Reflections on Lancing and Lockdown from 3 OLS

Mason Crane (Head's 2010-2015)

I hope everyone is safe and well in these strange times.  Although we are not together, we are lucky we have still been able to share events like Founder’s day together - one of the most joyous occasions of the year.

One of the biggest things I have learnt through my career so far is how important it is that we can adapt to any given situation. It is important to adapt on a cricket field and it is important to adapt to whatever challenges we face in our day to day lives. Just as we are doing today, and will have to do again once we can return to normality. 

As a cricketer during lockdown it has been frustrating and challenging, but there has been much to learn too. Fresh air and exercise never fails to clear the mind and lift any mood.  Makeshift gym sessions and bowling up against the garage has become far too common, but the dangling carrot of returning to the field is what is keeping my motivation levels high. I have learned how much I love just playing cricket, but also that the camaraderie with teammates is irreplaceable and won’t be taken for granted ever again. 

When I was at Lancing I was often told that ‘these are some of the best times of your life’ and although I brushed those comments off then, I can’t stress enough how true it is. The friendships I made at Lancing will remain for a lifetime, as will the memories. 

 

Sir Tim Rice (Second’s 1958-1962)

If you were at Lancing or at any comparable public school in the 50s or 60s lockdown 2020 may bring back some youthful memories. The rules and restrictions at Lancing 60 years ago, apart from social distancing, were markedly similar to those imposed upon us all by COVID-19 today. You were not allowed to travel very far away from the school and were only able to see your nearest and dearest two or three times a term, and often not even that (there was no half term break at all in the spring term). However, the vast majority of inmates seemed fairly relaxed with the situation; it was the norm, it was what our parents signed up for. No internet nor mobile phones of course, nor even easy access to a landline, but there were plenty of optional sporting and cultural activities available in addition to the compulsory lessons and chapel services. I hasten to add that at that time Lancing was considered one of the more liberal schools, which indeed it was.

As I am a writer, lockdown should not be a major impediment to my work but somehow the added free time and blanks in my diary do not seem to have boosted my creative output – I am constantly getting that feeling that I recall so vividly from 1961 that I have yet again left it too late to get my history essay in on time, and I may have to borrow Henry Speer’s 1960 effort and nick at least three of his paragraphs.

I am certainly not advocating a return to the Lancing of the mid 20th century, nor am I trying to play down the impact of the current situation. I fervently hope that no one connected with Lancing has had to endure serious personal tragedy as a result of this terrible virus. However all things must pass. May all the virtual Lancing offerings of 2020 inspire us to appreciate even more the traditional celebrations that I trust will return in 2021 and beyond.

 

Major Robin Barton MBE (Second’s 1943-1947)

I entered Lancing in Second's House at Caynham Court, Ludlow in 1943 when the school was in evacuation. I was plunged into a bicycle based society. Our sole means of connection between the four grand houses we occupied and Ludlow itself, for schoolwork, sport and recreation, was the bicycle. In Second's House we considered Caynham to be the centre of our world. Schoolwork was conducted five tedious miles away and only took place in the mornings. We became semi-autonomous and fiercely self sufficient .

Then suddenly our almost surreal world at Caynham was over. In May 1945 we were reoccupying the Lancing of mythology that few of us had ever seen. It was a shock and gone for ever was the extraordinary freedom we had enjoyed. Our return was coincident with VE Day and my recollections of that are merged in the general explosive expansion of our world.

The buildings were almost overwhelming. The school quickly resumed its corporate identity from the loose federation that had obtained in Ludlow. The Chapel and the clock soon established a rhythm and order in our lives. The school now met collectively several times a day. The facilities seemed endless. From almost nothing we were now spoiled for choice. The Chapel cast its spell over me and I joined the choir. The rhythm of services became almost monastic and I loved it. It triggered my lifelong love of music and I experienced its extraordinary power.

I progressed happily through Lancing and my standards for life were set.

Starting with Ludlow I had received a uniquely wide education. I had clawed back the gaps in my early wartime education and qualified for RMA Sandhurst. I was commissioned into the RASC in 1950.

In my army career I specialised in logistic shipping world wide, beach landings and port operations. In the mid sixties I was the British Exchange Officer at the US Army Transportation Centre in Virginia It was at the time of the Vietnam War and I endeavoured to teach them how to load ships properly.

In Libya in 1969 Colonel Gaddafi usurped King Idris and a British withdrawal ensued. In the first three months of 1970 I was the British Port Commandant of Tobruk and OC of an RCT Port Squadron. Employing specialised logistic ships and three commercial freighters we outloaded by sea the entire 40,000 Tons inventory of RAF El Adem, and the Army Training Base. This ran from RAF bombs down to child-sized toilets from the infants' school. Nothing that could be unscrewed was left behind. For this I was awarded an MBE and I was honoured to receive it from the Queen in person. It was a memorable day for my family. On our return my driver negligently ran out of petrol and we had to get out and push. It was funny and so 'English'. The driver didn't laugh much on Monday morning.

In 1982 and the Falklands War I was a planner for amphibious logistics and in particular for the compatibility of military lighterage with commercial ships taken up from trade. What a coincidence that the Commander, the famous Admiral 'Sandy' Woodard, should have been a direct descendent of our Founder, Nathaniel Woodard.

 I retired from the army after 40 interest packed years. I immediately immersed myself in music by joining the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) as a volunteer. This involved me deeply in classical music at a high level and continued for thirty years until normality was engulfed by the pandemic. Our status that had taken 127 years to grow was felled at a single blow. I also indulged my love of opera that had been ignited in Berlin when I was sixteen and on holiday from Lancing.

I became a widower thirteen years ago. To fill gaps I started learning Italian because of its importance in music and its sensitivity. My professional teacher is Italian. I can now speak Italian at a very simple level, with a video link we can still have our conversation hour that wanders we know not where. I find this a great sanity saver today...

Lancing has always faced challenges. Lancing at Ludlow must have been in some peril. Head Master, Frank Doherty performed miracles to hold the school together and bring it safely back to Lancing. He had to contend with a low student base and nightmare decentralisation. Today the school faces undreamed of challenges with the pandemic and video teaching. This is particularly so because much of the Lancing experience is communal and physical with the influence of our environment and the power of the Chapel. But I am confident that the quality of Lancing will again pull us through, there has to be strong hope.

Lancing has always been at the core of my life and still is. It is wonderful that after seven decades I am still welcome and can bring a friend to be spellbound by the Chapel. This is mostly due to the Foundation Office that has provided the communications and events that have connected us. For me it really has been Lancing for life. My most formative years were in Ludlow in the bicycle age. So, when I hear 'Lancing' the first response that pops up in my head is 'Second’s at Caynham Court'