St Bride's: News - Tim Heald Memorial

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St Bride's: News

Tim Heald Memorial

Tim Heald Memorial

Tim Heald FRSL
28th January 1944 &ndash 20th November 2016

Download Order of Service (pdf)

On Thursday 1st June, 2017, at 1pm a service of thanksgiving and celebration for the life of Tim Heald FRSL was held at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street.


The Revd Canon Dr Alison Joyce delivered the opening:-

We are here to celebrate the life of Tim Heald, and to honour the memory of a wonderful and prolific writer, a much-loved friend, and a man who was always excellent company and enormous fun.

We give thanks for a man of energy and originality; a prolific and outstandingly gifted writer and journalist. A man who loved cricket, real tennis, and Newcastle United; a man with a tremendous gift for friendship, and a wonderful sense of fun.

The loss of a man who was, until his final illness, so full of life, is always hard to bear. But our task at this service is above all to give thanks, as we rejoice that the world was a richer place for Tim's presence within it, and our lives the richer for having known him.

Let us pray:

Support us, O Lord, all the day long of this troublous life,
Until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes;
The busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over
and our work is done.
Then, Lord, in your mercy, grant us a safe lodging,
a holy rest, and peace at the last. In Jesus name we pray.



Nicholas Trefusis DL

Read text...

I first met Tim in the September of 1952 at Connaught House School.

It was prep school paradise, but, although the regime was benign, we were no angels and rules were there for the breaking. For example, the railway line across the main road from the school was out of bounds. We used to go to watch the Bishop’s Lydeard flyer steaming over our pennies, so carefully laid on the line, and squashing them flat. The formation of gangs was forbidden, so Tim, Bill Trythall and I formed a triumvirate.

Tim always had in independent turn of mind and, despite, or perhaps because of, his father’s military back ground, cajoled us into refusing to join the scouts as it was a paramilitary organisation.

It was at Connaught House that Tim’ journalistic leanings became apparent. Firstly with Watt’s the News, and then with The Morning Monitor. Tim’s handwriting was not considered sufficiently legible, so the boy with the fairest hand copied it out to be roneoed and pinned to the Library notice board. At the end of our time at Connaught House we sat scholarships for our various public schools; Bill went off to Winchester with a top scholarship and on this day in 1957 Randall Hoyle, the Headmaster, announced, "It is INDEED the Glorious First of June - Heald has won an exhibition to Sherborne." Tim would repeat this story every year.

We both found the transition to Sherborne tough. It had none of the free and easy going happiness we were used to. It was a curate’s egg of a place then, with rather few excellent parts.

Tim enjoyed the academic side and leading rebellion. He put down an early marker one Sunday when the fag bell rang in the Day room at Lyon House signalling that a prefect wanted some chore or other carried out. As usual boys started to run to the source of the command. “Nobody move!” shouted Tim – “no fagging on a Sunday – House rule.” Nobody moved but all looked alarmed at such temerity. Minutes later a prefect appeared looking very cross and demanding to know what was going on. He was told. Tim was reported to the housemaster, who, being a scrupulously fair and decent man found for Tim against the prefect. The establishment was unamused but Tim realised that he was living dangerously.

However, the upshot of this was that Stan Johnson, Head of House and editor of the Shirburnian invited Tim to write an article for the magazine on the iniquities of the fagging system. This Tim did, and I believe that this stance brought to an end the dubious practice of personal fagging – the power of the pen.

Tim went on himself to edit the Shirburnian, but his journalistic triumph when still at school was the successful launch of Sixth Form Opinion together with friends Matthew Melliar-Smith and Andrew Goodman. It was a national magazine but they received little support from the rather stuffy Chief of the day who disapproved of the idea – especially when it was wholeheartedly endorsed by the redoubtable Dame Diana Reader-Harris, headmistress of Sherborne Girls.

