|1 Apr 2019|
|Deaths & Obituaries|
|CRAWFORD, Bertram (Bertie) |
Died in November 2018, aged 19. His Housemaster, Patrick North writes:
“One by one, they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade dismally with age”.
- James Joyce, ‘Dubliners’
Bertie Crawford, who passed away in November 2018, aged 19, was at Hill Side between 2012-17. Arriving at Tonbridge from Aylesbury Grammar School, his Novi end of year report said, “there is no doubt that Bertie is academically curious and able, and I am sure that we can look forward to some excellent public exam results when the time comes”. This was certainly prescient. Bertie went on to achieve no less than 6 A*s at GCSE, together with 3 As and a B, and at A Level, A*AA. He went on to Bristol University to read English. These bald results, however, do not do justice to Bertie’s quickness of mind and bullish sense of humour, a blend of un-alloyed cheek and comic sharpness. He was one of those boys that make teaching worthwhile, and who you remember long after they’ve left the school.
In Hill Side, he was something of an ‘underground leader’, his irreverent personality and (apparently) relaxed approach to life making him a firm favourite across the various year groups; these boys didn’t, perhaps, see the disciplined and ambitious approach to his work that he carefully disguised. As he approached his A Levels, his room (usually the house ‘chill-out zone’ with its mood-lighting, soft furnishings and atmospheric music), became nothing short of a campaign room with mind-maps, diagrams and definitions covering all the walls. It was the model of how an ambitious student should approach their exams. His massive and very visible work ethic over his last couple of terms made him an excellent role model to the younger boys – and there are boys currently in the house who would not be thriving to the extent they are, if it was not for the example that Bertie, who they respected so deeply, set them.
Bertie brought three things to almost everything he did: a combination of prolific strength, determination, and (sometimes excruciating) attention to detail. Bertie enjoyed working outdoors and was becoming a craftsman. He relished working with wood. He took great satisfaction and pride in helping build a grand deck with Oak and White Ash at his parents’ home. And his final and signature piece, which combined his love of timber, craft and being a DJ, were the beautiful and geometrically accurate speaker stands he built for his (irritatingly loud) sound system.
Those who knew him will have their favourite memories of him, whether that be winning a runner-up prize in the Staveley Poetry Prize with his poem, I Really Hate Aylesbury; pointedly walking the CRAS (as some kind of protest against The System?); keeping his team going with his sense of humour in the biting cold and driving snow of an Easter Dartmoor Duke of Edinburgh trip; or nutmegging his Housemaster in the Hill Side Staff vs Leavers’ football match in 2017. Above all, though, he will be remembered for his uncommonly caring nature.
He was a generous and big-hearted individual, a truly authentic character who, in the words of Oscar Wilde, enjoyed the rarest of things – he lived, he wasn’t happy just to exist. His example and influence lives on, and he will always be part of Hill Side and Tonbridge.
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