Alun Davies (1935-2018)

It is with sadness that we have been informed of the recent passing of Alun Davies, teacher at the School from 1959 to the mid-1990s. John Gardiner (1987-92) is a friend of the family and has provided an obituary for us. Many (including this website editor) will have had Mr Davies as a teacher at some point in their time at the School. The funeral will be held on Wednesday 12th December, 2pm, at the Garden of England Crematorium, Bobbing.

Obituary

The passing of Alun John Davies, who died on 24 November 2018 at the age of 83, will be registered with great sadness by several generations of Borden Grammar students. They will be saddened, but if they happen to have had any significant contact with Mr Davies, they are likely to smile fondly in remembrance too, for the essence of the man was a spirited and generous engagement with life and with those in his charge.

Alun Davies was Borden Grammar’s stalwart head of History for many years until his retirement in the mid-1990s. He had joined the staff in 1959. A proud Welshman (his lifelong love of Welsh rugby cannot possibly be overlooked), Alun grew up in Llanelli, where he attended the local grammar school before completing degrees at Manchester University and the London School of Economics. Back at Llanelli, as part of his teacher training, Alun found himself teaching A Level History to erstwhile peers not much younger than himself; on the back row, he would always recall, sat the future Home Secretary, Michael Howard.

Gifted with almost uncanny power of recall, and with little time for what he considered the illogical or the unreasonable (his rendering of the adjective ‘ludicrous!’, hands thrown aloft, right to the end, was a treasure), Alun would go on to require Borden historians to be methodical, to be informed, and to be lucid. He was exacting. His postgraduate research had focused on British foreign policy in the nineteenth century, and he retained a keen interest in Europe and the wider world, both as an organiser of trips at Borden and as a traveller and connoisseur of what life beyond Britain had to offer. His knowledge of and passion for European opera was second to none: what Alun did not know about the genre and its practitioners was scarcely worth writing down. The CD collection, elaborately curated through almost every room of his Sittingbourne home, was legendary; a kind of Valhalla of Wagner recordings dwelt on the top landing.

Alun appeared to treat his final illness, borne with characteristic fortitude, as a sort of cosmic imposition on his enjoyment of life. During these last two years, Alun was supported with steadfast loyalty by individuals with a Borden connection: Richard Carter, the former head of Modern Languages, and Yvonne Veal, wife of the late Terry.

Fastidious in habit and mind, and unfailingly courteous, small details mattered to Alun as part of a wider pattern of living. He was supremely kind, with a generous and compassionate lightness of touch. Completely egalitarian by instinct, Alun never talked down to students or other adults; he sympathised keenly when things had gone wrong; he had a rich and robust sense of humour; and, entirely unimpressed by displays of power or superficial showiness, he stood by students who showed the slightest interest or potential. For Alun, people mattered: whether past, present, or future. I am enormously grateful to have had him as a teacher, and latterly a friend.

John Gardiner (BGS, 1987-92)