On the shoulders of giants : I thank the teachers who inspired me
FOR obvious reasons, I gladly declare this week’s column to be a Brexit-free zone, and instead dedicate it to a subject even more important: Great teachers. Individuals we all need.
In my own case, there were two - one for English, the other for music - subjects which have shaped my entire career and leisure.
Chris Price, who has died aged 82, taught English at Merchant Taylors; Crosby, for more than 40 years, having arrived as a graduate from Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where his studies benefited from the then recently inherited gargantuan influence of Lord of the Rings author, Professor J R R Toikein.
I was in Chris’s first school class in September, 1961. We always kept in touch, and in 2002, by which time he had also become Senior Master as well for many years, head of English, 1 returned to MTS to speak at his retirement.
the intervening four decades, every lime I
completed a major feature or review, there was always the
subliminal hope that
it would gain his approval.
And he did once offer direct assistance for an article on whether school and university exams had been dumbed down. His conclusion? That more students were being taught to the specific needs of particular tests, rather than being more widely and properly evaluated on their individual intelligence and initiative. An argument which still holds today.
And so to my musical mentor (and eventual life-long friend}, the composer and teacher Noel Rawsthrone, former world-renowned organist of Liverpool Cathedral, who died in January, aged 89, but whose ashes were only officially interred there on Saturday with so many former students in attendance.
My hope is that everybody could have a Chris or a Noel in their lives. People who excelled and whose influence lives on.
In this I am reminded of the words of the 12th century mystic, John of Norwich, later more famously quoted by Isaac Newton: "We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants, because they raise us up, and by their great stature, add to our own."
My eternal thanks to both gents. God bless.
I can still clearly see my twenty something year old self standing on one side of St Faith’s church hall with a cup of coffee after the service, wondering whether I should approach someone and introduce myself. It was my first visit there after trying a couple of other local churches where I hadn’t felt quite comfortable with the churchmanship. This place had been different: the service quietly reverent and dignified, the priest calm, thoughtful and very much in touch with his congregation. But...what would the people be like?
It didn’t take long to find out as a tall, slim, very dark haired man had quickly spotted me and came straight over... Chris had just the right approach: low key and welcoming without being pushy. He found out I was a fellow English teacher, a bit about my background, told me a bit about himself and his family and then left me to it thinking, “Well I might try this place again.” The following week when I appeared at church Peter Goodrich came to speak to me, obviously having been alerted by Chris, the consummate Church Warden, to the possibility of a new member of this flock.
Almost forty years later I can look back on a very varied but never dull relationship with St Faith’s and its people, all initiated by Chris. I will always be grateful to him for the faith, the dignity of worship, the laughter, the gossip(!) and all the other friendships which grew from that very first encounter.
He frequently ‘encouraged’ my literary efforts with his forceful exhortations to produce stuff for Newslink. He was an invaluable support during my own tenure as Churchwarden which included some very difficult times in which Margaret and I needed the expertise, the intelligence and the humour of his experience.
I was always chuffed when I used what I thought was an apposite quotation and he could respond and round it off; even more chuffed when I could respond to one of his...apologies there, Chris for use of informal language – twice!
So it was when I first heard of his death that lines from King Lear came to mind:
weight of this sad time we must obey.
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to
Not only is it because the character Edgar is speaking of Lear, the venerable statesman, am I reminded of Chris (and here I can imagine one of the infamous postscripts: ‘ Lear was also deemed to be mad..Ed.’) ! It is also because he encouraged me to speak up to say what I felt to be right and fair but with respect, as he did himself.
A proponent of ‘Speak Truth to Power’, a brilliant teacher, a proud family man, a good and faithful servant and a great laugh!
strong spirit never dies.
Condolences Card inscription from Maureen Madden
“The weight of this sad time we must obey
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say”
Chris; - You were the very first person to speak to me on my first visit to St Faith`s, almost forty years ago. Over the years you became one of my heroes, often exercising great skills of encouragement and persuasion to get me to put pen to paper – usually for “Newslink”.
You were a fellow English teacher and you became my mentor, my adviser and, most importantly, my friend.
Such a strong spirit never dies.
Dear Mrs Price.
Can I send you my sincere condolences on the sad death of Chris.
You may recall that Tristram and I came to visit him about ten years ago now and we are both so glad we made the trip.
When you are asked that familiar question - “Who was the teacher that influenced your life most?” - for me it honestly had to be Mr. Price.
I write this for two reasons. Firstly, and along with Tristram’s father, he taught me English at what was then O Level and in the Sixth Form. That gave me the ability to analyse texts and literature and to write good essays quickly. A highly useful skill for later life. But secondly, and for me far more importantly, for the inspiration of The Image Press. ‘Image’ in the late 60’s and 70’s was a difficult blend of letterpress and new fangled offset. Mucky ink and dangerous paper guillotines, but above all fun and laughs. It was a time of change.
