E. B (Barry) Graham OB (1946-1953)
I am sad to report that my father, who was a keen supporter of the school and the OBA, has passed away after a long illness. He was 85 years old.
Barry (as he liked to be known) was born in Wanstead and started in East House in 1946, becoming Head of School as well as Head of East House. During his time as Head of House, he was privileged to be invited to a service in Woodford Green, where he shook hands with the local MP, a certain Sir Winston Churchill. He was also a member of the 1st XV rugby team. On leaving the school, he went to Imperial College, London, where he obtained a PhD in chemical engineering. He also played rugby for the Old Bancroftians in the 1950s.
After a short spell working in the USA, he spent most of his working career at British Gas, living with his family in Buckhurst Hill and then Loughton. He was immensely proud that both of his sons attended Bancroft’s – Robert (Bob) Graham (1971-78), Alan Graham (1974-81) and he played an active role on the OBA committee as membership secretary and as OBA President towards the end of Ian Richardson’s time as Headmaster.
His final years were spent in sheltered accommodation in Romsey, Hampshire, where he could be closer to his family. Unfortunately, as his health began to fail, he was unable to spend as much time following his love of bowls and rambling. A man of a strong Christian faith, he had been a regular attender at Romsey Abbey.
He is survived by his loving wife, Pat, sons Robert and Alan and daughter Elizabeth. In addition, he had eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He was proud of them all.
He was a significant Bancroftian very appreciative of what he had received himself as a pupil. He was part of a highly respected trio, himself as Head of School and of East House, David Giles Head of West, and Mike Gibbs Head of School House. In the archives there is a photo of the three, as Heads of Houses and School Monitors, of them standing together on the steps leading from the Chapel Assey to the field. He supported the School wholeheartedly through his commitment to the OBA, both as an Officer and especially in his year as a most distinguished President. He was always looking for ways in which Old Bancrfotians could best support their old School and was enthusiastic for new initiatives often arguing against those who had no appetite for change.
He was the organiser of the Past Presidents’ annual dinner for many years. Many happy dinners were organised by him at the National Liberal Club until they priced themselves out of the market. We then worked together to get the dinner re-located to the School where it has been held very successfully now for over 20 years. He successfully twisted my arm to take over the organisation from him over 10 years ago but remained a regular attender until he and Pat moved to Romsey and his health started to fail. However he would always send a note of greetings to be read out on his behalf!
He was also very supportive of me during my time as Deputy Head Master always asking how things were and asking probing questions about the direction of the School. You always knew from any conversation just how strong his affection was for Bancroft’s.
Unknown to many Barry served a 12 month period as a School Governor representing Essex County Council filling a gap for Essex CC on an interim basis.
Dr Barry Graham 1946-53 OBA President 1984
Barry valued life and did not waste it. Always positive, he put much into living: work,
family and friendship. We were friends from 1946 when Barry joined Bancroft’s in East House and I was in West in the year above. Our interest in cricket led to a scorching day at Lords, and in our senior years to rugby, He deservedly became Head Monitor who was always firm but fair in dealing with “bad lads”. On leaving he became a serious scientist and built a career in chemical engineering after his successful studies at Imperial College. So our lives were very different and often lived far apart, but in the pre~computer age all we needed were air mails instead of trunk calls —and letters last longer.
In middle life he made good progress towards his senior role as a manager in British Gas. His notes to staff bore his initials EBG which led his workforce to refer to him among themselves as Eeby Geeby. His sense of humour would have appreciated that, as he often saw the humour of life as much as the serious. He was a lifelong churchgoer who knew and read his bible without “bashing” it. As a commuter on the Central Line in tough times, he needed to see the rarer moments of humour in a packed tube train. Escape was found. Barry and Pat loved the Lakes and spent many holidays in their pleasant lodge in Keswick where they were kind hosts to many— and Barry outwalked us all.
Family life encouraged Barry’s and Pat’s three children to university and later to work in the south of England, so that is where Barry and later moved after retirement to be near them. Long membership of the C of E church led to their being welcomed at Romsey Abbey. Barry’s strong Christian faith was revealed from his good works rather than proud words. Our visit to Ramsey found our friends of old happily living in new surroundings. It was good to see them so well settled, in spite of Barry’s declining health. His daily march to the newspaper shop followed his lifelong habit on the way to work. A School report on his long life should say “Good things well achieved.” Barry was a great friend to many of us and we shall miss him and his warm appreciation of all things Bancroftian.