Chris Arkell (CR1962-93) - RIP
Chris Arkell (B1946-52 & CR1962-93) sadly died on Thursday 14th September '17.
Chris had a long association with Aldenham, as a pupil he was a School Prae, House Captain and Head of School. He joined as a teacher of Modern Languages in 1962, was a Tutor in Paull's House, became Head of Modern Languages and finally the 2nd Housemaster of Kennedy's, a position he held for twelve years. Another important role he played was as Commanding Officer of the CCF, arranging several memorable expeditions. As an Honorary OA, Chris also served on the Old Aldenhamian Society committee and was elected Vice President in 2001. His last visit to the School was in May 2015 for a special lunch for Beevor's boys 1946-51 and he also visited in 2013 with his wife Jenny to see the new development of The Wells Centre.
The Aldenham Community was suitably represented by current and former staff as well as OAs at a thanksgiving service in Tring Church on Tuesday 26th September. At the family's request, bright flowers were worn to celebrate a great and well respected man.
Chris will be greatly missed by his friends and family.
Tributes came pouring in from OAs including this one from Peter Boorman Headmaster 1974-'83.
"Was there ever such devotion and loyalty to a cause?
"Chris respected everything that Aldenham represented. He learnt the value of discipline very early in his schooldays and he carried that high expectation through to his teaching and especially as Housemaster of Kennedy's House.
I recall him saying that everyone associated with the School must accept the whole package in toto. Chris certainly did and he brought with him a very firm belief in the values of strong Christianity. Chapel was the centre of things. He so fully agreed with that much loved member of Staff, David Wallace-Hadrill who once preached that Chapel could be likened to the hub of a wheel, from which everything in the school flowed just like the spokes.
He also had plenty to tell me about another sermon of David's concerning St Paul and St Peter, the one a pragmatist, the other a strict law man.
"I had good reason to be thankful to Chris when in the 70s the Bursar and I were faced with extraordinary problems. Inflation and Bank Rate both over 20%, then Lord Houghton awarded a 33% pay increase to teachers, announced just before Christmas in my first year as Headmaster, backdated to the previous April. John Perry, Bursar, and I knew we just could not pay it in full, there being only a 5% increase allowed for in the Budget.
Chris, unlike many other members of staff, understood our situation and was very kindly and quietly reassuring in conversation with me. I was immensely grateful to him for that.
"Yes, he and I had our "run ins", but he seemed to take my arrival quite stoically; I must have represented a great change from my predecessor Paul Griffin. At King's School Canterbury where I served for 15 years before arriving at Aldenham in 1974, I was happily of the opinion that a blind eye was useful in many disciplinary matters. One day at Aldenham I came across one of the best boys in the school having a smoke behind the sheds. I took no action. Chris got to hear of this and reacted. Flood gates were discussed! But we parted in good odour. I never thereafter allowed any Kennedy's boy to "get away with anything"!
"We also fell out when Phil Goff, Chaplain, asked me to make Ash Wednesday Chapel voluntary. I agreed. Chris along with Mike Hetherington, another dear man, was really quite upset.
"I feel content referring to such incidents in the certain knowledge that Chris was a true and committed Christian, with a good sense of humour. He seemed never to hold on to any grievance. All differences were quickly forgotten. He was kind, generous of manner, a polite, considerate and charming man whom I respected greatly.
"Many boys in Kennedy's have very good reason to be grateful to him and his charming wife who oversaw Kennedy's so successfully.
"I am sorry that I have been unable to attend the Thanksgiving Service especially because there is so much for which to be thankful.
"It is interesting to me that this service is being held in the same Church as that for John Woodrow, a great friend and schoolboy contemporary.
"Two remarkable men who will be sadly missed, but their examples remain for us to follow."
Peter Boorman Headmaster 1974-'83