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Remarkably, after many years without one, we have congratulated three OCs in the last two years on reaching their centuries
6 Dec 2016
OC Activity

Remarkably, after many years without one, we have congratulated three OCs in the last two years on reaching their centuries. First it was Peter Wightman-Mountain (East 1931-34) who reached 100 on 30 June 2014 (and who died on 23 March, 2015), and then it was Trevor Stephenson (1 North, 1929-31) who reached 100 on 28 February 2015 (and died on 16 May that year).

Now it is the turn of Desmond Hill (East 1931-34) who celebrated his 100th birthday on 5 December. Desmond, who changed his name from Phillips to Hill in 1940, is in a nursing home in Buckinghamshire. I rang to congratulate him and found him very switched on and delighted to hear from Cranleigh. He was at school with Michael Redgrave, played several instruments and was a member of a jazz group. His son, Andrew, was in East from 1955-59.

After Cranleigh Desmond had an apprenticeship in a luthier’s workshop in Lille (a luthier builds and repairs stringed instruments). As war approached he obtained his yachtsman’s certificate. He planned to join the merchant navy, but toothache delayed his start by one week. In that week his ship was torpedoed and the entire crew was lost. Switching to small boats, high speed launches and air-sea rescue he was later involved at Dunkirk and in landings in the Mediterranean, including at Anzio.

The family firm was W.E Hill & Sons (1887–1992), London-based and specializing in violins and other instruments. Post-war Desmond kept it going despite post-war restrictions, until in 1992 it was put into voluntary liquidation.
I challenged him to go for the OC record, which as far as I know is to reach 107. This was achieved by Peter Bradley, who worked in Covent Garden market between the wars.

Mike Payne

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