John White writes…

Memories of some of the teaching staff are sometimes on point and sometimes blurred. Mr “Jack” Gleason was a good Geordie lad who managed to strike a very good rapport with a good many of my class mates. A bit of a laugh was normally always present about the weekend football clubs – of course he was a Magpie but we were always very sympathetic and never held that against him! I remember with crystal clarity the day that he handed back our English homework always accompanied by a remark or quip that gave the pupil a “flavour” of his opinion on their previous night’s scribing efforts. Calling out pupil by pupil, you went to collect your submission and always I will remember his comment on mine. “White – never uses 6 words where 12 will suffice!” Absolute class – and in all truth, he was smack on the mark – as is STILL evident in any composition of mine!! I remember too father and daughter Eaton – our Maths teachers with a fair amount of affection, particularly for “Pop”. I well remember one morning maths period with him which just happened to be the Monday morning following St. Pat’s Day that weekend. As I am descended from Irish immigrants, I attempted to lighten the opening minutes (and of course keep him away from the tedious geometry! he was going to deliver!) by asking him whether he had enjoyed a Happy St.Pat’s day. His reply was a gem and I still see him delivering his response which was “NO I did not”. So I followed up immediately with “An Irishman who didn’t enjoy St. Pat’s day sir how’s that?” Quick as a flash, his reply which I can hear even now, was “I never enjoy meself when I’m unconscious!” Superb!!

John’s life now

Left Xavs in 1962 – high spot of that year prior to my leaving was winning the Lancashire Schoolboy’s welterweight Championship under the tutelage of Mr.Gerry Dewhurst.

That year was great for Xavs and for Gerry as we managed to secure five Lancashire champions. From memory these were me (junior welter), Phil Crewdson (senior welter as he was 9 months older than me), Paul Neary (lightweight), and then a distant cousin of mine Freddie Morrow (featherweight) and finally there was a fifth and for the life of me I can’t trawl his name up. Gerry was over the moon because I think this was the 1st time Xavs had entered ANY boxers.

I joined the GPO as a counter clerk and worked in many Branch Offices across Manchester from as far apart as Wythenshawe (3 offices) down to City centre Head Office and across to Brooks’s Bar and Chorlton. Loved that job – great experiences in some great communities – special mentions for both Brooks’s Bar and Hall Lane Wythenshawe.

Met my wife Jo and we married in 1966, we have 3 children, 10 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. We moved from Manchester to Macclesfield in 1967 and I started working for ICI Pharmaceuticals Division now of course morphed via Zeneca into AstraZeneca. Began as a shift process operator Bulk Chemical Manufacturing and some 4 years later, was promoted to Shift manager. I moved across to the “clean” side of the site some 6 years later to manage Tablet Granulation/Coating Area and then took operational responsibilities for managing all Tablet Packing activities – loved that job and was fortunate enough to have some really fantastic operational staff working for me.

Then big shake-up aand after due consideration I took the early retirement package in 1995 and set up my own consultancy for preparing clients for MHRA /FDA inspection. That took me to contracting in various locations as far apart as Ireland, Belgium, France, Romania and many other parts at home wherever England’s pharma sites were located.Come Covid all precautions and limitations in force saw a massive collapse and so I closed my consultancy and called it a day.

13 thoughts on “John White writes…”

  1. Hi John, I enjoyed reading your very interesting post. It brought back a lot of memories including how the success of Gerry Dewhurst’s boxing team, not least yourgoodself, gave us all a lift especially as none of our rival schools, St Bede’s at al, could match it. Was the surname of the fifth lad, Neri, whose parent[s] was/were Italian [and not to be confused with Paul Neary]?

    Regarding Mr Gleason: I remember the amusing essays he used to set for us. One was ‘The Influence of Henry VIII on the Potato Crisp Industry in England’. You will remember that this alluded to the fact that one of the most popular brands of crisps in the 1960s was Tudor crisps the packets of which bore the image of King Henry VIII !

