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School welcomes oldest living pupil in style for 100th birthday
A MARLOW school welcomed back its oldest former pupil in style yesterday as staff and pupils threw a party to celebrate his hundredth birthday.
Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School welcomed back Monty Seymour, the oldest known old Borlasian and much-loved town character, who studied at the grammar school between 1926 and 1930.
During his school days, the centenarian used to ride a pony to the former all-boys school, and his unusual school run was marked with a horse-drawn carriage ride up the High Street towards West Street.
And current Borlasians lined the sun-drenched Cloisters lawn to welcome the popular alumnus, in the same way as he and his schoolmates did for General Sir George Higginson during a school visit over 80 years ago.
The 100-year-old Wycombe Royal British Legion president and lifetime Wycombe Wanderers President, who celebrated his birthday last Sunday, told pupils: “I think this is one of the finest grammar schools in England.
“I’m sure all of you are keeping up the old motto and requests quoted in the school song, and I’m sure that will go on for ever and ever.”
“I can’t imagine being at the school now. With all the girls here now it looks like I came here too early! I am proud to be an old Borlasian and I thank you all very much.”
He added: “The reaction you have given me has been brilliant. The only thing I would change is they didn’t let me drive the two horses up the High Street!
“I tell students that a 1000 mile walk starts with one step and you’ve got a great long road ahead of you.”
Monty, born in 1914 just before the outbreak of World War I, would arrive by pony to the West Street school and stable the animal at Morris’s farm next to the school chapel.
During his time at Borlase, he was a keen sportsman, achieving first colours for cricket and second colours in soccer.
He won the boxing cup, was a member of the rifle team and won the cross-country championship two years running.
A member of the Britons house, Monty left aged 16 in 1930 to work on the family farm and then later took on an apprenticeship with a chemist, eventually running a successful pharmacy business in High Wycombe.
And the multi-talented Borlasian served in the Royal Air Force during World War Two.
During the celebrations, Borlase head Peter Holding said: “It’s wonderful to welcome Monty back. It is always great to see him, he is a real character.
“He has really made something of himself and is a big figure in High Wycombe.
“The kids think he is great too, and how many schools have got someone like Monty who used to ride a pony to school and is able to come back and visit on his hundredth birthday.
“Like everyone else, we are looking back at the start of World War I and the centenary and though he is too young to remember the war, Monty is an important school connection to that.”
After arriving in the horse-drawn carriage, Monty was treated to a rendition of happy birthday by year nine pupils before being clapped and cheered into the main school building by an applauding line of year eights.
Pupils asked Monty about his life and time at the school, including a question from youngest Borlasian Beatrice Lofthouse to the oldest known living alumnus about his morning pony rides.
Monty regaled pupils with stories of his sporting achievements and remarked how the school had grown since his days in the classroom, where he said English was his favourite subject.
The centenarian remembered fondly how he and schoolmate Ken ‘Snake Hips’ Johnson, who went on to become a legendary band leader, would sneak off to the chapel before school to play jazz – much to the annoyance of his schoolmasters.
And to mark the former pupil’s hundredth birthday, Monty blew out the candles on a special birthday cake donated by family bakers Burgers, which opened in Marlow when Monty was still in his twenties.
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