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News > Churcher's Chat > Churcher's Chat - Series 2, Article 1

Churcher's Chat - Series 2, Article 1

We chat to Derek French (58) about his memories of Churcher's...

Do you remember your first day at Churcher's?

Travelling from Hayling Island by bus and train was always a challenge but the company of others from Churcher's and the High School was a joy. My best friend Tony Bayliss, fellow Islander sadly departed, joined the same day and we had been held up leaving the Farnborough Air Show car park (with parents) for many hours the night before but still made it to Churcher's the next morning!

What was your favourite subject?

History and to this day I am actively involved with my local history society.

Was there a teacher that particularly inspired you?

Mr Kershaw encouraged me to express myself in writing and I have written, and been published, ever since, for pleasure not for profit.

Do you have a standout memory of your time at Churcher's?

My first trip abroad, at 14, to Switzerland under Mr Ive's leadership and experiencing the Jungfrau railway to 11,300 feet: followed by altitude sickness on the way down and afterwards!

What did you do after leaving school?

I joined a bank and enjoyed a very diverse national, international and project related career spanning 39 years. 

What is your proudest achievement?

Conceiving, and for 25 years post early retirement campaigning for, shared banking hubs to substitute for the inevitable closing of bank branches. In 2021 they became a reality and although currently very few they could change the physical face of UK retail banking.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be more enthusiastic in attempting new skills on offer. 

What would you say is one thing that makes Churcher's special?

Enduring friendships and a sense of family, crossing the generations as I experienced at the 300th celebration day and at London events.  

Derek encloses a wonderful picture of 5A departing for an Easter Camp in the New Forest. He is on board at the very back. Up front by the lorry door is Stuart Rees Emeritus Professor University of Sydney, whose scouting contacts arranged the transport and tents, and last one standing at the back is Peter Culf. 

Thank you very much to Derek for taking part in Churcher's Chat.

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