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News > Gattonian Memories > Tribute to Bill Jeffrey

Tribute to Bill Jeffrey

Bill and Beth at Beth's 70th Birthday
Bill and Beth at Beth's 70th Birthday

Bill, together with his wife Beth, were a fundamentally important part of my teenage years. I lived in Edinburgh House from the time that the Senior School moved to Gatton in 1953 until I left school in 1959. Bill and Beth were my house parents for more than half that time and we remained in contact for most of the rest of their respective lives.

I remember Bill as a calm, no nonsense, firm but friendly housemaster with a ready smile. Bill went out of his way to encourage me in my particular interests. He knew I liked playing tennis and before the School had its own tennis courts he would take me to public courts in a park at Lower Kingswood to coach me. Tennis remained my main recreational sport throughout my adult life.

Bill knew of my interest in listening to pop and orchestral music on the radio, and when I was sixteen or seventeen, Bill and Beth took me with them to a large theatre in Croydon to see one of the first ever concerts in the UK by one of the most famous American Big Bands, the Count Basie Orchestra. On another occasion we went to see a chart-topping American pop stars of the nineteen-fifties, Johnnie Ray. It is no coincidence that less than three years later I joined the BBC and progressed to become a producer of pop and orchestral music. These are but two examples of Bill’s influence on my life after I left Gatton.

My sadness at Bill’s passing is tempered by the rekindling of memories of my time at school under Bill’s guidance and our continuing friendship beyond. My sincere condolences go to Bill’s children David and Susan and to their children and grandchildren.

John Billingham 

President of the Gatton Association



Bill Jeffrey’s Career at RAAS

Bill joined RAAS in 1956 as Head of Mathematics in the Secondary School and Housemaster of Edinburgh House. Bill became Senior Master of the School in 1966 and Deputy Headmaster a year later. In 1970, Bill became Housemaster of Rank House, then a Senior Boys house. In 1977/8, when Rank became a Junior House, Bill relinquished his Head of House role. In 1975/6, Bill’s Deputy Head role was retitled Deputy Head (Boarding). Bill continued in that role until his retirement in 1988.

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