Ben Turner  :  58-74  

"Ernie" Green and the in-a-way similar Ben Turner were not WHS superstars, just quiet, undemonstrative guys who did their job. And, for those prepared to make a commitment to their subjects, they did it well. Ernie did his best with us, who in my case was more rough and sporty than artistic. I am not sure that WHS never had a pupil "worse" at art than me, so Ernie's best efforts were in vain.

Ben Turner, however, was a different case. He was absolutely unpretentious, gruff, taciturn, hard to get to know, yet I for one loved his classes. He would gather us round his bench at the front, demonstrate how to plane a piece of wood straight, and then we'd go and try to copy what he'd done. You don't need a PhD in Education to recognize this technique, but it damned well worked. I turned out tables, shelves, all more or less 'true' under Mr Turner's guidance. There was never a wasted hour with him: that's for sure and certain.

30 years later I still used the shelves I made at Woolverstone. Sadly, in one of the many moves that English people seem to make, the last remaining Woolvo artefact got lost somehow. All that remains are the memories of this honest, fair, decent chap who taught us woodwork.

I never realized till decades later how much we owed to those teachers. Not the stars of the show, but the engine room boys, the ones without whom it just wouldn't have been the total educational experience that it was. And I salute those in power who drew up the curriculum, who ensured we had a "balanced diet" of subjects, who made it possible for me, for example (but I can't have been alone) to leave Woolverstone with practical skills which have been of immense benefit to me over many years since.

I eventually got the chance to tell Ben Turner how much I appreciated his classes when we had a reunion with some of the masters at the Butt & Oyster - what a memorable day that was.

PS I never found out till later that he had been a fighter pilot in WWII. We never asked him about the war and he never mentioned it - both of which I now regret. He was a hero in fact, in more ways than one. Chris Snuggs - Berners/Halls 58-65