New-wave Masters such as Chris were striving to change the school culture against a backdrop of old-guard teachers. Image was a refuge of creative thinking and a kind of counter-culture.
I think I was unique in using my Image experiences to talk my way into my first publishing job and have had the good fortune to rise to one of the most senior positions in the UK as far as magazine publishing goes.
So I have a huge amount to thank Chris for. My thoughts are with you and your
family at this sad time but my heartfelt thanks for the inspiration I took from him .
As I’m sure you will recall, Dave Stam and I came to visit Chris and yourself in 2008. We were both greatly saddened to read of Chris’s passing in the recent “Merchants’ Tales” and we contacted a number of other of his former from the late 1960s and early 1970s that we are still in touch with. As a result we received a number of appreciations and remembrances which we would like to share with you: he has clearly been a great influence on all our lives.
Chris was my form teacher for two years and taught me English in Yrs 2,3, the U5ths and the Sixth Form, and so probably taught me most of what I know about reading and writing, which has formed a crucial part of my subsequent career. It still surprises me how difficult most people find writing concise paragraphs or being able to undertake a precis of a piece of text.
Chris’s teaching methods and ability to create positive, friendly relationships with students were a welcome contrast to the approach of some to the other members of staff at the time. He was also the first in the school to introduce improvised drama work into his lessons, something that I responded to very positively.
And, of course there was his work setting up ‘Image’ - in terms of its design, still far ahead of its time as a self-published school magazine.
As Dave writes, we are so glad we managed to see him again, and our thoughts are with you and your family.
Finally I would like to take this opportunity to mention that we now have three and-children - a four year-old girl and a two year old boy who both live in Berlin, and a one year-old girl who lives in South London, which thankfully is a t closer to Canterbury. My only sadness is that my parents are no longer around to meet them.
With very best wishes.
Chris Price sowed seeds that germinated nearly four decades later when I
studied English language for my OU Modern Language studies degree. Chris’s inspirational teaching for my O- level year was top of my mind during the OU
courses, so I wrote to thank him. I also sent him my copy of Image containing the poem by Roger McGough to commemorate the building of Liverpool’s
Metropolitan Cathedral, which Roger had signed and penned a short note. Chris didn’t remember me but appreciated my thanks and the signed Image.
Chris is in my best memories of MTS... and I wish I’d done English for A Level.”
“One of life's good guys and a teacher who made his mark on a lot of people - myself included.”
“Chris Price was exactly that - ‘Chris’ rather than Mr Price - a man ahead of his time who was professional, extremely inspirational and best of all friendly.
I felt extremely fortunate to have him as form teacher and we never had a crossed word, despite one memorable report when he wrote of me - 'He is content to steer a middle course' - never a truer word spoken!”
Chris was never my form tutor, but he took us 2nd formers (2W) for history I think. A good teacher, clear, firm but humorous, his lessons were always
During lunchtime periods in the 4th Form I used to retire to the Image Press to get out of the way of some who were making life less than happy. I was welcomed by Chris personally, then soon entranced - I learned how to set type and gather lines of text into a page form for loading into the press, what a font was (Times Roman and Univers were the two I remember using), point sizes, the difference between em- and en-dashes and spaces, to lubricate, ink up and the operate the two printing presses - when going at full speed I think health and safety would have had something to say these days - and then clean them down, to check page numbers, to collate and staple the whole magazine so that the finished work could be boxed for distribution.
These days I collect antiquarian books, and I often wonder if my love of the primitively printed word owes something to those days.
Didn’t he produce the school timetable every year? It seems he had a head for a spreadsheet even then.
One episode to recount, clear in my memory - somebody in the Image Press had calculated (with what accuracy, goodness only knows) that we were about to produce the 500,000th page of printing since the Press had been established, and printing went on until we realised we were at the critical point and the press was stopped - how many had been printed? It turned out to be exactly the number required to hit the milestone. Somebody pointed to the final leaf and said, in low tones - “that’s it - that’s the half-millionth”. Chris picked up the page - “Let me see it” - and studied it earnestly for a few seconds before announcing “It’s a crud” (the general terms applied to a print of insufficient quality for use), screwing up the page and throwing it into the basket — to general merriment, of course. Then, spinning up the press himself, he printed off one page, which he held aloft and announced — “Gentlemen - the half millionth!”.
A good and kind schoolmaster, I’m grateful to him.”
Our introduction to the Price family began with Sarah and Sunday School – my George particularly fascinated by her shoes. We were then delighted that George and Caroline both attended Vermont Nursery school and were nurtured by Angie. So it was we got to know the Price family - by meeting every week at Church, and then George came to know Chris more personally during his senior years at Merchant Taylors’ Boys School.
For many years George worked under Chris’ thorough direction at MTBS Image Press and a certain memorable censorship over an article in their Sixth Form magazine comes to mind – nothing got past Chris!
