It is a great honour to stand here and speak about one of our headmasters; Mr Mervyn Brooker.
It is well documented that Mr Brooker was a very talented and keen sportsman. During his time at school he was very supportive of all our schools’ sports; it’s participants and our members of staff.
He would often be seen on the levels watching various year groups play for the schools teams. Mr Brooker had a great knowledge and opinion of sport and would be quick to tell the staff his thoughts; “why are you playing such a person at centre half when he is the best midfielder on the pitch”, or “the line out needs sorting, we need better possession”.
He would also be quick to offer golden nuggets of information to the students and the staff without interfering in any way. He liked to pass on and share knowledge of any sport with anybody.
His big loves were football and cricket, though through his work at other schools he was very informative about rugby and very supportive of the rugby tours to Portugal and South Africa.
In a very difficult time of tragedy, Mr Brooker led the school with great leadership and compassion as we mourned the loss of three talented sixth formers - all sports men, lost in two tragic events very close to each other, either side of one such tour to South Africa.
In football he was an avid Wolves fan and he would be loving their current form in the Premiership. He was also very good at telling you when Wolves had beaten your team. In recent years on one of his many overseas trips, he had been with friends to a vets football tournament in Europe. He also liked to keep in shape and was a great supporter of Patterdale Hall and enjoyed his walking. This passion took him all around the world including to base camp at Mt. Everest.
It is fair to say that though he enjoyed all sports, cricket was his main love. Sir, was a first class cricketer having played for Cambridge University, Cambridgeshire, Staffordshire and many other sides.
His Wikipedia page gives a total of 15 first class matches taking 25 Wickets and scoring, in his own words “not too many runs”.
Mr Brooker whilst a very good bowler, always wished he was a better batsman. Like us all, there was room for improvement.
Mr Brooker won a cricket Blue at Cambridge University and also played for a combined Cambridge/Oxford side that played the touring West Indies. Mr Brooker took the wicket of Roy Fredericks and was dismissed for 7 runs by Michael Holding. He was in fantastic company with some of the legends of World cricket.
He also played minor counties for Cambridgeshire and Staffordshire and represented the latter against Gloucester in the Nat West Trophy scoring 14 not out and bowling 12 overs for a miserly 19 runs.
Before taking up his full post as Headmaster here at Bolton school Mr Brooker came to work with Mr Alan Wright his predecessor, the retiring Headmaster. During that time there was a staff cricket match versus my midweek team - the infamous Dukes XI. I insisted that our new Headmaster should play for the staff versus myself and my ageing cricket friends.
He agreed despite claiming he would be suffering from jet lag from a leaving trip to Dublin……………….with his previous Colleagues from Camp Hill.
The Dukes won the toss and were batting and yours truly was one of the opening batsmen. Unbeknown to Mr Brooker the Dukes XI had bet a small wager that I could not hit Sir for a six from the first ball.
Mr Brooker was known as a very competitive cricketer, a bowler who had a very tight bowling line - difficult to score runs off.
With a heave of the bottom hand, the ball flew to “cow corner” and landed inches inside the boundary rope to cheers and groans from the packed crowd of one. Realising something was going on, Sir walked down the track and told me; “That was the worst cricket shot I have ever seen”
To which I replied,
“may be sir, but it was nearly the most lucrative shot of my modest career!”
Mr Brooker walked further down the wicket and said
“Do you like your job Fernside?”
“Of course” was my reply.......
“Well” said Sir, “you need to buy a Times Education Supplement on Thursday, your job will be in there!!!!” ……………and he walked back to bowl ball number two.
Later in the game Mr Brooker was stumped for a duck by guess who..................................
Our first encounter of Sir as the cricketer.
Some months later, myself and Mr Howard, the then head of swimming were taking a year 8 class, when one of the school cricketers came in with a very nasty bruise on the inside of his right leg.
Acting with empathy, I asked the boy what had happened?
The pupil replied – “the new Headmaster did it! I was playing cricket for Daisy Hill v Edgworth and the Head bowled and hit me on the leg!”
“Did he say anything” was my reply?