At the Commem. ceremony that year, the whole school were smartly drilling on the Upper to the strains of Sousa from the school’s military band, surrounded by hundreds of admiring parents. The whole school that is, apart from Matthew and Andrew, who had cut the Parade and were busily publicising the magazine by launching a cloud of helium balloons over the proceedings. Chief was furious until he realised that he was being credited with what the parents, especially the mothers, thought was an absolutely splendid idea.

After Sherborne Tim went up to Balliol with a scholarship where he was joined by Matthew Melliar-Smith and Bill Trythall. I have two abiding memories of our briefly overlapping time at Oxford. The first was of visiting him in college and admiring the wall of his room, papered with his rejection slips; the second was when, after a particularly nasty bout of vandalism perpetrated by next door arch enemy Trinity, who had painted obscenities on Balliol chapel roof, Tim and Matthew were determined to retaliate appropriately. Aware that Trinity was undergoing refurbishment involving returfing the quad, they crept at dead of night via the kitchens into enemy territory, seizing rolls of unlaid turf lying about, then arranging them on the floor of the JCR. Pausing to admire their handiwork, they recognised that it lacked a certain something, so they fetched a quantity of flowering daffodils and planted them in the new turf to achieve the effect that they desired.

In 1995 Tim became a Cornishman – like Bill Trythall and me. After a spell in Polruan he and Penny crossed the river to Fowey where they became stalwarts of the local scene taking part in the Du Maurier festival (Daphne’s son Kits Browning was best man at their wedding). They hosted long lunches on the last day of the Regatta where, if you were lucky, you shared, with some local notable, the bench from the mound stand at Lord’s, looking over the harbour at the Troys racing and waiting to watch the Red Arrows. There too they delighted in the visits of Tim’s children and grandchildren who in turn enjoyed the pleasures that an unspoilt seaside town in Cornwall can offer.

We had a mutual friend, Bishop Bill Ind. Tim and he shared a deep love of Cricket and sometimes played together, Bill bowling a very effective loopy spin which he fired in the air like Mills bombs. He too shared with Tim a liking for the novels of J L Carr, the privilege of having studied history at the feet of Richard Cobb and a keen interest in things eccentric and on the edge.

Hugh Archer relates that at the beginning of the 21st Century the Old Shirburnian Society needed a shake-up. Their person spec. was for a well-known Shirburnian with a notable academic record at school and beyond, who was a keen sportsman and whose subsequent career was different from past presidents’ and Tim was all these things plus having an encyclopaedic knowledge of Wisden’s almanac.

At the very beginning of his presidency Tim announced that the job was going to be fun. He inaugurated an annual President’s lunch at the Groucho Club – this was followed by a media lunch. He also organised lunches for the legal profession and another for surveyors. There was, too, a very successful reunion dinner for Cornish old boys at Trelissick.

He was followed in the post by Richard Morgan who records of Tim’s time that he was outstandingly good. He was proud to hold the post, spoke well on numerous occasions and held the school in affection. Richard goes on to say of him that he was a mixture of the radical and conservative. His heart lay somewhere between Sherborne Abbey and the Groucho Club and he landed wherever the hospitality was best. He was commissioned to write a new history of the school but ill health prevented the book coming to fruition. It can be argued that the fact that it did not see the light of day avoided disharmony or worse, for the sight of a draft chapter or two was sufficient to learn that the word controversial was more than an understatement - some OS would have been infuriated; others delighted. That was Tim, writing with individual insight what he knew to be the truth.

Tim was the social glue that held us together. The outstanding success of the many reunions and get-togethers not only for Shirburnians but also for old boys of Connaught House is a tribute to his persuasive perseverance and adhesive qualities. His devastating illness was so hard to bear for his children, and for Penny who cared for him. It robbed him physically, but even worse deprived him of his personality and all its facets which made him the man he was. He stood for fun, friendship, family, humility, fairness and Cricket. And, towards the end, when little remained, his carers reported that he would sing snatches of a song in a foreign language, perhaps Latin. It was of course our old school song, the Carmen.

I see him still as he looks at the world with a wry smile of amusement at its vagaries. He was, as he liked to say of me, my oldest friend.

