Brian Le Roux (Tredgold, 1956 – 1957)

Brian Le Roux in earlier times

Having bravely fought a rare form of leukaemia for 10 years, Brian sadly passed away on 8th February 2016.

After leaving Falcon a mere 3 years after its establishment, Brian gained sufficient ‘credits’ to obtain a Matric Exemption Certificate. He spent 1958/9 at Wits University reading Engineering, then moved to the University of Cape Town to complete his degree, finding UCT a far more friendly and inspiring environment.

His career has took him through a number of disciplines – paper making, aeronautical engineering, electronic equipment manufacture, housewares products manufacture and finally setting up his own printing business with his wife, Pippa.

Brian and Pippa moved from South Africa to the UK in 1979 where they worked and finally sold the printing business in 1999, retiring to their trawler boat in the Mediterranean for 6 years. In 2006, Brian was diagnosed with lymphoplasmacytic leukaemia. Between hospital stays and frequent visits to his haematologist, Brian and Pippa were still able to spend most of summer each year on a small riverboat on the canals and rivers of France.

As well as being a keen sailor, Brian had a longstanding interest in clockmaking, possibly germinating at Falcon, where he repaired a few watches belonging to fellow pupils, and blossoming in the 1980s, when he was able to invest sufficient funds in clockmaking equipment when he arrived in the UK.

He also enjoyed photography and recalled in an email in 2012…

My photographic activities go back a long way. My father introduced me to it and I did what I could. I used to develop and print my own photos and did some enlarging too. In fact I now remember a few of us started the photographic club at Falcon in 1956 in one of the empty houses on the left hand side of the road down to the laundry. We had quite a good set up there by the time I left in 1957. I wonder if it is still going? I don’t do any processing any more especially since we have all gone digital and can get poster size prints made for next to nothing. I would say out of every 100 photos I take there will be on that is good but not outstanding. I have played around with macro photography but one has to have a lot of patience for this. While working I was lucky enough to become involved in high speed photography for both military and nuclear applications. I was able to take photos at up to 600million frames per second!!! Quite fast. The problem always was being able to get enough light onto the subject. Usually this was done by using a little plastic explosive in a container filled with helium and detonated with a fuse triggered by a device near the subject. I had a lot of fun doing this. today I use a Panasonic Lumix FZ 250 which does all I want it to. My son has a Canon with interchangeable lenses but I really don’t want to hump around a lot of ‘glass’.

Brian also contributed some great memories to this site, including the following comments in 2012:

Reading the events of 1972 remind me of two ‘incidents’ which have similar circumstances and results. While in Birdcage house in 1956 a number of the ‘residents’ decided to brew their own liquor in the form of mulberry wine. Most will remember mulberries were in profusion at times and what better to make use of them. The ‘brewing’ went well, the product was well received and had the inevitable result. One evening during one of ‘Digger’ Wells’ rounds of the house with his Labrador dog, he was telling of some of his experiences in his friendly but rather drunken way when there were a series of explosions in the roof space above the dorm ceiling followed by a stream of purple coloured liquid dribbling down the wall. Digger became alert, the dog reacted as if a shotgun had been fired and immediately headed off in pursuit of some dead fowl, and enquired who was responsible. For what, we said? After a while it dawned on us that our bottles were not up to the standard required of the high pressure contents and had exploded. The first was the catalyst setting off the others. Our entire stock had been demolished. Digger knew instinctively what had been going on but I have to say he must have thought it was all in the course of our growing up and, after all, our punishment was the total loss of of our moonshine. Nothing more was ever said.

The other episode was similar to that above but was to do with smoking. Smoking had become a regular thing although I never really took to it and never smoked thereafter. When, in 1957 I was in Tredgold, House and School Prefect, a number of us were called to Ashley Brooker’s office and were individually asked if we had been smoking at any time on school premises. If we were honest and owned up to this crime, no action would be taken. However, the next day, those who had owned up were called into his office together and were informed that we were to be demoted and all privileges removed. Roger Lawley and Mike Laing were to ‘govern’ the school from now without any assistant prefects. There were Seniors though who had not been reprimanded but who had certainly been involved in smoking too. There followed a pact amongst us that we would react by not obeying many of the school rules in order to make it difficult for the two prefects to manage although we still regarded them as ‘colleagues’. Havoc reigned for two weeks after which we were all reinstated again without ceremony!

I also recall one night after final exams when liquor flowed and the usual pranks started. One challenge entailed scaling the flagpole and placing a boater at the top. I can remember getting to the top, placing the boater atop the pole then sliding down rather fast, ending up in a heap at the bottom.

Usual rules at the end of term required no one to leave the property before midnight on the final day. Since our parents were not inclined to collect us at that hour we still felt our freedom was important. Four of us decided we would leave school one minute past midnight and cycle home to Bulawayo, I seem to remember is some 70km. We arrived early in the morning and I went in and greeted my father who thought I had got a lift from someone but when I told him I had cycled he was not as friendly as I had expected and gave me a good dressing down. We had breakfast and returned to school by car in silence to collect my trunk.

To round off… here is a picture of Brian in later life. The picture shows someone who enjoyed life to the full!

Brian Le Roux in later life

Colin Bewes, Hervey 1979

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