RETIREMENT The Holly Leaf (1939)

Luther C. Dudley, B.A., Lond.

The School has seen a considerable number of changes in its comparatively short history - changes in domicile, in number and type of scholar, and in staff - and many of those changes have been crowded into the last seven years or so.  The more it has changed, the more it has remained the same in its essentials of vitality, confidence and optimism.  This integrity endures largely because of the character in which the School was moulded in its early days by a band of devoted men and women of whom now none remains.  This term saw the end of a life's service given over more than thirty-eight years by Luther Charles Dudley, and with it, another chapter in the School's story is closed.

It is no idle flattery to say that Mr. Dudley has left an imprint on this School that will be visible long after his contemporaries have followed him into "slippered ease".  That impression has been made not only on the School itself, by his assiduous regard for his academic duties, and by the extensive range of his administrative and "out-of-school" activities, but also on the minds and affections of all who have worked under or with him.

It is customary - and a felicitous custom it is - on a man's retirement, to congratulate him on a life of labour well-spent, and to wish him "Good Luck" in a half-envious and half-regretful way.  On this occasion, it is difficult to say "Goodbye" so easily, for School has meant so much more to Mr. Dudley than a livelihood, a means of providing for one's "retired" years, a service grudgingly, because necessarily, performed : to him there has been an abiding satisfaction in teaching for its own sake, a joy in the awakening of interest shown by his pupils, and in the realisation of the permanent value of a task well and nobly done.

Mr. Dudley was educated at the Witton Grammar School, Northwich, before becoming a Pupil Teacher in Chester for three years.  He then went to Borough Road Training College, where he was engaged in all aspects of that College life which, like his "P.T." Days, has been recently so admirably portrayed by his contemporary, F. H. Spencer, in "An Inspector's Testament."  Mr. Dudley completed his studies for his London B.A. After being appointed as an assistant master in Pye Bank School.  Four years later, in January 1900, he cam to the Pupil Teacher Centre, and was put in charge of a class formed to take the London Matric.  In 1903, another class for students taking the London Inter. Arts, was formed and placed under his control, and he taught Latin, Greek, and Mathematics to its members.

Rumour has it that when Mr. Dudley joined the Staff of the P.T.C., he taught Geography as well as the Latin and Maths. in which he subsequently specialised.  He was certainly an outstandingly successful teacher of the two last-named subjects, and until recently, he taught Maths. to all the students in the Scholarship, or "Inter.," or the VIth forms.  Until the School became so large, he was responsible for the teaching of Latin throughout the School, and it was in the teaching of that subject that he achieved an unbroken record of success.  His method, here as in all that he did, was one of thorough preparation and "grounding."  It is true that those whose own preparation was not equally thorough "fell by the wayside," but those who survived will still bear witness to the lasting effect of their habits and minds of his rigorous training in accuracy and mental discipline.

His lessons were often smaller than the others, and this helped him to achieve a friendliness and intimacy with their members which flourished outside the classroom and endured far beyond the limits of School life.  Mr. Dudley had a genius for helpful counsel and for friendship, and the senior members of the School knew that from him there would be a sure response to any appeal for advice or assistance.  It was only in recent years that Mr. Dudley had much to do with the younger scholars and he has often remarked on the pleasure he has had in their company.  Older members of the School can easily imagine his delight in the simple games in which he joined at the Christmas Parties of Forms I and II, when they recall how on ramble or at the Field, he loved to chant with us "McPhairson swore a feud," or "Eh poor lassie, she were dumb."

Those scholars who had not the good fortune to be in his classes, became acquainted with Mr. Dudley either on the Sports Field, or in association with some of the numerous other activities in which he was engaged.  With the Principal, Mr. A. J. Arnold, he was responsible for the introduction of Hockey as a girls' school game in Sheffield.  The P.T.C XI was the first girls' team in the city, and the Holly Guild was a senior and leading club in the district.  How hard he worked on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons at High Storrs, coaching and refereeing.  For years he can never have had a free afternoon.  Past students will remember the prodigies of skill and valour he performed in the annual Staff Match (and the curious "togs" he wore).  It was in fact Mr. Dudley who first agitated for the granting of a half-day for games, and Mr. Dudley who nursed the infant finances of "the Field."  Before this, he had personally hired a tennis court for the use of the Matric Class one evening each week.  He has always been interested in games.  At College he played in teams which included "internationals," and had considerable success in Tennis and Cricket, and also played Rugby.  All will remember his prowess at Croquet, played on the "sacred" cricket Pitch at High Storrs.