    Until the early 1960s I lived in Chorlton and remember you on the desk at Chorlton Post Office. In fact you may recall that I joined you, Anthony Ford [ex Xavs] and others for a pint one evening in Chorlton, I think at The Horse and Jockey in Chorltonville, though I can’t be sure it was that pub. Best wishes.

    • What a lovely surprise to hear from you Ed!! Hope all is good with you and yours? Are you still in Chorlton or have you gravitated to warmer climes? Haven’t see or heard from Tony Ford in years. I don’t know whether you knew that Tony married Leo Fewtrell’s sister Mary – they used to live in Weaverham but no contact since a lot of years. Leo lives and works in the Gulf – airlines etc and I wrote to him recently – but not heard back yet. Hope he’s ok. Best wishes to you and yours mate! John

    • Ed, An update re the boxing “missing” name. It came to me in a flash of divine inspiration – Brian Morgan was the 5th Xav’s Lancs champion that year!!! Isn’t getting old a pain in the arse . . . but it’s far more preferable than NOT getting older eh??

      Tarra for now!!

  2. An update on the Leo Fewtrell situation Ed. Just heard this morning from his sister Theresa that Leo now has dementia but at least he’s still with us in the land of the living!!

    Bad news / good news eh?

    Stay well Ed

    Best wishes,


    • Hello John. I didn’t know Leo fewtrell that well but my mother knew his mother from St Peter’s Church. I had an accident near their house on Firbank Rd. Wythenshawe & they took me in and tended to me until the ambulance arrived to take me to Wythenshawe hospital, so I am very grateful to the family for that. I was 14 at the time in 1963.

      • Hello Jim. I remember your accident. Leo lived on the corner house off Firbank. I think it was Belsay Drive. Remember all the other lads from St Peters and your brother Mike. Regards. Geoff Miles. 171 Greenbrow.

        • Hello Geoff
          Thanks for your reply & good to hear your still around- will pass on your regards to our Mike. I now live in Perth, Australia & get the odd email from John Rochford who was at St Peter’s and went on to St Greg,s. I remember you being good at sports so hope you are still fit & well
          Cheers Jim

  3. John, Just catching up on emails / posts etc and saw your recent updates. Sorry to hear about Leo’s situation; he was such a colourful and talented character. And that Tony Ford, another old friend, lived in Weaverham, almost a neighbour as I lived in Northwich for a number of years. We could have met up. It’s a pity we all didn’t get involved in the Old Xaverians, as was, to stay in touch. Although when you’re moving around the country with the job that could be difficult. For me as a contracts manager in the civil service, then as a contracts /commercial manager in industry, that meant working in Manchester, London, Liverpool, the south-west, Stockport, Preston and abroad. You’ve probably seen the post I made about interest in a reunion. So far, no interest. I guess for many those years at Xavs were a bitter /sweet experience. But just part of growing up. It could have been worse had we been at Bede’s or Hale Barns by all accounts!! Best wishes, Ed 24th June 2023

    • Bloody hell Ed, Not been on the site for a while now and a little disappointed to learn that there hasn’t been much appetite for a reunion. Recently met up with Paul Jackson for a crown green bowling roll-out at his Mottram-St-Andrew green between Macclesfield and Alderley. We had a pleasant couple of hours and nattered a lot about the old days and some of the characters of those school days. Yes, it was good to meet up after a lot of years. I trust by now your contract managing days are done and you’ve “dropped anchor”?? Perhaps it might be worth re-floating the reunion proposal with some recommended meet-up “parameters” specified?? Best wishes mate


  4. Good to hear your recent updates John and Edmund. Yes, we had a good rollout at Mottram, where nattering pre-emptied bowling, but a really enjoyable morning. Thank you.
    As for re-unions Ed, people have either moved on or passed on. How about you, John and me meeting up for a pint and some pork scratchings?

  5. Ps. Peter Booth tells me that Tony Ford is now a Deacon, so he must still be drinking ,John, thinking of your tale about you both getting bladdered.


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