Alexander Douglas Parker
23/12/1954 - 20/01/1968
Alexander was born on the 23rd December 1954 at Hammersmith hospital , to Carmen Leah Wanda Parker (nee Grua) and Douglas George Parker, a civil servant at the Board of Trade.
At the time of Alexander's death, he had a younger brother Simon, aged 4, then subsequently Jasmine and Sophie were additions to the family.
At that time they were living at 46, Dalgarno Gardens, Kensington. London.
His father, a career civil servant rose to the ranks of 3rd Secretary at the Board of Trade and at the time of Alexander's death was stationed in the British Embassy, Jakarta, Indonesia. Their UK home address was 18, Imperial Drive, Harrow Middlesex, where they had moved to in August 1967, but only remained there for less than a year.
Alexander was sent to Newells in 1963 and was assigned to the Norman's house.
There he made many friends and I was fortunate to be one of them. Like many of us whose parents worked abroad, he shared a common bond, especially in the early bewildering days of this new environment. He was a quick witted and very affable boy.
He was a very promising sportsman and excelled in a variety of sports. In athletics he was in the Inters team in 1965 and won the Inter hurdles in the Summer of 1966. He competed in at least two diving competitions, 1966 and came second in 1967. In football he played in the Colt's team of 1965 and the 1st XI in 1967.
Perhaps his best sport was Cricket. He was in the Colt's XI in 1965 and in the Second XI in 1966,1967 and was destined to play for the First XI the next year.
He was one of the first boys to join the newly formed Carpentry Club under the auspices of Lt.Col. Redford. Lt.Col Redford from his overview of the Summmer 1967 term, commented " A. Parker's table was also a credible effort, I thought". On what was his last day, he helped Lt.Col. Redford move wood to the carpentry shop, by the boilers, in preparation for the new term.
His Mother, Carmen, drove him to school's first day of the Spring term on the 19th January 1968 and he was assigned to Tensing dormitory on the top floor. ( The old servant's quarters). Tragically, in the early hours of the next day, a fire consumed the school. Sadly he did not escape and perished in the fire.
During the Coroner's inquest it was stated by several fellow boarders that Alexander seemed very distressed and disorientated, moving between different dormitories, due to the intensity of the smoke. The Horsham Coroner, Mr. Francis Haddock, commented " It seems that this boy was particularly distressed, probably by reason of his Asthma and that may have been the reason he was left alone. The central heaing can be absolved from blame. Whether this was an electrical fire or not we shall never know. What evidence there is suggests not. That only leaves the suggestion that it was an accident, but we shall never really know". He ruled - Cause of death : Misadventure : Unascertainable - Probably due to burns.
The one comfort, (If there is one) was the Consultant pathologist Dr. John Shore's findings, which stated " The carbon particles clearly indicate the inhalation of smoke .....and would indicate that this boy was unconscious before burning took place. It is more than likely that he suffered no pain".
It is long overdue that Alexander's life, albeit tragically short, should be remembered by his contempories and future generations that attended Newells/Handcross Park.
I do hope that those who knew him, will find time for some quiet reflection, recount how fortunate we were to survive and remember the experiences we had at the school.
I have often thought of Alexander through my life and I am honoured that I can contribute to his memory in this small way.
The current Headmaster, Graeme Owton, shares my views that Alexander should be remembered and honoured by the school. He has already introduced an Alexander Boarding Cup. which was first presented this Summer , 2012. It is hoped that a further lasting tribute, such as a scholarship, can be initiated in the near future.
I visited the school this Summer and it is wonderful that they have such a vibrant, enthusiastic Headmaster in Graeme, which will ensure the continued success of our school.
(Saxons 1964 -1969)
(A special thank you to Graeme Owton, Tony Kendal and Andrew Miller for their invaluable contributions)
(See also John Harrison's comment in the blog section)