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2002
23/03/2015
From John Davies' speech at the OMOTY ceremony 2002: John joined MF in 1957 when his father came to the school to teach languages. Both BSH and I remember him well for we were both teaching at Millfield, too, when Ernie, his father, was teaching and also housemaster at Walton House. John joined the school with his older brother, Peter, and both were in KW house. Peter became 2nd HOH and John HOH and deputy HOS, in 1962. These quotes from John’s reports illustrate that it is almost impossible to predict pupils’ futures from their school days. In Logic, John Baker stated “finds this tough going, as he inclines too much to snap judgements”. Herbert Smith’s Physics report: “works quite well but has a rather casual, carefree approach and is impatient of detail and routine. He has the attitude ‘After all, I did get 70’, and , if this persists, he is unlikely to improve on it.” RJOM, Jack Meyer, Founder HM, thought his conduct “impressive”. Fred Stephenson, his housemaster, in various reports, stated that “his appearance – hair, shoes, etc. needs to be checked occasionally.”… “he is exceptionally keen on radio repairs this term”… and “he has a good sense of humour and is very reliable as a prefect.” John was a top debater and one of a very few good chess players. He was Flight Sergeant in the RAF section of the CCF and won an RAF scholarship to learn to fly so that he now has a pilots “A” licence. He was not a superstar at sport – though the large photograph over there….. In 1961 Mike Cole thought that “he has been a moderately good hooker playing for both the 3rd and 4th XVs”.

John’s autobiography covers some of this, talks about Jack Meyer and his philosophy regarding children of the rich, explains that he thought of the school as a prisoner-of-war camp and describes his inspirational English teacher, Robert Bolt, who went on to become an internationally acclaimed playwright. Both Peter and John were trying for University entrance on the science side. Peter for dentistry and John for engineering but both changed their minds. Peter eventually went to drama school and John read politics, philosophy and economics at Magdalen, Oxford.

At Oxford, John’s sense of humour led him and other under graduates who are now household names, into review and cabaret, into comic acting, and, when he left Oxford, he tried TV comedy with a successful series “On The Margin”. However, eventually, John turned to journalism, starting with the “Liverpool Daily Post and Echo”, which eventually led him into political journalism. I’m not going to go into any more of this in detail because it’s all described in a deliciously funny manner in his book “Give Me 10 Seconds” and which I heartily recommend. John was appointed Political Editor of ITN in 2000, after having been Chief Political Correspondent of the BBC for the previous 12 years. He joined the BBC as a reporter on radio news in 1970. He then became a special correspondent in many parts of the world, reporting from more than 25 countries. Among the conflicts he covered were the closing stages of the Vietnam War, the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus, the Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon and the guerilla war in Rhodesia. For the past 20 years he has specialised in political reporting from Westminster and he has, at times, presented a wide variety of news programmes on R4, including “Today” and “The World at One”. He has also been a guest on many light entertainment shows, including “Have I Got News For You”, (indeed, he chaired last week’s programme), “Room 101” and the “News Quiz” on R4. At the end of this year, John steps down as ITN’s Political Editor and it is this fact, plus the publishing of his book earlier this year, that has resulted in him becoming one of our OMs of the Year. We congratulate him on his varied and highly impressive achievements and wish him well in what he next has in his sights.
From John Davies' speech at the OMOTY Ceremony: Robert joined Millfield in 1950, was a member of the first XI hockey team in 1952 and 1953, and in 1954 when he was Captain. He was coached by a famous Olympian, one of GB’s greatest ever players, Tony Robinson, who reported in 1953 that “RJ Watson was promoted to centre-half, but his eagerness to be everywhere at the same time was too much of a risk for it to become his permanent position, and he was reinstated at back”. He was, as Captain, allowed to be centre-half the next year when his stick work was superior to anyone in his own side or any opponents. He kept wicket for the colts at cricket in 1951 and played for the first XI in 1952/3/4 latterly opening the batting and showing “some very fiery but sometimes rather peculiar strokes”. However, today we are not talking about cricket.