“Yes”, said the boy - he said “you are out - LBW!!!!!!!!!!!”
Another wicket to the Brooker collection.
The superb cricket facilities we have and the standards we play, are in many ways due to Mr. Brooker’s early support of school cricket. Mr Brooker, Mr. Compton along with the other school cricket staff worked hard together to raise the bar. Our national and county victories and the amount of ex Bolton School players now playing first class cricket or playing in the Bolton league or other North West leagues is a testimony to his efforts. A fine legacy.
Sir, was an avid member of Edgworth CC where he opened the bowling and helped the 2nd XI to win the championship. At the club he was affectionately known as ‘Merv the swerve’ in recognition of his talent to swing the ball. Whilst Head of our school he also played for Lancashire over 50s.
Cricket is full of analogies and it’s fair to say that the horrible illness of meningitis has sadly taken Mr Brooker’s wicket far too early in his innings.
It is hoped and already being planned, that when the weather warms up and the cricket season arrives. Edgworth CC and a team from Bolton school will play a match at Edgworth in Mr Brooker’s memory.
Paul Fernside – Head of Sport/Master-in-Charge of Rugby
Tribute given at the Assembly of Remembrance, 29th January 2019
I had the privilege and pleasure of working closely with Mervyn throughout his time at Bolton. He came with ideas that at first seemed both revolutionary and intimidating, but which he tempered to fit the ethos of Bolton School and made significant changes to the education and lives of the boys. He believed in complete openness and never took personal issue with disagreements.
In our differing ways we had a shared love of the high mountains and it was always a pleasure to hear of his exploits.
A truly great man and headmaster who always gave his time up for others. He supported us all a lot and would do his upmost to get to know every student really well. Left a great legacy and will be missed. Thanks, Sir.
To the family of Mervyn Brooker, I offer my sincerest condolences following the news of his untimely passing.
Mervyn was an excellent Headmaster of a school which consistently developed boys into young men who were ready to make a positive contribution to society. The School continues in that vein today.
From a personal perspective, Mervyn and I had a shared passion of cricket. When I was at the School, he fully encouraged me to pursue that passion. His support meant a lot me then and that will be my abiding memory of him.
Mr Brooker was an outstanding Headmaster. He had a rare gift of putting people at ease, from younger boys to parents and colleagues alike. His calm, unassuming yet assertive style of leadership will stay with me. He was without doubt a formative influence on many of us who knew him during our time at school. My brother Joel and I are grateful for his support, encouragement and kindness to our family throughout his tenure at Bolton School. We would like to express our heartfelt sympathy to Mrs Brooker and family on their sad loss.
A true gentleman in every meaning of the word. My lasting memory will be from a very tough time in my life when my father was having heart surgery. He had gone out of his way, on a weekend, to find my contact number to call me to ask how my father was and if there was anything he or the school could do for me. For me the school was never quite the same when he left. He will be deeply missed by all those who ever had the pleasure of knowing him.
A top, top bloke whom I shared many discussions with about cricket and life after school. The first Head to make me understand that school was about more than just the subjects you learn. He'll be missed and I wish his family the absolute best in this difficult time.
Really shocked and saddened to hear the news. Mervyn was a kind and highly supportive Head, playing a huge part in my development, both professionally and personally. I could never thank him enough for this. Love and prayers go out to Mervyn's family and to the school at this sad time.
I worked at Camp Hill Boys' School for 29 years, and had the pleasure of working with Mervyn for ten of them. He was a superb Headteacher, genuinely interested in everything that went on in school and quick to praise both pupils and staff for their contributions. He was a genuinely lovely man and will be greatly missed.
A great Headmaster and truly genuine and generous man. Very sad to hear this news.
As a student at King Edwards Camp Hill in Birmingham, I was too young to appreciate and understand his firm but always fair approach to education and discipline. As I grew older and the responsibilities of post university adult life kicked in, I would frequently look back at him as a role model.
Work hard, always try to be the best you can be, treat others with respect and most of all play cricket. Unfortunately the last one never rubbed off on me, but I now live much of my life by his other lessons.
My condolences to his family.