I had a fairly regular exchange of internet generated jokes online with Chris over the years – a lot I had to mark “not suitable for Newslink” – one or two escaped my request but don’t seem to have done any harm.
It was the regular contact online with Chris that meant a lot to me. Whilst at my daily typing job I often inexplicably hit the wall when it came to a word and how to use it, or a point of grammar that I may have used without any trouble for years, and so I would fire off an SOS email to Chris. Responses were very quick!
A couple of days after his funeral I came across a handwritten note (handed to me from the back pew at Church one Sunday) with notes on Affect or Effect and giving me examples of how to use each and when. That particular issue still catches me out from time to time and I have been able to re- read his handwritten instructions in those moments of blank frustration.
Such was Chris’ helpful generosity, and how much I miss his gentle presence and his humour, not to mention his vast stored knowledge about so many things both inside and outside St Faith’s Church. If you had a question, Chris was always a good person to ask ……
You don’t get too many Chris Prices in this life, but I hope he knew that we appreciated him hugely, although in life we may not have told him so.
Condolences Card inscription from John Gill
I was extremely sad to hear the news of Chris`s passing. I would have attended the funeral but we were on holiday in Greece.
I shall always be indebted to Chris for his support in the English Department and in Drama. He was an animated and indivualistic Head of Department and I look back at those years with great affection. I remember the pleasant visits to Queens Road as well as theatre trips to London. Chris helped to make my experience of work a pleasure.
Chris Price was part of the fabric of St. Faith’s, in many respects he was St. Faith’s and served as well as worshipped with such faithfulness, commitment and integrity. Chris lived and breathed St. Faith’s, he was a vibrant, living stone in a holy place.
I can only endorse the sincere and loving tributes already printed about Chris, who I have known for over 50 years. However it wasn’t until I began training for ordination in 2000 and then later in 2009 when I returned to St. Faith’s as a self-supporting priest that I came to value Chris as a friend as well as a parishioner and will remember him with great affection and gratitude. He was supportive and willing to help me in any way he could especially at the time early on in my ministry when female clergy were not always so readily accepted. Chris’ churchmanship was steeped in the Anglican tradition yet he was always keen to follow my progress and readily offered encouragement. He gave praise when he believed it was due but was also quick to pick up inaccuracies, especially when I mispronounced theologians’ names or gave incorrect dates when I preached! Chris also made it clear that sermons at St. Faith’s were not to last more than 10 minutes and I was conscious on a few occasions that I must have been running over because I could see him glancing at his watch on the back pew! Then of course immediately after the service there was always his instant request for the sermon, so that it could be posted on the website by the end of the day. I did sometimes wonder if it would be sent back with punctuation or spellings corrected along with a mark out of ten! Thankfully that never happened!
I visited Chris and Angie a number of times over the years, I was always made to feel very welcome and we would chew the cud of the latest crisis/dilemma facing us at St. Faith’s. (Of which there have been quite a few!) Chris would have his opinion about a situation but was always eager to know everybody else’s perspective. He liked to be in the know about what was going on and always had an ear close to the ground!
It was a huge privilege to be able to spend time with Chris and his devoted family after he had been admitted to Aintree Hospital and even a few days before his death he was able to enjoy reminiscing. Stories, all from St. Faith’s, could bring a smile to his face. We laughed (and cried) together and that precious time will never be forgotten and will always have a special place in my heart.
I have seen many changes during my own long and happy journey of faith at St. Faith’s and many members of the congregation have now moved on, either in this world or to the next. Chris now has his place among the angels and saints, he will be sorely missed but although no longer seen, he will never be forgotten and will always be loved.
Rest in Peace Chris, and
Rise in Glory.
It was an absolute privilege and an honour to be present for Chris’s Funeral service today. It was good to see my predecessor (Canon Richard Capper) and his predecessor (Canon Peter Goodrich) and we reminisced before the service on our associations with Chris and named many things we were all grateful for. All of us owe a debt of gratitude for what he did in ‘appointing’ us.
When we celebrated the St. Faith’s Centenary High Mass Chris wrote the words to a hymn and I wrote the tune. I think if I’m honest the words were far more successful than the tune! I have a framed picture in my study from that occasion in which I was joined by my three predecessors (add Fr. Charles into the mix), and that was a very special moment.
Although a person at home with tradition, and grateful for it, Chris always had both feet firmly fixed in the here and now. It was rather sad that, for a short while some years ago, mention of “the great St. Faith’s tradition” became something to be mocked or criticised in the public domain. Such is the danger of opinion based on rumour and not fact. Chris was justifiably proud of “the great St. Faith’s tradition” but that was always because it nourished the present and future.
As was said by Fr. Dennis in his homily, Chris had a wicked sense of humour. There was more to Chris than sometimes met the eye. He was never happier than when immersed in the various aspects of church life which contributed to the style of worship for which St. Faith’s became known, where we found ourselves worshipping God “in the beauty of holiness.” There were many times when, on a Saturday night I realised I’d overlooked something or other, or just got it wrong, and Chris would go into school and by the morning a new or fresh set of service papers were there. Nothing was ever too much trouble.
