CVTHS Film Archive – Upgraded


Since the 3rd generation of our website back in 2009 we have always had a ‘Film Archive’. The most recent version, however, which contains hours of archive footage from School trips and reunions to a recent tour of the School building, had become a little dysfunctional. The films were all stored on one long page and despite being ‘streamed’ the page took ages to load, especially if you only had a slow broadband connection and the concertina menu system tended to fail on occasions and did not work at all on older browsers. As yesterday was a rather unpleasant day weatherwise I decided to spend the time doing a long overdue revamp of the Film Archive. This should have been worked on long ago and I apologise to anyone who may have missed out on watching the material as a consequence.


The new archive

All 25 films, which run for a total of almost 4 hours, are now clearly displayed in the new menu. The footage itself is hosted on Vimeo Plus and the films can be watched either at small screen size within the website page or viewed in larger sizes by clicking on either the ‘Vimeo’ logo or the full-screen symbol in the bottom righthand corner of each display screen. 

More material always wanted 

Despite a few promises, little material has been forthcoming of late but I am ever hopeful that a few more of those dusty 8mm reels will find their way into our archive. If you do have footage which may otherwise never again see the light of day please consider loaning it to us for digitisation and publication.




Ex-Cray Ex-Pat

Are YOU an ‘Ex-Cray, Ex-Pat’?


Unless you have studied the Register in detail you may not realise that of the (living) members listed today, 16.6% are currently resident abroad:

Australia – 17

USA – 14

Canada – 7

France – 7

New Zealand – 5

Spain – 5

South Africa – 3

Austria – 1

Greece – 1

Hong Kong – 1

Japan – 1

Malaysia – 1

Norway – 1

Poland – 1

UAE – 1

(People’s Combined Democratic Republic of Durham and Northumberland – 1)

If YOU are an Ex-Cray, Ex-Pat it would be great to hear some of your stories which we could publish on the blog. Why did you emigrate? What do you like about the differences of living in another country? Has it been beneficial to you? Would you ever come back to live in the UK? What do you miss about the UK?

Richard Davis, who lives and works in Las Vegas kindly made his 2018 contribution earlier today and in thanking him I mentioned that a post about ex-pats was being blogged later today. He then kindly sent me a short account of his life since Cray and outside of the UK.

Richard Davis – Las Vegas, Nevada

Well, my life has been a little hectic, to say the least, since my days at Cray Valley. I actually got the acting bug at school but did not have the discipline in those early years to work at it. Instead, I dreamed of travelling.

At 21 years of age, I had the opportunity to work at the then famous Paradise Island Casino in Nassau, Bahamas. I spent a few years in and around the islands and then France, Africa, Spain and Switzerland, culminating in managing the first legal casino in the Canary Islands. I even spent some time in Iran, but obviously before the revolution.  It was certain that at some point I should end up in the gaming capital of the world – Las Vegas. It was at that time I decided that l wanted to be a movie star and so I moved to Hollywood.

Richard Davis (Davies)

The movie star thing did not happen but I did have quite a lot of success in television and appeared in many TV shows like ‘Murder She Wrote’ and Police shows like NYPD and TV movies ‘Mother of the Bride’ and ‘Crossings’. I also appeared many times on daytime soap operas, as they are referred to in the States, ‘Days of Our Lives’ and ‘Santa Barbara’. I also worked on the stage both in the States and the UK culminating in receiving a Kennedy Center nomination for the role of Henry 2 in the ‘The Lion in Winter’.

After my second wife Lili died so tragically at the age of 36 I pretty much gave up acting but instead began to write. I moved to Las Vegas to take an early retirement but instead wrote and published another novel ‘The Portrait of Evil’ by Richard Davies (my theatrical name) on Amazon Kindle and then I produced and narrated it for Amazon Audible.

An old friend offered me a casino shift manager position in one of the smaller casinos in Vegas and here I am, for the moment at least working as hard as ever and in the middle of another novel. So much for retirement!

Richard Davis – 28th January 2018.


2018 Contributions

I always hate to mention this but another year is upon us and facilities need renewing etc.,  so may I gently ask if you would kindly make your 2018 contribution towards the maintenance of our website and blog? I know from your private emails how much our work is appreciated and that is very satisfying to know, thank you. However, we still very much need your support and you can give this simply by clicking HERE. I’ll try not to ask too often this year! Thank you all.





Artist No. 4 – Trevor Pilbeam (UK)

Trevor Pilbeam – Axbridge, Somerset – UK

Just to say I am one of the retired CVTHS old boys who has taken up art as a pastime. I wish I had paid more attention to a certain Mr Walmsley, who if I remember correctly, was our art teacher between 1961-68.

Retirement offers my first opportunity to try something new, inspired by a very good local artist in Somerset
Thanks for the online gallery and I am looking forward to seeing others work on the blog. Anyone can paint!

Here are a few of my birds and Slapton Ley in South Devon.







Slapton Ley in South Devon

Artist No. 3 – Peter Hinton (Australia)


Peter Hinton – Sydney, Australia

I have relatively recently gone back to my painting. I cannot say it pays the mortgage as yet but I have sold a number of works over the past few years.

