On 15 October 2021, colleagues gathered in the Common Room for a short presentation to wish Peter ‘PJ’ Wilson well in his retirement. Head of the Dragon, Emma Goldsmith, and Chair of Governors, Andrew Webb, welcomed Deputy Head, Ed Phelps, to say a few words:
They say you should avoid meeting your heroes but rather oddly this is what I did when I started teaching at the Dragon in the late ’90s. As I walked into the old Common Room, there was a tanned PJ still seemingly wearing the same kit as the last time I remember him back in the ’70s and certainly not looking a day older.
As a boy, I remember him thrilling us on the hockey pitch, and we watched in awe as this titan from the 1968 Mexico Olympics ran rings round using just using an old walking stick.
I remember him guiding me through my Latin principle parts when I was in Middle 3 (the same classroom in which Emily Ainsworth now teaches in) and, most importantly, inspiring me in the old Tin Can where our science lessons used to take place.
He always delivered in whatever role he took on. The man who, in the ’80s, saw in Tim Henman the gem of the great tennis player he went on to become. The Great PJ (to give him his proper title from back then) was every Dragon’s’ hero, and justifiably so.
In more recent years, as he stepped back from the Science labs and into the prep room, he became that fount of scientific knowledge that we all relied upon to double-check our thinking and planning for the more complex scientific experiments. I can picture him now in the prep room, half-listening to Radio 4, half-listening to what was happening in the classroom and always consulting his “brain” (or clip board as we might refer to it) to check he had everything in the right place at the right time.
Peter, I find it hard to believe that I am standing here thanking you for your dedication, your intellectual curiosity and sheer stamina during your long time at the Dragon. We know that we will not see you as frequently as we have done. But we also know that you have touched thousands of Dragon lives and each one is better for having known you. We wish you and Celia well as you leave us to spend more time in your beautiful garden and support your family.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Great PJ Wilson.
Ed Phelps, Deputy Head
David Lewis (OD 1961) has written a short article on PJ’s time at the School, which will be included alongside some photos of PJ’s Dragon days in The OD 2022. You can also listen to PJ’s ‘Bun Break With …’ podcast recording, where he was interviewed by two A Block boarders, published in November 2020, linked at the base of this page.