Old Cambrian Society

  OC Society
  OC Alumni
  OC News
  Events Diary
  Register Here
  Impala Project
  Where are they?
  Contact us

   Obituary - Robert Stocker


Robert Stocker

House: Hawke for 2 terms, then Nicholson
Years: 1943-1946

On 11th September 2010, Webmaster received an e-mail from Pat Stocker:

"Sadly Robert died peacefully 9th September 2010 at 4pm with all the family with him.

Brett arrived from Mexico two hours before he died. He greeted his Dad with "Habari yako?" and Robert answered "Mzuri" and "hello chum" and these were his last words. We feel he waited for him to arrive.

Robert had had a tough battle in hospital, following a hip reconstruction in May and then two hip dislocations and a bone infection at the site. He had another operation last Friday to remove the infection and by Wednesday we thought he was going to make it. Brett arrived from Mexico to see him yesterday and he slipped away peacefully a couple of hours later with Celia, Brett, Mandy and I at his side.

Love Pat

The following was Robert's entry in the Alumni section of this web site prior to his death:

Robert Stocker

Nickname: Stooge
House: Hawke for 2 terms, then Nicholson
Years: 1943-1946

Robert Stockerís 'Memoirs':
I was born in Eldoret in 1928. Sent to the Primary School in Nairobi in 1935, George V's Jubilee year. I was a day-scholar (stinker) until 1941 when I went to Naivasha. Hated it! There were only two guys that befriended me, Alistair Scott and Clive Howarth. I was always a very naughty boy even so. Because I was unhappy I tried to show off. We came back to Nairobi Primary in 1942 and I worked hard as I was determined to go to the P.O.W. I need not have bothered as I went down with measles the day of the Kenya prelim. exam for entry to the P.O.W., and was passed without the exam!

The first morning at assembly, Billy Woodley and I were giggling in the front and "Lulu" Stokes, a master, told us to report to him. When he asked us what we were laughing at, Billy Woodley said, "We are pleased to be here and we were just happy". He told us to go to our class, trying not to smile. I was put in 6A but I could not handle Latin; was sent down to 6B, and remained in this stream until I left the P.O.W. .....never missed Latin much I must say.

Mr Astley (Burbley) was Headmaster. He was a disciplinarian and was particularly anti-smoking. I smoked, and was caught twice by the Prefects. Was beaten by the Head of House, Peter Nottidge. When any of us got beaten, the other boys would want to see the marks. So we went into the washroom followed by many sadistic boys. We would pull down our pants to see the weal marks caused by the cane. The closer the grouping the more we respected the caner. I think our house Captain, Peter Nottidge, was the best!..... Peter Nottidge and Tom Stanning, who was Head Boy and also my house captain for the first two terms before I was put into Nicholson. Both these two came back to the School to help with games, etc after they left School and before they went to university. I kept in touch with Peter Nottidge for many years, but have lost contact with him now.

The School was a Military Hospital at beginning of World War II, and huge underground air shelters were built. For the first two terms at this School, instead of sports, we had to dismantle and fill in the air raid shelters. I was happy at the P.O.W and especially the last term, I did not really want to leave. I had been made a School Prefect, had a bicycle and a lot of freedom. I never bullied as far as I can remember, and the younger boys liked me. I spent a lot of my free time (Weekends) at the Kenya High School (Boma) and was very fond of the girls! I remember when I returned after School vacation, and saw my name up as a House Prefect - I was most proud: I was even more proud when I became a School Prefect.

I started at the P.O.W. for two terms in Hawke House; I then was put into a new house called Nicholson House, named after the first Headmaster. Nicholson dormitory to start with was in the main buildings, whilst we waited for our new house to be built up near Cable and Wireless; we moved in to these after two terms. John Malloy (or was it John Cook?... it seems so long ago that I forget) was our House Captain when we moved up there. Lucas Horne was made a Prefect and we knew that he would become a House Captain. I have not heard of Lucas for ages. Once we were playing a game, and I thought Lucas was cheating and said so. "Do you want to make something of it", he said. "Yes I do", said I. That fight didnít last long as Lucas was a very strong Greek and knocked me flat. I looked pretty awful the next day. Lucas did not want to see me as a Prefect but after a term as one, we became very great friends. He and I played soccer full backs and we could kick the ball a long distance. Rhodes House also moved up near us, and their Housemaster, Mr. James (Pansy), had two horses that used to graze near our playing fields. Lucas or I would try and kick the ball near the horses. It would amuse us to see the horses take off like jets, (Sounded like jets too!). Pansy was not amused. I played soccer instead of cricket; my favourite game of all was rugby.

