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College & OF History: 1975-2000
Into the Third Millennium
Framlingham College...
By John Maulden

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Keith Reid WILKES (R41-48)

1930-2003

On 2 September 2003 aged 73. The funeral was held on 16 September 2003 at St. Mary’s Church, Ellesmere and the address was given by the Rt. Reverend Jeremy Walsh former Bishop of Tewkesbury. IAN WATSON OF attended and represented the President.

At Framlingham Keith was a Prefect, Vice-President of the Debating Society and winner of the Soar Prize in 1947. He played in the Rugby XV in 1948 and at the end of that season he played for the Eastern Counties Schoolboys XV. Perhaps one of his most enduring achievements at school was to instigate the establishment of a signals section in the CCF. Upon leaving Framlingham he was commissioned and posted to Eastern Command Signals Regiment and spent his National Service career with this regiment. From 1953-1955 he read Natural Sciences at Pembroke College, Cambridge and then attended Lincoln Theological College from 1953-1955.

While at Cambridge Keith found time to row and was a member of the Pembroke boat in1953 which was without doubt the fastest on the river but, due to it’s lowly starting position, finished a commendable second in the Head of the River races and this resulted in the award of an oar which was proudly displayed in his study.

In the same year that he married Margaret Partington (1955) he was ordained Deacon in St Albans Abbey and a year later ordained Priest in September 1956. He and Margaret had two children, John born in 1956 and Susan in 1959.

After a curacy at St. Francis, Welwyn Garden City, Keith was appointed chaplain to St. Francis Hall in Birmingham University and Staff Secretary for the Student Christian Movement there. He went on to become chaplain to St. Matthias College in Bristol, a college for the training of teachers, and then became Diocesan Director of Education for the Bristol Diocese. Finally he went to Ellesmere to be Provost of the Woodard Schools in the Midlands. At Ellesmere he rekindled his interest in rowing and as a keen member of Rotary was the driving force behind the regatta on the mere.

The Woodard job seems to have been made for Keith, he knew education, he knew how schools should be managed, and with all that, he knew what it was to be a faithful man of God. All who knew him had the highest regard for his work, maintaining the fundamental Woodard vision of Christian education. He was closely involved in the appointment of heads and chaplains and enjoyed the respect of all who worked with him. One Headmaster recalled how “ he always found time to look after individuals so that we felt cared for,” while other people found him a “ huge source of spiritual and realistic sense.”

Keith retired in 1994.

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