Nick Dawson, headmaster – obituary


Nick Dawson, who has died aged 82, was one half (together with his twin brother Tim) of the famend partnership that ran Sunningdale Faculty in Berkshire from 1967 till their eventual retirement in 2005.

Sunningdale – alma mater of, amongst others, Prince Michael of Kent, the Duke of Westminster, Sir Henry Cecil and Henry Blofeld – was already one of many nation’s main preparatory faculties when the Dawsons took it over. By the point they retired – handing over the headmastership that that they had held collectively to Nick’s nephew and Tim’s son, Tom – it had maintained its fame as a feeder for Eton and different main public faculties, but additionally for turning out a standard prep faculty boy with good manners and savoir faire in addition to a sound scholastic grounding.

Andrew James Nicholas Dawson was born on September 1 1933 at Harrogate, 15 hours earlier than his an identical twin, Tim. Their father known as them “a brace of partridges” – it was the primary day of the partridge season – and household legend had it that he performed a spherical of golf between the 2 occasions. Their sister Jennifer was born two years later. The household spent the warfare years between their grandparents’ homes in Gloucestershire and Rutland.

In 1942 the twins had been despatched to Cothill Home and from there they went to Eton. Their housemaster, Dick Routh, had been within the Rifle Brigade with their grandfather. As decrease boys that they had their heads banged collectively by Anthony Leschallas, later chairman of Bollinger: this induced a hearth extinguisher to blow up, for which all three had been soundly overwhelmed. Nick was within the XXII, was Captain of Video games in the home and received the varsity 100 yards. After leaving Eton he was Berkshire 100 yards champion in two successive years.

He did his Nationwide Service within the Rifle Brigade, following within the household custom. Promoted to corporal, he handed his driving take a look at and was chosen for officer coaching. Posted to Eaton Corridor in Cheshire he served as a Junior Below Officer, till a criticism from a fellow officer cadet that he had dealt leniently together with his twin for returning late to barracks led to his being demoted. This didn’t cease him being commissioned into the Rifle Brigade, which he loved vastly. He remained a loyal Rifleman for the remainder of his life.

The twins had at all times wished to run a prep faculty and, on leaving the Military, they went to show at Sunningdale, then below the headmastership of Charlie Sheepshanks, an previous Yorkshire buddy of their mother and father. Their want to train was influenced partly by their love of sport. In addition to educating geography and maths, Nick Dawson ran the soccer – he was a lifelong supporter of Darlington, the place his nanny was born – the athletics and the fives. Below his teaching, the Sunningdale pair had been Preparatory Colleges Fives champions on 12 events.

The summer season holidays gave him an opportunity to play cricket. He was a member of I Zingari, Eton Ramblers, Free Foresters, Butterflies, Gents of Leicestershire and Sussex Martlets. His most beloved staff was Gemini, which he based together with his father and brother in 1948, adopting the colors of their grandfather M N Kenyon, captain of Lancashire from 1919 to 1922.

He would run the membership till his loss of life, taking part in in each match till retiring after which arranging fixtures, elevating sides, scoring and advising his captains on declarations. As soon as, taking part in for the Foresters at Bradfield, he acquired out inside a number of runs of victory; the following batsman was instantly dismissed and his twin, attributable to bat subsequent, had modified, presuming he was not wanted. So Nick returned to the pavilion and re-emerged to bat as an alternative.

In 1967 Charlie Sheepshanks retired and requested the twins to take over. This was the start of 38 blissful years operating a small boys’ boarding faculty as a double act during which Nick quickly acquired the fame of being the extra intense and severe twin. Tim married the identical 12 months and his spouse Prue introduced a female contact to the brothers’ administration of the varsity.

Nick Dawson received a fame as formal, strict however honest. He detested bullying and dealt firmly with any culprits. He would typically sit within the night and play playing cards with a number of the older boys, and loved partaking them in dialog, understanding that training didn’t finish exterior the classroom door. His view that Sunningdale existed not least to prove gents was exemplified in his perception that one of the crucial vital issues the boys learnt there was methods to combine a very good gin and tonic.

In addition to anticipating software within the classroom, Dawson insisted on sportsmanship on the sphere, and he at all times believed that even essentially the most disruptive boy could possibly be turned spherical by a mixture of a agency hand and a honest curiosity in his improvement and welfare.

He was totally simple in his dealings with mother and father, and so they valued his sincerity, dedication and decency, and the wonderful affect he had on their sons. As one of many many elderly boys to put in writing to the household after his loss of life put it: “My tutorial life, my profession, my love of sport and, put merely, my character have all been outlined by my time spent below Nick’s care.”

One of many values he imparted most prominently was loyalty, and in his tireless work he exemplified that high quality, to the varsity and to its boys, who grew to become like an prolonged household.

He accompanied his nephews and nieces on holidays in Cornwall, fishing in Scotland and in the home the household shared in France. In retirement he grew to become the varsity groundsman and was deeply concerned with the village of Sunningdale.

Dawson lived together with his much-loved companion Monika Lasecka, with whom he spent unique holidays within the solar, and for a few years together with his Norwich terrier, Baggage.

He’s survived by Monika, Tim and Jennifer.

Nick Dawson, born September 1 1933, died June 9 2016


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