This is the 2019 obituaries page


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Grand Master Dr John Kells (59)


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God guard me from the thoughts that men think
In the mind alone.
He that sings a lasting song
                                                                                                                                           W.B. Yeats

 “When I read these lines many years ago I immediately thought of John. His teaching did not come from the mind it is so much deeper than any thoughts can fathom. It lives in our circulation nourishing our bodies, our spirits and dare I say our souls”. Ann McLLraith


John was the son of Dr Gordon Kells arriving at Beaumont in 1956 with his younger brother Gordon.


John founded the British T’ai Chi Chuan Association in 1968 - it is the oldest T’ai Chi organisation in Europe. In 1976, John was the first Westerner to become an internationally recognised Master of this form of internal Chinese martial art practised both for its defence training and health benefits. He has had many notable teachers, one of the most important being Dr.Chi Chiang Tao in Taiwan. He recognised John’s fellow feeling and taught him in private and adopted him 8 years later. He passed on the internal secrets he had learned from Ch'eng Man Ch'ing and his grandfather, who was the All China Champion in the last days of the 19th Century. In Taiwan, he was also introduced to Master Hsieh Chi Sheng, companion to the last emperor of China in the hands of the Japanese. He was also the student of the nephew of Glasses Cheng, the famous Shing I Ba Kua boxer who died after killing seventeen Germans with his Ba Kua knives in 1911


Chi Chiang-tao (Dr Chi) spent over a year in London at John’s home in Wimpole Street bringing him up to a high level of knowledge. It is estimated that from 1977 to 1993 John taught over 10,000 students. He also studied with a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Geshe Damcho who was a pupil of the Dali Lama. John then moved to Iona to open Pre–Celtic T’ai Chi, a centre for “a forgotten art of Connection” – the hidden teaching of St Columba that had been passed down, he believes from his Kells’ ancestors through the direct blood line from the eldest qualified son since 620 AD.


John died 9 January 2017.


Louis Peter Kirwan Brindley (56)


 Peter died on 27th February 2019, aged 80, at home surrounded by his family. Husband of Sybil and father of Georgina and Cecilia. His Funeral was at St Bartholomew's Church, St Albans. He came to Beaumont from Edge Grove Aldenham in 1952 and he is remembered for his interest in Music, the Quodlibetarians and the Debating Society. On leaving he went up to Oriel College Oxford to study law and qualified as a solicitor. He was the author of many books and publications concerning the law, taxation and trusts. He was the elder brother of Tim (60)



Peter Shippen Wheeler (47)


Belated Entry:


Peter the son of Andrew Wheeler came to Beaumont in 1940 together with his brother Michael and both rowed in the VIII. The family had roots in America and Peter made his home there at Santa Rosa in California. Married to Wanda they had four children. He was a parishioner of the Star of the Valley Catholic Church in Oakmont, where he was a lector. A member of the Oakmont Lawn Bowling Club. Although born in Belgium and educated in England, Peter was particularly proud of his American heritage. He was a member of The Society of the Cincinnati (Past President of the California Association), Sons of the American Revolution (Past President of the Redwood Empire Chapter), Founders and Patriots of America and The Society of Colonial Wars. He died in December 2004.


Michael Sykes-Balls (63)



Mike came to Beaumont in 1960 and stayed for three years leaving from Upper Syntax and having played in the Hockey 1st XI. The Family dropped the Balls from their name London Gazette 1967.


He is remembered in the wider world as having set up Dragoman Overseas Travel in 1981 with a couple of friends with their office not far from his home in Suffolk.


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Today, Dragoman Overland runs adventure trips across the continents of Africa, Asia, North America, Central America and South America. They run overland adventures with absolute expertise and professionalism.They have a combined fleet of over 35 Dragoman trucks around the world and have pioneered more routes than any other adventure travel operator. The company is renowned for their trips and commitment to responsible tourism, benefiting the local people of the countries they visit.