Simon Brett OBE, FRSL

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I coincided with Tim Heald for two years at Oxford, but I didn’t meet him there. His world was journalism, mine was theatre. Apart from that, though, he was at Balliol, and people from Balliol didn’t go out much into the real world of the university. As Tim himself wrote: ‘I regard having read history at Balliol as an end in itself and more privileged than a first class degree anywhere else. My third… is the same as a notionally superior degree in another college. But then I have always subscribed to the view that there are only three universities in the world – Balliol, Oxford and Cambridge, in that order.’

Yes, Tim Heald was one of those people who thought that, having been to Balliol, he didn’t need to do anything else with his life. How fortunate for us that, in spite of this Balliolcentricity – try to get ten minutes into a conversation without his mentioning the place - he did do a lot else with his life.

I really got to know Tim when we began to play squash together on a weekly basis. We lived near each other in South East London and had both recently started working from home.

So the very pleasant habit of our weekly late afternoon squash games began, followed by the equally pleasant habit of a couple of pints in the Victoria pub and the opportunity to put the world to rights. We discovered we had a lot in common. For a start, we both wrote humorous detective stories. We considered the prospect of being recognised later as The East Sheen Squash Club School of Crime Fiction, but decided regretfully that two writers was insufficient for a proper sub-genre.

Incidentally, while on the subject of sport, I must also thank Tim for introducing me to my enduring hobby of Real Tennis.

Tim’s early crime novels featured the Board of Trade Special Investigator Simon Bognor. Given the fame of Joyce Porter’s Inspector Dover and Agatha Christie’s Captain Hastings, he argued that, for a name, he just had to move a little further along the South Coast. Later he introduced a new investigator, Dr Tudor Cornwall. Like their author, his books were gossipy, bubbly and full of jokes. Only Tim could have introduced into one of his novels the Somerset villages of Sheridan Morley and Miles Kington.

He not only wrote crime fiction, he also contributed to the genre as Chair of the CWA, and the previous year to his taking-over the role, he was a very supportive Vice-Chair to me. An enduring image I have of Tim is when during my speech at the CWA Awards Dinner at the Honourable Artillery Company, I realised that I’d left the actual awards in the Green Room. Tim, as my doughty Vice-Chairman, knew where his duty lay and immediately crawled under the table to go and fetch the missing Daggers.

He also added to those Daggers. On a typical Heald journalistic jaunt to cover a game of Elephant Polo in Nepal, where the players included Ringo Starr and Billy Connolly, Tim made the acquaintance of the then Managing Director of Cartier. In a characteristic exercise of creative networking and charm, Tim managed to persuade this gentleman, Anthony Marangos to create and sponsor the CWA’s highest award, the Cartier Diamond Dagger.

But crime, of course, was only a small part of Tim’s prodigious output. The continuity of his career was journalism. Even before he went to Oxford – or perhaps I should say Balliol – he’d spent a month in the Daily Mirror newsroom, and while an undergraduate he was already contributing to national newspapers. The list of publications for whom he worked is a history of the British press for the last half century. Sunday Times, Daily Express, Telegraph Magazine, Punch, The Radio Times… it goes on for ever.

Tim also mixed with many iconic figures of British journalism – Nicholas Tomalin, Hunter Davies and, of course, Bill Deedes, of whom Tim’s impression will live long in the memory of many people present today.

What he brought to journalism was enthusiasm, curiosity and an eye for the telling detail. Tim excelled at the kind of reporting, now sadly on the wane, based on talking to people face to face. Among his interviewees in a varied professional life were: Martin Luther King, Margot Fonteyn, Anna Neagle, Greer Garson, Tippi Hendren, Joyce Grenfell, Harold Wilson, Gary Sobers, with whom he had a nets session… and Richard Burton, with whom he had a drinking session. Tim would not have enjoyed the kind of journalism that involved sitting chained to a computer screen in Wapping.

