West Downs, Winchester, October, 1953.
For the past two or three years my wife and I have realised that it would be much better for the School to pass into younger and more vigorous hands. We have now controlled its destinies for thirty-three years, including six years of evacuation during the War, and we both feel that the time has come for us to retire at Easter next year.
It will be a real happiness to us to hand over the School to Mr. and Mrs. J.F. Cornes, whose present address is in Oxford; we are confident that they will abundantly maintain the ideals and spirit of West Downs, which were implanted by its founder, Lionel Helbert, and which we have done our best to foster.
Mr. Cornes is forty-three; he was a scholar of Clifton and of Corpus Christi College, Oxford – my own College. He was President of the Oxford University Athletic Club and is perhaps best known to the general public as an Olympic Runner. In 1932 he was appointed to a post in the Colonial Administrative Service; after five years in Nigeria he served for ten years in Palestine until the termination of the mandate. He was then at the Colonial Office for three years and since 1950 has been at Oxford in charge of the training of Colonial Service officers and probationers, organising their studies and running their residential club.
Mrs. Cornes is a daughter of Sir Charles Addis of the Hongkong-Shanghai Bank. Mr. and Mrs. Cornes have four sons, the eldest of whom has just gained a scholarship at his Father’s old school, Clifton.
Although Mr. Cornes has not hitherto been a schoolmaster, he has for many years had a great ambition to take over a preparatory school; and I am convinced, both from personal conversations with him and from all that we have heard about him and his wife, that they have all the qualities needed for this arduous and important work. And they will bring to the service of West Downs a freshness of outlook, which might have been lacking if they had been serving for many years on the staff of this or another preparatory school. It is worth noting that Lionel Helbert had had no teaching experience when he founded the school in 1897, and that my own service in a Public School was a very different type of work from what I have done here.
I feel sure that parents of West Downs boys, past, present and future, and old boys themselves, will extend a true welcome to Mr. and Mrs. Cornes when they take over the School next May and will give them the same support and encouragement which they have always given us. In considering the future of the School we have ourselves been greatly helped by the interest and advice of representative old boys and parents and to them we and West Downs owe a great debt of gratitude.
It seems to us a piece of extraordinarily good fortune that Mr. and Mrs. Cornes are eager to take over the School at the moment when we feel bound to retire. And we are confident that West Downs can look forward to a long period of happy and efficient life under their kindly and capable care.
Mr. and Mrs. Cornes will be staying with us for the week-end of October 24th-25th, and we much hope that parents of present boys and of those due to enter the School in January or May 1954 will avail themselves of this opportunity of meeting them on that Saturday or Sunday. Mr. and Mrs. Cornes will be available to see parents for the greater part of both those days. We hope that all who will be here will come to a Sherry party on the Saturday from 6 to 7.30. (Please reply to my wife or myself if you can come to this party; and if you wish to see Mr. and Mrs. Cornes for a short personal talk, kindly let us know which day you would prefer).
We have ourselves bought a small house in Dorset (Bridge House, Beaminster); and we hope that many of our friends will come to see us there in years to come.
Kenneth B. Tindall