Dragoman Overland is the only company that takes their vehicle in and out of China when traveling from Kathmandu to Bishkek on the Chinese Silk Route. Traveling with them is no soft adventure - they respectfully suggest that ties, hairdryers and Burberry suitcases stay home. Those with 5 weeks free, who are not constricted by neckwear, concerned by elegant coiffures or toting designer baggage may want to head for Kathmandu. Travelling in one of their purpose-built overland trucks, you also get you well off the beaten track and into the heart of every country, so you can really get under the skin of the places you’re visiting. You may stay as guests of local Kyrgyz families in their yurts, trek through dense Ugandan jungle in search of endangered mountain gorillas, or meet inquisitive local villagers in the remote villages of West Africa - for many people these unique experiences are often the most memorable parts of their overland adventures and simply life-changing.


Mike was recognised at the AITO (Association of Independent travel Operators) Sustainable Achievements Awards in 2010. In typical self-effacing manner, Mike said, "I'm well chuffed to receive the honour, but rather embarrassed by it as I consider others more worthy of it." He was also a member of the AITO/ Foreign Office Liaison Committee concerning advice to travellers visiting danger hotspots.


Michael Henry Sykes-Balls aged 72, passed away on Sunday March 31 at Ipswich Hospital. Much loved son of Jose, very special brother to Simone, much admired and loved uncle to Crispin and Justin and a gentleman to all. One of his trucks was present at the funeral.




Jean Vanier (37)


Jean Vanier in 1990. His initiative was prompted by visits to long-stay hospitals for people with learning disabilities. ‘Huge concrete walls, 80 men living in dormitories and no work,’ he said.


Joanna Lyall writes:


Jean Vanier, who has died of cancer aged 90, was the founder of L’Arche communities for adults with learning disabilities, living alongside those without them. He once said: “I had no plan, I just met people and people with disabilities awoke my heart.”


In August 1964, having giving up his job teaching philosophy at the University of Toronto, he bought a small, rundown house without plumbing or electricity in the village of Trosly-Breuil, north of Paris, and invited two men with learning disabilities – Raphaël Simi and Philippe Seux – to share it with him. Both had been living in an asylum and were without family.


The initiative was prompted by Vanier’s visits to the long-stay hospitals that housed many people with learning disabilities at the time. “Huge concrete walls, 80 men living in dormitories and no work. I was struck by the screams and atmosphere of sadness,” he said.


Believing the men’s overwhelming need was for friendship he thought the small  house could provide the support of domestic life, with the three of them shopping, cooking and washing up together.


Any expansion was far from his thoughts: “I had no idea of starting a movement or establishing communities outside Trosly, even less outside France. At one moment I even said we should stay the size of one carload – so if no one came to help me I could at least continue to travel by bringing everyone in the car.”


Today L’Arche (the ark) has 150 communities, in 38 countries including 12 in the UK, supporting 3,500 people with learning disabilities, with day services as well as residential homes. Most of the communities are small and residents, such as Carol Bell, often stay for decades.


Vanier wrote 30 books on spirituality and community, including Community andGrowth (1979), Becoming Human (1998), Befriending the Stranger (2005) and Life’s Great Questions (2015). In 2015 he was awarded the £1.1m Templeton prize, for making “an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension”.


In an event at the House of Lords the same year, Vanier spoke to an audience that included Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Westminster.


He was asked how L’Arche communities had managed to avoid the sort of scandal that had closed Winterbourne View, a private hospital in South Gloucestershire for 26 people with learning disabilities, where six staff were jailed for “cruel, callous and degrading” abuse of patients.


He cited systems of control, good professionals, government evaluations and, above all, avoidance of becoming a closed organisation: “We are not a closed group, people go out into the village and the village comes to us,” he said.


 Sheila Hollins, emeritus professor of psychiatry at St George’s, University of London, whose son Nigel has a learning disability, believes the “transformative” L’Arche model of small homes has endured because of its emphasis on relationships and continuity.


