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News > Deaths & Obituaries > BUSHBY, Michael

BUSHBY, Michael

You are warmly welcomed to leave a message below, share your memories and celebrate the life of Michael Bushby, who we sadly lost in 2020.
BUSHBY, Michael
Beloved member of the Tonbridge Community, Mike Bushby, sadly passed away on 8 February 2020 after he had a stroke in January. He leaves behind his wife, Judy and three children, Emma, Alison, and Jim (WW 84-89). All of us will remember Mike as enormously likeable. He was caring and thoughtful in so many ways, within the school and elsewhere. He had so many close connections with boys, OTs, parents and all colleagues. A memorial service is being planned and we will share details of this once confirmed.
(Common-Room 1954-1991)

The following obituary appeared in The Times on 14 March 2020, edited for Tonbrigde News.

First-class opening batsman and schoolmaster who saved Anthony Seldon from expulsion

When, half a century ago, an unruly boy at Tonbridge School was suspended for protesting against the Combined Cadet Force, a senior master fought his corner and allowed him to sit his exams. Mike Bushby was prescient. The pupil, who had an unusual and inquiring mind, went on to Oxford and became one of the leading headmasters and academics in the country.
Sir Anthony Seldon never forgot his kindness, and held a Bushby lunch in his honour every year. “Mike had a soft spot for rebellious schoolboys,” he said.
Seldon was to return to the school as a teacher and Bushby, having finished running the cricket and completed 15 years as a housemaster, was to be in his history department. “Mike was a model for me,” Seldon recalled. “He had a sense of community that was better than many heads and was quite left-field. He wanted to look after those who did not have advantages.”
Jonathan Smith, head of English at Tonbridge and the father of Ed Smith, who became a Test cricketer and the chairman of England selectors, met Bushby when he arrived at Tonbridge in 1967. “Mike was a deeply modest person,” he said. “A good teacher’s disapproval is a good weapon and no one wanted to cross him.”
Bushby devoted his entire working life to the school and, in retirement in 1991, moved to a house only 200 yards away. It was no surprise that his closest friend was Dennis Silk, with whom he opened the batting for Cambridge University and who was also a lifelong schoolmaster. “When you think of Mike, you think of Dennis,” said another friend, John Woodcock, who was then cricket correspondent for The Times.
Michael Howard Bushby was born in 1931 and grew up in Sutton, Surrey, the son of Howard Bushby, who worked in insurance, and Muriel, a primary school teacher. His parents would not have been able to afford school fees but through a scholarship he attended Dulwich College in south London.

Bushby played in the Dulwich cricket 1st XI for four years and in the rugby 1st XV for two years, captaining both in his final year. He then did two years of National Service in the Royal Fusiliers before going to Queens’ College, Cambridge, to read history. There he had three years in the cricket XI from 1952 to 1954, captaining in his last year. He opened the batting with David Sheppard, who played for England and became bishop of Liverpool, and then with Silk.
Bushby’s time at Cambridge was during a period of dull cricket in the Varsity match at Lord’s, then a considerably better attended and more prestigious event than it is now. “Neither side wanted to lose,” Woodcock said. Robin Marlar, one of Cambridge’s captains, wished “to banish this grimness from the game” and EW Swanton was notably critical in The Daily Telegraph. In 1954 Bushby approached his opposite number at Oxford, Colin Cowdrey, to try to resolve the matter. In the hope of reaching a positive result both captains agreed to dispense with the tea interval on the final day, but the match was drawn, Bushby making 24 and 15.
Bushby ran the cricket at Tonbridge from 1956 to 1972. Roger Prideaux captained the 1st XI in 1957 and Chris Cowdrey, another England cricketer in the making, was a 14-year-old in his last side. Richard Ellison, who also went on to play Test cricket, was in his house. “Mike encouraged generous declarations and aggressive run-chasing and focus on fielding,” said David Walsh, who succeeded him as master in charge. “Mike was a marvellous fielder himself at cover point and you could supposedly tell the school cricketers of his generation by the scars on their knees and elbows.”

Bushby, left, ran cricket at Tonbridge School for 15 years

Bushby wore not conventional cricket boots at Tonbridge but Hush Puppies that he coated white. Indeed, he was the sort of old-fashioned schoolmaster who bought his clothes from charity shops, had patches on the elbows of his jackets and smoked a pipe. He disliked slovenliness and people who moaned.

When he marked essays the comments in his red ink were often longer than the answers to the questions. He once said in an interview that he would have liked to have been a Victorian stationmaster or a local squire playing cricket in front of the village parson and villagers.

Among his idiosyncrasies was an aversion to technology. He never managed to operate either a mobile phone or email and in preparing classroom material liked to use a Banda spirit duplicator that gave out lethal-smelling fumes. It took him a long time to brave a photocopier, and he usually chopped off the last few lines.
Bushby met his wife Judy (née Hall) on a blind date and they married in 1962. They had three children: Emma, a pilates instructor; Alison, a pre-school teacher; and Jim, who teaches at an international school in Denmark.
In retirement he worked as a Samaritan in Tunbridge Wells and as a volunteer in Reigate at a home for people with disabilities. In his later years Bushby regularly attended Test matches at Lord’s, where he sat in the lower-tier pavilion seats known as “death row”.
Mike Bushby, schoolmaster, was born on July 28, 1931. He died of a stroke on February 8, 2020, aged 88.


Mike Bushby, right, and Colin Cowdrey tried to resolve a problem with Varsity matches having become dull (Lords 1954).


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