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The Headmaster recently hosted a lunch to celebrate Mervyn Joyner's long association with Wrekin College
12 Dec 2023
Staff News

Mervyn Joyner (Staff 1962 - 2022) has been a stalwart of Wrekin College for 60 years. To  mark this the occasion the OWA and the school celebrated his commitment with a special lunch  hosted by the new Headmaster, Toby Spence, (Mervyn's 10th) and a surprise unveiling of the new Wrekin College archive room named in his honour.  

Mervyn's family kindly provided a history of his time at Wrekin: 

After six decades of continuous service, Mervyn Joyner has finally retired from Wrekin, having begun his career there in September 1962. His final role as school archivist ends a career which has spanned nine headmasters and covered a plethora of job descriptions,making him the longest serving member of staff in the school’s 140-year history.

Mervyn’s first glimpse of the school was while helping a colleague from Bridgnorth Grammar School to learn to drive around Wellington and the roads around Wrekin. Little was he to know that this destination would have a huge impact on his life. In May 1962 he went for a job interview with headmaster Robert Dahl and head of science Jack Frost, and was taken for a tour of the science block (New School). There he was passed on to the senior chemist, Reg Sollars who suggested he looked into the chemistry laboratory where
Neville Price was teaching. Robert Dahl then took him around the school grounds, into several buildings, pointed out the house which would become available, then around the outside of the Gordon School where he offered him the job on the spot.

Mervyn and Marion moved into 47 Albert Road and subsequently, in 1965, further down the road to their current home where they brought up their three children, Christopher (B 1978-1983), Peter (B. 1978-1983) and Karen (C. 1985-1990). After his first term at Wrekin, Mervyn
was asked by Bayley housemaster, Neville Price, if he would like to be attached to Bayley as an assistant, and there he stayed until he became the Housemaster of Saxon House in 1973.

In addition to helping out with junior boys’ rugby and cricket, Mervyn also took on the mantle of running the school shooting team in 1965, having been captain of shooting during his own schooldays at Queen Elizabeth Hospital School in Bristol. This inevitably meant time each Summer at Bisley. At the same time, he joined the Combined Cadet Force and became a Pilot Officer in July 1965, attending his first camp that summer and took over the RAF section in September of that year. By 1966 he had been
promoted to Flight Lieutenant.

As Mervyn recalls: “For the most part I enjoyed what I did and the RAF side of it gave me a few experiences which I would not have had. On one occasion while at a summer camp I had the chance to fly in a two-man glider which was so peaceful and quiet. “There was a course for officers in which all the work was done in the first few days at a base near London followed by a visit to Malta for the remainder of the week. As it happened there was a Royal Navy aircraft carrier in dock and there were two parties – one evening a group of naval officers visited us for drinks and chat, the following day we visited the ship. “There was also one year when the cadets RAF camp was held at an RAF station in Germany – again this was an experience which I would not have had and it was a very interesting week. Added to which, of course, was the fact that I was paid by the RAF for doing so.”

The Shooting Team experience was also worthwhile. As well as the annual Bisley Schools Competition, there were also occasional matches between a few groups of teams during the term held at rifle ranges in the Midlands and also in Lancashire. For practice the school had two rifle ranges. One was indoors, 25 yards long, used with .22 calibre rifles, the other was an outdoor 25 yard range at the bottom end of the playing fields. This was used for .303 rifles but this had to be closed down when houses started to be built in the fields beyond. There was also a full scale rifle range on the side of the Wrekin. This could be used for 200 yards range which was normal for most competitions.

In September 1973 Mervyn took over the running of Saxon House from Frank Tomlins, and living in Albert Road meant that he could run Saxon from his own home as the senior part of Saxon was just across the road in Stanage. The junior part was in the main block up the
stairs above the upper Dining Hall, where the resident House Matron had her room. There are many Saxons who will have benefitted from Mervyn’s sage advice and home-made beer. Sadly, in the summer of 1982 due a fall in number of boys and an increase in number of
girls, it was decided that a boys' house should be closed at the end of term and that itshould be Saxon. This was a tough time for Mervyn and the staff associated with Saxon and he worked tirelessly to ensure that the boys found a suitable house to relocate to. The spirit of Saxon lived on until that group of Saxon boys left Wrekin.

At this stage Mervyn was still Head of the Science Department and he was asked if he would like to take over the running of the Tuck Shop which he then did until 1990. He made some changes, including installing self-service machines, which enabled pupils to get snacks
outside the set manned opening hours. This became well used as it was available at mid-morning break, lunchtime and also available on Sundays. The next change in Mervyn’s activities came in 1990. For some years Desmond Minty had been Honorary Secretary to the Old Wrekinian Association, and on his retirement to become a parish priest the headmaster, John Arkell, asked him if he would take over the
role. The OWA position was quite new to him and gave plenty of opportunities to contact and meet many former pupils who previously had just been names. This role kept Mervyn occupied for 25 years and then led to the role of Archivist in 2015. It was a role he relished.

He loved meeting the former pupils and will still today, if asked, take them around the school showing the changes that have occurred as the school evolved to what it is today. In July 1994, headmaster Peter Johnson asked Mervyn whether he would retire two years
early, due to a fall-off in school numbers and the need to reduce the staff. Mervyn agreed, retaining the OWA role. This gave him more time to do a lot of sorting out of material for the school archives and to attend OWA Branch Dinners. Generations of Wrekinians will
remember an older gentleman walking around the school inevitably with a Shetland Sheepdog in tow and the interactions he had with the office staff, especially in the Development office made him feel part of the school community.

Since retirement from teaching in 1994 his part-time activities have included a couple of terms teaching chemistry at Shrewsbury Technical College; acting as a guide at the Museum of Iron in Coalbrookdale; as a volunteer home visitor for people who had been fitted with hearing aids; as organiser of the 100 Club for Shrewsbury Orchestra and subsequently as Treasurer; finally, since 2015 as Archivist at Wrekin. Mervyn covered for Clive Graham, one of his last appointments in the Chemistry department, who sadly fell ill while in the role, and he thoroughly enjoyed his time back in the classroom - a far cry from his early days at Bridgnorth Grammar in the late 1950s.

In 1999 there was an appeal for volunteers to help out at Sunnycroft. This was a house in Wellington which had been offered to the National Trust. It was almost unaltered for over 100 years and had originally been built with splendid grounds. He joined a group of other
volunteers and thoroughly enjoyed going there once a week to act as a guide for groups of visitors and was very pleased to receive a 20 year service badge in 2019.

Mervyn’s 60-year love affair with Wrekin College has touched most areas of the school, his activities also included careers advice, university application support, running for some years the under 14 games for non rugby players, and supporting the stage crew by helping to construct the sets for school plays. His absolute commitment to the school are indicative of the kind and loyal gentleman that Mervyn always was and still is to this day. Wrekin owes him a great debt of gratitude. 

Please click here to download a PDF of Messages for Mervyn  - a collections of memories and well wishes. 

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