Reports of parliament at the current time sometimes refer to the Father and Mother of the House (of Commons). They don’t need naming but I like the phrase. For me, I can’t thank God for Chris without thanking Him equally for Angie. Although serving very different areas of church life they worked so hard together to make St. Faith’s the vibrant place that I remember with great affection; Angie attending to the lower end of the age spectrum and Chris with a passion for a slightly older age-group being nourished and fed. Between them they have done so much for so many. Throughout my time at St. Faith’s Angie was a wonderfully dedicated Sunday School teacher. Nothing ever fazed her and she had such a gift of being able to bring the best out of the quietest or most anxious child. Angie’s spiritual depth and her amazing experience over many years of how to work so well with children was such a natural compliment to her husband’s gifts. I think of them as the Father and Mother of the house (the household of faith that is St. Faith’s.) and I do so with much gratitude.
There were times when, in haste, I’d type Chris’s name and the auto-correct suggested I really meant Christ. Chris was well and truly a Christ-like person, a quality he perhaps wore lightly, but it was there nonetheless. Chris was a man of compassion, a man with a generous heart and a loyal support when it was needed. Whoever was going through a hard time, be it laity or clergy, Chris’s Christ-like support could always be relied upon and it was always there, prayerfully and practically. His was a faith that showed itself in action.
I once moved “in our day of thanksgiving” from a St. Faith’s Day morning service to a St. Faith’s Day Evensong. I only did it once! It was a hymn that meant so much to Chris and I’m sure that as he sang it each year he held up in prayer that great cloud of witnesses, a company that he has now joined.
With much gratitude for all he has given in the Lord’s service I pray that he may rest in peace and rise in glory.
Fr. Neil Kelley (Vicar, 1999-2012)
Letter from Myles Davies
I was very sorry indeed to hear the sad news about Chris, and wanted to write to say that we are remembering him in our prayers and the Cathedral, and also you and your family.
Chris was my first form-master at Merchant Taylor in 1962 and throughout my time at school, he was a breath of fresh air among the staff. He was always an inspiring teacher, stretching our imagination, and never afraid to discuss the difficult issues or challenging ideas. It was apparent how important faith was to him, but he was always open to different points of view. I`m still in touch with some of my contemporaries, and we all look back on him as one of the best things about MTS in those days. He is still held in the highest regard.
Chris also helped me more than I can say when I decided to come to church at St Faith`s as I joined the sixth form. He articulated the best in the Liberal Catholic tradition where I have felt at home now for the past fifty years. He was proud of St Faith`s and totally loyal to it, but always had a deep sense of proportion and not a little humour. He has served the parish so faithfully as a distinguished churchwarden for so many years, and through Newslink which has been a model for church magazines.
There will be many who thank God for Chris, and joining in prayers for you all who loved him the best. I will always be grateful to him for his warm encouragement over the years. May he rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon him.
With love and prayers,
Condolences Card inscription from Peter and Margaret Goodrich
To Angela and Family
We were so sad to hear of Chris`s death. He will be missed by you all as husband, father and grandfather and the wider community where he was much appreciated and respected.
He is a great loss to all at St Faith`s, where he was Church Warden for many years and a great support to all the clergy and a true inspiration in the church.
His many gifts will be missed. Poetry, readings, photography, the magazine, the website.
To us it seems truly the end of an era. He was, in many ways, St Faith`s.
May he rest in peace and rise in Glory.
and Margaret Goodrich
I have just heard from Phil Judge that Chris has passed away. My thoughts are with you and your family; please accept my condolences. When I came to MTBS in 1972 Chris was first to welcome me – and fix me up with lodgings next to you in Queens Road. He was always at hand, especially during those early years when I helped out in the English department.
I know things have not been easy for you during recent times, but you are surrounded by the strong arms of friends and family and the comfort of their love.
Chris Price was without doubt the best teacher I had at Merchant Taylors'. Carlsberg don't make teachers, but if they did...
These days, I own a bookshop and have had two novels published, with a third out next year and in a funny kind of way it's all down to Chris.
English was the only subject at school that I really loved. (Apologies to any of my former teachers who may read this – it's not you, it's me). I loved to read and I loved to write, and writing was all I wanted to do. Careers advice doesn't tell you that the idea of being a writer is ridiculous and you need to get a proper job first. I ended up heading into English teaching and I had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to be an English teacher like Chris Price. If I was going to do it, I wanted to be like the best.
After failing fairly comprehensively as a teacher, I ended up in retail, which led me here and back to books. Always back to books.
Chris also published the first piece of work of mine ever to see print, in the school Image magazine. It was a poem, and a pretty bad one at that, but the thrill of seeing your work in print is indescribable and I have never ever forgotten it. Other people have thought my work worth publishing since, but Chris was the first and I was always be grateful.
