Rev’d Dick Stride –

Warden 1957-1965. Died April 15th 2004

Peter Harding-Roberts wrote:

I hope this isn’t a “Mark Twain” moment! (His death was reported somewhat prematurely). I am sure it isn’t. Michael Venables (my godfather, whose boys were contemporaries of mine in the 60’s) told my dad before he saw it in the Times. Apparently Michael was told by “an elderly vicar” (the Reverend D Parry who lives in Kington). This vicar apparently has some connection with St Michael’s. There was a Mr Dennis Parry who taught me French and directed me as Lady Macbeth in 1964. He married one of the matrons (Miss Evans I think). Certainly not a vicar in the 60’s and I wouldn’t have thought elderly now.

When Dick left in 1965 (which is also when I left) I remember him saying that he would still be teaching the three things he loved teaching. The three C’s. Classics, Christianity and Cricket. He went to a prep school in North Wales. Treaddur House, Treaddur Bay. I don’t think he stayed there that long and I see from the Friends Reunited website that seems to have closed down in about 1979. I think he then went to Heathfield after that.

He came to stay with my parents in around 1967. The last time I saw him was at the service when the school closed down. I had heard it was closing so as I was up from Cardiff I took my wife to see the place. I had no idea that it was closing that day and I was hardly dressed for church. I was told there was no room inside then asked in a throw away fashion, “You’re not an old boy are you?” (looking very scruffy). We were then squeezed in by the font. 1985. Nearly 20 years ago! Anyway Dick was rude about the Welsh and didn’t desist when I told him that my wife was from Cardiff (and standing beside me). I then saw John Gray and I could not believe how incredibly camp he was. Not how I remembered him at all.

The three C’s perhaps warrants a mention. Just after seeing those two I then spotted the head of Physics from Worksop where I went after St Michael’s. His boy was there. Choral scholar I think. What a small world. Dick was contemptuous of Worksop. I suppose I should have introduced them! I suppose he did a lot for St Michael’s but I can’t say I found him to be a pleasant man. However when he spotted my mother’s death announcement in the Times he did write to my dad. Although most of the letter was about how happy he was! He said that his wife Mick (a force in her own right at St Michael’s) had died some time before and he had now met and married his childhood sweetheart. I suppose he meant well.

Before St Michael’s he had been a house master at Dover College. I know that because I was talking to a friend of mine here in Cardiff about our prep schools. When I mentioned St Michael’s he said, “Oh, were you there when Dick Stride was there?” He then told me that Dick had been his housemaster at Dover and that he had stayed with Dick and Mick at St Michael’s. And Dick had directed him as Lady Macbeth. Very small world. Incidentally I and my contemporaries always referred to him as Dick. But not to his face! He was certainly good at getting the good and the great to visit. The Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman, the distinguished actress Margaret Rawlings, Harry Corbett and Sooty, Viscount Montgomery of Alamein to name but three. All safely in my autograph book. Actually Dick did do me one big favour. He took the photograph of a little 12 year old boy getting Monty’s autograph. Now a treasured possession. Oh yes, and “Any Questions” staged in the gym cum theatre. And I even remember two of the panel. Dulcie Grey and Michael Dennison, a married couple of distinguished actors. Was Gilbert Harding there as well? Possibly. And then of course we were always on the radio and making records. Not that I was in the choir. But I do remember Dick taking me and another boy (Johnny Braithwaite I think) to the BBC radio studio in Birmingham (pre Pebble Mill). In the studio where they recorded the Archers we recorded bible readings for a service broadcast on Good Friday. I still have the counterfoil of the cheque for my fee. Each chorister received a guinea whilst we readers received 10/6. In fact two choristers did not actually sing so we had the guinea and they had the half guinea.

You can’t beat a good reminisce can you?

Peter Harding-Roberts

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