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News > In Memoriam > Obituary - Malcolm Kirke (P37/42, O42/47)

Obituary - Malcolm Kirke (P37/42, O42/47)

Anthony Kirke (P/OH 44/50, O50/56) has kindly written this obituary for his brother, Malcolm
16 May 2022
In Memoriam

Malcolm Augustus Kirke was born 19th March, 1930 in China, his father being Consul-General in Yunnan, his mother a missionary in the CMS.

The family retired to England in 1932. Malcolm spent his childhood in Bedlings, Milton Clevedon, near Bruton, his mother teaching him reading, writing and piano playing. When seven, he attended Kings' Prep, Plox House, as a boarder, then his brother Anthony was born who was to follow him to Kings, as later did his niece, Sophie (now Graham). At twelve, he graduated to Old House.  The building had character. New House, he felt, had no “character”.

He did well in School Certificate. He became captain of shooting, as later, his brother did and also captain of house swimming, his only sport. Not put off by the Brue water in the school swimming bath becoming green.

At thirteen, interested in religion, he was confirmed. For years he tried many ways to find workable spirituality, becoming convinced that religion was fraudulent. He believed people's behaviour infinitely more important than belief.

He used to collect butterflies in Cogley Wood and was introduced to bird-watching by an older boy he admired for his skill. He learned choral music and twice won the Music Prize.

A highlight was a holiday cycle tour with Harry Sewards. Two summer holidays during his school days were spent sailing.

Due to the war teaching was weak, his Higher School Certificate results were poor. So he was sent to expensive Millfield School, reputed for cramming. He loved cricket, (the Headmaster-owner was captain of Somerset) and got good Higher School Certificate.

In National Service, joining the Signals in Paderborn, Germany repairing radios, he found the German countryside very nostalgic and dreamlike.

After demob in 1950 he couldn't stick Bristol University studying physics so  after a year moved to Oxford, becoming a farm worker near Whitney. He learned to hand-milk and plough, finding that a most enjoyable skilful job. After work on a cider farm his last job on farms was under Barnard Bush, at Norton St. Philip.

He tried Guildhall School of Music, but ran out of money. While there he met Barbara Holmes. Malcolm's parents didn't approve of Barbara. They were married in 1955 and had two girls that tragically died in a fire at their flat in 1958. They had a boy, Sebastian, in 1959. Malcolm became involved with Scientology.

His parents moved to Romsey in 1958, father dying in 1959. Malcolm tried Subud, meeting J.G.Bennett a former pupil of Gurdjieff and read “Zen in the Art of Archery".

Barbara left temporarily with Sebastian. At Oxford, Malcolm was taken on as manager for electronics by Hunts which he enjoyed and moved to Drayton, near Abingdon. Barbara rejoined him there; their daughter Jane being born in 1961. The re-union was short. Barbara finally left in 1963. Malcolm's mother kindly looked after the children.

 Enrolling at Nottingham College for a teaching course in Russian and Mathematics he met Jo Davies. He visited Russia, which he found extremely enjoyable. On return he was asked to give the “Principal’s Lecture” about his visit after a dinner.

Malcolm's teaching started in Nottingham  – first in Jesse Boot Primary School, then in Highbank. Having read books by R.F. (“Bob”) Mackenzie, he went to Buckhaven in Scotland to see Braehead Secondary School of which Bob was Headmaster and was given a job. Finding teaching at Braehead difficult, he left for  Leven primary school. There his class of more than thirty nine-year-olds made a film of the birth of Jesus with everything written and played by the children helped by parents. The film, a great success,  was his most interesting achievement in education.

Jo and he got married and Christopher was born. About 1970 he went to Tanshall School, Glenrothes as Deputy Head. He worked on musical education and taught pottery. His conscientious teaching was much appreciated. Soon son Nicholas was born. In 1975, being headteacher at Minigaff School was too much so left teaching in 1976. The family moved to Lifespan commune in Yorkshire. In early 1977 they became wardens of the Quaker Meeting House at Preston Patrick, Malcolm a self-employed painter of houses.

He designed and made eight harpsichords and spinets.

Sadly Jo and Malcolm divorced. In late 1989, visiting the Philippines, he married Rosemarie Pacampara, moving to near Calbayog City. They started a pedicab business owning seventy pedicabs and living on his British pension. Their son Claude was born in 1996. Malcolm built at least seven boats.

Final years were uneventful, conversing on social media. However his eyesight deteriorated and eventually, after a short illness, he died on 18th June 2021

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