I have two very strong memories of Chris as a teacher, one academic, one less so. In the sixth form we studied the poetry of Seamus Heaney. It was on the syllabus for the first time and Chris had not taught it before. It was a voyage of discovery we undertook together and it was the first time that, as students, our ideas and opinions were valued. It gave me a lifelong love of Heaney's poetry and set me up to do more solo studying at University. It was probably the time I enjoyed most in my years at the school.
The other memory demonstrates Chris's impish sense of humour. One slushy winter's day, we arrived at the English Room (a prefab hut at the back of the school) to find Chris sitting behind the teacher's desk wearing wellies. When he caught the look of surprise on our faces, he simply said, “I always wondered what it would feel like.” Then he got on with the lesson. When I heard of Chris's passing, I wrote one of the few poems I have written since that dreadful one he published all those years ago, and I include it here as tribute. God bless you, sir, and thank you.
My English teacher sits with his feet on the desk.
Outside the ground is covered in soggy grey slush drifts
And my teacher is wearing wellington boots.
We stare in bemusement. This is not right.
This is not the way things are supposed to be.
Teachers are supposed to be sensible, learned,
Inspiring, serious, an example to us all.
This is the teacher who taught us to love Heaney,
To understand Shakespeare, to appreciate Elliot.
This is the teacher who encouraged our love of words,
Who made us into book bloodhounds, sniffing out the best.
This is the teacher who on Sunday swaps staffroom for staff
And guides the faithful flock into Church.
He sees the look of surprise and confusion on our faces.
“I always wondered,” he said, removing his feet from the desk,
“What it would feel like.” And smiles. And teaches.
I heard today that he has been called to the office in the sky.
The world of language and books is a poorer place.
I only hope, for their sake, that no one has put an apostrophe
In the sign for The Pearly Gates.
As a newcomer, comparatively speaking, the thing that struck me about Chris Price, when I first met him some twenty years ago, was his infectious enthusiasm and energy for St Faith’s. His encyclopaedic knowledge was impressive and he had just completed a long and distinguished period as churchwarden. That love of St Faith’s never flickered.
Chris would often ask me to write an article for the magazine, usually on financial matters, which I enjoyed doing but I was acutely conscious that they had to be well written and I always added a note to say “feel free to amend”. Being particular myself about spelling and grammar, I always checked and double-checked material before sending it to him. Chris was also a very good proof-reader and, particularly during Fr Neil’s time, we would often try to catch each other out by spotting a spelling mistake or typo that the other had missed. A bit of mischief! He loved the Saturday Recitals and I always enjoyed chatting and laughing with him at the back of church each week over the latest news, often with a twinkle in his eye. When we started the “Friends of St Faith’s” on Facebook, Chris really took to it and became a joint administrator of the page, enthusiastically updating it and providing news and commentary.
I know he will be much
missed and, as Shakespeare wrote, “we shall not look upon
his like again”. Rest in peace, Chris, thou good and
It was with shock and deep sadness that I heard that Chris had died.
I shall always remember him as an inspirational Head of Department. He was hugely encouraging, gently directive and always full of humour, indeed fun, and never failed to find and most apt quote for every occasion.
The last few years have overtaken me and I have not been able to meet up with him, I shall regret that much.
I send you and the family, much love, sympathy and prayers.
From Verse and Worse or; Chance Would be a Fine Thing.
I am going to write a poem,
Something subtle and profound,
Probing all of life`s lost secrets
Showing how the world goes round.
Such a poem will, I know,
Shine like sunlight on the snow
That last couplet has stayed in my head for years, and will continue to live with me.
I first met Chris Price when I was a teenage pupil at Merchant Taylors struggling with English ‘O’ level, and he was a fresh faced new teacher from Oxford who was determined that all his pupils would excel themselves – sailing through exams with perfect spelling and punctuation and excited by English Literature. Well, with his help, I at least scraped through my ‘O’ level so I suppose that with one out of four I wasn’t a total failure!
A few years later as a newly married couple, Rosie and I lived next door to Chris and Angie for a while, and realised that he was actually a great guy with a great family. They all became lifelong friends and when we became fellow wardens at St Faith's we found that we could work well as a team. Although my spelling and punctuation never really improved, Chris would mark my church notices out of 10 and occasionally append a “See Me” at the bottom in red ink. His encyclopedic memory was invaluable and he was a continual source of information to dozens of curates, vicars, priests, bishops and at least one Archbishop!
Many years and several interregnums later (or is it interregna? - please help me Chris!), his enthusiasm for the church he loved never waned as he gathered yet more and more information about the history of St Faith's and committed it all to the website.
A man of great intellect and wit, Chris was the ideal founding (and only) editor of the church magazine, “Newslink” which won national recognition for its content and production. Even with declining health, Chris would 'phone me up ask for an article and photograph about the latest Festival or event.
