Girls Blazer Badge Boys Blazer Badge

Mr Auld (1902-54)

A Cutting from Keith Noel

From The Sussex Gazette and County Herald

"Lewes County Grammar School Master's Death
On Visit To France"

Mr. Auld WHILE on a visit to the French town of Blois in charge of a party of pupils from the Lewes County Grammar School for Boys, Mr. Donald Moyes Auld, of South-way, Lewes, Senior languages master at the school since its opening in 1930, collapsed from a heart attack on Tuesday last week and died on Thursday.

He was buried on Saturday at Blois, and so rests in a country which has always been near to his heart, and in a town where he did so much to build up a fraternal link with his fellow citizens of Lewes. His death occurred on the 50th anniversary of the "Entente Cordiale", the spirit of which Mr. Auld had spent the greater part of his life in fostering. He was accompanied on his last visit to Blois by his wife and daughter, Vivette, and stayed, as he had done so many times before, with his friend, Monsieur Piolé, English teacher at the Lycée Augustin Thiéry. Mr. Auld was 52 and had been in failing health for some time. His collapse followed an address delivered to a large audience at Blois on Tuesday last week. He remained in bed the next day, and on Thursday had a second heart attack, which proved fatal.

In 1947 he led the first party of Lewes County Grammar School boys on a visit to Blois, and had accompanied them, with his wife and daughter, on every subsequent visit. From the first visit there sprang into existence the link between the two schools of Lewes and Blois, which soon became a bond of friendship and led to exchange visits between the Mayors and citizens of the two towns. No other resident of Lewes played a greater part in building and cementing this bond of friendship than Mr. Auld, who throughout his life was inspired by an intense love and admiration for French culture and civilisation. He was completely bi-lingual, and in his own home French was usually the language of his choice. His wife is French by birth, her brother being the present Principal of Toulouse University.

Mr. Auld was educated at King Edward's School, Birmingham, and at Birmingham University, where he gained first-class honours in French, followed by his M.A. He attended, and afterwards taught, at Saltly Training College for teachers, and was then appointed at the Lycée de Rennes, in Brittany. It was while teaching in Rennes that Mr. Auld made the acquaintance of the librarian at the University of Rennes, whom he subsequently married. On resuming his professional duties in this country, Mr. Auld was appointed a lecturer at Brighton Technical College, where he remained until joining the staff of Lewes County Grammar School upon the opening of the school in 1930.

He had been in charge of the teaching of the French language at the Grammar School from the day of his appointment, and leaves behind him a a record of many successes scored by outstanding pupils. A number of these have had brilliant careers at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, while several have obtained administrative posts in the Civil Service, three of them serving in the higher branch. Mr. Auld was profoundly interested in the study of theology and until recently he took the sixth form for Scripture. He was school librarian and was President of the Sixth Form Society.

About four years ago he published a school text-book on French which commanded instant success, and led to a demand for a more advanced book which he completed and is now in the press. While teaching at Brighton, Mr. Auld was a prominent member of the French Circle in that town, and in 1938 was given the French honour of Officier d'Acadamie in recognition of his work in promoting Anglo-French relations. After settling in Lewes he became secretary to the local branch of the Franco-British Association.

Another master of the Lewes County Grammar School, Mr. J. Mould, accompanied the pupils on their visit to Blois, and on him devolved the sad task of taking over the leadership and acquainting the headmaster Mr. N. R. J. Bradshaw , of the death of a devoted colleague, whose services he had appreciated for 24 years. Mr. Mould returned with the school party to Newhaven on Tuesday when Mrs. Auld and her daughter were met on landing by Mr. Bradshaw and driven home.

The Funeral

The Protestant Church at Blois was filled to overflowing at the funeral service on Saturday afternoon. Thirty-six Lewes Grammar School boys walked at the head of the cortege of over 500 people people from the church to the graveside. Boys and girls from the Blois schools, and many officials and prominent citizens were at the graveside, where an oration was delivered by the Deputy Mayor of Blois.

The Deputy Mayor said that Mr. Auld had devoted his life to fortify the Entente Cordiale by strengthening personal understanding between the peoples of the two towns, and it was his most ardent desire that this work should live on, as it must do. The Municipality of Blois purchased the grave site, and presented it to the widow as a token of their regard for Mr. Auld. In spite of a request for no flowers, there was a beautiful wreath from the townspeople of Blois. The Saturday evening ball which was to have been held in the Chateau of Blois, the principal event of every annual visit by the school, was cancelled.

An Appreciation by the Headmaster

The hundreds of boys who have passed through the hands of Donald Auld since he came to the school on its inception in 1930 will never forget him.

The French language, French literature and French culture claimed his passionate devotion and it was his aim in life to spread this devotion among his pupils. Probably it was only with a small handful - the more scholarly - that he succeeded. To many, during their school-days, he may have appeared a hard taskmaster. But even those who never imbibed any outstanding love for the language, never found it, under his guidance, the bugbear and stumbling-block in the examination room which it is to so many schoolboys.

The effect of his work was illustrated during the war by the number of old boys who paid tribute to his teaching, when they found themselves in French-speaking territory. He always felt that he was fighting British insularity, and the outlook which regards Dover as the terminal point of civilisation. It was therefore, a joy to him to feel that he had been partly instrumental in forging the link between the towns of Lewes and Blois and that Lewes was better known by reason of this link in French educational circles than it is in English.

When the time came for him to retire, he looked forward to one of two things, either the quiet of a Breton fishing village or a small residence in Oxford, where he could pursue the life of a scholar and the study of philosphy. It was not to be. But it is fitting that he should lie in French soil and above all in Blois. Our visits of the future will be a tribute and a pilgrimage.