James de Whalley
I was at KE Camp Hill in Birmingham between 1992 and 1999. Mr Brooker was Deputy Head then Head during that time.
I honestly can't say enough just how normal Mr Brooker was. It was a grammar school and, at the time, a lot of teachers acted accordingly. Mr Brooker however was, for want of a better phrase, a top bloke. A seriously top bloke.
It's very strange when someone who has played a part in your life passes, and this is so unexpected. I wish all the very best to his family, and send huge condolences. And to Mr Brooker, I say "thank you". He was a brilliant mentor.
I will always remember how Mr Brooker trained us not to use "like" as a filler word. Every time someone used the word in this context during one of our weekly PSHE lessons in Year 7, Mr Brooker would interrupt and ask, "like? What do you like? I like bananas." His tone was always positive and this ritual never became tedious. To this day, I am grateful for this and the many other valuable lessons he provided.
So sad to hear about Mr Brooker's death. As an old Boltonian, I've followed school activists closely since leaving, and realise that he had tremendous impact in shaping the lives of many during his time as Headmaster. My deepest condolences to his family and the wider school community.
Mr Brooker was a wonderful person and one of the finest educators I have come across. He was fair, very able and genuinely interested in the development of the students. He made a historic contribution at KECH, raising its academic standards to the highest in the country.
Extremely saddened to hear the passing of Mervyn today, an extraordinary and much admired teacher and then Headship at King Edward VI Camp Hill Grammar School, from my time between 1994 and 2001. He will be missed by many, but not forgotten. Thoughts are with his family at this time.
Deepest condolences, thanks for all your kind words and support. It was deeply appreciated.
Rest in peace Sir. My class/year are truly and proudly of your era as we were the class of '08. I'm thankful for mostly your introduction of making students write a career's project in year 8; your debut year. It made me wonder at the evolution between learning at school towards its potential applications in the professional-world of many careers. Thereby I discovered the very subject, previously unknown to me, which later became my degree and career. You made us want to take the initiative to see the relevance between the classroom, and outside it, inspiring many from that young an age. I am very grateful for that. I send my condolences to your family and friends.
Oh Merv, we had so much fun from time to time. Was looking forward to seeing you and B next month...not to be it seems. Unforgettable Mate. Perhaps see you in the sunshine sometime.
We were so very sorry to hear the news. I will always remember his kindness to my sons, and my mother. He had much to endure himself regarding tragedies in his last year at Bolton, and I remember what a warm human he showed himself to be.
Please pass on our sympathy to his family.
I experienced Mervyn's headship as both a student and, subsequently, as a member of staff. In both settings he was a warm, approachable and collegiate figure with a gift for instilling confidence in others. At the same time he was a proud and fierce advocate for the importance of both academic and extra-curricular endeavour, a combination in the best traditions of the school. He will be sadly missed.
So sad to hear the tragic news about Mervyn. Sincere condolences to his family and friends. He was a true inspirational leader, always putting the well-being and development of his pupils first. Always remember the productive and helpful encounters with him at King Edwards Camp Hill and I can truly say he was a great help in the development of my children. May he rest in peace.
Very sad news today on the passing of Mr Brooker.
A great Headmaster. Thoughts and prayers to his family.
Really saddened by the unexpected death of Mervyn. I am indebted to him for believing in me as a teacher and promoting me to Head of French. As I took on a significant new role he helped me enormously with the day to day running of the department as well as offering wise counsel and support when needed in the early days. He did everything he could to help maintain and develop our school exchange with Moulins and was remembered fondly by them too with a warm and friendly welcome whenever they were in school.
As someone who helped with school cricket at the time we were able to chat about his passion and I remember him discretely helping behind the scenes when the U13 team I was coaching won the County Cup for the first time in over a decade. He wanted me to take the plaudits even though his cricketing expertise was much greater than mine.
Above all I admired his honesty and transparency. If there was something on your mind he sensed it before you mentioned it to him and he accepted criticism with good grace and worked tirelessly to improve the school. It is fair to say that in 2008 when he semi-retired the school was a wonderful place to work as it still is today!
