Leonard Anthony Wheeler, Olds 1933-1937 (November 2014)

Leonard Wheeler

Tony cared little for his school days and such was his preferment for the family farm that on one occasion he sneakily altered the '3' to an '8' on the school letter announcing the next term's dates. It took his Housemaster three days to discover that he hadn't turned up. He recounted with amusement his experience of driving his father's car up the Lancing drive at the start of a new term aged 14 and hoping that his friends would see him, but not the staff! He particularly enjoyed games of squash after Chapel with the Chaplain (also named Wheeler). Initially he wondered how his opponent was always on court ready and practising by the time he arrived; such, he discovered was the benefit of cassock concealment! In 1937, keen to move on, he took up Head Master Blackiston's suggestion that he should join a group of 20 public school boys from 20 different schools under the flag of the Royal Empire Society circumnavigating the world, main destination New Zealand. As the only farmer's son on the trip and having a disgraced uncle deported to the colony to visit, he thoroughly enjoyed this enterprising experience and kept a fascinating diary of notes and photographs. Call up papers followed his return to UK: first to the Royal West Kent Regiment, then the Officers Training with the Artists Rifle Brigade and on to the East Yorks Regiment taking him out to Egypt. He contracted desert sores, was moved to Abyssinia and arranged the repatriation of Italian citizens for two years. Thence he went to Kenya where he met his future wife, Joan. Finally he was sent to Eisenhower's Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force in Versailles. With the war over he took his new bride back to Kent and he joined the family farming business growing hops, apples, pears and cereals in East Peckham. He was a parish councillor for 27 years (Chairman for 17), and also a local district councillor for 17 years. He was always interested in local and national politics. In the past he was a keen skier, tennis player and cricket follower. He swam regularly and always remained healthy, fit, active, and interested in farm activities. He bought a new Mercedes in November and was planning a trip to Ireland in the spring to visit his mother's birth place and an inspection of T C Fiducia's (Field’s 1962-1968) new farm on the Rutland/Lincolnshire border for his impending 96th birthday on 30 January 2015.

A widower for 15 years, he leaves sons, Christopher and Nigel and five grandchildren. His daughter Heather (St Michael's 1964-1970) died in 1996