Leslie Plummer (Dragon Staff from 1946-1980)
‘Plum’ arrived at the Dragon in September 1946 with a young wife and two small children, after six years of distinguished service in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. He was a local man, born and bred in Oxford, and after the war was wondering what to do. Still in naval uniform, he was watching a Dragon match one day when he was spied by Joc Lynam, the Dragon headmaster, who suggested he might like to come to the Dragon ‘for a term or two’ to try his hand at teaching.
So was to start 34 years of great happiness. He was employed to teach some Latin and Maths, but soon managed to give the Latin up to concentrate on Maths, where he became a brilliant teacher of a subject that so many children find difficult to cope with.
Within a year he took over at No 6 Bardwell Road, a small house of 16 eight and nine-year-olds, where he stayed for the next 20 years, and where his wife Joan managed to produce two more children of her own while running the house. Plum always kept up his interest in the navy, and at least two boys in his house went on to become very distinguished naval officers, while his son John followed his father into the naval service.
It was not only in the form-room and house that Plum showed his worth. He was himself very competent in the sporting world of cricket, rugby and hockey. He ran the school soccer and hockey teams, instilled a joy for cricket in the so-called non-cricketers (the Snapdragons), and coached rugby, at the same time serving with the Oxfordshire Rugby Union as a coach with their colts teams. He also played for the staff hockey and cricket teams with great success.
However, sport was but one of the many sides of his life. He loved acting, and took part in many staff productions, including Trial by Jury and Master Beware. He also looked after all the make-up for the boys’ plays for many years.
When he eventually gave up the running of his house, he moved on to become head of day children in 1968, a post he held until he retired, and many were the day children parents who were grateful to him for his help and advice. Not content with this, which might have seemed enough for anyone, he was appointed registrar in 1974, a post which he held for six years, at a time of much increased demand for girls’ places at the Dragon.
His retirement from the school in 1980 was followed by a burst of new activity, including various foreign travels. Eventually he decided to concentrate on his own country. He had always been a devout churchman, and he proceeded to great deeds on behalf of his own church in Oxford, St Mary Magdalen, St Stephen’s Hall, the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust, the Leonard Cheshire Trust, Save the Children, and many other worthy concerns, raising funds and sitting on countless committees, while still finding time to keep up his gardening, which he loved.
All these things he continued for the rest of his life – he never gave anything up! – and it was only after 27 years of retirement that he realised he had done all he could in this life. He was by now very tired and he died peacefully on the 10/02/08, aged 92, with all his family around him, sorely to be missed by his countless friends.
Written by John Lynam