|2 Dec 2020
James Thellusson - father of Abigail Thellusson, Class of 2016 - has been commissioned to write a light-hearted book about school days by the Scottish independent publisher Sandstone Press, and already has contributions from Jon Snow, Lord Grade and Lord Dannatt.
He says: “I am looking to collect material from those in the public eye and ordinary folk. I’m interested in stories about your best or worst subject, your school report, funny things that happened in lessons or on school expeditions. Detentions, expulsions and suspensions count too!”
There is a more serious side to his work, as he explains: “I am also looking for stories about how a teacher's influence had been so great that it has changed the course of a pupil's life.”
One anecdote from LEH folklore that has already tickled his fancy, is about an escapee baby orang-utan who ran amuck in the classrooms back in the 1970s. The infamous anecdote, which is included in ‘Grace and Integrity’, the official history of LEH written by former history teacher and current archivist Elizabeth Hossain.
The then biology teacher Mrs Wright/Tomlins (now better known to us as alumna Stella Stephens, class of 1949) decided to liven up a session of the Naturalist Club by contacting Chessington Zoo to arrange for a baby orang-utan to visit the school.
Unfortunately, the keepers turned up a bit too early, and while waiting for lessons to end, the high-spirited orang-utan managed to escape, bringing to a halt a nearby game of cricket and ripping from the walls one of the school’s most treasured artifacts - a valuable nineteenth century gold embroidered banner (which was later carefully restored to all its former glory).
Eventually, the orang-utan was coaxed down from the trees with some left-over bottles of school milk and went back to the afterschool club to meet the delighted pupils. The encumbent Head Mistress, however, was less than impressed and gave Stella a severe dressing down and told her to stick to Botany in the future. Shortly afterwards, Stella launched a very successful, but rather less eventful, Gardening Club!
Please write to us with your memories of LEH days at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ and we will pass them to James Thellusson and share the best here. We can’t wait to hear from you.