A Tribute by Ivan Couchman


It is with devastating sadness to myself & the Armstrong family that I must advise you all that my dear and one of my closest friends Graham Armstrong finally stopped fighting pancreatic cancer after nearly four and a half years. Initially, he was given only six weeks to live. He passed away on Saturday 6 October 2018.

When I saw him for the last time recently he specifically mentioned the wonderful times he enjoyed at the School. With typical ‘Graham precision and organisation,’ he had planned his own funeral. He told me it will be a happy day and that there will be a party after the service where I am instructed to sing one of our rugby songs. (Fear not, if Lesley, his wife, still adheres to that program I suspect it will be “Sloop John B”) not some of the more spicy songs our rugby team were famous for! He particularly asked that anyone who remembered him from CVTHS should be notified. In typical ‘Graham style’, he never forgot those who were kind to him.

Graham was at CVTHS from 1964-1971 where he was a prominent Rugby player and superb sprinter in the School District & County Athletics teams. From the scrawny little whippersnapper at U13 he grew into an athletic, very quick winger, the first guy to play for the 1st XV in the 5th form and eventually a tough tenacious and utterly fearless No. 7 or No. 8. He was Head Boy from 1970-71, won multiple levels of colours in Rugby and athletics and he was a joint winner of the Howard Leslie Memorial Trophy in 1970-71. He went on to get a Material Science Hons Degree at the University of Bath (1971-1975) and from there a career which saw him reach the position of CEO in several companies. His passion for both codes of Rugby stayed with him throughout his life and we enjoyed several trips to Hong Kong together to watch the Hong Kong 10’s & World 7’s events.

He leaves his loving and devoted wife Lesley and two lovely, beautiful daughters Nicola and Rebecca

I cannot begin to explain what this loss means to me, suffice it to say for now that I have lost my brother from another mother. I am numb with pain.

With sadness

Ivan Couchman


Funeral 23 October 12 noon
Surrey & Sussex Crematorium
St Richard’s Chapel
Balcombe Road
West Sussex RH10 3NQ

About CVTHS Admin

Admin is Colin Cadle - colin@cvths.com

17 responses »

  1. Graham Thornhill says:

    Sad news indeed.


  2. Mark Head says:

    I most certainly remember Graham. He and Ivan and plenty of others whom I could name were in the same year and the same class for a good deal of our school lives at Cray Valley. I was never part of the sports scene but Graham was, but was also gifted in academic life. We were all good school chums and had respect for each other. I think that, most of all, is what mattered. Graham used to go shark fishing in Cornwall, I seem to recall! I remember that he became head boy and that he went to Salford to study engineering. I never saw him after that. I moved to Lancashire and lost track of most people. I am so sorry to learn of his illness but I am sure that he put up a strong fight. It certainly brings home one’s own mortality.

    Thanks to Ivan for his friendship towards many former chums, and for letting us know.


    • Ivan Couchman says:

      you are so right he did always go shark fishing in summer holidays & he couldn’t swim! But he went to Bath not Salford, I think Ian Gould went to Salford.


      • Mark Head says:

        Well, Bath. He must have gone for an interview at Salford because that is what stuck in my mind. I was in Bristol for 5 years, studying Architecture, too! What a shame we never met up! by the way, the navy was always full of people who could not swim, so Graham going shark fishing without being able to swim would not be out of keeping! In any case, he may not have wanted to go swimming with sharks, eh?!


  3. Ian Gould says:

    So sorry to hear this sad news. We were in the same class and morning register always started with “Armstrong?”. My condolences to you and Graham’s family.


    • Ivan Couchman says:

      Thank you Ian for your kind words.

      I think you are referring to Nick Armstrong in our class …. Graham was with Paul Gummer & Dave Thomas in “R”

      Do you ever get back to Swanley?


      • Ian Gould says:

        My mistake, it was a long time ago, you have a great memory Ivan.
        I’m regulary in Swanley; mum has just turned 90. I’ll email you separately.


  4. pgmrse says:

    Condolences to the Armstrong family and also to Ivan Couchman.
    I remember Graham from my days at CVTHS. We were never in the same classes so didn’t know him well but this is sad news to hear.

    One small note. Graham would have been at the school from 1964 to 1971.

    Robert Sears
    CVTHS – 1964 to 1969.


    • Ivan Couchman says:

      Thanks for spotting g my error Rob …. Alan Legg alerted me so Colin has kindly changed it. Its all a bit raw up here right now!


      • Rob Sears says:

        Ivan. I can imagine it is raw to you and,again, condolences. I was in the same class as Alan. Please give him my regards when you next speak to him.

        Thanks, Rob


  5. Paul Green says:

    Sad news indeed – Graham was a small lad as I remember – I left CVTHS early in the 3rd year when my family moved to Epsom. He obviously out grew me afterwards. Register call was Armstrong Baker Baxter etc… so he was always up front in the class – G’s were Gibbs then Green (Ian Frank behind me) so I was usually up front in the second row alongside Armstrong – fond memories & my condolences to the Amstrong family. Thanks to Couch for posting. Paul Green


  6. Ivan Couchman says:

    Great sentiments thank you guys!


  7. John Brennan says:

    Is there a photo of Graham Armstrong?
    I was at Cray Valley 1969/75 and remember his name. It would be good to see a photo of him from that time.


    • Ivan Couchman says:

      Check the school magazines theres a wonderful athletics picture of him nearly catching Paul Gibbs in the 1971 House Athletics day


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