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OV

22 August

Catching up with OV Christopher Benson

It gives the Development & Alumni Relations team such pleasure to welcome OVs back to school and earlier this summer Christopher Benson (Cl 43-47) visited King’s and Worcester for the day.  Christopher has strong memories of King’s and in particular of some of the teachers at school in the 1940s. He attributes his decision to join the Navy to his teacher, R Pedder, however Christopher says that he was ill-prepared for the Royal Navy entrance test which meant he was obliged to join the Merchant Navy, where he recalls a total lack of discipline amongst the lower ranks, leading him to appreciate the discipline from King’s (even if at times, it had been somewhat harsh).  As Christopher toured the school with Development Director, Liz Elliott, one of his most vivid memories came when entering the current Humanities block, encapsulated in the feature of the green tiled walls, which brought back memories of much time spent in this building, where Christopher’s form room (with House Master, Alec Macdonald) had been and upstairs, where he had taken Latin lessons with Miss Anne Campbell and Art lessons with Miss ‘Miffy’ Campbell.

Christopher was very impressed with the Michael Baker Boathouse and enjoyed meeting King’s School Boatman, Will Bird who brought Christopher up to date with King’s latest rowing news; Christopher told Will that he is involved with the Company of Watermen and Lightermen in London and in designing a new window in the main Hall of the Company showing the important roles within the Company.  This company supports young boys and girls, providing them with the crewing and river skills and an education, with an apprenticeship scheme facilitating the development of competent and highly skilled river craft Masters and crew to manage vessels on the River Thames.  Christopher’s passion to support young people and to help them achieve their potential and provide them with viable and attractive careers also reflects itself in his interest in our current Bursary Scheme at King’s, providing children who would not otherwise have the means, with opportunity to be educated at our school.

Liz and Christopher donned hard hats and high visibility jackets to take a quick peak into College Hall, which is currently undergoing building work in association with Worcester Cathedral’s renovation of the Undercroft underneath the Hall.  Christopher remembers attending assemblies in College Hall in the 1940s (and leaving his bike outside, ready for a quick exit … attendance records could not have been as thorough as current day!).  After their visit to this iconic building, Liz and Christopher took some time to visit Worcester Cathedral.  Christopher has been a lay Canon at Salisbury Cathedral  and he was very interested to see the newly renovated West Window at Worcester.  Christopher also admired the rood screen in the cathedral, as Salisbury does not possess such a screen.

Christopher has had an incredibly interesting and varied career, holding numerous Chairmanship and Director roles within a number of high profile companies, such as Boots PLC, Costain PLC, London Docklands Development Corporation, MEPC Property, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group plc and House of Fraser to name a few.  We were delighted that Christopher was able to come and spend some time with us at King’s and share some of his earliest memories from his boyhood days in Worcester.