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News > Obituaries > Obituary - Ernest Thomas

Obituary - Ernest Thomas

It is with regret that we announce the death of Mr Ernest Thomas, retired teacher of Ipswich School (1971-1997).
12 Oct 2020
Obituaries

THOMAS, Ernest. Passed away on 7th October 2020

Ernest taught English at the school from 1971 until his retirement in 1997 and will be 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 oldipswichians@ipswich.school or in the comments below.

With best wishes

Iain Chesterman
OI Chairman

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John Vick, History department and Housemaster of Felaw at Ipswich School (1978-1987) writes:

Ernest taught English at Ipswich School from 1971 until his retirement in 1997. In addition to his core role, he ran the Junior library, cross country running, was a resident tutor in the boarding community, and a leading member of the Drama department.  

He was completely dedicated to teaching and to the welfare of his pupils. He was highly creative and imaginative, and greatly enjoyed sharing his love of literature, drama and film with his pupils. He did everything with meticulous care and attention to detail, maintaining the highest standards in all things. He directed a great number of plays with the Mermaid Society for younger pupils, as well as Middle School and Sixth Form plays.  

He was also heavily involved in the life of the Common Room Players, both as an actor and director. It is perhaps a sign of how much times have changed that in the 1970s and 1980s, staff were able to spend a great deal of time rehearsing and performing a play which was performed in the last week of the summer term.  The repertoire was ambitious and varied, ranging from Stoppard and Chekhov to Agatha Christie, and performed to a very high standard.  Few modern teachers would find it possible to devote this amount of time at one of the busiest periods of the year.

He was very reluctant to retire but when the time came to leave Ipswich School, he developed his teaching skills in other settings.  His main teaching had been with secondary age pupils but he rapidly developed a successful career with younger children.  He was a much sought-after supply teacher in several local primary schools, with a particular expertise for nursery and reception age children (the Vick family can attest to his skills with young children as he was first choice as babysitter).  He also taught ‘basic skills’ to adults, English as an additional language to adults new to this country, and prepared children for their first communion at St Mary Magdalen Church on Norwich Road.  

He always maintained a youthful demeanour and it came as a considerable surprise to most people he encountered to learn of his age – not that he revealed that information to many people! He was extremely fit, and could be seen running along local lanes, parks and footpaths until about three years ago. Indeed, when he was in his seventies, he twice ran the ‘Exmoor Run’, a formidable course of ten miles of rugged moorland in North Devon.

Ernest was an extraordinary character, undoubtedly ‘one of a kind’, and will be much missed.

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Father James Mather OI (1972-1982) writes:

I'm sorry to learn of the death of one of my 6th Form English A-level teachers, Ernest Thomas (Eggy) on 7th October 2020, who retired as an Ipswich Schoolmaster in 1997, and whom I last saw at [former Ipswich School Prep School master] Father Ivan Rudkin's funeral Mass at S. Thomas' Woodbridge.

Quite flamboyant in his style, I was never quite sure how he put up with our A-level group, which boasted some real characters. His real loves, though, were drama and cross country.

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Bruce Finch OI (1977-1988) writes:

He was a real character, very flamboyant which he played up to and gave him real identity in the school, but a true enthusiast for his subject . I can still recite large chunks of Julius Caesar which he drummed into us for English Literature O-level and Drama in many plays in the School. I remember doing a Mermaid Society production dressed as a Wizard when Hugh Casson came to the School to open the library in 1982. He also worked with the late Peter Beales running the Cross Country team and I remember him driving us to many fixtures and running the many cross country matches we ran in the Finn Valley - RIP.

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Peter MacLeod OI (1970-1981) writes:

He was an amazing teacher, and a great character. I recently re-read Animal Farm and found myself doing the characters' voices in my head the same way Eggy did when he read it out loud to our class. Sad to hear of his passing. RIP Mr Thomas.

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