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Obituary – Stanley Eddie Bray LGS 55-63 (compiled by Robert Perry)

Obituary – Stanley Eddie Bray LGS 55-63 (compiled by Robert Perry) featured image

Those of us who knew Eddie Bray will be sorry to hear that he died last year at home in Malvern. Eddie and his wife Chris had lived in Worcestershire for many years, he teaching science at St James Girls School and Chris practicing as a Pharmacist at Worcester Royal Infirmary. Eddie retained a participatory enthusiasm for sport first apparent in primary school in Birmingham and then expanded at LGS. Chris and Eddie had three children who were raised in, many would consider, an idyllic environment on the slopes of the Malvern Hills. They have all married and they have thirteen grandchildren between 5 and 18 years old!

LGS friends and aficionados of Eddie will be pleased to know that his enthusiasm for life, science, Christianity and sport was intact into his eighth decade.

Eddie was at LGS from 1955 to 1963. He was a Prefect and a natural scholar who epitomised an orderly and enthusiastic approach to form and school life. Academically a scientific preference and meticulous approach saw him and three others contend the top three places in a somewhat turbulent class of 32 pupils in the ‘C’ form. Tennis-ball school yard soccer (frowned on at that time) was a favourite Eddie activity at breaks and lunch time. He had considerable talents as a sportsman where he represented East House and LGS at cricket, rugby, athletics, and cross-country running. An astute observer, he wryly noted that other members of the cross-country team were two stone less than others (9½ stone versus 11½), and should be time handicapped to compensate for their ‘lighter bones’! On another occasion he and the East House Master carefully planned racing tactics to prevent West House running away with all the plaudits in the cross-country relay race.

In the 6th form he helped Mr Docherty bring other sports to the school, including pole-vaulting. He became a talented cricketer with both bat and ball (medium pace bowling) and was in the 1st Eleven from 1955 (14yrs old) to 1963. In a home match memory recalls the headmaster Norman Walters vociferously applauding Eddie’s batting – including a graceful leg glance to the boundary.

Whilst in the 6th form, Eddie’s extracurricular sporting pursuits included time-trial cycling on the Fosse Way (A46 – 25 miles in 66 minutes), swimming and football. A newly appointed master at LGS (Johnny Baldwin – an inspirational “A” level chemistry teacher and of Triumph Mayflower fame) played for a local football team and persuaded Eddie to be reserve for an upcoming match. Eddie duly played and promptly scored a debut goal.

During the school term Eddie lived with his grandmother by Loughborough station as his family lived in Birmingham. Both his father Stanley (a teacher at King Edwards Grammar School, Camp Hill), and his Uncle Albert Edward Bray and his grandfather, Albert Bray were former pupils at LGS. His parents (Stanley and Jean) would cycle from Birmingham to attend LGS Sports day, and cycling tours were a feature of family holidays. The family’s knowledge of WW1 trench warfare affected their military stance and religious beliefs – Eddie declined to join the CCF and he and his parents supported CND.

Looking back to those years Eddie displayed an unusual maturity for his age, which not only aided his form friends and social life but also enabled him to interact positively with his school masters, erasing barriers between teacher and pupil. He was always approachable as a fellow student and friend. At school he became a convinced Christian, regarding himself more as a protestant “Follower of Jesus” than a specified church adherent. He retained, practised and developed this faith throughout his life, and with his family and friends.

Whilst appreciative of LGS’s opportunities and ethos, he regretted the limitations which a selective and streamed school could put on pupils of all abilities. His parents and relatives had drummed into him the need for academic application – AKA “working hard”, but on reflection he considered the school’s restricted academic syllabus for the “C” stream, and sub-optimal teacher expectations, were an undesirable aspect of LGS in that era. He would have preferred a school with a broader syllabus, combining academic and technical subjects, such as occurred in post-war Germany. In this respect he felt the limitations of the mantra: “LGS is a place where bright boys thrive and succeed” become apparent, and curiously apply across the three streams, with A stream pupils as much at risk of prejudicial attitudes as pupils in the C form.

Leaving LGS in 1963 Eddie took a Teacher Training Course specialising in science at Bede College, Durham. He returned to Birmingham in 1966 and taught at a Secondary Modern School for a short while. Spare time was usually spent cycling (racing and touring) and playing cricket. The local cricket club had a tennis section and it was here that Eddie met Chris. A cricket match was cancelled, so Eddie exchanged his bat for a racket. It can be surmised that on the tennis courts Eddie bowled “A Maiden Over” and it was ‘Game, Set, & Match!’ Marriage followed in 1968 at Cambridge Rd. Methodist Church in Birmingham. They made their first home in Worcester, Eddie teaching at Hanley Castle Grammar School and Chris practicing as a pharmacist at Worcester Royal Infirmary.

However, developments in education were becoming graduate based, and Eddie opted to take a degree at Hull University, a city where Chris continued her career as a Hospital Pharmacist in Hull Royal Infirmary and was appointed to a more senior post during that time.

After graduating (BSc), Eddie taught at St Peter’s School in York. Chris likewise moved from Hull to York Hospital to continue pharmacy. In 1973 in York Carol was born, the first grandchild for Chris’s parents and third grandchild for Eddie’s parents and this prompted a Midlands return.

