Old West Downs Society – Memories of the Helbert/Brymer Era, 1897-1922

From Lionel Helbert to parents, 2 months before his death

A Circular to parents undated but received 28th August 1919.


West Downs, Winchester

Several friends have asked me lately whether I am going to give up the School in the near future, so I am taking this opportunity of saying that that is not my intention. At the present time I am in robust health and hope to remain at West Downs as long as I am physically fit to carry on the School.

School Fee

Certain changes in the School Charges will come into force after Christmas. I propose to follow a lead given elsewhere, and to abolish the so-called “extras,” nearly all of which, as a matter of fact, are taken by everybody. A general fee will be charged, inclusive of everything, except instrumental music and disbursements made on behalf of parents.

This fee will be £65 a term, and will include books, stationery, all normal medical and sanatorium expenses incurred during term-time, laundry, Matron’s charges for small repairs, etc., and remedial exercises (if required): also, games and scouting, swimming, dancing, singing, drawing, gymnastics, boxing, and carpentry, at such times as it is possible to include any or all of these in a boy’s time-table.

None of the above extras were included in the £50 fee for board and tuition; the change now made will increase the total fees by about £10 a year: the increase becomes necessary for two reasons:

1. The unprecedented cost of living and the rise in salaries and wages are re-acting very seriously on institutions of this kind.

2. I want to reduce the number of boys in the School in the year 1921-22, or before that date, if it can be done without going back on definite promises made to parents.

A general increase in school fees is taking place at the present time; but even so, it is anything but a pleasant thing to have to ask for more money, and I would not do it if it were not absolutely necessary. I take the liberty, however, of adding that if any parents of boys already at West Downs feel that the increased fee is likely to prove too great a strain on their resources, and will be kind enough to tell me so, it will be a pleasure to let the existing scale of charges remain unchanged.

New Appointments

Miss N. Hichens is coming to us next term as Lady Hostess, in place of Miss Broatch, who has resigned her post. Miss Hichens’ name is already well known to several West Downs parents, and I am sure she is going to prove a great addition to our Staff.

To my great regret, Miss Scott is also leaving us. I cannot express my gratitude for what she has done for the School and for me personally. She undertook the duties of Secretary at short notice, and has carried them out with untiring devotion for 2 years.

Miss R. Baker, who has had 11 years’ training in a business house, will act as Secretary for the present, assisted from time to time by Mr. A. E. Russell, School Accountant, who was Secretary here for many years, and has now set up a business of his own.

Mr. Young is going up to Christ Church, Oxford, next term. Two members of a very well-known West Downs family are about to join the Staff: Mr. W. T. Rawson (4½ years a prisoner at Ruhleben) is coming in September till his elder brother, Mr. H. F. Rawson (now completing his fourth year as Naval Instructor in H.M.S. Royal Sovereign), is free to re-join us permanently in January.


All correspondence relating to the boys passes eventually through my hands; but communications regarding details of clothes or health should be addressed to the Matron. All other letters should be addressed to me; but if it is desired that any letter should be read and dealt with by me and nobody else, the envelope should be marked Personal.

Lionel Helbert.