I was born in Jersey, Channel Islands, in 1940 and so spent four years under German occupation. Most of my schooling was at Elizabeth College, Guernsey. I played clarinet, piano and organ.
At St. David’s College, Lampeter (BA), I held an organ exhibition.
At Ripon Hall, Oxford, I prepared for ordination in the Church of England.
I took a PGCE in RE and Music at the Institute of Education, London.
I served my curacy at St. John-
I organised the first Caribbean arts festival in East London in 1964.
In 1968 I worked for the Inverliever Lodge Trust, attached to Crown Woods comprehensive school in Eltham, and was responsible for setting up a residential centre on Loch Awe, West Scotland, for school leavers unlikely to get a place on the usual field study trips. At the same time I edited Sing True, a song book for school assemblies, that was to pay my salary for three years.
After a short period as Peace Officer of the Martin Luther King Foundation I was appointed the first Director of Christian Action, a charity founded by Canon L. John Collins. Our main activities were in the fields of single homelessness, nonviolence and prison reform. With Nick Beacock (organiser of ‘Crisis at Christmas’) and David Brandon I set up a halfway house for alcoholic women in Stepney and a hostel in Soho.
Satish Kumar and I founded the London School of Nonviolence, which met in the crypt of St. Martin-
I was eased out of Christian Action after Canon Collins gave up the chairmanship. The organization ceased to be ‘action’ and became ‘words’. Fortunately most of the activities became independent organizations. Tent City and Hackney Camping continued for another fifteen years.
A short period as a member of the collective running the Student Christian Movement Centre at Wick Court near Bristol was followed by the chaplain/wardency of the Othona Community’s centre at Bradwell-
After a few months out to write Exploring Worship for Mowbrays, I was invited by Save the Children to run their resettlement programme for Vietnamese Refugees.
We established a network of fourteen reception centres, from Montrose in Aberdeenshire to Hothfield in Kent, and a residential school at Bingley, Yorks. We had three main aims: to keep our reception centres small, average 80 residents with a staff of five; to get the buildings for nothing; to train Vietnamese staff to take over the programme. After 18 months, with the blessing of SCF and the Home Office, we set up Refugee Action in which Julia, my wife, and I were involved as trustees until 2016.
Regional offices were set up in London, Derby, Cambridge and Edinburgh with a Head Office in Derby. Lord Pratab Chitnis of the Rowntree Social Services Trust, was Chairman of Trustees. Projects included establishing mid-
In 1982 I became Settlement Director of the British Refugee Council, but resigned the following year, having hived off their Vietnamese programme to Refugee Action, because the organization
of BRC was top-
In 1983 I was invited by Satish Kumar, now editor of Resurgence and living in the North Devon village of Hartland, to run an alternative secondary school. I was Head Teacher of the Small School, Hartland, for eleven years and wrote an account of the first five in Inventing a School. Naturally arts and crafts played a large part in the curriculum. At the same time Julia and I bought a derelict barn and cowshed with two acres of land. With the help of a local workman, who undertook the septic tank, the stonework and the roof we were able to move in after five months. By that time I had become a dab hand at carpentry, plumbing, wiring and rendering.
During a sabbatical I lectured on education for a month in Japan and was invited to take the school there. As a consequence of performing three of the Chester cycle of Mystery Plays on that visit, a tour was organized for a production of The Tempest performed by former pupils and their university friends. Adrian Noble became patron of the Small School Youth Theatre. We toured Japan the following year with The Winter’s Tale. The third year we toured the West Country with Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle, for which I wrote the music. The youth theatre was forced to fold because financial pressure on students prevented them from giving up five weeks of the summer to rehearse and perform a play. Cultural exchanges between Hartland and Japan have taken place regularly since.
A change in my life came when I attended a course on Performance run by Anthony Rooley, at Schumacher College. I performed some of my own compositions. Tony told me quite forcefully that I had to give my music greater priority. Back in Hartland I joined the newly-
Meanwhile, I resigned from the school and joined Human Scale Education to establish the Third Sector Schools Alliance to campaign on behalf of small schools, Moslem, Jewish, new Christian and Steiner schools for state funding. Then I went back to the Small School to teach English. Finally, I got to write music full-
There was a slight hiatus in my life of full-
From June 2003 to July 2007, no one else wanting the job, I became Vicar of Hartland. This has allowed me to do a lot more thinking about spirituality and the nature of Christianity. Although my contract ended in June 2006 I continued to serve the parish on a voluntary basis. At the same time I converted a barn to a holiday let.
In August 2007 Julia and I embarked on a seven-
Poor leadership at the Small School prompted me to join the trustees, and I became their chair. To support the new head,
Maya, I taught English for three mornings a week (2009/10).
On our return I began writing my autobiography and revising the Othona Psalms, which I published for 'on demand' printing on Amazon. The autobiography I also put on Kindle. With a group of singers we recorded a number of the psalms in the chapel at Othona, West Dorset, and these can be found on YouTube. Search 'Othona Psalms'.
From 2016 - 2018 I was in charge of the parish of Abbotsham, a village on the outskirts of Bideford. The congregation had gone through several difficult years. I was tasked with creating a more positive atmosphere and taking the parish into a mission community, which I managed to do. I was also quite involved in the C of E primary school, both as a governor and in teaching music for assemblies and the twice-termly services in the church.
In April Julia bought us a flat in Edinburgh, and at the end of September I joined her.