I loved my time at Cray Valley and especially my time in the art department and on the basis art was my highest scoring O Level result and they refused to let me sit the maths O Level because ‘it’s not worth the seven pounds 50p it costs the school’.  I, of course, immediately went into the financial markets.

Click on any image to enlarge










See more of Peter’s work on his website.




What Have They Done To Our School?

Peter Jenkins writes from Spain


Between the Vestibule and the Main Hall – 2007


I was looking through the BBC News website this morning when I saw a link saying ‘See how your secondary school is doing’  (Postcode DA14 5AA).  I clicked the link and thought, “I wonder how Kemnal is keeping up the tradition of CVTHS?” Searching through the results for Bromley Borough I eventually found it but, OMG, there it was almost at the bottom of the tables in secondary success, sixth form success, and absenteeism, together with an Ofsted ranking of ‘Requires improvement’! What have they done to our school?




Mick Abbott’s Video tour of the School in 2012


Paul Meddemmen Writes:

You can only reap what you sow and we were fortunate enough to be passing through the system shortly before the “progressive” thinkers got hold of our education system. In our time apart from our technical education we also had instilled in us the fundamental principles of how to live and behave in a good society. Not only were we blessed with, in the main, dedicated and highly competent masters they also formed the framework of a strict but mostly fair environment. I have continued to hold these values all my life and together with my wife (Buller’s Wood) like to think we have successfully passed them on to our children despite the education system rather than because of it. We had moved to North Wales but were fortunate enough to be near a good school that taught, in part, in English, and where the main qualification requirements of a teacher were not just that they could speak Welsh! The secondary school my children attended, in the late 90s, had been a technical school and was fully equipped with workshops which we were shown around on a preview day. However, it transpired that these workshops had no place in the curriculum. At the time I was disappointed but now realise with the total loss of our manufacturing capability this was probably a good thing.

We found it very necessary to supplement their school education with almost nightly tuition at home and coaching in public and dress behaviour. My children, now in their 30s, are very hard working and very successful in their chosen careers and both have said to me how much they now valued the coaching they received at home and how it prepared them for their further education and life. I now see these values, Cray Valley values, being instilled in my grandchild.

I am very proud of my children and I attribute this in no small way to the excellent education and values I received from the teachers at Cray Valley, and my wife at Buller’s Wood, within the education system at that time.

I attended Hurst Road primary school before Cray Valley, and my final 4th-year teacher, Miss Usherwood, was ‘old school’ strict but fair. She started the year by quoting a phrase I have always remembered: “Work hard, play hard, but never mix the two.”

My teacher’s legacy lives on.

It was a different world then.

Paul Meddemmen – 26th January 2018

Neil Gent Replies:

I would guess like the majority of members of this site I can associate myself with a great deal of what you say, but I would make some positive current day observations about education.

Let me start by saying that I live in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, which with regard to State education has long been one of the best boroughs in the UK in which to live, in fact it was one reason for us moving there in 1978.

I have two daughters and the borough has a girls’ school, which has recently become co-ed just for the 6th form.

I make the above points because they are obviously relevant to my experience as a parental consumer of State education, and both my wife and I and our daughters were broadly satisfied with the education they received in the borough. At the time my daughters completed their GCSEs there were no 6th forms in borough schools, the borough had a 6th form college and there were 2 more 6th form colleges in neighbouring boroughs. Experience with the colleges was not as good as with the schools. Schools in the borough are now Academies and in the past two years, all have opened 6th forms, which are thriving.

And now to the meat of this post. Anybody who has read my occasional posts on here knows I am engaged with a charity called “Young Enterprise”, I act as a volunteer advisor with 6th form teams who in a single Academic year set up a business, trade and then wind the business up – the complete cycle in about 10 months, it requires individual imagination and creativity as well as strong teamwork; it develops confidence, speaking skills, responsibility and so on and so forth. As a result, I am in a State School once a week working with 2 teachers and one other advisor, one school a year. I’ve been doing this for 10 years now and have supported one of the best private girls’ day schools in the country, a “recovery” State school in a relatively tough area whose performance has been turned around over the past 5 or 6 years, and currently in an OFSTED outstanding rated State secondary school.

The private school was very interesting, the girls were charming and polite almost to a fault, they were also exceedingly bright; they were not always highly motivated.

The school I characterised as “turn around”, located in one of my neighbouring boroughs, has a really good and motivated teaching staff who are highly engaged with the kids in both curricular and extra-curricular activity, any of us who knew “Joe” Kingsland would recognise some of the same characteristics in the Head at this school. The teacher who leads the Young Enterprise activity is absolutely terrific. His dedication to education, and in particular State education, knows no bounds. He knows how to encourage, chide, praise and criticise in equal measure, he can be great fun and also daunting, he is both respected and liked by kids and colleagues alike. He has been a Country level sportsman and is also a devout Muslim. Any of us would be proud to be parents of any of the kids – of just about every ethnicity and religion that exists – they frequently come from quite tough backgrounds but they are ambitious for themselves and keen to achieve, last year saw the first to gain a place at Oxford, to read Physics.