He will be missed by a huge number of friends and also followers of the St Faith's website, many of course who would never meet him. To date the site had received just under a quarter of a million “hits”, and it stands as a lasting legacy to his collection of stories, poems, and articles.
He rose to be Head of the English Department at Merchants and, during the time of several headmasters, Chris helped take the school to high academic standard, producing several well known (and less well known) young men who have taken their place on TV, the radio, the church and in academia.
Condolences Card inscription from Stephanie Dunning
To Angie and all the family
We were deeply, deeply sorry to hear your sad news. When I arrived here in 1981 Chris was a friend, a mentor and indeed a surrogate father to me. It meant a lot. Music, church, school and children have kept my family entwined with yours for years and you, Chris in particular at work, have always been my anchors here.
We share some smaller measure of your grief and pain of loss, and you are always in our hearts and prayers, always. Many generations of boys have grown up moulded by Chris into high-achieving, confident and, above all, good people. I feel that I am a better person for having known him, and for my many happy memories.
Dear Mrs Price
I heard with great sadness of Chris's death from my friend former school mate Peter Kessler, and wanted to express my sincere condolences and gratitude for all Chris did to educate, inspire and support me.
Without doubt your husband was one of the most talented, charismatic and motivational individuals I was lucky enough to be taught by at school and his impact on my life has been profound. Not only did he fuel my passion for English literature at a key time in my education, he also gave me invaluable advice and encouragement when I was about to jump horses mid-career to become an English teacher myself after 21 years in advertising. It has been a job that has brought me real joy and I continue to find deeply fulfilling after nearly 14 years. I am so very grateful to Chris for helping make this possible. He also furnished me with resources to help teach A level Shakespeare in my first year, without which my confidence would not have been high!
I am sure my mother will be in touch to express gratitude on behalf of my father for Chris`s dedication and support on the staff of Merchant Taylors`, and I know how greatly he respected and valued him as a colleague.
Alongside Peter I was lucky to get tuition from Chris during my Oxbridge preparations and the impact of those lessons was immense - not just his knowledge and passion for the subject, but his kindness, humanity and brilliant sense of humour. I also vividly remember Chris's voice ringing out in St Faith`s on Sunday mornings to get services underway. His faith gave him such conviction and was another source of inspiration to me and others.
With very best wishes.
Condolences Card inscription from Mrs M Johnson-Jones
Condolences Card inscription from Mrs M Johnson-Jones
Nick told me yesterday of the sad news that Chris had died. He had heard from Peter Kessler, both “boys” (now in their fifties) who had such good memories of him, and felt how much they owed him as their teacher.
Chris was very helpful to Nick when he decided after 20 years in advertising to follow his father into teaching, from which he has never looked back. He owes Chris a double debt, and I thank him for that to.
I have such happy memories of him both at school and at St Faith`s. Chris`s personality was perfect for the part he played in the role he played in the life of both. I know how much David valued him as Head of English, and wider his influence of all he came in touch with.
Please accept my condolences at this miserable time. It is easy to say “I`ve been there too”, but losing one`s husband is uniquely horrid, and takes time to come to terms with. My thoughts and prayers are with you and the family,
Letter from Peter Kessler
Dear Mrs Price
I've just heard the terribly sad news about Chris - Mr Price to me - passing away, and I wanted to write and let you know what an inspiration he was to me as a teacher. I am sure you will be receiving many letters of this kind from former pupils, and I'm proud to be one of them.
I was at Merchant Taylors' from 1975 to 1981, and I was fortunate to have Mr Price as my English teacher for my A-levels. Thanks to him, I ended up reading English at Oxford, and many years later, after a varied career in the media, I spent two years as an English teacher myself, attempting to put into practice what he had taught me 35 years previously.
Mr Price had both respect for and authority over us, his students. We always felt valued by him because he was genuinely interested in our thoughts and ideas. And in return we wanted to learn from him. He didn't just teach us about Anthony and Cleopatra and The Power and the Glory. He taught us how to listen to people, how to maintain a sense of humour and perspective, how to think analytically, and how to appreciate beauty on an emotional level. He read out loud in a way that made texts fascinating and thrilling for listeners, with different voices for every character, and he inspired boys to write themselves - not least through Image, which was a wonderful outlet for our own creativity.
One episode has stuck in my mind particularly over the years. It was late one afternoon during the (now-defunct) seventh term for Oxbridge entrants. Nick Johnston-Jones, Mr Price and I met in a function room after school to read and discuss Prayer by George Herbert.
Even for a Jewish student, it was
a revelatory experience. The cosmic imagery,
delicate beauty and
honest emotion of the lines combined
with a glorious sunset bathing the room.