Mr Brooker was one of life's gents. A wonderful, happy, highly intelligent and inspiring leader. At King Edwards Camp Hill, he led with distinction and with a true aura that helped and made so many pupils progress to a high level and beyond.
So sad to hear this news today. Big love Sir. Heaven has taken another true gent. All my condolences to his family x
So very sorry to hear this news. I remember Mervyn as a real gentleman and a hugely supportive Head. Very best wishes to Brigid and their family.
RIP Mervyn, thank you for everything you did for us at Camp Hill.
Deeply saddened by this news. Camp Hill was never quite the same after he left.
Thoughts with the family.
I met Merv through Old Wulfrunians Cricket Club in Wolverhampton. We were fortunate to secure his services as one of the finest bowlers to represent our club, but his real impact was much more profound. His intelligence, humour and easygoing nature made him a pleasure to be around, and he made many lasting friendships in the Midlands. Merv's death has come as a great shock to us all and he will be desperately missed.
Sincere condolences to Merv's former colleagues and pupils at Bolton School, where I am sure he will be very fondly remembered.
I was deeply saddened to hear of Mr Brooker's passing a few days ago. I will remember him warmly for his charm, dedication and his cricketing prowess. Thank you for your service, Sir.
Mervyn was a listener. He treated everyone with quiet respect and, although primarily concerned with getting things right for the school, he always showed an interest in people and life outside the school - a truly balanced individual. My condolences to his family.
During my time as Librarian of BSBD I found Mervyn always approachable and willing to listen.
A fine figurehead, I know he earned the respect of both my sons when they were pupils.
My thoughts are with Brigid and family in such a sad and sudden loss of a remarkable man. It was a pleasure and a privilege to serve as a Governor during Mervyn's time as Headmaster.
Mervyn was a good friend to the Old Boys Association and a delight to work with.
An outstanding Headmaster and colleague who gave a great deal to the school. Always thoughtful, supportive and empathetic, he had a rare sense of perspective, a dry sense of humour and an enthusiasm for learning and life. He believed passionately in the school as a community and as part of a wider community. He will be sorely missed by friends and family, and remembered with gratitude and affection.
I got to know Mervyn Brooker very well when I was President of the O.B.A in 2006. He was extremely helpful and supportive when we launched the Presidents Bursary Appeal and the Golf Day which ran not just for that year but a further 9 years thereafter. He shared my passion for cricket and in all modesty told me of his success in minor counties. We travelled to all the Regional Dinners where he spoke enthusiastically about the School and his appreciation of the Old Boys ongoing support, leaving me to respond accordingly.
His tenure of the office of Headmaster was perhaps all too short, as in life itself, but in his own modest way he achieved so much in such a short time. The School and the OBA should be grateful for the excellent Headmasters we seem to attract, and Mervyn was their equal in every respect.
With Deepest sympathy to Brigid whom I also got to know well at the dinners, and to his daughters, I feel we have lost a good man and a true Old Boy of our School.
A lovely man - caring and good company. I spent an enjoyable year attending Regional Dinners with him and, sometimes, Brigid; later, at various events and functions at School until his sadly early departure from Bolton. My sad condolences to Brigid and family.
Peter Nightingale, Staff 1968 -73 OB's Pres 2003
Although I only worked under Mervyn Brooker for one year, he did all he could to make my retirement pleasant, which was important to me. He was unfailingly good humoured, even when disagreed with, and an excellent Headmaster to work with.
Dr Ralph Britton
Very sorry to hear the news, I remember Mr Brooker and will be forever grateful for the school he led, and the undeniable foundations it gave my life.
My condolences to his family and loved ones.
A gentleman, a former colleague and a Headmaster of great service and honesty, with a zeal of 'Burnley' bluntness. Tragically taken too early from Brigid, his daughters and grandchildren. I shall never forget the photograph he had proudly on display upon his study desk of himself and his family shooting down the log flume... Rest In Peace my friend and keep bowling...
Though I did not know Mervyn personally, I can believe the excellence in his teaching, and as Headmaster of Bolton School. I know also the importance of him being active in sport, particularly in Cricket, which when I played, was a game requiring not only skill, but also, honesty, where a player started to walk even before the signal from the umpire.
