Former teachers and staff

Mr B P Quinn (‘Barney’)

I was sad to hear that Mr ‘Barney’ Quinn, who had been Senior Master and Head of English in the 1960s, had passed away on Monday 10 March 2014.  He was of course in his nineties and had spent the last two years in the residential home opposite the school together with his wife, Louise, who had been Deputy Head and Head of French at Loreto Covent School.  She gave wonderful support to Barney in his senior years, whilst he coped with deteriorating eye sight and lack of mobility.Barney was Senior Master when Brother Foley was Head Master in the early sixties.  They led the transition from a small independent school in pre-fabricated buildings to a 3 or 4 form entry grammar school after satisfying a general inspection and gaining government recognition.

In 1963, a dozen new staff were engaged and sought to achieve the academic success required to build/establish a sixth form capable of winning places at our leading universities, including Oxford and Cambridge.Barney led by example, working selflessly and building relationships with staff and students.  The respect he gained from the Old Boys over the years is evidence of his success.  Of course, he had special skills, conveying his passion for literature and poetry, but he was also a superb rugby coach, as he laid the foundations for the school’s reputation for attractive and effective rugby, even when the sixth form was still growing.  Barney was also adept at persuading staff like Mike Quinn, John O’Regan and myself to train teams and referee games.   Friday evening meetings in the Unicorn or Bull’s Head, and post-match analysis on Saturday lunch-times helped to build team-work.It was a surprise when he chose to move to Fr McGuinness’  new grammar school,St Augustine’s in Wythenshawe.  Perhaps he missed his relationship with Brother Foley, who moved on in 1967, or perhaps he just wanted a new challenge.  I took over as Senior Master, and we all kept in touch.  Indeed, I used to attend Hallé concerts with Barney and Lou, and occasionally enjoyed a dinner and hospitality at his home.  I tried to visit them once a month during the last two years, when we enjoyed recalling our favourite memories.  It was a privilege to have met and worked with him.

Sean Fleming
Former Deputy Head and Head of History (1963-2000)

Eileen Franks

Eileen Franks, the former St. Ambrose Prep 4 teacher, passed away on the morning of 28th May 2013. Those of us that were taught by her will recall what a great teacher she was and how she had us thoroughly prepared for our 11+ exam and subsequent life in the grammar school.

She died peacefully in her sleep after a battle with dementia.

Barry Butler

We are sorry to report the sad demise of Mr Barry Butler, former Head of Business Studies at St Ambrose College. He died peacefully on 27th May 2012, after a long battle with cancer.

May he Rest in Peace.


“Barry began teaching our very first Economics lesson by telling us (and I still possess the notes) “An economic model will always produce inaccurate predictions; there will always be some feature of the real world which has been missed out of the model.” Surely the most brilliant opening remark possible. It remains an idea at the cutting edge even in 2012; indeed one which all those Treasury economists who didn’t foresee the crash of 2008 manifestly failed to take into account.

I owe a great personal debt to Barry, I read PPE at Oxford, and Monetary Economics at the LSE. Then, (before a significant career change), I worked as a trader at the Investment Bank “Salomon Brothers” on Wall St.

All of this grew from a seed planted by Barry in September 1976. Indeed when I decided to try for Oxford (in the face of understandably strong advice to the contrary from the school), Barry showed great kindness in guiding me through past papers. I wouldn’t have made it without him.

For me, and I’m sure for many others, Barry’s teaching was a life changing experience.


“A great teacher surely lives on in the minds and lives of his pupils.”

– Peter Lawlor

Brother Sheehan

Bro Sheehan’s funeral was well attended yesterday, 16th April 2012 with his nephew, Robert, giving a moving and at times, hilarious tribute to his beloved uncle.

As we know, John (“JJ” to his family) was a keen sportsman, with a sharp line in wit however, he was also a man who never believed he was getting old. When some years back, he asked Rev Alan Morris to conduct his funeral, he suggested they got out their diaries! Again, on turning 80 and asked how he was fairing, he answered, he was fine but his putting had gone to hell!

