John C Felgate

From the L.R. Reeve* collection this piece about a distinguished teacher written in about 1971/2. Can find nothing about him online but Reeve's piece may revive memories.


John C. Felgate I find now lives in Australia. I wonder why. Has he a son or daughter, brother or sister already out there who made him decide to leave his numerous friends, acquaintances and relatives in England where he was so popular and respected?
I doubt whether I shall ever know. That question, however, is not very significant. What is important to me is the fact that the memory of John (rarely Called Jack) always brings to mind many happy days together at dinners, reunions, conferences, not to mention one afternoon some years ago when he called unexpectedly at my bungalow in Kingskerswell, and left a note informing me where I could locate him at Newton Abbot. I found him, and that reminiscent happy evening was the last time we met.
  My opinion of him during forty-five years has never changed, except that from time to time he has made certain comments, taken some action which has confirmed my early judgments, and made me appreciate all the more his magnetic personality. Also, having been a member of at least three committees on which he was a representative, my knowledge of him as a committee man is considerable, and always when he intervened during a discussion, either as chairman or ordinary committee member, I anticipated a thoughtful, wise intervention.
  I first met him when we were both committee members of our training college. Although several years younger than I he soon became an effective member of the committee, and within a year or so was elected president of the O. S.A., when he quickly established himself as an ideal chairman; and while he was teaching for the L.C.C. he soon became, like myself, a member of the general committee of the London Teachers' Association, where as a debater he was supreme, especially when finance was involved. I always pitied anyone who challenged his figures during discussion, for he had a masterly knowledge of finance which, together with his unusually reliable memory made him a formidable opponent when challenged. He was never rushed; not for him the quicksilver technique. Although not a slow speaker he was always steady and apparently unperturbed; but in spite of his calm approach I felt at times that he was emotionally affected, yet his nerves were always under control. He was consistently polite. I doubt whether he ever made an enemy and most of us were always pleasurably anticipating a sound contribution to our symposium whenever he rose from his chair at a meeting.
  Undoubtedly a good teacher and an invaluable member of any school staff, ultimately his genius for unravelling the complexities arising in the world of insurance enticed him to leave his profession and finally to achieve the post of organizing secretary to the Teachers' Provident Society.
  While everybody knows that South Australia is quite a step from Brisbane, it is just possible that John has met the late Sir Fred Schonell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland. Should that occasion have arisen their conversation ought to have been recorded on tape, for beth men were at one time associated with the same college, both were members of a certain society which used to meet periodically at the Rembrandt Hotel, South Kensington, and both had a number of mutual acquaintances of ready wit and first-class minds. I should have liked to be an unseen listener at their talk, for the great continent of Australia contained two of the finest men in my storage of memory. In one instance, an Australian and mighty proud of has native land; in the other case an Englishman unashamed of his nationality, and an asset to any country privileged to give him asylum.

* The papers of the long defunct literary agency Michael Hayes of Cromwell Road S.W.5  - parts of a manuscript memoir by one L.R. Reeve of Newton Abbot, South Devon. Mr Reeve was attempting to get the book (Among those Present: Very Exceptional People) published, but on the evidence of the unused stamp Hayes never replied and  L. R. Reeve published the book himself through the esteemed vanity publisher Stockwell two years later in 1974.

L R Reeve had, in a long life, met or observed a remarkable selection of famous persons. He presents 'vignettes' of 110 persons from all grades of society (many minor or even unknown) they include Winston Churchill, Dorothy Sayers,  H H Asquith, John Buchan, the cricketer Jack Hobbs, J.B. Priestley, H.G. Wells, Marconi, E.M. Forster, Duchess of Atholl, Marie Stopes, Oliver Lodge and Cecil Sharp -- 'it is unnecessary to explain that  many have known have not known me. All of them I have seen, most of them I have heard, and some of them have sought information, even advice from me." Reeve states that the unifying qualification all these people have is '… some subtle emanation of personality we call leadership, and which can inspire people to actions  unlikely to be undertaken unless prompted by a stronger will."

Reeve was a teacher throughout his life and deputy head of 3 London schools, headmaster of Loughborough emergency schools, ex-president of London Class Teachers Association  and very early member of the British Psychological Society (55 years)... I calculate he was probably born in about 1900. His style is markedly unexciting but he has much information unavailable elsewhere.. He sent several typed manuscripts to (from the smell) the chain-smoking agent Hayes… 

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