Richard and Shirley Ambrose retired in August 1993 after nearly twenty-five years’ devoted service to Allhallows. They made an immense contribution to the life of the school. DJB recalls Gethyn Hewan saying in 1968 that he had appointed a Loughborough rugger-player, as Head of Physical Education, who had already acquired an impressive reputation at Newbury Grammar School. Shirley had taught games at Downe House and it was obvious the moment they arrived that much could be expected of such a talented couple.
Richard directed a small but admirably efficient P.E. Department to which he brought new ideas and for many years coached a series of highly successful Ist XVs, which sometimes slew giants and always played enjoyable and skilful rugby. Together with Keith Moore, he trained strong athletic teams, which enabled us to compete with bigger schools, and which maintained the high standards of his predecessor and Head of Geography, Colin Harrison.
When Richard became Head of Geography, again he introduced the latest methods of the ‘new’ Geography. Practical surveys were undertaken in Exeter, on the Landslip and in the Axe Valley, and Allhallows collaborated with Blundell’s and Exmouth School on G.C.S.E. courses. Indeed regular visits to Coblenz with ‘A’ level Geographers and skiing visits to Switzerland and Austria with boys and girls from different levels of the school and other members of staff, took an increasing toll on Richard’s time, though he became an acknowledged expert on Geography expeditions and indeed planned them for travel companies and pupils in other schools. The Preparatory Schools’ Geography field courses he organised at Allhallows were typical of his recent enterprises.
Meanwhile Shirley taught the girls netball, tennis and hockey with skill and enthusiasm and when Richard stopped coaching rugger he became part of the team and drove minibuses wherever required.
But it will be as House Parents of Venning and then Charton that boys and girls in their charge will chiefly remember them. Positive, decisive and always caring, they complemented each other perfectly and OHs, who regularly keep in touch with them, show the respect in which they were held and lasting friendships made.
After they retired in 1993 they made their home in a small village in Shropshire.
It was through Richard and his enthusiasm for rebuilding, with pupils, of old cars that I joined the Staff at Allhallows. I first met Richard in the 60s when he used to occasionally turn out for the Seaton CC. I started to help with the car club, which led for me to 11 very happy years on the staff. I shall always remember Richard saying to me, when we were batting for the MCR v Ist XI, ‘do you realise that are combined ages are over 120!’ Happy days.
D.J.B & N.J.G.