On another occasion, a caller to Woodeaves enquired as to his whereabouts and was told he had just popped to confession, only for John to arrive back announcing he’s placed the bets!

May he Rest in Peace.

David Hancock

We are sorry to report that Mr Hancock, former Head of Art at St Ambrose, has passed away.

He died on April 10th 2010 at St Ann’s Hospice after a prolonged illness. He was 64 years old.

His funeral took place at Altrincham Crematorium at 3.30pm on Thursday April 22nd.

Mr Phil Howard and Old Boy Larry Miveld both made moving tributes at the service.

He will be remembered by so many as an inspirational teacher.

May he rest in peace.

We remember his wife Sue, their son Anthony and their daughter Laura.

Joan Handford

We are very sorry to report that Mrs Handford has passed away.

She died on Sunday 23rd September 2007 after some months of illness.

Joan will never be forgotten by her Mathematics students at St Ambrose.

She regularly attended Old Boy events since 1996.

Her funeral was held at 12-15pm on Tuesday 2nd October 2007 at St Hugh’s Timperley.

May her eternal soul rest in peace.

Sam Wilkinson

We have just heard the sad news of the death of Sam Wilkinson who taught so many of us

Drama and Biology at St Ambrose.

He amused and enriched the lives of all those he taught.

His funeral was held at 2pm on Monday October 1st 2007

at Holy Angels Church.

May his eternal soul rest in peace.

Mr Geoffrey Chilcott

Passed away in June 1997.

He had taken early retirement in July 1996, but intended to continue teaching Geography in a part-time capacity. Unfortunately, he took ill in September, and was unable to resume teaching. He died in Christie’s Hospital, Manchester, and was cremated at Dunham, Altrincham, in June 1997.

Reverend Deacon Alan Morris presided at the funeral service in a packed church. Geoff came to St. Ambrose from St. Benedict’s, Ealing, and quickly proved to be an outstanding and extremely popular Geography teacher.

Many old boys will remember the field-trips in Derbyshire and the traffic-surveys in Hale Barns. Geoff also took rugby teams, and refereed at club level, before a knee injury curtailed his career.

The Old Boys’ Association will finance a “Chilcott Geography Prize” to be presented annually on Speech Day in his memory (to the best Geographer in the Sixth Form).

Mrs. Jacqueline Harrison

Jacqueline passed away in September 1997 and her Requiem Mass took place at St. Vincent’s, Altrincham, where Reverend Deacon Alan Morris spoke movingly of her life, work, and affection for St. Ambrose College.

She taught French in a part-time capacity for many years at the College. Born in Belgium, she was a native French-speaker, and was a J.M.B. French Oral Examiner at ‘A’ level for many years. Her husband, Denis, was a University Lecturer in the Education Department at Manchester University. After taking early retirement he became School Librarian at the College for some years. He died two years ago. Both will be remembered by Old Boys with great affection.

Mr. John Dennison

passed away in September 1997 and his Requiem Mass was held at Christ Church, Heald Green. John was Head of Music at the College in the 1960s, when he initiated what became our annual Christmas Carol Service. Indeed, he was an outstanding choral trainer. He moved on to St. Augustine’s, Wythenshawe, where the late Fr. Frank McGuinness had become Headmaster. He later became Deputy Head of St. Elizabeth’s R.C. Primary School. His uncle, Bob Dennison, was a well known football manager, who once had a talented striker by the name of Brian Clough in his Middlesbrough side. John took early retirement three years ago, but had numerous piano pupils to occupy his time. He had just returned from a three week holiday in the USA, when he died quite suddenly in his sleep.

Brother Patrick Theobald Owens

passed away (aged 88) in a nursing home at Ince Blundell, near Southport. For many years he was Head of the Preparatory Department, before moving across to the main school where he was invariably Form-master of 1 Owens, where he taught French and R.E. He also ran a Catholic Repository. He was also a very knowledgeable and fanatical gardener’ After his retirement from teaching, he continued to live in the Community at Hale Barns, and it was only a few years ago that he moved to Ince Blundell.

Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.

Requiescant in pace.