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Jim Nicholls turns 90

Extract from the Sussex Express 6/4/01

Mr Nicholls in 1951

JIM NICHOLLS, resident on the Neville estate at Lewes for 65 years and now in the Pelham Nursing Home, celebrated his 90th birthday with family and friends at the Grange, Lewes, on Sunday. Not to be prevented from getting about by a severe curvature of the spine, Jim has recently been well known for riding his electric buggy along Lewes High Street."

"Former head boy of Uckfield Grammar School in 1927 [Note: Uckfield Grammar School closed in 1930 and the pupils joined the new Lewes County School for Boys when it opened in September 1930], Jim went on to university and then to be head of geography at Lewes Boys Grammar School and the Lewes Tertiary College. He is particularly fondly remembered for the inspirational 'field courses' he organised."

"Jim also became diabetic when a boy at school in 1928 and was one of the first people to be put on the newly discovered insulin by Dr Lawrence in the London Hospital. He is one of the oldest living insulin-dependent diabetics in the country, having been on insulin for 73 years ... a model and inspiration for anyone who is diabetic."

This excerpt from The Diabetes UK website gives more details.

An OL writes ...

Jim will be remembered by countless Old Lewesians for his geography lessons in Room 2, most of which were taken up by a "test" consisting of twenty questions on the previously set homework ("read Chapter XIII") the answers to which had to be written on a minuscule scrap of paper (there was a war on and paper was in short supply) to be marked by the boy in the next seat. When the test was finished and the marks gathered in he would announce the next chapter to be read for homework. Lessons in those days were a mere 40 minutes long so there was precious little time for real teaching. Money for old rope, really.

Jim will also be remembered for his nervous sniff, with the slight raising of the left nostril, which punctuated his lessons every minute or so. Personally I liked his style because I have always found it easier to absorb facts from books than from lectures, and having a good memory, found it easy to score well in his tests. Furthermore I seem to have a fair grasp of geography after all these years, so he did well for me. He was always pleasant to the boys and was completely free from that unpleasant sarcasm employed by some of the more arrogant teachers. Gentleman Jim.

A Sad Postscript

A correspondent reports that Jim Nicholls died on Easter Sunday, a week after his 90th birthday.

The funeral of Jim Nicholls took place in Lewes on Tuesday the 24th April 2001. Besides relatives and personal friends there were representatives of the school including Colin Silk and his wife, Beryl, and Harry Pett's widow, Mary, with her son, Alan. The service was conducted by the Rev. Dick Field, the Old Lewesian who took our service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving in the School Chapel last September.

Roy Metcalfe writes ...

[Jim] was a founding committee member of the Brighton and District Branch of the Geographical Association when it was formed in 1952, serving for many years on committee and its Chairman from 1953 to 1955 and 1965-66. He hadn't been active in the branch for some years, but he came along to a celebration of the Association's centenary in 1994 held at the University of Sussex. I have a photograph of the occasion where he appeared with the Association's President of the year, the founding Chairman of the branch, one of our first students and myself as founding Secretary. As at school, he is remembered in the local G.A. Branch as being concerned that we should run field excursions and he led our first one in 1953 on, appropriately, "The site of Lewes in its physical and historical setting". I shall miss our occasional chats and he was indeed, as your OL correspondent writes, 'Gentleman Jim'.