It is with sadness that we recently learnt of the death of ex staff member David Houston.

David Houston, Deputy Head and teacher of Science came to FSM in 1993, when Forres School, Swanage and Sandle Manor School amalgamated to become the FSM we all now know.

If you ask former pupils and staff what they remember of David Houston, the list, however long, will inevitably include ducks. David procured several eggs every year, popping them in an incubator to hatch and keeping us updated with their progress and anticipated hatching dates. He then led a team of pupil duck monitors, caring for the young birds. Seeing David with a long single-file of ducklings waddling along behind was an intrinsic part of the FSM Summer Term and always brought a smile to the face.

A former colleague notes that David Houston was “a genuinely larger than life fellow who seemed to be able to defy the years with ease.” (NW)

David was one of those people you’d probably want on a Pub Quiz team, with his weird and wonderful (and oh-so-slightly eccentric) brain for a vastly eclectic range of knowledge. He taught scholarship maths, along with ‘wild and wacky’ science lessons, which the children loved. He ran the Pet Club, a printing activity, engraved pupils’ watches with their names, and occasionally fell asleep on the pavilion veranda. I think it was Mr H who instigated the ‘Ho-o-o-o-o-o-ome!’ call at the end of break time; his was certainly the longest-held ‘home call’ ever. He ran an extremely tight ship with the Bank and Stationery Shop (woe betide any teacher who forgot to sign out a single board-marker or paper clip!) and was in charge of clocks. You may think this last is some small thing, but longer-serving staff still note that we need David back, because very few of the larger FSM clocks show the correct time, or even the same incorrect time!

David also produced whole school Form Lists and Date-of-Birth Lists for quick reference; perhaps the Golden Days of paper lists have passed by, but it was certainly easier to complete sports tournament entry forms or assessment data from a paper copy than waste time searching out all the individual records one-at-a-time from a computer file!

Mr H was particularly fond of music, playing as part of the FSM orchestra. He played cello and French horn, the latter very loudly, I am told; indeed, so loudly that one former pupil (who shall remain nameless, but is now Assistant Director of Music at a Senior School) removed David’s rehearsal chair, stand and music to the music room studio – and closed the door!

With FOSM Night rapidly approaching, a key memory for many will be Mrs Brearey’s fabulous rendition of ‘Houstie Baby,’ leaving a packed-to-the-rafters DHH weeping with laughter. David himself wasn’t there – but I think he secretly enjoyed the slightly naughty attention the following week, and Bank and Stationery was viewed in a completely different light for a while; I’m pretty sure the lever arch files (light blue) sold out by first break!

He retired in 2012 and has lived in Fordingbridge ever since.

Funeral details: 12pm on Tuesday, 10 December at St. Mary’s Church, Church Street, Fordingbridge, SP6

Flowers are welcome and if you would prefer to make a donation, this can be made through the funeral directors to Cats Protection