My current school tells a similar story, apart from the fact that it has never in its history been a poor performing school. The teacher I work with here moved from a City job into teaching 4 years ago, he is an economist who teaches maths and business studies – he is highly dedicated and will do just about anything for the kids. Working with him is a lot of fun, in part because he is a self-confessed “bit of a leftie” and I most certainly am not, we tease each other and get along together very, very well.

So, I started by associating myself with most of your comments, I too mourn what was done to my old school, I too have seen some of the awful side effects of some of the half-baked educational theories which have descended on us over the years, the focus of my own main gripe being about the teaching of English over the past thirty years or so. But, in spite of all of this, my personal observations are that there are still great kids out there being (now) well taught by some great and dedicated teachers in some very good schools. That there is still is a huge distance to travel before the national average is up to anything close to what we experienced is beyond doubt, but from what I see on a weekly basis we are going in the right direction.


Neil Gent – 27 January 2018


Artist No. 2 – Alistair Smith (Spain)

Alistair now lives in Murcia, Spain


Alistair Smith – Puerto Lumbreras – Spain

I live with my husband in Murcia, Spain, where I enjoy the long summers visiting idyllic locations along the long rugged coastline and empty mountainous interiors. I travel in winter to various locations such as California, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Bali.

I originally trained in Photography and Television in London but soon moved to the Orkney Islands in Scotland and later North Yorkshire in England. I have lived in Spain since 2007. Painting is one of my passions in life and I have been influenced by the Spanish artists, Picasso and Miro; the American Mark Rothko and of course David Hockney. In my pictures, I try to communicate my love of colour, landscape and plants. I am constantly exploring how to communicate these themes in the medium of painting.

Click any image to enlarge:





Pozo del Esparto


Beach Sabinillas


Pool at Night


Palm Springs 2


Almond Tree


Agave 2




To see more of Alistair’s work please visit his website Zarzalico Art




Artist No. 1 – Mark Head (UK)

In response to our request for the artists amongst you, there have been four people who have come forward so far. These will be published individually in the order they arrived.

Mark Head – Bolton, Lancashire – UK

“I sometimes do some sketches on holiday, usually during siesta time whilst sipping a beer and eating a Panini or something! Each sketch takes around 90 mins to produce, so it is not ‘finished’ in the sense of a piece of work, but an impression of the scene and atmosphere of the place that a photo could rarely convey. My medium is oil pastel – very difficult to use but somehow, I had taken a liking to them back in university days. A bit like using a blunt instrument, but that’s me, I guess!


Click any image to enlarge.




Church Cavtat



Garda Town


Lake Garda 1

Lake Garda 2






Rector’s Palace












Street 1


Street 2




Next time we will show the work of Alistair Smith




Peter & Olive Woodward – A Unique Celebration

A Happy Day

Peter & Olive Woodward – A Unique Celebration

Back in September last year I received a charming letter from Olive Woodward in which she told me of her and Peter’s forthcoming Diamond Wedding Anniversary on 28th December 2017.

Due to Peter’s illness, they planned a small celebration at home with family and friends. Olive’s letter mentioned that Peter’s most cherished memories were of Cray Valley and she asked if I could bring my keyboard and play for them on their special day. In accepting I felt extremely honoured and privileged as it was as a direct result of Peter’s encouragement and help that I progressed to do the many musical activities that I still enjoy so much.

Sadly Peter passed away peacefully at home on 13 November just before the required application date for an Anniversary Message from Her Majesty the Queen. However, Olive decided that she still wished the Diamond Wedding Celebration to go ahead and for it to be a happy and merry occasion.

So on Thursday, December 28th my wife Jenny and myself together Richard Furlong (CVTHS 1968 to 1975) and his wife Dawn had the great pleasure of attending and assisting in the celebration and enjoying a delicious luncheon prepared by Peter and Olive’s son Guy.

‘At the Keyboard’ – Richard Furlong (percussionist); Graham Mitchell and Olive Woodward.


As they had been unable to receive the Anniversary Message you can see from the photo that we were able to arrange for HM the Queen to attend the day ‘in person’. A lovely time was had by all, and amongst other popular numbers by special request, I also played ‘Jesus Joy of Man’s Desiring’ which Peter and Olive had wanted at their wedding in 1957 in Surrey but which their organist at the time had been unable to accommodate. The organist had offered to return his fee!


The Sports Day Bell


Amongst much merriment, Olive also gave me the very hand bell that many will remember being rung on Cray Valley sports days to encourage weary runners during the heats around the 440 track. I shall keep it safe, and for those who wish to hear the resounding sound of nostalgia here’s a soundbite for you:


The bell left Cray Valley with Peter and, I suspect, left Martin Carr scratching his head wondering where it had gone. Both gentlemen, of course, went on to enjoy senior teaching positions at the Sevenoaks School.

This was a lovely day and the next will be Peter’s Service of Thanksgiving on 21st February, which I am sure will be just as memorable. The service will be attended by ‘old boys’ from Cray Valley and elsewhere, including Sevenoaks School.

Graham Mitchell – (1962 – 69)