We all felt
we`d shared something unique and powerful: Church-bells beyond the stars
heard, the soul's blood, The land of spices; something
'Something understood.' It was only years later that I realised these lines somehow encapsulated Mr Price's personal and inspirational approach to education. In 2006 I had cause to phone him out of the blue (I was seeking advice to help Nick J-J start his own English-teaching career). To my amazement, not only did he remember me, he immediately said, 'Do you remember that incredible evening when we read George Herbert's Prayer?` I was touched that it seemed to have meant so much to him as well.
Fast forward another eleven years, and I was in front of my own class of sixteen-year-old boys, attempting to give them the same sort of joy in literature that Mr Price had helped me find. As an end-of-term extra I decided to introduce them to Herbert's poem. While we didn't reach quite the same moment of utter beauty, they nevertheless loved the poem - and they loved the story about Mr Price too.
Chris made an indelible impact on the lives of generations of students - an impact which, I am sure, they will pass on to future generations in turn. We are all grateful, and we will never forget him. I'd just like to close by quoting one more poem I studied with him: Henry Vaughan's Peace.
My Soul, there is a country
Far beyond the stars,
Where stands a winged sentry All skillful in the wars;
There, above noise and danger
Sweet Peace sits, crown'd with smiles,
And One born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files.
He is thy gracious friend
And (O my Soul awake!)
Did in pure love descend,
To die here for thy sake,
if thou canst get but thither,
There grows the flow'r of peace,
The rose that cannot wither,
Thy fortress, and thy ease.
Leave then thy foolish ranges,
For none can thee secure,
But One, who never changes,
Thy God, thy life, thy cure.
With warmest wishes and commiserations
When we first started coming to St. Faith's as a family in 1970, Chris was one of the Church Wardens and what a warm welcome we received from him and other members of the congregation. That welcome left a lasting impression on us.
so full of enthusiasm for absolutely everything, and
certainly a stickler when it came to punctuation and
spelling. We remember with gratitude, his patience and
dedication when he tutored our daughter Heather. and
helped her gain an A in her A level English exam. She
still has the cassette recording of his lessons.
When we had a lengthy interregnum Chris and Rick as Church Wardens helped to keep St Faith's firmly together as a family. No mean feat.
Sometimes as a group of friends we got together for a meal and with Chris present, conversation was lively and never flagged. Woe betide the hostess if she offered Chris cheese or chocolate!
I shall never forget his help when I was a struggling newcomer to using my recalcitrant computer. Chris was my first port of call, never to let me down.
They do not make many like Chris any more. He will be much missed by so very many people.
He was St. Faith's.
Cheers Chris, The Crooke family.
From the time I started attending St Faith`s in the mid-1990s Chris was an obvious leader and during the interregnum that started a little later he and Rick Walker effectively ran the place. That long interregnum showed what a good team they were and the Talent Scheme proposed and run by Chris provided funds for the church but also encouraged the sense of belonging which is essential to any organisation.
The friendship that developed with Chris was helped by two important facts, we were both Liverpool supporters and we were also railway enthusiasts – with a start like that you can`t help but succeed. When opportunities arose, we went “training” together; don`t picture two elderly men in tracksuits or shorts, it was not that sort of training. We visited railways and rode on trains. Trips were generally to the Ffestiniog Railway or the Welsh Highland Railway, two of Chris`s passions and he was very knowledgeable about both. However, the trip I remember best was a diesel locomotive hauled trip through Wales to Cardiff; normally Ffestiniog or Welsh Highland trips were behind steam locomotives but we weren`t narrow minded and appreciated other forms of traction. The trip was fine, but on the way back we were a bit bored and set about devising a plan to save the planet from pollution – we were already well ahead of the game on climate change. The London Olympics had taken place a little earlier and we agreed that all of that air travel for spectators and participants, not to mention thousands of hangers-on, was damaging. Over a period of about three hours, with liquid refreshment, we decided that everyone should stay at home and spectators could watch on TV. Participants could compete with each other on machines over electronic links. Individual rowing machines and cycling machines were already available. Runners could run on treadmills, the sort you can find in the local gym. But the beauty of our plan was that in operating these machines the participants could generate electricity and do the world some good. By time we got back we realised that nobody would be interested, it was all about spectacle and not achievement; but it was fun to put the world right.
As we all know, Chris edited the church magazine, Newslink, for many years and under his wing it won awards. The editing of such a monthly magazine was not easy and he had to chase people in order to get contributions, but every month an edition was produced. I have contributed a number of articles and Chris was always there to suggest articles and to offer ideas for improvement. He would not just accept anything which was offered, it had to be right and appropriate for St Faith`s, but he was more than willing to ruffle a few feathers now and again. He would have made an excellent editor for any publishing house. I shall miss him a great deal.
Walk with God dear friend, I shall see
you on the other side, and maybe we can go training again.