Malvern was the destination. Eddie was a chemistry/physics teacher at St James Girls School, West Malvern, (now the Elim Christian College). He joined the Worcester St. Johns Cycling Club and later the Sevale Cycling Club for the racing. He played football for West Malvern Football Club and later played cricket for the West Malvern Team. He also played tennis and squash at the Manor Park Club. In 1975 the family expanded – Eddie and Chris were delighted with a son and a brother for Carol. In 1980 Roz was born and the family dynamics changed a little with ‘three being a crowd’ and a planning application was submitted for a loft conversion!

Cycle touring became a leisure activity for all the family not just local rides but for family holidays too. A tandem was added to the store of bikes and this proved a notable sight with a tandem and three bikes on top of a VW Beetle, and food and bags wedged in every nook and cranny!

The 1980s saw an amalgamation of private schools in Malvern and Eddie became redundant. Many months of anguish were spent in job searching and contemplating moving to a new area – leaving Malvern and uprooting the children. Then a different scenario emerged: a vacancy at Worcester Royal Hospital for a pharmacist allowed Eddie and Chris to ‘role swap’. Chris took the pharmacy post, Eddie remained at home. Initially this was quite a challenging time for Chris but she enjoyed being back in her professional role (having responsibilities for Medicine Purchasing and Radiopharmacy), knowing the children were able to stay settled in their schools. Twenty five years later as, Senior Pharmacist, Chris retired after a very rewarding career. A happy joint retirement followed, but in his 60’s Eddie was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, a unusual lung disease,. This rare condition progressed quite slowly initially but proved relentless and eventually Eddie required continuous oxygen administration. Nevertheless he remained socially active with a mobility scooter and continued to go the local Evangelical Church until just before his death.

Additional Informal Notes:

Not three or four then, but a group of five school friends. Your description of football, cycling, cross-country running, allied to academic endeavour with home parties and birthdays rings true, but I didn’t know about the parties! Well done, you must have had a good time and the social side would balance the classroom atmosphere. From my memory the group didn’t have restrictive boundaries, and I remember playing the occasional tennis football (possibly name tennisfooty ? or tennisball footy?) – but not exactly displaying a natural talent. I was sorry to hear of the death of Robert Capell – and he the most tennisfooty talented of the group! I remember the Outwoods / Charnwood’s running well, with a thrown in tour of Loughborough suburbs en route. Eddie of course played rugby and cricket as well. I also recall George Toms. At that time he lived in Kegworth. I met Roger Wilson in 1967 at a ball in one of the Cambridge Colleges when seconded to the hospital for 6 weeks as part of the clinical medicine course. Roger was working as a photographer and we had a good chat. He updated me on “Tiny Joules” move to the Scottish Highlands and Tiny’s diagnosis of “sugar diabetes”. Apart from my twin Andrew and Eddie that’s the sum total of the LGS form friends I’ve met since 1963. I have however kept in touch with Hubert Lacy (he was in the A form), who took A levels with me and then went to Dundee University. It was he who suggested I apply to St Andrews for medicine, and during the clinical 3 years we shared a flat in Dundee with four others. You’ve had a Morgan 4+4 ….. do you remember Martin Lilly’s three wheeled Morgan, a lovely car with the air-cooled twin cylinder fronting the bonnet – he took the driving test with it when he was 16, driving up Shelthorpe Road. The examiner said it was a lively car and Martin, flattered a little, opened it up. The examiner pointed to the speedometer – a failed driving test ensued.

Personally I got to know Eddie more after “O” levels. We were in the same form sitting A level chemistry and physics, with cross-country running, cycling, and to a degree religion and Christianity thrown in. Cycling-wise I don’t remember what frame Eddie had but I recall he was familiar with the “glued-on tyre” for racing. You had a Dawes frame, I had a Claude Butler (my brother Peter’s – unfortunately subsequently stolen from LGS bike racks) and it served me in good stead. For a time I ran it as a fixed wheel machine, experimenting with the ratios. That’s the bike I used on the A46 25 mile time trial course Eddie took me on. I made the home run to Six-Hills a minute or two before Eddie. The bike went to Wales twice, once with Peter in 1957 for a family holiday when he rode it back to Sileby on the last Saturday, leaving Barmouth at 4am and arriving in time for a pre-arranged game of tennis in Sileby! Three years later I rode it up the A5 again to the Welsh/Shropshire border where my friend Anthony was doing a field survey for his geology course. I camped with him for several days. On the way back I remember a dip between hills. From the crest of one side I saw an oncoming lorry coming down the hill, overtaking another lorry, and in doing so forced an oncoming car completely off the road! There was less traffic then, but the roads were narrower. On one occasion cycling on the A6 up the hill from Quorn to LGS a lorry overtook me really closely and slowly, very nearly putting me into the kerb. After that I was more wary. Nowadays flashing LED lights and brighter clothes have helped improve cycle safety. And another slant on cycling in the 1950’s, the Lancia Integrale owner David who lives up the drive from here, seems to have been keener than us all at that age. As a young teenager one Sunday he rode from Newcastle to Edinburgh, via the A68 through the Cheviots and then back along the east coast. Probably 230 miles in total, and impressive for a day’s outing. If you visit the Tyne valley in the summer you must meet him, and he’ll take you for a spin. He’s told me he liked driving the MX5 sideways!