Berkhamsted Group | 18.11.2016

Remembering David Pearce

Remembering David Pearce

On Friday 11 November we said farewell to a man whose contribution to Berkhamsted School was simply immeasurable and who, in so many ways, epitomised the Berkhamsted School spirit. 

For 33 years, from 1966 to 1999, David Pearce (known to many as DRAP) occupied a special place within Berkhamsted School life, holding positions of Head of English for 30 years as well as Housemaster of first Adders and then Incents. David continued his involvement with the School even after leaving, supporting numerous events over the years and maintaining many personal contacts. In return for his loyalty, it was our pleasure to be able to invite David, an ardent monarchist, to sit at the same table as Her Majesty The Queen at the luncheon held in honour of our Patron’s historic visit to the School on Friday 6 May. 

The moment David was presented to Her Majesty The Queen at St Peter’s Church.

During his time at the School, David made so many other contributions to School life. He coached cricket and Fives, which he taught himself from scratch in his late fifties. He ran the School library for several years and was a talented producer of plays. In 1980, David wrote and produced a play entitled Something for Incent to mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of the School’s founder, Dean John Incent. It was performed on 10th July 1980 and involved all pupils and staff in the School; a school production on this scale has never been repeated.

A scene from ‘Something for Incent’
David founded and for many years acted as chairman of the J R Crawford Society which, shortened to just the Crawford Society, still provides a forum for Sixth Formers who are interested in intellectual discussion and academic debate. He also launched the Old Berkhamstedian magazine, which continues to be produced and disseminated to all Old Berkhamstedians each year.
In David’s valete, written by his colleague and friend John Davison and published in the 1999 Berkhamstedian magazine, John described David in his role as Housemaster:
“His infectious enthusiasm, warmth and friendliness succeeded to a remarkable degree in creating esprit de corps. … He, with the vital support of Liz (his wife), made life in the House vivid and exciting. … Pupils fortunate enough to come within his generous and eccentric orbit found their experience enriched by being swept up in the numerous more or less dotty activities: Incents on a non-uniform day rivalled the lilies of the field, and no-one was more colourfully arrayed than the Housemaster in all his glory, appearing to the delight of his charges one year as an Edwardian toff, the next as a punk rocker.” 
Parents, pupils and staff who were privileged to attend the Prep Speech Day in 2014 were treated to a taste of DRAP in action (pictured top) – he delivered an energetic, dramatic, relevant and engaging address and, ever the teacher at heart, pitched it perfectly to the young pupils sitting before him. Each and every child who went up on stage to receive an award from David was made to feel an individual sense of achievement.
Apart from recently publishing his own book The Street, a unique, beautiful and impressive collection of sonnets (103 in all) and other poems, David also played an important role in the publication of the book, written by John Davison, Berkhamsted School: A 475th Anniversary Portrait. John credited David’s contribution as follows: “Another indispensable source has been the extensive notes made by David Pearce, who some years ago was asked to undertake the task to which I have succeeded; the circumstances of the time rendered impossible for him what has been easy for me, and he kindly made over to me a huge body of material painstakingly assembled over several years, without which this book could not have been written.”

David Pearce (right) and John Davison

DRAP will live on as one of Berkhamsted School’s iconic teachers, remembered by the generations of pupils whose lives he touched. The words used by John Davison to conclude the valete remain utterly appropriate:

“Great schools grow by those who love them. In the end David’s contribution to Berkhamsted should be seen as a labour of love … he has come to typify the traditional virtues of the School: his knowledge of its old pupils is authoritative; his appreciation of its nature and tradition has been a quiet source of strength and pride to numerous colleagues.”   

Thank you David, Berkhamsted School will never forget you.

The book of poems, The Street, by David R A Pearce can be purchased online via the following link:

Link to purchase The Street by David R A Pearce | External Link 


David on horseback dressed up as former Headmaster Revd Edward Bartum on the occasion of a sponsored walk.

Please click on the link below for more photographs:

A Gallery of Photos: Remembering David Pearce | Weblink
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