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1967 From the Magazine

1967 was dominated by the retirement of Fred Snell. His successor Bruce Fieldsend spent the year at a number of leading public schools in England and predictably no major initiatives were undertaken. A Soccer First XI was established and a ground allocated to the sport for the first time.

It was a happy year but ominously the Zambian Government stopped direct flights between Salisbury and Lusaka. This started the process whereby the Zambian students - who made up almost a third of the total - had to travel by bus and finally ceased attending during the "lean years" .

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1967 Speech Day


My friends,

In starting thus rather than with the traditional formulae I claim the privilege of age and impending departure. Also I believe that both words are true of the majority of the people here this afternoon, and at least that you are all friends of Peterhouse. Mr. Oppenheimer stood last on this dais in 1959 at our third Speech Day. He is one who always has something significant to say, and we are pleased and honoured that he should have consented to come to us again. This oration is officially known as the Rector's Report so I must do something to justify the title.

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Reminiscences of Peterhouse 1957-1962

When I first arrived at Peterhouse it was from a Government School in Salisbury, and I had not spent much time away from home. The whole arrangement was somewhat alien, and there were several practices that seemed to be totally unnecessary, like wearing special clothes for the evening meal. My mother was from New Zealand where English traditions were probably more common than in England, but which was in something of a time warp as I found later, but that did not prepare me for what I thought was a strange custom, in summer anyway.

However, I was there to stay, so there was nothing for it but to knuckle down and come to grips with the procedures however odd I thought that they were.

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Johnstone McEwen (Mac) Mason

1918-1996 (STAFF 1958-61)

Andrew McEwen Mason writes:
My father Mac Mason's life was shaped by two profound experiences, one as a very young man and the other in middle age. As it happens, one led indirectly to the other.

Second World War
The first was his service as an RAF pilot during the Second World War. This gave him a life-long love of flying and a feast of memories and amusing anecdotes. It also almost killed him. As a result of a bad landing in 1941, he contracted ankylosing spondylitis, which at that time was almost unknown. He was in fact lucky to survive, but it left him with permanent crippling pain in his back (caused by the fusing of cartilage in the vertebrae), a particular blow to someone who had been a first-class sportsman. When he was finally invalided out of the RAF, the doctors recommended he take up a light, stress-free occupation. They suggested that teaching would fit the bill nicely (!), and he took to this occupation like a duck to water. He loved his work, despite all its stresses and strains, and I believe he was very good at it (that's what my Peterhouse contemporaries told me, anyway).

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1979 From the Magazine

979 was the last of the "lean years" during the uncertainties of the "guerrilla" war. With the departure of the 100 or more Zambian students in the mid-'70s and the general uncertainty, numbers in the school reached their lowest point since the founding years - 180.

Ably led by the Rector, Bruce Fieldsend, with the support of the Board of Governors which raised considerable financial support from industry and sacrifices by both staff and students, the school survived until enrolments once again rose to more acceptable levels after 1980. But in Dickens' immortal words "They were the best of times and the worst of times." The boys and staff were probably more involved and committed than ever before or since.

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