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Herbert Edward Dudley and the roots of SHSB

The school today owes a great deal to its ancestors and the legacies they leave. It is a tradition in itself for the school to honour these people, as it does with its remembrance services, its ‘Roll of Honour’ containing a list of the school’s bravest departed, the great boards on all walls of the assembly hall, the facilities with namesakes such as ‘Frampton’ or ‘Hitchcock,’ its portraits of old headmasters, and even in our school song.

So, one with Future and with Past,
Our work in School shall live and last,
And through the centuries to be
Our School shall grow in memory.

It is the centenary of the death of Herbert Edward Dudley, the first editor of the original ‘Old Southendian’ magazine in 1915, upon which the paper you are reading owes its name. His contributions are an excellent example of ‘through the centuries to be’, drumming up patriotic courage in his editorials and poems during the First World War, leaving behind a daunting task for his successors in editorship, and performing in various school productions and serving as prefect. There are opportunities open to all of us at the school, and those who take them are remembered most keenly. He wrote in one editorial from 1915:

‘The War has produced much that is repulsive, despicable and devilish, but that the same time it has revealed much that is true, noble and worthy.’

While we are not at war, it highlights the strength of character the school displays through hardship, the deep roots of the school, and the sense of duty of each to his community. While the hardest task many students will face during their school years will be their examinations or perhaps a public performance, it is important to remember that each contribution you make, however small, improves the lives of those who will come after you, and that many before have made theirs. It is the school’s oldest identity to ‘turn boys into men,’ to provide much more than academia. Most of those who read this magazine, by virtue of being an SHSB student, will already be academically intelligent; I challenge you therefore to emulate instead the nobility and strength of character displayed by many of the school’s ancestors and founders, particularly of Herbert E. Dudley.

The school’s recent initiative ’20/20 vision’ seeks to make ‘men from boys.’ We should take maximum advantage of the opportunities afforded by the school – especially in the house events that have lost their sense of importance recently. There are cheers when a house gets fourth place, and a misplaced sense of proudness in not caring about the ‘system,’ a feeling of being a ‘rebel,’ but as Dr. Bevan has articulated in school assemblies, there is much more to life in Southend High School for Boys, and in the larger community than ‘desk and pen.’

This article is in honour of those ‘old-time men,’ and of Herbert’s old magazine, in which he aspires to bring out the best in his colleagues, and to recognize when people have already given their best.

He died during an offensive mostly commonly referred to as ‘Passchendaele,’ the name of the town where the battle took place, but it also takes the name ‘Flandernschlacht – Flander’s battle.’ The poem always read at the annual remembrance service, is particularly poignant then;-

‘To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.’

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