Back To London

Derek James Thomas Kennedy

25th May 1935 – 17th December 2015

A sad homecoming awaited them in London as their old house in Bethal Avenue was the only one which had remained standing when the rest of the street had been flattened by wartime bombs. Apparently Derek’s mum wasn’t surprised by that saying that her mother would never have allowed otherwise. Of course it wouldn’t have been safe to live there so the house had to be demolished and they were resettled into a prefab on the New City estate in Plaistow.

Not long after their return, Derek, who was a bright boy, started at Plaistow Grammar School which he attended from 1947 until 1951.

Now, the Latin motto of Plaistow Grammar was Non Quo, SedQuomodo, which the school itself translated, as “Not to what end, but how”. There are several different translations for this, all variations on a theme, but I think perhaps the one that Derek would have most appreciated is the more colloquial “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way you do it”.

Plaistow Grammar had a good sports programme and Derek took full advantage of this becoming quite the polevaulter and competing in the High Jump, at which he said, somewhat modestly, that he was rather good. So “rather good”, in fact, that he took part in County championships. Now, remember, those were the days when real men (and women) did those sports with no well sprung mattresses to fall into on the other side; you came down hard into a sandpit! So he must have been pretty tough.

And the sort of camaraderie which went with being on an athletics team was also present in another pursuit which Derek undertook in his adolescence. Whilst at school he joined the local Scout Group, thoroughly enjoying the comradeship of working as a team, loving the camp trips and the days away.

And throughout this time he had a constant companion in his dog, Scruffy.


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