‘A great all-rounder’: tributes to former headmaster, soldier and rugby international
PUBLISHED: 17:37 10 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:52 17 September 2020
He was the headmaster of Gresham’s School for decades, one of the first British soldiers to enter Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and an international rugby player for Scotland.
Now tributes have been paid to Logie Bruce-Lockhart, who died aged 98 on Monday, September 7 after a short illness.
One of his children, Rhu Bruce-Lockhart, 71, described his father as “one of the great all-rounders of his generation”.
He said: “He was a big believer in excellence and could find something good in every child and every teacher.
“He had a great sense of humour, and was very gentle and kind. People found his intellect imposing, but he was never overbearing, and he was incredibly comfortable with whoever he was talking to.”
Mr Bruce-Lockhart was born in Warwickshire to Scottish parents and boarded at Sedburgh School, which is where his love of rugby began.
He started a degree at St John’s College, Cambridge, in modern languages - specialising in French and German and the rise of socialism - but left after a year to join the Army.
He trained at Sandhurst and served with the 9th Sherwood Foresters and then the 2nd Household Cavalry, and in the final years of the Second World War he led an armoured unit in the advance across occupied Europe, sometimes going behind enemy lines.
To celebrate Victory in Europe, he commandeered a Dutch barge in the Hamburg docks which was full of pomerol wine and apricot brandy for his troops.
After playing a role in the liberation of Bergen-Belsen he was put in charge of a “grossly overcrowded” refugee camp on the Russian frontier where 5,000 Polish refugees were in Luftwaffe accommodation meant for 600 men.
After the war he went back to university as a choral scholar, where he won the Wright Prize for Modern Languages, played rugby union and was a squash Blue.
He graduated with a double first and went on to represent Scotland’s national rugby team between 1948 and 1953, mostly at fly half.
Mr Bruce-Lockhart met his wife, Jo, on a train journey to Army quarters in Kent in 1944, and they were married for 64 years until her death in 2009.
He began his teaching career in Kent, and served as Gresham’s headmaster from 1955 to 1982.
During his tenure he oversaw the building of science laboratories, boarding houses and classrooms and introduced changes to make the school co-educational in the 1970s.
Mr Bruce-Lockhart played a pivotal role in allowing inventor Sir James Dyson - now Britain’s richest man - to finish his education at Gresham’s after his own father died, and arranged for legendary composer Benjamin Britten - himself a former Gresham’s pupil - to visit for a concert in 1964.
Over 60 years, he also worked as a journalist, penning articles for magazines such as Country Life, Rugby World and She on everything from education, to sport and wildlife.
Mr Bruce-Lockhart used to live in Bodham but moved to Blakeney in 1997, and his retirement was filled with his many passions including writing books, playing piano, bird watching, painting and fishing. Mr Bruce-Lockhart and his wife also spent much time in the mountains in France, where they owned a cabin.
His daughter Fiona Drye, 62, said he had a fascination with many aspects of life and the natural world, which lead to a certain absent-mindedness. She said: “For a man who was such an intellectual he also totally impractical. You could go in to say good night and he would be laying on his bed still in his shirt and tie, or with his binoculars around his neck.”
Mr Bruce-Lockhart and his wife had three other children, Duncan, known as Bede, 58, Jenny, 75, and Kirsty, who died aged seven after she was hit by a car - a tragedy which had a profound impact on the family.
Writing about Kirsty’s death many years later, he said it made him realise: “I had not left enough time for the things that really matter, having a happy home, being with the children, sharing outside interests with my wife.”
Bede said their father encouraged his children to be independent and develop their own views.
“He made everybody feel that their opinion was important, you were always encouraged to say what your thought,” he said.
*There will be a private funeral at St Andrew’s, Holt, followed by interment in the churchyard, which is where Mr Bruce-Lockhart’s wife and daughter are buried. A celebration of his life will be arranged at a later date.
Further tributes to Logie Bruce-Lockhart
Gresham’s current headmaster Douglas Robb said: “It was my great pleasure to be welcomed by LBL to Gresham’s six years ago.
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“Logie came to lunch at the aptly named Lockhart House just before my first term started and entertained everyone with great stories and good humour.
“I became the recipient of a large number of immaculate letters in tiny handwriting which seemed to have better insight into what was happening at school than I could gain from visiting the classrooms and houses.
“The warmth with which he held the school was obvious and I feel lucky to have met him.
“Logie was Gresham’s longest-serving headmaster of the modern era and he clearly had a huge impact on rebuilding the school after the Second World War.
“A polymath who clearly excelled personally in everything that he did. Logie had that real passion for young people which is the sign of a true ‘schoolmaster’. Soldier, sportsman, botanist, musician, linguist, author, but more than anything a schoolmaster, family man and friend.”
Former pupil Becca Cunningham said: “A truly legendary gentleman, I don’t ever remember him in anything but a three-piece suit, with his strong head of hair - often at odd angles to his head! His voice will be forever etched in the memories of generations of pupils.”
Former pupil Nancy (Baldwin) Wagner said: “Logie took me under his wing for additional German A-level support and I’ll never forget being summoned to his office for my weekly private tutorage and listening to his glorious voice. I was in awe of his authority but only later realised what a humble man he was and how good he was for the souls of children.
“He built us up and gave us confidence to go out and tackle the world.
“He was a wonderful man, who dearly loved his family and his students and will be sorely missed. His legacy will live on in the many students’ lives he touched.”
Mike Pemberton said: “He arrived at Gresham’s not a moment too soon. The school had undergone a couple of turbulent years but was blessed by the appointment of a Herculean headmaster who, with wisdom, sensitivity and a unique form of stewardship, guided it through some challenging times.
“We met only on three occasions one of which was at an reunion he attended in 2013. I covered it in my report for the magazine the following year: “The nearest we came to [pizzazz] last October was when the legendary Logie Bruce-Lockhart, whose birthday it was, made a guest appearance dressed as if he’d wandered in from doing the gardening.
“Though I never had the privilege of being at the school under his watch, he still possesses a Mandela-like presence, outshining anyone else in Big School that day. I wish they had asked him to speak but alas, that would have been too much like entertainment.”
Richard Millman said: “Logie looked for and found the unique individual traits in everyone.”
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