“Many of the assistants stay for years in the homes and there’s a sense of belonging for all those living there,” she said.


Vanier was born in Geneva, the fourth of five children of Georges Vanier, a Canadian soldier and diplomat, and his wife, Pauline (nee Archer), who were both committed Catholics.


Georges served in both world wars and then became Canada’s ambassador to France and later governor general of Canada. Jean’s sister Therese, five years his senior, was a consultant at St Thomas’ hospital, London, and worked in palliative care with Dame Cicely Saunders and also oversaw the development of L’Arche in the UK in the 1970s.


Jean’s childhood was spent between Canada, France and Britain. He was a pupil at St John’s Beaumont, in Old Windsor, Berkshire, before the Second World War took the family to Paris, then back to Canada in 1940. In 1942, Vanier told his father he wanted to cross the Atlantic to attend the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. His father’s agreement, he would later say, brought home to him the power of trust, and encouraged him to follow his intuition throughout his life.


While a cadet at Dartmouth, he visited his parents in France, in 1945, following the liberation of Paris. He accompanied his mother, who was working with the Canadian Red Cross, to the Gare d’Orsay, where he witnessed survivors returning from Buchenwald, Dachau and Ravensbrück, an experience he never forgot.


He served with the Royal Navy and then with the Royal Canadian Navy; as a young naval officer of 18, he accompanied the royal family, including the young Princess Elizabeth, on their 1947 voyage on HMS Vanguard to South Africa. But in 1950 he resigned his commission. “My adolescent years were taken up in the world of efficiency, controlling and commanding others. I was a technician of destruction,” he said.


After his navy career he studied at L’Institut Catholique in Paris for a PhD in Aristotelian ethics. This was followed by a brief period teaching philosophy at the University of Toronto, before he left academia to follow a more spiritual path.


In starting L’Arche he found a sense of belonging: “In the navy there was a feeling of success, and people clapped, but never a feeling of home,” he said. By contrast, the small house in Trosly-Breuil brought “a heartfelt sense of wellbeing”.


“Nobody clapped because a lot of people thought I was crazy. My parents thought I would have done much better if I had kept on teaching at university. So there was a feeling [on the one hand] of people not understanding and on the other of finding my place,” he said.


In 2017, “Summer in the Forest” , a documentary film on L’Arche communities in Trosly and Bethlehem, was released. Vanier came to Britain and met the Queen for a second time.


“I was very moved by this woman, now 90 years old, whom I knew when she was just 21,” he said.


Vanier also co-founded the Christian association “Faith & Light” in 1971. He remained the leader of the Trosly-Breuil community until 1981, and continued living there until a few weeks before his death.


• Jean Vanier, humanitarian, born 10 September 1928; died 7 May 2019




John “Juan” Nelson (49)




John Nelson receiving The Royal Windsor Trophy from The Queen at Windsor. It is the most prestigious medium goal competition in England.


