Philip Hildesley former Director of Music

It is with great sadness that we have to report the death of Philip Hildesley, former Director of Music from 1966 to 1975 on 2nd October 2019. A celebration of Philip’s life will be held on Thursday, 24th October from 12 noon at The Vale Crematorium, Pershore, Worcs WR10 2QR, NO FLOWERS but donations to Marie Curie Nursing Care via https://www.ehillandson.co.uk/making-a-donation or

  • A locked donation box is normally available at the funeral service where money and cheques can be placed.
  • Cheques (made payable to the charity or E Hill & Son Donation Account) may be posted directly to ourselves at E Hill & Son Funeral Directors, Fairfield House, Defford Road, Pershore, WR10 1HZ.
  • Paid by debit card via the telephone, on 01386 552141.
  • Paid directly to E Hill & Son Donations Account via bank transfer. (Account No: 00050304, Sort Code: 30-93-11)

Our President, Peter Booth, has written the following:

Sternians will be sad to hear that Philip Hildesley, who was Director of Music at LWC from 1966 to 1975, died last week. During his time at LWC, a real Music School was created at the College – music previously took place in the classrooms at the back of the Gavin Hall. He and Roger Davies produced a series of magnificent musicals such as The Mikado, Iolanthe, Ruddigore and Oliver which also featured David Dames on stage, as well as Oh, What a Lovely War, with Tony Woolstone. However, perhaps his greatest musical achievement was to persuade the formidable but musically talented headmaster, Neil Henderson, to play the violin in front of the school getting him to lead the orchestra for the shows – previously he had been reluctant to do so.

Philip was part of the Summerfield House staff, led by Charles and Joan Hallows, assisted of course by Roger Davies. Summerfield was always a lively place when Philip was around and his booming laugh could be heard, normally after telling, badly, some of his favourite jokes! Sternians will remember Philip’s MG Midget (or was it an Austin Healey Sprite?) into which Philip squeezed himself wearing his trademark flat hat, and which he drove with great enthusiasm.

In 1975, Philip married Sue and they started their married life by moving to St Stithians School in Johannesburg. Later they returned to the UK and Philip was senior boarding housemaster at Old Swinford Hospital School where he worked with Sue and their two children, Emma and Mark until he retired.

This is what Neil Henderson said in his Founder’s Day speech in 1975.

After nine years as Director of Music, Mr. Hildesley has decided to take three profound steps. First, in order of importance, he is getting married this month, secondly and sadly he is leaving us and thirdly he is emigrating to South Africa to become Director of Music at St. Stithian’s College, Johannesburg. Members of staff here before Mr. Hildesley joined the College will most easily be aware of the vast change in College music over the past nine years. From the shadows behind the Gavin Hall where it cowered in a small classroom, music has risen to acquire its own departmental home with practice rooms for the hundred plus boys studying instruments from strings to brass, with a rehearsal room for orchestra, band, choir and choral society, stereo record room and class teaching room. All this has come about under the patient but demanding hand of Mr. Hildesley. The annual choral concerts, the choir anthems on Sundays and, perhaps best remembered of all, the musical productions in some recent summer terms in conjunction with Mr. Roger Davies, are all evidence of the enormous strides music has taken, prodded, coaxed and encouraged by the Director. I hope that Mr. Hildesley has derived for himself at least some of the very great satisfaction and happiness that his efforts on behalf of music have given to us; and we wish him as much success and creative enjoyment in his new and exciting life in South Africa.

We are so sorry to hear the news that Philip has died.  Our hearts go out to you, Emma and Mark and you are all in our thoughts and prayers.

When I first arrived at LWC, Philip was one of the first to make me thoroughly welcome. I remember Philip roaring up in his MG Midget (or was it an Austin Healey Sprite?) with his flat cap and huge smile. Somehow, he managed to clamber out of it – it was a very tight fit – and immediately gave me a hearty handshake. Very soon he was regaling me with his incredibly corny jokes – his favourite was the cross-eyed judge – which were so bad, but with Philip hooting with laughter, they were very funny!

Philip, Roger, David Dames, Ian and Pauline, as well as Peter Seelig, soon became really close friends and we thoroughly enjoyed working and socialising together. I learned a great deal from them and I like to think that we supported the pupils while having a great time as well. I remember meeting his father – what a character! – and his notorious home-made tea sherry. It was so strong that, when Philip produced a bottle at the picnic we had during the interval on my first visit to Glyndebourne, I slept through the entire second act! On another occasion, Philip and I found ourselves at the hotel I think his sister had just sold, on a mission to drink the cellar dry! We gave a good account of ourselves.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with him and he made a huge impact on the musical life of the college, even on a non-musician like myself. I really enjoyed working with him on what was one of the great College productions, ‘Oh, what a lovely War’.  I also think one of his greatest achievements was to get Neil Henderson to play the violin in front of the school.

It was through Philip that I came to know Peter and Pattie and of course it was through them that you arrived on the scene! Your wedding, in the lovely church at Shrewton, was a wonderful occasion, even if it meant you both left us for South Africa. I was so pleased that I was able to visit you there as well as, later seeing you at the Old Swinford Hospital School where you both made such a mark and supported so many young people.

Although in recent years, I have not seen as much of you as I would have liked, I regard Philip as a very special person who featured greatly in my life. I am so glad that I was able to see you all at Roger’s memorial service. I know it required a great deal of effort to get there but your presence was appreciated by many. I consider myself fortunate that our paths crossed and his passing has left a large gap in so many lives.

I found this article in the LWC Sower magazine. It is part of Neil Henderson’s Founder’s Day speech in 1975.

After nine years as Director of Music, Mr. Hildesley has decided to take three profound steps. First, in order of importance, he is getting married this month, secondly and sadly he is leaving us and thirdly he is emigrating to South Africa to become Director of Music at St. Stithian’s College, Johannesburg. Members of staff here before Mr. Hildesley joined the College will most easily be aware of the vast change in College music over the past nine years. From the shadows behind the Gavin Hall where it cowered in a small classroom, music has risen to acquire its own departmental home with practice rooms for the hundred plus boys studying instruments from strings to brass, with a rehearsal room for orchestra, band, choir and choral society, stereo record room and class teaching room. All this has come about under the patient but demanding hand of Mr. Hildesley. The annual choral concerts, the choir anthems on Sundays and, perhaps best remembered of all, the musical productions in some recent summer terms in conjunction with Mr. Roger Davies, are all evidence of the enormous strides music has taken, prodded, coaxed and encouraged by the Director. I hope that Mr. Hildesley has derived for himself at least some of the very great satisfaction and happiness that his efforts on behalf of music have given to us; and we wish him as much success and creative enjoyment in his new and exciting life in South Africa.