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Teacher, scholar, mentor, and friend

June 11, 2014

WE HAVE re-posted Dr Alan Megahey’s obituary not because we knew him. We didn’t. But to us, he seems to have embodied the ideal of the priest as teacher, scholar, mentor, and friend. A noble ideal indeed. What follows is reposted from the Old Cranleighans website.

alanWE HAVE heard that the Revd Dr Alan Megahey, who taught at Cranleigh between 1972 and 1983 and was housemaster of 1 North from 1974 until his departure, died at his home on August 19 after a short illness.

After leaving Cranleigh, Alan was rector of Peterhouse School in Zimbabwe from 1984 to 1995, and he remained on the board of governors. At the time of his death he was rector of St Swithun Church in Leadenham, Lincolnshire.

Gay Corran posted a short but moving tribute earlier today. “[Alan] was scholar, historian, author, poet, priest, teacher, headmaster, husband, father, grandfather, friend. There was so much love in his life, and so many lives were enhanced by his touch. The world is a better place because of the light he shed. We will treasure our memories.”

More details to follow in due course and, in the meantime, we republish the article written by Ken Wills when Alan left Cranleigh at the end of 1983.

ALAN MEGAHEY came to Cranleigh from Wrekin College in 1972; he leaves us at the end of the Michaelmas term 1983 to take up the post of Rector of Peterhouse, Zimbabwe.

It had to happen, of course; no one could have expected that he would remain a Housemaster at Cranleigh for much longer, and it is a sad fact that Common Rooms tend to lose their best members just when everyone has come to regard them as essential parts of the fabric.

And now we are left wondering what on earth we shall do without him. The mere catalogue of his interests and talents is impressive enough; a priest and pastor with great understanding and kindliness; a brilliant historian and an inspiring Head of History; an author of distinction — the fascinating History of Cranleigh School surely cannot be his last book — and a lecturer of wit and erudition. The Western Civilisation lectures were his creation, and how splendidly he wound up the last series. Nor was it entirely the fault of an inconsiderate timetable writer that he found himself so busy; Political Studies and A level Divinity were both clamouring for his attention, as well as the History depart­ment. Our rising graphs of academic success in the past decade owe much to his influence.

He has been part of the place in so many ways; taking services in Chapel with quiet authority and a sense of occa­sion which made them memorable; organising the selection of Scholars; appearing in stunning Victorian costume for his English Outlines lecture on Gladstone; lovingly hoarding books like the true scholar he is; even turning out as touch judge for the Common Room XV. He was for a time Chaplain to the Preparatory School, and has always retained close links with them; on several occasions he accompanied a Prep School party on camping holidays in France, and delighted in the company of cheerful pre-adolescents — perhaps as a welcome change from too much of the less lovable aspects of their seniors on this side of the road. Few men can claim to be so well in harmony with so wide an age-range. Yet, as is often the way with really busy people, he was always able to find time for other things, such as writing, producing and acting in pantomimes — or even the occasional scurrilous Common Room joke, per­petrated under a cloak of anonymity which rarely succeeded in disguising his style.

Soon after his arrival at Cranleigh he succeeded me in 1 North — to my great delight, for Housemasters tend to get possessive about their Houses and like to see them passing into good hands. Alan and Elizabeth have devoted themselves to 1 North; imaginative leadership, sympathetic guidance and legendary hospitality have created a uniquely happy and successful community. Running a House is at once one of the most challenging and rewarding of the experiences of schoolmastering, and whatever the future may hold for them it will never be the same again.

Common Room will miss them both, too: wise coun­sellors, generous hosts and marvellous company. They were always around the place, and we shall be the poorer without their Irish laughter. If anyone can lead a school through all the problems of education, economics, politics and race which will confront them in Zimbabwe, they will; perhaps it is their destiny to help to bring understanding and stability to that troubled country. Ex Africa semper aliquid novi, wrote Pliny; they have given much to Cran­leigh and they will have much to give to Peterhouse. We say goodbye to them with gratitude and affection, and wish them Godspeed in their new life.

Ken Wills, The Cranleighan, December 1984

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