My condolences to his family, friends, and to the school.
Dr. Joseph Eden (1944 to 1952)
Mervyn was universally respected and admired by friends and colleagues alike.
He had tremendous enthusiasm for life and undertook his responsibilities with immense professionalism.
I am very proud and privileged to count myself as a friend and will miss him and his boundless energy enormously!
Merv was such a hugely positive influence on our cricket club during his time with us, both as player and person. He will be remembered with great affection, and will be hugely missed.
Condolences and sincere good wishes to his family at this time.
Gerald Coteman, Cambridge Granta Cricket Club
So saddened to hear this shocking news. I had a long letter from Mervyn at Christmas telling me of his trips and future plans. He was a real family man and thrilled to be a grandfather. He was loving retirement. A true gentleman.
A tragic end to the remarkable life of this amazing man. Wise and kind, modest and down to earth, Mervyn was one of the nicest people you could wish to meet. I feel blessed to have called him friend; it was a privilege and a pleasure to work for him. He will be greatly missed by so many and the world is a poorer place without him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very sad time.
Maureen Jones (former Headmaster's PA)
It was with great sadness that I learned of Mervyn's sudden illness and passing. In his six years as Headmaster, he not only brought a wealth of experience and a keen grasp of practical detail to the post, but also great humanity - he was an honest, fair, warm and generous man who always gave selflessly of his time to encourage boys and staff alike to show initiative and fulfil their potential. I will certainly miss the robust but good humoured exchange of opinions about our shared interests in geography, cricket and football amongst others. It is a real tragedy that the very full and active retirement he was enjoying has been brought to a far too premature end and my heartfelt condolences go out to Brigid and the family.
Very sad news. I worked with Mervyn at RGS Worcester and also enjoyed several staff outings to the Lake District which he enriched with his company.
Remembered with fondness and prayers.
John Ridge, Ampleforth College
Merv was a big friend for us.
I have in my mind a message and a picture sent last 22nd of October from Saribung Peak (Nepal) who said:
sorry I can't play football this week but still keeping fit.
This was the style of Merv's life.
Ciao Merv you are always in our hearts.
Condolences from Giovanni , Gianfausto and all the Italian boys
I am truly devastated and saddened by the news of Mervyn's sudden passing. My thoughts are with his family at this awful time. I will remember Mervyn for being a formidable gentleman and a wonderful friend to my father. His love for cricket, sense of humour and kindness shall stay with me forever. He shall be greatly missed.
So shocked and saddened to hear the news off Mervyn's passing. A polite gentleman who brought a wealth of experience to the school. My thoughts are with his family at this very sad time. Play cricket with the best up there Mervyn.
I was greatly shocked and saddened by the news of Mervyn's death. I knew him at Worcester RGS between 1983 and 1988. He was always supportive to younger staff in particular, had time for pupils, parents and staff and was a consummate professional and he was clearly destined to have a stellar career.
I was lucky enough to have him as a team mate on the cricket pitch where again he shone. It is difficult to accept that 'Merv the Swerve'is no longer with us. My thoughts are with his family.
Mervyn Brooker took over as Headmaster in my Second or Third Year of school, following the much-loved Alan Wright - famous for sweeping about the school, academic gown billowing, with snow white hair and a sharp wit. I recall people telling me, almost euphemistically, that he had a ‘very different style’ to Alan Wright. His ‘style’ was clearly straight and understated. He didn’t give long speeches in assembly, and we didn’t quite know, at first, what to make of him. I’m not sure it was until I reached the Sixth Form that I began to understand what this ‘different style’ of his was really all about. I began, then, to discover that it was his ‘style’ to ring my parents, personally, on the morning our GCSE results were published to discuss mine with them. It was his ‘style’ to let us, as laughably pretentious and self-important as we surely were, stage a rock concert in the Great Hall and help whip the school into an online vote to support us in a local radio competition. His ‘style’ was to lead the school - calmly, visibly, and completely unwaveringly - through shattering tragedy, as we lost three great friends and a dearly loved teacher to car-accidents, pneumonia and meningitis. When, for us, the heart of our school seemed to have been ripped out, he helped hold the stitches in place whilst we, and it, slowly but surely, began to heal. And, years later, following three years at University and two trying to discover a purpose for myself in North Eastern China, it was his ‘style’ to write a teaching reference for me that went above and beyond anything I might have expected. Not just a reference, but a lengthy update on his own life after Bolton School: his cricket, his return to teaching, his family, a raft of questions for me and the sincerest of promises that, should I ever need advice, he would only ever be an email away. That was his ‘style’ too. He was a man that cared, genuinely and authentically. I came to understand that his was a ‘style’ that any proper Headmaster would do well to try and emulate.
