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In Memory of Ian Matheson

We were all saddened to hear the news of Mr Matheson’s passing and we know many of you have fond memories of him, as both a colleague and a teacher.

If you would like to add your memory of Ian, please email katycherry@kingsely.org with the words you would like to appear on this page, or any photos you wish to share.

Thank you so much for sending me the sad news of Ian Matheson’s passing. He was an inspirational colleague and by far and away the best housemaster I have ever encountered in 11 years at boarding school and 25 years teaching. The influence he had on many school generations has been a huge influence on the lives of those in Hereward Hall either as boys or as house tutors.

Gerald Buisman

I am so sorry to hear of Ian’s death, although I knew he was very unwell and I am thankful that he is no longer suffering.

Ian was appointed by my father, Ben Fawcett, and since 1960 he has been a very special friend to me and my family. He and I have always kept in touch and seen each other regularly over the last 54 years. One of the most memorable occasions (for me anyway!) was when he came, with Mrs Ena Osmond (she was then 92), to my wedding in Devon in April 1999.

I will remember Ian in so many lovely ways, not least for his glorious sense of humour, an example of which was shown in his and Miles Amherst’s amazing talent for mimicking my mother – once my mother telephoned Ian to ask him to “make up the numbers” for a dinner party and Ian said “come off it Miles I know it’s you” and my mother said “no, Ian, it really is me!” She was highly amused and took it in good heart!

I am sad to think Ian is no longer with us, but he will always be a part of Ely, a place he dearly loved and especially the Cathedral. I wish I could attend his funeral on 30 March but am afraid I cannot be there. I will be there in spirit though and thinking of him in his beloved Cathedral at that time.

Mary Swindell

I last saw Ian Matheson when I popped in to see him in 2009. I had not seen him since I left school in the late sixties.

He had the most phenomenal memory and could remember in detail what had gone on in the school during that time. One question he asked me was what I remembered most about the school. I told him that it was the ambient temperature in the houses. He said that most boarders of that era gave the same answer as in those days hot water and heating was a little scarce.

I will always remember him with great fondness. RIP Ian.

Xerxes Talati, 1965-69

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I was very sad to hear about Ian’s death from Richard Slogrove.

Ian taught me English A Level between 1961 and 1963, he also “coached” me whilst running along the river bank at rowing and he supervised me when he was a very inexperienced 2nd Lt in the CCF.

In all these endeavours, I think I taxed him greatly !

We remained friends and we enjoyed each other whilst dealing with Old Elean business.

A great servant of the School and our own “Mr Chips”

Bill Hunt, 1954 to 1963.

Ian Matheson taught me [and Johnny Brown, John Bradley, Calvert Markham, Ian Priest among others] English in the year he came to the school. On one occasion he raided my desk and left a message, ‘I have stolen your exercise book. I reproach myself for going to such trouble’.

In that same year there was a school inspection. He told us that in a previous job he had had a similar experience and the inspector had duly arrived and stood at the back to observe the lesson. The child in the front row then carefully unfurled a small banner which read, ‘Carry on, Sir. You’re doing fine’

In the early stages of putting on the production of Dr. Faustus, CRIM went to visit the Dean for permission to stage it in the North transept of the cathedral. He made an appointment with the then Dean, Patrick Hankey, and not without some trepidation. He need not have worried; the Dean needed little persuading and agreed with the words, ‘Nothing like defeating the devil on his own ground’.

Robin Greatorex, 1956-66

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“Richard, as I do, has so many fond memories of Ian. The wonderful support he gave Richard when he first arrived at King’s, his lovely sense of humour with the naughty twinkle in his eyes, and the huge love and affection that he had gathered from pupils, past pupils, parents and staff. We organised a “This is Your Life” for Ian and it was even more obvious then how many people held him in such high regard. We will all miss him hugely but are relieved that he is no longer suffering.”

Jane Youdale

“Thank you so much for thinking to let us know about Ian’s death. Although it doesn’t come as a surprise in view of his poor health over such a long period it is still upsetting news. Ian was a great support and a loyal friend to us both as Second Master and as Governor, and during our time in Ely Jane and I both always knew we could depend on him for a fair and balanced opinion tempered by a constructively critical perceptiveness of judgement.

Greatly to my regret we shall not be able to attend Ian’s funeral at the end of this month. If it had been possible for us to be there you may be assured that you would have seen us in the congregation – which I am sure will fill the cathedral to capacity.”

Richard Youdale, Former Headmaster

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“I was a pupil in Hereward Hall from 1964 to 1969 and obviously got to know CRIM (as we all called him) very well. There are so many tales that could be told reflecting those years, but suffice it to say that whilst being a strong disciplinarian, he was always fair and beneath his stern exterior had a lovely sense of humour. He gave his heart and soul to us and to the House and made a lasting impression on all of us. I went on to join first the Royal Air Force and then The Army, and I always remember his immaculately polished shoes, including the strip of leather underneath, between soul and heel. He had the misfortune to try and teach me English at A level, which thankfully I passed and have since gone on to be a Broadcaster and Commentator for the BBC and a number of other companies. The grounding I received from Ian served me well.

I am now living in Hong Kong, so sadly I won’t be able to return to Ely for Ian’s funeral, but I shall be there in spirit and wish you all well, as you remember a man who had a very significant impact on the early years of a lot of young gentlemen. I’m sure it will be a memorable day.

Please celebrate his life on all our behalves.”

Julian Tutt 1964-69

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“I have never stopped thinking of the inspiration Mr. Matheson provided for me: in all that I write, and in many ways that I teach, I try to call him to mind.

In the classroom, he was fastidious and wry, and at times – as Harry Sidebottom once said – caustic. He taught with irony and asperity, yet with a passionate admiration for Shakespeare and Milton. Words were everything to him, and I remember the constant luxury of listening to his easy concision and delightful selection.

He was surprisingly playful, too. At one point, four Etheldreda girls were housed at the top of Hereward Hall; one afternoon, I came thundering down the stairs and almost collided with him. I announced a little too enthusiastically that we were playing The Sound of Music, and I was Maria. In the same breath, I told him that he could be the baroness. Amazingly, he simply raised that eyebrow of his, gazed at me, and tipped his head in assent. For a classical little man in black, he was game.

I could tell you about the pleasure of working with him on school plays, of his laconic wit, of his profound care for the students in his house, or the fact that even after I’d left Ely, he replied to every one of my letters with a thoughtful – and carefully typed – one of his own. But foremost for me, he was the ideal teacher. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he determined my life; I adored him. ”

Marian Rooney, 1977

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“Mr Matheson was a tremendously kind and approachable gentleman, and we as students felt very privileged and warm when he invited us to his house for the occasional weekend dinner.
He made such an impact and helped us to settle into the school life quickly as an overseas student. He was a very kind man and had a great sense of humor.
Mr Matheson, RIP.

Paul Go, 1981-83