Born August 16th 1954 – Died November 13th 2016, age 62
MTBS 1980 – 1986
Although his tenure at MTBS was relatively short, “J Le P” is well and fondly remembered by colleagues and pupils alike as an inspiring and dedicated English teacher, hockey coach and producer of some outstanding school plays. In the words of one of his brothers “He was a warm-hearted, generous, enthusiastic and insanely active person” and from a member of staff “One of the most valued colleagues I ever had”.
In 1980 he was convalescing after knee surgery and arrived at school a few weeks into the term. He was walking on crutches, unfortunately billeted on the top floor of the boarding house, but immediately threw himself into life at MTBS.
He will be particularly remembered for the plays and musicals he produced, including:
The Ghost Train – a comedy suspense thriller with eerie sound effects
Hamp – a gripping and compelling drama set during WWI; Jeremy himself took the lead role of Private John Hamp, a shell shocked and trusting young man from Lancashire who is court-martialled for desertion
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – memorable for the choreographic workouts, given to the cast by Margaret Mann, said to be more exhausting that a 1st XV training session; and for the gold painted Sinclair C5 electric three-wheeler used as the chariot in the finale and test driven by Jeremy up and down the main corridor in the dead of night.
He also inaugurated the Staff Revue persuading colleagues to take part in a surprise performance of various comedy sketches to an audience of the whole school. Jeremy performed in a sketch in which he shaved, using a cut-throat razor, accompanied by the accelerating music of “In the Hall of The Mountain King” and ever increasing volumes of theatrical blood.
Jeremy was born in Derby, raised in Uttoxeter and educated at Smallwood Manor Prep School and Repton before reading English at the University of York.
Prior to joining MTBS he taught for three years at Colston’s School in Bristol and from MTBS went on to Silcoates in Wakefield. He met his future wife Cheryl while in Crosby and conducted a long distance courtship from Wakefield before proposing and marrying in 1991.
Towards the end of each stage of his teaching career he would get “itchy feet” and look for new challenges beyond teaching. In 1995, Jeremy finally realised this long held desire for a new adventure. He and Cheryl bought a small and run down business called Practical Magic; essentially a mail order business supplying props to children’s entertainers, in reality a name and a garage full of plastic accessories.
Sixteen years ago, after starring in the BBC’s Escape to the Country, he and Cheryl moved to Gadlas, near Ellesmere in Shropshire. From here they built Practical Magic into a premier dealership for children’s entertainers worldwide, designing and manufacturing many unique tricks and effects. They travelled throughout the UK and ventured to Europe and the USA to attend and lecture at trade shows and conventions. His video demonstrations of products and routines have been invaluable to both aspiring and experienced magicians and along with his hilarious Fireside Chats are still available to view by following the videos link on the menu bar of the website www.practical-magic.com.
To try to sum up Jeremy’s all too short time with us is difficult. Teacher and Magic Dealer … this is not even the tip of the iceberg. Polymath is a label that sits comfortably upon Jeremy, for he truly was a man of wide knowledge and learning. He had interests in stamp and coin collecting, literature, art, the natural world, football (as a lifelong Stoke supporter) and music – notably Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Leonard Cohen and Thea Gilmore along with Gregorian chant and the more standard classical repertoire; in the last few years he had become a competent guitar player, accompanying himself to his favourite songs.
Gone too soon and sadly missed, but those of us who knew Jeremy are all better off for having known him and he will certainly live on through our memories.
Stephen J Williams
MTBS, Mathematics and Computing, 1979 – 2008