Rob Jones (2001-2008, School Captain 2007-2008)
Tribute given at the Assembly of Remembrance, 29th January 2019
As Governors, we always consider our most important job, of the many we do, to be the appointment of a Headmaster. It was in that capacity that I first met Mervyn Brooker and I still have a very clear memory of that day. He was tall, slim, with an engaging smile. He was serious, obviously highly intelligent and with very clear views of what he believed was right, and what was the right way to do things.
He was, at the time, Headmaster of a highly successful state school in the Midlands ranked as one of the best, if not the best, in the whole country. It had improved significantly under his leadership. His track record was impressive.
At the end of the interview he paused to make a final statement, he was clear, firm and serious, and those who knew him will probably recognise that characteristic. But he said, very clearly, that if we wanted someone to drive the school to the top of the league tables, he was not the man. It seemed an unusual comment for a man seeking a new job. But as I reflected it clearly encapsulated a multitude of beliefs and values, and it became obvious that he was, very much the man that we needed to be our new headmaster. In those few words he conveyed that academic success was not the only ingredient required for a first-class education, yes, it was important, but so were very many other things if you were to encourage the students to develop to their full potential. It reflected his great integrity and honesty. He would clearly only promise what he thought to be right, and what he believed he could deliver, not what he thought we might want to hear. It was clear, he already embraced the values that we hold so dear at Bolton.
Mr. Brooker became headmaster in January 2003 and stayed with us for 51/2 years. That was not very long in the history of a Bolton School headmaster. But we are still reaping many of the benefits that he initiated.
He was a passionate cricketer and once confessed that when he left Cambridge, with a degree in Geography, he was faced with a predicament, would he become a professional cricketer or a teacher. We are so grateful that he made the right decision. He reinvigorated our cricket so that today we are a major force and were one of the first national hub schools set up by the MCC Foundation. That is just part of his legacy.
Mr. Brooker’s arrival at Bolton coincided with the early years of the new millennium and the energy and innovation he brought to the job was appropriate for the beginning of the new era.
He was quick to realise that to succeed we must improve our marketing, something that we had never really bothered about before, and he drove us to establish what has become the highly successful marketing programme of today.
He had an almost religious fervour of the importance of IT in education. Interactive white boards sprang up everywhere, and a laptop was no longer a fashion accessory, but an essential work tool. This was long before i-pads were invented. The believers thought it was a second Christmas. The Clerk and Treasurer quaked as the IT tsunami swept in and swallowed all the cash.
Mr. Brooker was a man of passion, energy and drive, but he was also a good listener. He reinforced academic rigour. It was said that no one could recall a school function that he had not attended, and his support, for all teams, from the touch line at weekends, was legendary. I worked with him very closely and was able to witness, at first hand, the amazing productivity of the Brooker machine the prodigious amount of work he produced. But encompassing all of this was a dedication, a concern, a deep sense of responsibility, an outstanding professionalism not just to go the extra mile but to complete the marathon.
His contact with the School didn’t finish when he retired and he would always make himself available should we seek advice, but only if it was sought. He travelled to many parts of the globe mainly those that offered good walking, or Test cricket, and on a personal note I enjoyed a regular stream of postcards, written with great detail, and always having a complimentary line about the School.