At London University, Robert played hockey, became President of the Union and founded the Purples, an equivalent of the Blues. He then became first XI Captain at East Grinstead and, then, Southgate. He was in the vanguard of the movement to introduce league hockey, something initially opposed by the Hockey Assoc., and, then, was appointed to the European Club Championship Exec. Committee, going on to become Secretary of the European HF. In 1980, for 12 years, he became the Treasurer of the British Olympic Assoc. He also joined the GB Hockey Board becoming President in 1993. And went on to achieve even more. However, this year, Robert stepped down after 27 years with the GB Olympic Hockey Board, having been President for the last 9 years. And, of course, during his time at the very top of hockey’s administration, GB hockey reached the dizzy heights of Olympic Gold and International success on a wide front (aided, of course, by quite a number of OM hockey players). And he is still VP of the European Hockey Federation as well as Secretary to the Disciplinary Committee of the International Hockey Federation the President being the former King of Malaysia (and I’ll touch upon this a little later). Earlier this year, he received the prestigious Memorial Award at the Hockey Writer’s Club for outstanding services to hockey. You’d think that his hockey work would have been a full time job. Not at all. All this time he’s enjoyed – and he’s still enjoying – a most distinguished legal career as Head of Chambers, as a barrister concentrating on criminal defence. He was called to the bar in 1963 and he’s hanging up his boots in July next year – after 40 years at the top of the legal profession. He is a most accomplished man and, clearly, a very strong character.

But I don’t want you to think that he is perfect (and I’m sure Maureen will agree). So I am going to quote briefly from a recent long article about him in “Hockey Sport”. This describes him as a person “whose exuberance and joy in living has produced a character that often cannot help playing the fool.” The article cites several examples. “At the Malaysian Royal Palace he appeared dressed as a woman; in Bombay he dressed as an Indian, face blackened, and served coffees to the top table, which included the then President and Secretary of the Federacion Internationale Hockey”. Clearly, he’s quite a character. Ladies and Gentlemen, the complete Millfield all-rounder and OM of the Year, Robert Watson.
From John Davies' speech at the OMOTY Ceremony: Both Simon and his brother, Nigel, were day boys at MPS and Millfield. Simon being at Millfield between 1966 and 1969. But he left rather uncertain about his career, although he had won a teaching place at Loughborough. In fact, HM (RJOM) wrote on his final report: “I am sure he is right to think in terms of teaching, rather than science and engineering”. As you will hear, this was something that Boss got completely wrong. A v.g. rugby player, Roger Whyte, his coach, wouldn’t allow complacency: “ he is as competent a player as ever and his worth in this direction is invaluable; but flaws in basic skills are often apparent – some head-high ineffectual tackling in particular – and these will count against him in any final reckoning. As captain, he has kept a firm grip on the XV on and off the field and has given study to the tactical aspects”. And there is a photograph of first XV …

Anyway, Simon didn’t take up teaching, instead he took up a management training position with the Imperial Group at their Bristol headquarters. By the late 1980’s, he had just completed an Executive MBA degree and was the company’s Commercial Manager. However, after 19 years with the company, he joined the Dowty Group based in Cheltenham. He progressed to working directly for the Managing Director and, then, was appointed Head of Design Engineering for the largest manufacturer of aircraft landing gear in the world, even though he was not and never had been an engineer. In 1995 he became Marketing, Sales and Product Support director to Messier-Dowty, the two companies, (one producing landing gear and the other manufacturing engines) having merged. Thereafter, a series of rapid promotions led to his appointment in 2000 as Group Vice President for Boeing and Military Business, President of Messier-Dowty UK and National Executive UK for the French engine group’s several companies. As a company, Messier-Dowty has around 55% of the world’s market share for aircraft landing gear. It employees 3,000 people globally of which 1,000 are in Gloucester/Cheltenham where Simon is based. He has offices in other countries and travels extensively to many parts of the world (including flying the Atlantic 90 times in the last 30 months). In 2002, he was greatly honoured, (as a non-engineer), to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

He and his wife, Shelia, have another key interest: 16 Siberian Huskies. Each week, they spend many hours working their dogs, in harness, in the forests adjacent to where they live. They wrote a book on the subject a year or so ago. In 1992, he became a member of the Kennel Club (another honour as there are only round about 500 members in total), continues to write a weekly column in the national dog press and gives presentations in the UK and abroad. Both he and his wife judge, Simon doing this at Crufts in 1998 and Sheila scheduled to do this in 2007, although, next year, Simon will again be judging at Crufts but another breed, Alaskan Malamutes. He has also judged in Holland, Spain and France.

Simon played rugby at Millfield and claims a record, that of playing in every old boys rugby match against the school between 1966 and 1983, -17 consecutive years - the first being for the first XV. Playing in the front row, he played for Bath when he first left the school, moving to Clifton and finishing his rugby career at Bath, his highlight being to progress as far as an England trial. He played Western League Cricket for Clifton in the 1970’s and County League Badminton.

Simon gets this award for being the quintessential Millfield All-Rounder!
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