When I joined the staff of Merchant Taylors` in 1967 it was, to be sure, an excellent school, but to a very young teacher like me it also seemed conservative to the point of stuffiness. It was hugely reassuring, then, to find that in Chris Price there was a man who regarded Shakespeare as being as important as rugby and who had the chutzpah to wear a floral tie – with matching handkerchief! – to the rather staid staff Christmas party. Clearly, it was possible to be a member of the MTS team without surrendering your individuality and I was privileged to count him as a friend and colleague for the rest of his long and illustrious career.
Chris played many roles during his years at school, from regularly leading pupils on hill walking trips in north Wales to running the in-house printing press and its associated magazine. Colleagues will also remember him as the man who had the thankless task of putting together the time table each year and then making sure it ran smoothly – all before the days of computers. But it was as a teacher of English that he made his greatest mark. His enthusiasm was so great that he willingly gave up days during the summer holidays to hold extra tuition sessions at his home, and it is impossible to overestimate how much hundreds of pupils owe to his skill, knowledge and dedication. No schoolmaster could hope to leave a finer legacy.
Letter from Tony Whittaker
I was privileged to have Chris as a friend
and colleague for many years, so it will seem strange that
one moment I particularly recall was the time he arrived
at a staff cocktail party in the late 60s wearing a floral
tie and matching handkerchief. A small thing, to be sure, but not insignificant.
In those days Merchant Taylors', although a fine school
in all sorts of
ways, could appear conventional to the point of
stuffiness to us young teachers. Chris showed me that
not everyone on the staff regarded long hair as a sign
of decadence and that to be part of the community it wasn't necessary
to give up your individuality; and for that I will
always be grateful.
He also earned my gratitude in a more important way. His teaching- much of it, let us not forget, in what was supposed to be holiday time - helped foster my son Andrew's love of English. So successfully Chris do this that Andrew eventually followed in his footsteps, reading English at Oxford and going on to become a teacher himself.
You will hear similar stories from many of his colleagues and former pupils, so positive was the impact he had on countless young lives. This will confirm what I am sure you know already, that his contribution to the life of Merchant Taylors' was immense; and l hope this knowledge will be of comfort to you and your family at this sad time and in the years to come.
I knew Chris, and Angie and the family, since Irene and I started attending S. Faith’s as newly weds in 1969, mid-way through Fr Charles’ encumbancy. The church had already been shaken up by Fr Charles and many of those actively involved were young people in their twenties and thirties. Chris was one of those in the forefront and, like several others, staying there over the years, a faithful worshipper, rarely missing and deeply involved.
Chris and I had a mutual interest in printing and he helped me get started, supplying me with an inexpensive old cast-iron press from the School’s printing shop. How we managed to carry it down from the top floor of the ‘B’ Building to his car I do not know! It weighed a ton. On another occasion we both went on a trip to Gardner’s printing works in Hawthorne Road, Bootle, which was closing down, coming away laden with several type cases filled with lead type. (Thinks: digital whizz-kids do not know what they are missing!)
Knowing my ability to produce a rudimentary drawing Chris prevailed upon me to come up with some sketches for the magazine. He used these freely over the years, quite often on the service sheets, and the view of the Church ended up as a letterhead and on the mugs and tea-towels. No royalties were forthcoming!
His interests were wide and he was a member of the Society of Friendless Churches, Sister organisation to the Ancient Monuments Society, visiting I believe most of the little churches in the villages of North Wales amongst others.
His razor sharp mind, deep curiosity about everything and, especially, his keen wit enlivened all one’s dealings with him.
a good rest at last Chris. We all miss you.
Condolences Card inscription from Neil Swindells
I was sorry to hear of Chris`s recent death from Myles, who I know was disappointed not to be at yesterday`s funeral.
Though I was not on the Arts side at MTS I am one of the many of my generation(and I`m sure all those following) who found Chris inspirational in so many ways; not just his teaching and enthusiasm for the subject, but also his ideals. The creation of the Voluntary Service Unit in his early days at school as a viable alternative to the CCF was something to be eternally grateful for.
He also introduced me to the Britten War Requiem, a piece that I still have to feel strong enough to be able to listen to (splendid performance in York Minster recently) with its powerful setting of the Owen poems as well as the Requiem text.
Rest assured that his memory will live on.
With best wishes
When Eileen and I began to worship at St Faith’s last year, Chris Price was one of the first to make us feel welcome and accepted into the parish. We enjoyed reading the magazine and Chris’s charm and encouragement meant that articles about us and our retired Guide Dog made the pages within a very short time.
His affirming and supportive words continued to make us feel part of the St Faith’s community, even when he was unable to attend church services regularly. In a very recent email, Chris expressed his hope to be back more regularly as he recovered. Indeed, I suspect he won’t mind me quoting from his most recent email: “God willing, I will emerge blinking into the sunlight one of these days”.
For my part, I wish we could have had more time to get to know one another but our, all too short, encounters have been a blessing to Eileen and to me. Our hearts go out to Angie and their family in their bereavement and trust they will be consoled by the precious memories of Chris and comforted by his faith in the God he sought to serve.