It is with regret that the Club announces the death of Andre Ptaszynski OI (1960-1971)
|7 Aug 2020|
It is with sadness that I let you know that Andre passed away suddenly on 29 July 2020.
Andre was at the school from 1960-1971 and is sadly missed by his friends and family. We are conscious that many people from this time at school may not be in contact with us and we would be very grateful if you could pass on this information to those that you know.
As is usual practice, we would like to place an obituary for him in the next OI Journal and would be very grateful if anyone felt they could come forward to write one. Alternatively, if you know of any stories or memories, please pass them on so we could put them together for the publication. Address any contributions to me through firstname.lastname@example.org.
With best wishes
William Latta OI (1960-1972) writes:
Andre and I first met in September 1960 when we were both 7 years old. We were both in Prep D1 with Mrs. Howard as our teacher. I had reminded Andre in an e-mail last Christmas that this notable 60 year anniversary was looming. Tempus fugit!
It was an unlikely friendship as he was the academic with a passion for the theatre and the arts, while I was an uncouth “philistine” who preferred everything sport related. Sport was never on Andre’s radar! The one thing we did have in common was near indecipherable handwriting, which probably resulted from the same tuition!
Initially, he was a dayboy, living down the road from the school on Ivry Street, but for a while he joined us in Junior House and that is where we struck up a lifelong friendship.
He was always to the fore in the “Mermaid Society” which cultivated his love of the theatre. He took the lead role in many productions and later assisted as the producer. This, I am sure massively contributed to his great success in the theatre later in life. He knew a winner from a loser in the acting world and this was clearly demonstrated when he cast me in one production as a “Tribalian” (barbarian) who only grunted - he knew my limitations, but wanted to include me, which was typical of his friendship.
We all know of his great success in the theatre world and this is well documented. His “boss” Andrew Lloyd Webber has been very generous in his praise of Andre, but Andre loved to tell the tale of a trip to Westminster with Lord Webber to meet with the then Under Secretary of Culture, who was none other than John Penrose OI and son of David and Gilly Penrose who, inter alia, ran Westwood in the early 1970’s. Lord Webber who was used to being the “Lead” role was somewhat sidelined by the welcome that the Minister gave Andre – his father had taught Andre and Andre had known him since his childhood!
We remained friends from a distance, as I have lived in the USA for the past 21 years, but we always kept in touch and when I was in London on business we tried to meet for lunch or a drink. He seemed always to be the common denominator to so many people that I know/knew. One particular example was the last time I saw Andre, some 3 years ago at the Ivy Club, where he was a member. I was sitting in reception waiting for Andre and in walked Derek Wyatt MP and England rugby international, who had taught me Economic History in his first term and my last at the School in the summer of 1972. I had not seen Derek for over 20 years. Andre did not know him as he had left the School after Oxbridge in December 1971. After Derek had finished another meeting he stopped by and I introduced them. In the ensuing chat it turned out that not only were they both mentored by Peter Hill while at the School, but both knew Michael Watt, one of Andre’s good friends and supporters in the theatre. Andre related Peter Hill’s influence on his life and Derek had benefitted similarly from that life advice. I left them talking as I had to leave for a meeting. That is a lasting memory of dear Andre, a kind and welcoming person who had time for everyone.
He deserved a few more years, but he packed in a lifetime more than most could only dream of. His greatest achievement however was his family life. Judith, his wife and his children Anna, Jamie, Rebecca and Charlie were his measure of success with the rest being incidental. He was a special person and I will miss him.
Simon Woolfries OI (1965-1971) writes:
I was very saddened to hear of Andre’s passing as I counted him as a good friend during our time together at Ipswich. He was a generous, kind man with a keen sense of humour and a considerable intellect, all of which made him excellent company.
He was, of course, the leading figure in all things theatrical during his time at the School and as well as producing plays with great drive and vision he also showed that he was himself a talented actor. It was great fun being in one of Andre’s productions. I also recall visiting the RSC at Stratford with him whilst staying at the local campsite and seeing several plays (and just as many pubs!).
I think that Andre retained an affinity with Ipswich because I made contact with him when I was President of the OI Club in 2003 and he willingly agreed to speak at the London dinner. There he entertained us with tales of the London stage and the many well known figures whom he had come to know in his successful career.
Martin Kirk OI (1964-1971) writes:
Andre was one of my exact contemporaries at Ipswich School, part of a group of about 16 who travelled through the school together from the First Year, through the Scholar’s Remove, to the Upper Sixth. From early days he always stood out as a larger than life personality with immense theatrical talent. As both a performer and director he inspired those around him and led us in some memorable productions. It was aways clear that he was destined to go far in a profession for which he was so well-suited. Our paths did not cross after school days, there being little cross-over between the worlds of IT and the theatre, but I followed his career with interest, and I suppose a little vicarious pride that one of our number was blazing such a bright path. It was a privilege to have known him a little, and he will be sorely missed.