of the period. He generally gave a warning before descending on a culprit "That boy. Stop- do - whatever, or you'll get a crack!". He also had the inenviable job of organising entry into the school at the beginning of morning and afternoon sessions at what was termed "parade", while his be-gowned mates were up in the warm common room taking a last drag on their cigarettes. At the first "peep" of his whistle, we were all required to freeze in position ready for the second "peep" when we would all run to stand in lines. Previously identified miscreant stood in front, while forms two, three and four formed successive lines behind. At the flick of his finger, we all trooped into school but before this sign was given, Swanny required everyone's undivided attention. Woe betide the boy who was trying to catch up on some homework. Swanny would dive through the ranks, which divided before him like the Red Sea parting before Moses, to drive out the wretch who would be required henceforth to stand with the other miscreants at the front for the rest of the term. It wasnot until we had several children of our own to get organised in the mornings that I began to sympathise for Mr. Amos!  One useful thing he taught me was how to decimalise the old money. He would do this whenever he had to supervise a class for an absent master. Out would come Swanny's stock in trade class and we would be taught how to decimalise. When the currency was finally decimalised, I recalled what he had taught us and found it very useful!


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