But I should like to finish with a reference to the School Inspection, just before he retired. The Inspectors remarked that “under new leadership the school has seen considerable improvements” and famously concluded that “this is a remarkable school”. That was a label that rightfully belonged to Mervyn Brooker, he was a remarkable man and a great headmaster. It was a privilege to have known and worked with him.
Michael Griffiths (1958-1965, School Captain 1964-1965) – Chairman of Governors
Tribute given at the Assembly of Remembrance, 29th January 2019
Mervyn, I am forever indebted to you for offering me a position at this wonderful school.
I will always remember you with great affection...your gentle manner and engaging smile, your calmness and dignity. I offer my deepest condolences to your wife, your daughters and extended family at this devastating time in their lives. I remember them in my prayers.
Mervyn, gone too soon.
Mervyn Brooker became the Headmaster when I was in the Fourth Form and I remember very clearly when he was introduced to the boys by Alan Wright, his predecessor. He followed Mr Wright down the hall and gave a short speech from this lectern. Change was on the way!
We often fear change, and when it came to the boys, Mervyn knew this very well. He always pursued an ‘open door’
policy – literally so given that he would wedge his door open allowing boys to step in and say ‘hello’.
I remember trying this out on one occasion. The school moved to canteen-style luncheon shortly before Mervyn joined and I rather missed the old family service. On busy days, Mervyn would collect something to eat and take it to his office and I interrupted as he was about to tackle dessert.
Mervyn swept everything aside and we talked about career plans, instead. He told me I would not suit being a politician and suggested teaching or law. He also – would you believe it – offered me his chocolate cake. Well, I tried some teaching, and am now at the Bar and am pleased to have listened. I do though regret saying ‘no’ to the chocolate cake!
I think this example demonstrates how it was important to Mervyn that he knew his pupils. Indeed, he announced the creation of the Lower and Middle School Councils because he wanted to know what the boys thought. I have found some of the minutes from the very first meetings in 2003 which refer to stimulating topics such as the refurbishment of the boys’ toilets, the installation of glass along a previously open ‘A’ corridor, and the promise of a boys’ revolt if the Great Hall chairs were sold. The important point is that Mervyn wanted to listen to his boys in the first place.
Mervyn Brooker was a kind man. He was, for instance, instrumental in reviving the dormant Charities Committee and offered tremendous support when we re-established the School’s singing competition with the newly-styled ‘Battle of the Bands’. I know that this competition continues to be popular. I also know that it is now held in the Arts Centre – a wise move, I think, given how badly the floor of the Great Hall vibrated during the first event, which Mervyn helped to judge.
Mervyn’s kindness was perhaps best displayed on an individual level and he was certainly kind to me. I know that without his support I would not have enjoyed my tenure as School Captain. I also know that following his retirement, Mervyn troubled himself to ask how I’d been getting on. This was genuine interest and I am grateful for it.
So, Mervyn, on behalf of all the boys for whom you were Headmaster, thank you for the change you supported and the kindness and support you offered to them.
Peter Jolley (1999-2006, School Captain 2005-2006)
Tribute given at the Assembly of Remembrance, 29th January 2019
It was with great sadness and dismay that I learnt of the premature passing of Mervyn. Merv and I were colleagues and friends at RGS Worcester and I have fond memories of his exploits on the cricket field; walking the hills and as a most caring and considerate Head of Lower School. This friendship continued when we both became HMC Heads and I greatly valued his wise counsel and sound common sense grounded in his northern roots. Kathy and I send out thoughts and prayers to Brigid and the girls and all who were fortunate to have known Mervyn.
I'm sorry to hear about the passing of Mr Brooker. My condolences to his family and friends. He taught me the importance of a good education and I will never forget that. Thank you Sir. May you rest in peace.
We called him "Merve the swerve" when he played at KCC. He would bowl his 27 or 28 overs without a break. A very nice bloke.
I send my best wishes to his family.
Brian Gittins - Kidderminster Cricket Club
Sincere condolences to Mr Brooker’s family and to the Bolton School family. Mr Brooker was an amazing Headmaster who always had the best interests of the boys under him in his heart. He was a shining example to all Heads of schools and will be sadly missed.