Teacher who threw himself into village life in retirement

Jack Thomas

Jack Thomas led an active retirement in Uplyme - Credit: Contributed

Jack Thomas, who had lived in Uplyme for 30 years, has died at the age of 93. 

When Jack and Imogen retired in 1988, they moved from Hertfordshire with Molly, Imogen’s mother, to East Devon.   

Jack threw himself into life in Uplyme.  He became a churchwarden and a parish councillor. He joined the Axe Cliff Golf Club and was veteran captain in its centenary year, producing a booklet of its history. After some years here, he and Gerald Gosling wrote the Book of Uplyme, and with Imogen represented the Pilot Boat in the Palmer’s pub quiz league.

He wrote a guide for Uplyme church with Imogen and they documented both the wildflowers and tombstone inscriptions in the graveyard.  He and Imogen also devised an Uplyme loop to the East Devon Way for Devon County Council, with a pamphlet illustrated by Molly. He acted in several plays at the Marine Theatre and for some years wrote a column for Pulman’s.  

Jack lectured on poetry and the history of art for NADFAS groups, among others, in Devon, Dorset and Somerset.  He also wrote several books, including a novel based on the Arnolfini Portrait which was stocked by the National Gallery. 

Jack was born in Camden Town and brought up in Ealing. At eight he was sent to a prep school, the Old Malthouse, at Langton Matravers on the Isle of Purbeck, owned by an aunt and uncle. He learned to swim in the salt water pool which his uncle had dynamited out of the Dancing Ledge (it would hardly be allowed these days).

He was very happy there and fell in love with the Dorset landscape. He went on to Marlborough and after two years' National Service with the Army Education Corps in Hamburg, to Peterhouse Cambridge. He enjoyed the world of education and decided to become a schoolmaster.

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As part of his Diploma of Education he spent some months at the Lycée Hoche in Versailles and enjoyed seeing the famous musical artists of the day, including Edith Piaf and Charles Trenet.

He joined the staff at Haileybury College in 1954, where he taught until he retired apart from an exchange year in America. In 1956 he married Imogen and they had four children, Mark, Tig, Charlie and Lucy, and seven grandchildren. 

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