John was the son of Jack Nelson y Duggan (09), the legendary Argentinian polo player, and came to Beaumont in the summer of 1946. Leaving in 1949, while at school he had captained the 2nd XV, played the bass drum in the Corps band, performed in two Higher Line plays and was Prince Charming in the pantomime. He was also a Quodlibetarian and Sergeant–of-Arms of the Debating Society. Returning to the Argentine he joined his father in their farming and pony breeding enterprises. Like his father John loved polo – it was in the blood and in his father’s footsteps he brought a young team to England in 1957. This came from one of the oldest clubs in Argentina - Media luna playing in their colours of dark blue with with a half-moon. The team consisted of four sons of some of the most illustrious names in polo. Apart from John, there was his cousin Luis Nelson, Arturo Reynal and Guillerme Duranona, handicap 12. They were invited to Windsor and won several trophies – the Royal Windsor and the ancient County Cup first played for in 1885 and played and won several at other clubs including Cirencester. The same year he was invited to play in The Windsor Park team captained by Prince Philip to win the Cowdray Gold Cup. (Also “Tito” Lalor, Col Humphrey Guinness). The Argentinians left England undefeated. It was reminiscent of his father and Uncle Louis (09) who brought the first Argentinian side to England in 1922 with the financial support of the Buenos Aires Jockey Club, which carried the reputation of being the wealthiest club in the world. The pony string was carefully selected and represented the best quality that had left the shores of the River Plate up to that date.1922 rang a bell in world polo. At full strength, the team was unbeaten in England. With other various formations, the federation’s team took the Whitney Cup, the Ladies Nomination Cup, the Roehampton Junior Tournament, the Roehampton Open Cup and Hurlingham’s Championship Cup. This extraordinary performance merited some attention from the other side of the North Atlantic when the U.S. Polo Association invited the team to participate in the American Open. This they did, and proceeded to defeated a powerful American side at Meadow Brook. In comparison the young John in his turn had emulated his father and no wonder that the name of Nelson is still remembered in the Polo World.


Prince Philip is presented with the Gold Cup at Cowdray in 1957


Prince Philip receiving the trophy on behalf of the Windsor Park Team


John was still riding on his farms up until shortly before his death, he had five sons two of whom played polo up to 6 and 7 goal handicap but he convinced them not to become pro’s as he preferred them “to make a living with their heads rather than sitting on their asses”.




Michael died on the 2nd January. He was one of the last elite group that spent 10 years at Beaumont including 5 at St John’s. At School he played in the 2nd XV and was a useful bat in the 1st XI. His “military career” was in the Corps of Drums and in the Scouting world was a Senior Patrol Leader and was on the last expedition to Kandersteg. Michael also had the distinction of being the school’s Assistant Organist.


His son Mark writes:


 Michael was born in 1949 and started his education at St John’s Beaumont in the September of 1957. then onto Beaumont in 1961 leaving the summer of 1967 - the final year before the amalgamation with Stonyhurst.


He enjoyed Rugby, cross country and cricket and played in the First XI. He was a member of Windsor & Eton Choral Society but not sure of any other societies. He was also the school organist in his final year and a keen musician generally. At Beaumont, his nickname was Muggins and  there are a good few tales of school high jinks but maybe not a suitable platform to recite them although I can provide details if you so wish!


After leaving Beaumont, he did play his rugby at Woodford RFC and also did a fair bit of riding, rough shooting and sailing. He of course also became a member of Hertford RFC with memories of alcoholic luncheons, to the running of the thief through the streets of Cartagena and the French exchange student witnessing the re-enactment at the Royal Tournament of the French getting a thumping at the battle of Waterloo! There were of course many more fantastic times over the years!


Career wise, he started at Barclays on leaving school and rose to the position of Corporate Manager in the City.


In 1975 he married Cheryl Crosby and their son Mark was born in 1981. Over the years they were constantly on the move with homes in Epping, Theydon Bois, Broadly Common, Nazeing, Much Hadham, Weymouth and Stansted.


Mark died all too young and a great loss to his family and friends.





John came to Beaumont in 1947 and was both academic and a good sportsman. He played in the 2nd XV, the Tennis team and was a first class shot. On the small side he rowed at bow in what was a successful VIII. During the 1952 season they beat Eton comfortably by 1.5 lengths, “Teddies” by 3ft at Reading, won at Molesey Regatta beating Tiffin in a new course record and Borlase in the final. At Staines after four rounds they were finally beaten by Mortlake Rowing Club after which John was awarded his colours.


David Flood Writes:-


I sadly report the death of John Mayle 1952 who died in his armchair on Sunday 12th January. John lived between Weybridge and Walton and was a very regular supporter of the vets of his Golf Club Walton Heath. He leaves his widow Mrs Heidi Mayle , four sons , Francis ,Thomas, Edward and Anthony and one daughter