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News > Obituaries > Obituary - Michael Graham

Obituary - Michael Graham

It is with regret that we notify you of the death of Michael Graham (OI 1954-61)

GRAHAM, Michael. Passed January 2021

Michael was at the school from 1954-1961 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 the 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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Ted Graham (OI 1981-87), Michael's son writes:

Born 29th September 1942.  Died 5th January 2021 aged 78.

OI 1954-1961

Mike was born on 29th September 1942, on a small farm near Henley.  He joined Ipswich School when he was 11, thanks to a bursary from Suffolk County Council, following in the footsteps of his big brother John Graham (OI 1947-1954 and recently the OI President).  Both boys cycled to School each day, a distance of 4.5 miles each way, and such was the popularity of the bicycle in those days, that the School had a rule that if you lived within 2 miles of the School, you were not allowed to bike to School, you had to walk. Young and old climate change activists reading this, please take note and get on your bike!

Mike enjoyed sport at School, and he was greatly inspired by a young PE and maths teacher called John Nicholson. Many years later, when Mike was in his 70’s, he used to do Monday night circuit training at the School gym which was run by Bob Clayton (1975 to 2012) and John Nicholson.  Mike and his friends always preferred the sessions with Bob because John pushed them too hard. Old habits die hard!

Mike studied law at Nottingham University and during this time, he became an accomplished Alpine rock climber and he learnt to fly.  Moving to London to train as a solicitor, he joined 21 SAS, now famous thanks to the likes of Bear Grylls and Ranulph Fiennes.  Mike spent a lot of time with 21 SAS, parachuting into Germany and Norway on Friday nights to practice defending Europe from the Russians.  His father had fought in the trenches in WWI, so it was in the blood.

Returning to Ipswich in about 1970, he started a law firm with his old School friend and OI, Arthur Oldham (1951-61). Together they grew the firm, Graham & Oldham, to quite a sizeable regional firm which eventually merged with what is now Ashtons Legal.

In 1975 Mike moved from one end of St Edmunds Road to the other, to a house overlooking the School, and he and his then wife Suzanne sent their 3 children, Ted (1980 – 1987), Tom (1981 – 1988), and Jane (1994 – 1996) to Ipswich School. Ted is a shipping and commodities lawyer, living and working in Sevenoaks. Tom lives in Halifax in Canada and is a Naval Architect and Project Manager, building ships for the Canadian government. Jane is a consultant haematologist at the University of North Midlands and lives in Cheshire.

Mike was a stalwart of the community in Ipswich. In his 20’s and 30’s, he played rugby for Ipswich and was the Club Secretary there for many years. His other big passion was sailing, having been introduced to this by the School at their sailing centre in Waldringfield. Over the years Mike became an accomplished sailor. He was a yacht master instructor and in 2005 he sailed his yacht across the Atlantic with some friends as part of the ARC race. He played a big role at the Royal Harwich Yacht Club and was Commodore there for several years and he ran sailing courses on his yacht. He was involved with the Masons, he was a regular worshipper at St Mary Le Tower, a dog walker in Christchurch Park, a member of the Sudbourne Shoot, a gardener, and  ‘litter picker upper’, and, last but not least, a life-long supporter of The Greyhound.

In 1997 Mike married Sally, who taught at the Prep School between 2001 and 2012. Sally’s two children, Claire Stevenson (1998 to 2000) and Matthew Stevenson (1997 to 2007) both attended Ipswich School. Claire now lives in Devon and teaches maths. Matthew lives in Cambridgeshire and works as a materials analyst in the construction industry. 

Ipswich School played a huge part in Mike’s life. Physically he either went to it or lived next to it for most of his life and he helped put five children through it. But the real impact it had on him was the opportunities that it gave him and the high standards that it set. Mike was smart enough to realise that and he grabbed everything that was on offer with two hands. Looking back on his life, the investment that Suffolk County Council made in Mike when he was 11 was a good one.

Mike is buried at Henley church next to his parents and sister, a mile or so away from the farm where he grew up. His wife Sally still lives in St Edmunds Road and his brother John lives near Framlingham in Suffolk. He had 10 grandchildren between his 5 children, and he was affectionately known as ‘Grandad’.

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Lawrence White (OI 1952-63) writes:

 I was very shocked and saddened to hear the news of Michael's recent death. 

I actually knew him before he came to the school as we both lived in Henley where my father was the vicar and Michael's parents were farmers.  We went to Sunday School and sung in the church choir together and it was always a pleasure to go back over old times with him and his brother, John, when we met up at the OI Dinners.  I also remember being in his section at the CCF Camp in Comrie, Perthshire, in 1960.  I sat next to Michael at the OI Dinner in 2019 which turned out to be the last time that I saw him, where we enjoyed another very pleasant evening. 

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Humphrey Catchpole (OI 1953-61) writes:

I remember Mick Graham. Mick always had a cheeky smile on his face and was quick to come up with a funny story, which he told well. 

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