Some of the pieces of work Tim enjoyed most – and he was one of those writers whose enjoyment communicated itself to his readers – were the features he wrote for the Telegraph Magazine and Punch, beautifully illustrated by Paul Cox – whose charming sketch of Tim is on the back of our order of service. This was journalism on the hoof – shooting off at short notice to capture the essence of the Cresta Run or the 50th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

Paul Cox also illustrated Tim’s book, The Character of Cricket, from which we’ve just heard. As you know, Tim loved his cricket. Sadly, this was not an interest I could share with him, having always been of the Lord Mancroft view that: ‘Cricket is a game which the British, not being a spiritual people, had to invent in order to have some concept of eternity.’ But I could respect Tim’s passion for the game. It is no surprise that two of the works he was proudest of were his biographies of Brian Johnston and the incomparable Denis Compton.

In fact, one of Tim’s favourite stories concerned a time when he’d been giving a talk about cricket on a cruise ship and afterwards was approached by an Englishman who said: ‘I would like to thank you. I have been trying to explain to my Australian wife of 40 years why our first-born son had to be called Denis. Now I think at last she understands.’

Tim had a whole other career as a biographer. Apart from the two cricketers, he wrote the lives of Prince Philip, Princess Margaret and Barbara Cartland - an eclectic mix, to say the least. Though his Prince Philip biography was not authorised, it was certainly smiled on by Buckingham Palace, and the good relations Tim established when he was working on it eased his continuing career as a royal-watcher.

This special interest led to his talking about the royals – as well as Denis Compton - on cruise ships, notably the QE2 – a life, according to Tim’s own account, of long large meals occasionally interrupted by a little light lecturing. The literary life can sometimes be tough, you know.

Tim loved travel, and he was very good at it. At various times of his life he lived in Toronto, Santa Fee and Hobart. Paul Cox and many others would vouch for what a perfect travel companion he was. Tim was always a glass half full person and I, speaking as someone more of the ‘Well, the glass might be a bit damp round the bottom’ persuasion, greatly enjoyed his support on British Council-sponsored trips to Leipzig, pre-Velvet Revolution Prague and, most bizarrely, Bucharest in the wake of the Ceacescus’ assassination. Amongst a great catalogue of strange encounters there, we met a group of Romanian crime writers who confessed that their work, under a government which denied any crime existed in their country, had been ‘a little difficult’.

One of my enduring images of Tim is of him walking through the blighted restaurant-bereft streets of Cluj, practising a Real Tennis shot and assuring me that ‘there’s this really nice little bistro just around the corner.’ And, amazingly, there was.

There are many other aspects of Tim’s career I haven’t had time to touch on – his non-crime novels, his work on the PEN committee under Ronald Harwood, his Fellowship of the Royal Society of Literature. Into every area in which he was involved he brought goodwill and made friends.

Tim Heald loved the traditional elements of Britishness – public school, cricket, the Royal Family – but his love was not uncritical. He did not appreciate the abuse of privilege. His guiding principle as a journalist was the dictum of Finley Peter Dunne: ‘The job of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.’

In afflicting the comfortable, he was no respecter of persons. He would criticise where criticism was due. And he was always surprised when people took offence at what he wrote. I remember sitting with Tim and fellow crime writer Susan Moody in a bar in Leipzig when he said ingenuously – or perhaps disingenuously, ‘I really can’t understand why some people dislike me.’ I know what he meant. Tim was a very difficult man to dislike, an easy man to love. On the other hand, he did once begin a review of a book by a well-known author with the line: ‘It is easier to appreciate a Jeffrey Archer novel when you realise that English is not his first language.’

I already miss Tim Heald, but I feel very privileged to have known him.


Sue Whitley read Matthew 5: 3-12

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Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Simon Eliot read from Class Distinctions by Tim Heald

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The Headmaster

Somerset Burnam always gave a leavers’ talk before term’s end. It was a rite of passage, a recognition of passing out, a ceremonial washing of hands. It was also supposed to impart information, and advice.

The CO enjoyed the main part of this talk, which was about character, leadership and the role of the Old West Hillian in contemporary society. He talked about obligations and the ideal of the service to the community, to the country, to the Church and to one’s fellow Old West Hillians.

