V.A.L.HILL, Esq., M.A. (1948-1965)
There is a sadness in the leaving of one who has been both the commander and the servant of the School for so many years. And so, at the end of this summer of 1965, and at the end of seventeen years of service, Victor Archibald Lord Hill leaves Allhallows and leaves also a gap which no one, whatever his attributes, can adequately fill.
When everything doesn't go right, the man at the top inevitably receives all the grumbles and criticisms, but we so carelessly overlook all that a man like V.A.L.Hill has done for the School. When he came here from Shrewsbury in the summer term of 1948, the school numbered 227 from the age of 11. The Common Entrance standard was low, and the new Headmaster was given the job of enlarging the School and at the same time of improving academic standards, tasks difficult to reconcile since they tended to cancel each other out. The fact that today we number 280 from the age of 13, with a VIth form approaching 100, and that there are 27 OHs at universities, 7 holding Open Awards and 2 doing post graduate work, bear testimony to the success of his endeavours.
Not only in human material, but in buildings, too, the School has made great progress. In the early 1950s there was no separate Venning House, no extension to Shallow, no new Dinning Hall, no Middlemist Memorial classrooms, no rooms 6 and 7, no modern science Laboratories, no music school, no cricket pavilion, and no house common rooms other than classrooms. There were no hard tennis courts, nor indoor shooting range, and there was far less accommodation for staff. In fact one wonders how one ever managed. One assistant master used to walk to the village three times a week to teach boys in the present Social Club for want of classroom space. The playing fields were 25% smaller, partly used by dairy cattle, and the only amenity from those days which has disappeared is the broad road down to the beach! All this development one takes for granted, but one shouldn't. Though it goes on quietly, it is the Headmaster who sees what is needed; who prods the Governors into activity; organises the various projects. I well remember a remark made a few years ago by a visiting master from Bryanston. He said that he was always interested to visit us because there was always something new to see - we always seemed to be a lively school.
But it is not only for his material accomplishments that we shall remember V.A.L.Hill. All assistant masters have ideas and plans which, in their view, can only benefit the School, and any Headmaster has the unenviable task of using his powers of veto on many admirable projects. Nevertheless the multitude of activities have had staunch support, even those which have threatened to undermine the foundations of the Headmaster's beloved cricket. And though he always claimed we were far more interested in games than work, he could still be seen squinting hard at the targets at Bisley or, enveloped against rain, shouting on the rugger side from the touchline. He has even been known to watch shot putting, though he has admitted that he could never truly appreciate the beauty of the exercise. His chief delight has always been cricket, though he is no mean performer on the golf links, and in the squash courts, while at Oxford he claims to have been a centre three-quarter of considerable thrust. He once told me his idea of Heaven was to play cricket at Lord's, and we were all delighted to see him playing for the Old Honitonians on his sixtieth birthday.
And so after seventeen years of strenuous planning and working - teaching his well loved classics - and always patient and helpful - V.A.L.Hill leaves for well earned retirement. We must not forget the support he has always had from Mrs. Hill, and her interest in the boys who have passed through her hands and in school life in general have always been in evidence. We on the staff will always remember her Hallowe'en parties and her bright smile on all occasions. I don't think Mrs. Hill, has ever looked downhearted, and that in itself is a great asset.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Hill take with them our grateful thanks for all they have done for us and for the School, and our sincerest wishes that they will have a long and happy retirement. It is rumoured that the village where they will live has no cricket side - a small matter that will soon be rectified.