My sister was in the W.T.S. and was billeted at the Covent. She would climb up the very steep hill twice a week arriving at the School about six pm., and I would get permission to walk her back. As soon as we were off the School bounds, my sister would produce a packet of cigarettes and we would enjoy a nice puff!

Mr. Gledhill (Ginger) was our Housemaster and I really liked him. He also taught maths and geography. We also had a Mr. Redhead. My mother used to embarrass me terribly by calling Mr. Gledhill "Mr. Redhead" as his hair was red; Mr. Redhead she called "Mr. Ginger", (ginger hair!). She also called Mr. Forest, the Deputy Headmaster, "Mr. Bush" (his nickname!). Our Grandchildren get very embarrassed with their mother when she does or says anything that is not quite "right".

I must say boys (and girls to a lesser degree) at a senior school can be pretty terrible. We had a lady teacher; she was very old - at least 40 years old! Her name was Miss Sewell, I think. When she wrote on the blackboard her butt would shake which amused us boys. We put a dead snake in the draw of her desk and she nearly passed out when on opening the draw she saw the snake and screamed. One brave boy went up to the desk and Ďbravelyí stood on the dead snake to Ďreíkill it. In a cupboard we put a bottle of ferrous sulphide (I think it was called); what ever it was, it smelt like rotten eggs. She said to the class, "Oh! You horrible little boys" (most of us were bigger than her), "Open all the windows, and take control of yourselves".

We had a French teacher who we respected, and would not try and upset her; except once we decided to make her an April fool. I was picked. She came into the class to start her lesson and I came running in after her and said, "Youíre required on the telephone Miss Ma". Her answer to me was, "Thank you, Stocker, but I am not to leave a class once Iíve started, so sit down will you".

We had a huge guy at the School called Bill Hindley. The Headmaster sent for him to give him the cane for something he said he hadnít done. Bill refused to bend over and Burbley lost his reasoning and attacked Bill with his cane. As I have already mentioned he had a very quick temper. All Bill did was to get hold of him and sit him in his chair until Bush came in to see what all the commotion was. Bill Hindley became Head of School - I expect that nobody could boss him about.

When Burbley retired, Bush was Headmaster for one term, and then 'Flaky' Fletcher took over. The older boys found Flaky was not strict enough, being used to Burbley. Flaky was only Head for one term before I left. He wanted to talk to my mother about my future. He said "I do not know what to suggest for Robert, I can just see him on a cattle ranch throwing steers on the ground and branding them". My mother was not amused. Flaky had been teaching in Australia.

The term before I left the P.O.W. a new master joined the school by the name of 'Samaki' Salmon from Canada. He later lived near us on Vancouver Island; he is now in an old folks home in Victoria. I have been to see him many times, and he remembers all about the School and he enjoyed his stay in Kenya of some ten years. When we were at School we thought that we knew everything, and definitely more than the masters knew. Donít you believe it!! Whenever I told him a story about one of the masters, he would know all about it, and would add little bits I left out.

  • In 1947, I joined The East African Tanning Co. in Eldoret. Three other guys joined at the same time, John (Bombay) Barret, sadly now passed on; Barry (Podge) Jacob now living in South Africa; and Alistair Scott also in SA. Except for two years active service with the Kenya Regiment (1952-54), I worked for this company for thirty one years.
  • Whilst on active service, I met this English girl out for a holiday; we were married in 1954, having said that I would never marry an English girl!
  • In 1978 the company could not get work permits, so we immigrated to Canada.
  • 1979 we bought a convenience store and petrol station on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. This was hard work and not knowing the Canadian accent, or the money, did not make it any easier, but we managed, and in 1987 we sold up and took 10 months looking at Africa as tourists. We have lived here on Vancouver Island ever since we came to Canada. Our two daughters and their two children each live on the island also, and our son lives in Vancouver.
  • 1989 I bought a pottery shop and art gallery, and Patricia joined Investors Ltd as a Financial Adviser.
  • We both retired at the end of 1997

    (Registered - 25th Jan 2003)