|WS Grimshaw - Winton High School Teacher 19??-??
(aka. fam. only. Titch) ~ P.S. He was always known as Mr Grimshaw at school!
|This is a slightly altered and extended version of the eulogy his daughter Gail read for her Dad. With many thanks to Gail
and her Mum for authorizing this much awaited account. Ernie 54/57
|W.S. Grimshaw – much loved, much respected and much missed.
My dad was born in Eccles in 1920, the only boy to arrive after five elder sisters.
He sang in the choir at Eccles Parish Church, won a prize for singing ‘Oh for the Wings of a Dove’ at Eccles Town Hall and went to Eccles Secondary School in Monton where he was not only a successful student, but also a successful boxer. At some point he gained the nickname ‘Titch’ (he was vertically challenged all his life) and he remained Titch Grimshaw to many people well into his adult life.
He always went to great pains to tell me that ‘special things are wrapped in small packages’.
At home he learnt the piano and began his love of physical activity by pleading for, and eventually getting from his parents a bicycle, which later became the means by which he, and a few friends, used to escape to the Lake District, riding up on a Friday night to stay with family and returning again on the Sunday.
He applied to join
the RAF and was successful in his application, but due to the War Office’s
passion for doing things alphabetically, he never actually got there
because, in that particular intake, by the time they got to ‘F’ they had
Although disappointed at that, his interest was caught by the news that the Army Air Corps was forming a Glider Regiment.
He applied and was among the first regiment to be formed. He was hugely proud of having been a Glider Pilot. Continuing to box for the Regiment, he was still known as Titch Grimshaw throughout his time in the army.
He took part in Operation Market Garden – famously depicted in the film ‘A Bridge Too Far’ – on his birthday in 1944. It was on that mission that he crashed his glider and was taken prisoner. He spent a number of months in Stalag before being taken on the ‘Death March’ across Germany, some of the details of which he secretly recorded in a diary we have – something that could have resulted in him being shot had he been discovered. He recorded that he ‘could have cried’ when he saw his mother and sister waiting for him at the train station when he returned home, weighing just six and a half stone.
After dad retired, he and my mum visited Arnhem in Holland to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of Operation Market Garden – he said he wasn’t sure if he’d make it to the fiftieth! He joined the British Legion and The Glider Pilot Regimental Association and continued to ‘fall in on parade’ every Remembrance Day since then, including the year that he died.
After the war, dad returned to the Coal Office at Patricroft for a short time. The time spent away in the army made him realise very quickly that he was not cut out to be a coal clerk for the rest of his life. He realised that his father had been right in his wishes for him to be a teacher and enrolled in Teacher Training College at Llandrindod Wells in Wales for an accelerated two year course to become a teacher – apparently there were a lot of accelerated courses after the war.
Of course, he came out of there ‘top of the class’ – as he tried to do with everything he did – and went for his first teaching job at Winton Boys School, working for Mr Charlie Adams, a man my father respected hugely. Incidentally, it might amuse to know – those of you who are aware of his passion for time keeping – that he was late on his first day. He turned up late, in trousers and a sweater AND unshaven!! He had spent that summer at Staithes and, having made friends with the local fishermen, had been delighted when they invited him on a fishing trip on the boat. Sadly they did not have a lot of time for the school timetable which resulted in his headlong dash to stand in front of Charlie Adams’ desk, only to be sent home to get changed!
During his time at Winton he taught Maths and Technical Drawing and his musical experience was brought to the fore when he became involved in the school productions, finding himself not only conducting the singing, but also a full orchestra! He always spoke fondly of his time at Winton.
Towards the end of his time there he bought a house, met and married my mum, and then they had me, in rapid succession. About the time I was born Dad decided that would be a good time to change the direction of his career! He went to teach in primary school at Ascension in Lower Broughton. From there he went to St John’s, on the Height, as Deputy Headteacher, to St Ambrose’ as Headteacher and then to Summerville, also on the Height, as Headteacher where he spent the last 14 years of his teaching career.
During his time at Summerville, dad was treasurer for the National Association of Head Teachers and also for Salford Rotary Club. It was always his great boast that neither set of books were ever out so much as a penny while he was treasurer.
He was always immensely proud of the teachers he worked with and he was passionate about the children that he had a part in educating. He exhorted everyone to do their best and, having done it, go one better next time.
He spent a long and happy retirement gardening, doing DIY and spending time with my mum, always reporting happily when he’d met one of his ‘old boys’ in Eccles or at a Rotary function. He was happiest sat reading or doing crosswords, knowing that my mum was nearby. I know he was very proud of his professional achievements, but I’m fairly certain that he was most proud of his family. He treasured and relied on my mum and his proudest days were connected with his family – the day he married my mum, the day I was born, walking my cousin and myself down the aisle at our respective weddings, the birth of his grand-daughters. He loved being surrounded by all these women and he liked and respected the men we brought into our family.
He had a long and busy life and touched the lives of so many people along the way – I can’t tell it all here.
He was precise, exacting, punctual and a hard task master because he expected the same high standards from everyone that he set for himself. One of my dad’s Deputy Heads, the much missed Ken Knowles, once described my dad – to his face – as a ‘benign despot’ – and, hard as that sounds, I don’t think anyone has ever described him better. He often came across as being serious, pernickety, and dour, but if you had the eyes to see the glint in his eye, the wink, the raised eyebrow, the imperceptible nod of the head, you would know the sense of humour, the caring nature and above all, the love that was in the man.
I miss him. I think he was right when he said ‘special things are wrapped in small packages’.
Gail Smith nee Grimshaw
|Thanks Gail. This is a treasure. Ernie|