You are not,’ he told the rather awed fourteen mean who were passing on to public school in September, ‘just the future leaders of the nation, you are boys who have been educated at West Hill. That will make you special men with special duties and special qualities. In later life we at West Hill expect you to set an example to those less fortunate than yourselves. Being a West Hillian is something to be proud of, but not to be smug about. It means that you must work harder than others and play harder than others and that, above all, you must not rest on your laurels and waste the time that God has given you.’

Without the slighted sign of selfconsciousness he then recited Kipling’s ‘If’, a poem which he regarded as the prep-school headmaster’s creed and which he had known by heart since he was twelve or thirteen himself. As he recited he glared at each boy in turn until, reaching the final four lines, he threw his head back a little, fixed moist eyes on the ceiling and declaimed in full, resonant, barrack-square baritone:

‘If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”

It would be wrong to suggest that there was not, at this point, a dry eye in the house. Sadly, the CO’s were the only wet ones. The attitude of the West Hill graduating class of 1956 was such that not one shed of even a suspicion of a tear and the overwhelming emotion was embarrassment. Middle-aged men are far more romantic than small boys.

The CO disliked the second part of his speech as much as he relished the first. As the last echoes of Kipling vanished into the woodwork he removed his spectacles and coughed. When he resumed speech, his voice had left the Old Vic and was back to conversational.

‘Next term,’ he said, beginning to perspire lightly, ‘you will no longer be big fish in our little pond here, you will be back at the beginning again, and you will find that you are no longer in a world of boys but a world of men At about your time of life very remarkable, physical changes take place…’ and on he went.

Steve Dobell read from The Character of Cricket by Tim Heald

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Only sixty-six and two-thirds percent of those in the immediate vicinity of Brighton Railway Station knew there was a cricket ground in town, let alone that the Australian tourists were playing on it. That was the result of my snap poll conducted shortly after getting off the train from East Croydon. Worse still, the two-thirds who knew where the cricket ground was suggested I either went by bus (6 or 37) or on foot via the Seven Dials roundabout and Goldsmid and Davigdor Roads. I footed it up the hill and down past the Davigdor House Rest Home and the green gabled Windlesham Club (founded 1905), overtaking an Indian gentleman in grey flannels and blazer and binoculars slung about him Sam Browne style. Facades were peeling around the Brighton-Hove border, and there was a sense of cat and old landlady. I noticed the Legal and General’s snazzy new glass and brick and the Doris Isaacs School of Dancing in less opulent surroundings and I almost missed cricket ground because of that obstructive modern block of flat – Cromwell Court – which dominates the North End.

They were wrong, the sixty-six and two-thirds who knew there was a cricket ground. On leaving the station, you should walk south to the sea and then west along the promenade, past the Metropole and the old Queen herself erected by the burghers of Hove in 1897. March up Grand Avenue, Hove for about three blocks, note the Victorian vastness of Hove Parish Church – All Saints, all locked up – and the Sussex Cricketers public house, which stands as a convivial sentry box at the entrance of the ground. You can actually walk into the bar, collect a pint and enter the ground through the beer garden. In theory, anyway.

Don’t be dismayed by the sign which says ‘No Dogs’, nor its companion, equally discreet in gold on blue, which says, ‘no cricket guaranteed’. Just carry on through the Tate Gates, erected in memory of one of Sussex’s greatest opening bowlers, and you’re in Sussex by the Sea, a charming oasis of deck chair and hand clap and ghosts of Ranji and Duleep an C.B. Fry, of Tony Greig and John Snow and the present Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, who played here when he was simply D.S. Sheppard.

There is a front and a back entrance to County Ground at Hove and you must always use the front.


The choir & organist of St Bride's performed the following anthems and songs:-

God be in my head - Walford Davies

And the glory of the Lord - Handel

Where e'er you walk - Handel

Blaydon Races - Ridley arr. Spinner

Carmen saeculare - Parker/Young

Inno di Mameli - Novaro


For All The Saints

Be Thou My Vision



The Telegraph

The Times


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