He was a pioneer in the making of organised outings from School, and extended them in 1906 to tours in France and Switzerland.  He has always had a love of walking, and long before there were "hikers", he knew the delights of exploring new country afoot.  Nothing gave him more pleasure than walking in the hills, and Switzerland has drawn him every summer for many years.  Usually he takes with him a happy party of friends, many of whom are old students of the School.  Many an old "P.T." owes his memories of high paths leading to snows above the drifting cloud, of sudden, glowing ridges cutting a darkening sky, to L.C.D.'s enthusiasm for Switzerland and others have shared his pleasures in listening to his stories and in viewing his photographs.

"The Holly Leaf" owes something of its inception, form and tradition to Mr. Dudley.  He was one of its founders and its second manager.  There is still in the School a bundle of manuscript copies of "Thoughts and Fancies" written and edited by the Matric. And Inter Classes for their private circulation, under his suggestion and patronage.  It grew into this Magazine.

Though Mr. Dudley has been associated with so many beginnings, it was one of his characteristics that his interest and enthusiasm did not wane when their novelty passed.  He nursed them through their infancy and managed them in their maturity.  This is true of the Holly Guild and its Benevolent Fund.  No finer memorial of all that Mr. Dudley has done for this School, and no finer tribute to his capabilities and character, could be found than in that Fund.  He was concerned in the formation of the Association of Past Students of the School to preserve the happy relations created in it.  But soon its major function became the promotion of a Fund to assist members with the payment of their College fees, by loans free of interest.  In 1904 the first year's working was carried out on a capital of £9.  The Guild arranged a series of "functions" by which this sum was augmented, but the demands on it were so great that in 1926 the Fund was £400 in debt to private persons.  With the active co-operation of the Principal, Mr. Joseph Batey, a huge Bazaar was held in that year to release the Fund from its debt and to enable it to meet the increasing calls during the post-War depression, and £1,000 was raised.  The administration of the Fund entailed an enormous expenditure of time, thought and energy, and Mr. Dudley not only created the Fund, worked the scheme and elaborated it, but carried it single-handed until this year.  Few can estimate the benefit which this Fund has conferred directly and indirectly.  The merits of the scheme were so apparent that it has been adopted bodily elsewhere, and is the basis of a local public service that performs a similar function.

For many years Mr. Dudley also managed the General School Fund as he had formerly administered the Sports Fund.  This was another of the thankless tasks that have to be performed by someone with efficiency and care, day in, day out, without limelight or reward.  Mr. Dudley has faithfully and uncomplainingly given to this task the same quiet service as he has always and everywhere offered.

His views were essentially "human," like his sympathies.  He was a prominent member of the League of Nations Union and established a "live" branch at School.  Every good cause, every "liberal" movement, received his support.  He was interested in the international situation, not as a violent partisan of any -ism or -ology, but as an opponent of unreasoning stupidity, self-interest and cruelty.  His arguments were careful, and based on calm, sensible observation and never on passion.  His conversation was always cheerful, and his manner in accord with his character.  He could not "suffer fools gladly," but he was always just, and for that reason, his opinion was received with respect.  He never expected the worst from people, and consequently rarely was offered it.  One could take counsel with him with complete confidence in his discretion and if necessary, in his secrecy.  The young members of the Staff remember with gratitude, the friendly way in which he made them welcome in the School and Common-room, and the friendly help which he unobtrusively offered them.

His retirement brings him the leisure to enjoy his garden, his friends, his books, his cinematograph, and the company of his sister.  As he sits comfortable puffing blue clouds of smoke across the hearth, he will feel the consciousness of duty well done, and the affection of generations of pupils.  His students will continue to write to him from the four corners of the world and wherever old members of the School forgather, there will be a flow of reminiscence, and pictures drawn of Mr. Dudley at the Field, camera slung across his back, of his plus-fours and leggings, of his tilting back of his chair and construing Virgil, of his sonorous reading of the Prophets at Assembly, of his obvious enjoyment in singing the bass part of familiar hymns, and of his quick friendly smile and firm hand-grip.

Mr. Dudley left School with regret and sorrow.  He said that the School would prosper : and that whatever he had done or not done for the School, we were to know that he had loved it.  We would tell him that School will not forget its debt to him, and that he takes with him our gratitude, our esteem and our affection.