Please use this forum to record your own memories and tributes to Allan Dodds who was headmaster of Ottershaw school from 1964 to 1980 and who died on 8th March 2016.

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Remembering Mr Dodds

I remember well the day Allan Dodds stood at the front of the school at assembly on his first day there - a smiling yet patently serious man who was to be our new headmaster. He had a fearsome reputation to follow but he was to do so in his own way, not by copying his predecessor, but by adding his own stamp to what was already there.

From the start, Mr Dodds and I were destined to meet almost every week for the first two years of his headmastership. The reason being was my inability to escape the sixth school and buff card systems. To me it was like being on a treadmill from which I seemed unable to get off - to him it must have been sheer exasperation. Once a week we would meet in his study and once again with a look of despair on his face he would hand me yet another pristine buff card in exchange for my tatty one from the week before.

One day, during one of his classes, the headmaster asked  a group of boys to look at several books of cloth samples he had in his study - he was wanting to introduce a new aspect of school uniform, a sports jacket, and our job was to help him decide on which material would suit. The boys were delighted and started choosing some of the more trendy designs but after only a few moments it became obvious that the designs being identified as possibilities were not at all in line with what he had in mind. In the end we did get our new sports jackets but they were nothing like what we had imagined!

My most enduring memory is perhaps the saddest too. During his first summer holiday, tragedy was to fall upon him. Whist I was holidaying in Bude with my parents I read in a paper of the road accident which had injured his son. A few days, later again by way of a newspaper, I learned that his son had not survived. Going back to school after that holiday was a day to remember, but for all the very wrong reasons. Everyone was talking in whispers about what had happened.  It seemed unbelievable. When we eventually saw the headmaster we could not not notice how he had changed. Somehow the very life of him seemed to have drained away and we found we were unable to look him in the eye. An even greater shock was seeing Mrs Dodds in the tuck-shop a few weeks later. Trying to act normally she continued with her task of dispensing the goodies but her grief had taken its toll and she found it so difficult to produce that warm smile which had so captivated many young boys during her first year at Ottershaw. That amazing smile did eventually return but as far as I remember not until my final year at the school when she was chosen to test drive Mr Oettinger’s cut down car on a course created in front of the cricket pavilion.

However even such grief was not to stop Mr Dodds from continuing to ensure his way of running the school was implemented. There were changes in many ways, and over the years I was at the school, several things had been introduced and other dispensed with. By the time I left the school it was very much running in his style.

Several years ago I had wanted to attend an OSOBS presentation to Mr Dodds and shake his hand once again, but living abroad and also working at the time I was unable to get to that event. Instead I decided to write to him and was very touched to receive a very warm response written by Mrs Dodds who wrote on behalf of her husband who had said he had enjoyed the contents of my letter. She also said that she had been surprised that she was remembered just as much as her husband. 

I wish I could have had that final handshake.

 

 

Mr Dodds - some memories

Mr Dodds was headmaster during my last two years at Ottershaw.  He was a highly intelligent and sensitive man and always had the students interest at heart.

I remember baby sitting for Mr and Mrs Dodds. I was impressed with the fortitude they showed in face of personal tragedy and that there were people who's faith could endure.

Many years later I was to return to Ottershaw to find the place boarded up and entrances blocked.  There were signs everywhere threatening dire action to trespassers.  twenty minutes later I was wandering around The Mansion.  The place was boarded up and deserted.  I then spotted a waft of smoke through the trees and this led me to a house that I was unfamiliar with.  On knocking the door was opened by Mr Dodds who exclaimed "Ah, young master Stephen Keeling"  how nice to see you, please come in".  It seems I was extremely lucky to find them at home as they were to vacate in the next day or so.  That Mr and Mrs Dodds remembered me at all I found remarkable - I didn't think I was that bad a student -  but it seems they just the knack of remembering past students.

I can see his face so clearly as I write this.  The world was a better place for his being. 

Steve Keeling

OT638 1960-66

More memories

I remember him well as I started at Ottershaw in 1965 his son was killed by a scaffold pole slipping off a lorry that braked sharply in front and the pole killed his son. I remember one weekend which was a go away weekend I was not allowed to go as someone grassed me up for getting a ten shilling note through the post.

He and his wife were great and the evening meals she cooked and served in his study - spent the nights with beds pulled out on the balcony of the large North house dormitory until the weekend was over and then back to normal. The weekend was made special as the trials were going on for a symphony orchestra and the trampoline had been put on the front lawn better fun than going away for the weekend.

Michael Gardiner OT901