For WHS boys then and now Jock has always been important - and indeed held in great affection. Why should this be so? After all, he died nearly 120 years ago - and was just a dog .....
- "Just a dog"? Oh Dear! Dogs are 'Man's best friend', no? We all love dogs, don't we? At least, most normal Brits do. His very headstone records him as being "devoted" to his master, the war hero Captain H.H. Berners, and we respect devotion - and the poor Captain who was killed in action very early in the Great War.
- Secondly, he is a memorable link to the Berners family who occupied the hall and estate for so long. There are as it happens no plaques or statues commemorating the Berners family - or indeed WHS! Yes, the building is a reminder, but there is something about the gravesite of a passed living creature that makes us feel closer to those who passed before.
- Thirdly, he evokes sympathy in his lonely solitude - far away from his former master buried in Flanders - or indeed any other dogs. For decades he has occuped that lonely spot way down on Orwell Side in a secluded glade, his only visitors wandering boys and girls mostly preoccupied with other activities than visiting him.
- AND that spot is dear to WHS boys in particular, being near the site of the Young Farmers end-of-term BBQs to which girls were invited. I have never managed to find out WHY that was so, but it was something that Geography teacher and WHS legend Jimbo Hyde arranged - possibly to attract more recruits to his club! It certainly worked in my case - a whole term of feeding the pigs with kitchen leftovers two or three times a week was a price well worth paying for a single evening in the proximity of girls!
- And the glade where he lies is beautiful: secluded and surrounded by lush foliage. At night it must be rather eerie, as I am informed by former WHS boys who snuck out of their dorms after lights-out to daringly wander about on Orwell Side in the moonlight.
Some might find the affection in which Jock is held to be rather silly and pointless, but most of us I am sure do not share that view. He is a symbol of tradition, of devotion, of love - and lying in a legendary and iconic spot we knew so well as boys.
It was therefore very moving to find out that his grave has been refurbished. The headstone has been reset, with flowers laid and the surrounding area tidied up to look really beautiful and cared for. WHS Old Boys are immensely grateful to IHS: to the upper management which sanctioned the work and to Kev. and Glen who carried it out.
No, this is not Jock! Nobody in fact knows what he looked like, but being called Jock one may suppose he might have been a Scottish terrier! In any case, Rest in Peace dear Jock, knowing now that the beauty of your resting place matches the rest of the estate - and indeed your story as Captain Berners' beloved pet.