Ray Pritchard

Ray & Kathy Pritchard

Ray & Kathy Pritchard

DOB: 8 March 1943
Wandsworth School: September 1954-60
House: Pitt B

Early education and family:

I was an only child and had an extremely happy childhood with great parents. I lived in Clapham and went to McCauley Church of England Primary School until I was 11.

In 1954 I was given a Governors Place at Wandsworth and was interviewed at that time by Mr Aubrey. My group had excellent relationships with the staff and a lot of the teachers I remember for various reasons; our fantastic and outstanding headmaster Mr King, he was a brilliant man. As far as being strict ‘Kenko’ Bond is the one whose name crops up and it may well have cropped up with some other people! The History teacher Mr Snell and for Geography, Mr Elms and Mr George are people I remember very well, their names come to the fore because they are still with us at our reunions.

But the person who made the biggest impact on me was our director of music Russell Burgess, who I didn’t actually take music at O Level but I joined the choir in the 3rd form and never looked back! I was librarian for the choir until I left but he had an amazing influence on us and we had no idea what was to follow with all the professional recordings, there was something like 350 performances in public concert halls, which was quite staggering and tours abroad, although I didn’t go on those because I had obviously left. He opened the doors for us to a very widespread interests and open minded type of musical appreciation from pop music to classical music. In fact the composer John Rutter who wrote a piece for the school described Russell Burgess as “the Director of music from Heaven”. He unfortunately died when he was 48 in 1979, we were all very sad and he was described by the then head of Wandsworth Council as a genius. In my opinion this comment does not overstate the case and is a wonderful tribute to him.

There are hundreds of memorable moments. I remember playing rugby in about 8 or 9 inches of snow at Richardson Evan Fields, trudging around in that was quite hilarious. The outstanding moment for me though as far as the choir is concerned was when we were asked by Decca through Benjamin Britten to record the Bach St John Passion in 1971. We spent a week at The Snape Maltings Concert Hall in Suffolk, with the English Chamber Orchestra and Peter Pierce, a revolutionary name and one of the top soloists in the world. We spent the week recording it and on the Good Friday we did a live broadcast with BBC3. I remember when Russell told us about it he said I don’t think you will quite take this in until you get home as it was such a privilege to be asked to do it. I don’t think that the young boys really understood the importance of what we were doing. And then they closed the school- Well done Wandsworth Council! It really was a very special school which was why there was such a protest when they closed it.

The friends I had at school were mainly dictated with my involvement with the choir. John Pinnock was one of my great friends at school and unfortunately I lost touch with him when we left. I have kept in touch with most people through the choir as following the end of school we would continue to meet for practise with Russell Burgess and the older boys would make the transition from sopranos and altos in the second and third years to tenors and basses. Boys including Peter Eastwood and Gordon Wort I remember, a very tall chap I played Fives with.

I was a Prefect for 2 years in the Sixth Form.

I left in 1960 and my career really took off in 1961. I was a representative at Novello’s in the early days and then I ended up as educational manager, general sales manager and advertising manager before we were all made redundant in 1989 as we were part of Granada Group who sold us off. I thoroughly enjoyed my career there but it is never a smooth run in business.

In 1974 I got married to Cathy, the lovely lady sitting beside me and we’ve enjoyed 35, almost 36 years of marriage.


We first met up in 1997. The school had closed and everybody started drifting apart. Whenever we did meet up we always used to say ‘oh we really ought to get together’, so I wrote to about 50 people in 1997 to see how much interest there was in having a reunion and the response was overwhelming. Everybody wanted to get together and we had about 60 of the old boys from the choir in the first year and we still get between 40 and 50 every year now and since 2006 we have met up each year on the first Saturday in October. I organise it all with the help of my wife but with the technology now it is so easy to send the emails out as well as letters, there are about 130 names on the mailing list and that’s purely for the choir. A mailing list for the Old Boys would be millions!

This ongoing tradition is something everybody is grateful for and it’s a labour of love. I enjoy doing it and people are very appreciative I keep it going, if anything happens to me I hope somebody will take over, although I plan to live past 100 to receive my telegram from the Queen!

Without question Wandsworth school and the Old Wandsworthians have had a positive influence on my development, yes in capital letters! They were wonderful school days and to quote, the best days of my life.

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