Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Alan Girling writes regarding the sad death of Derek Eneas

Derek Eneas 
I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Derek Eneas.  Del, as we all knew him after we had left school, will be best remembered as the man who put basketball firmly into the sporting history of the school, which he did with great enthusiasm, patience (he needed a lot of that with players like me to deal with) and no little skill.  But that’s only part of the story.  He was an excellent Maths teacher and a genuinely good bloke who earned and retained the respect, and later, friendship of those of us who came into contact with him.  He related to us very easily from the moment he arrived at the school in about 1965, but then he was only some 10 years older than me, so he was much closer to our generation than many of his colleagues.
On the basketball front, Del took over the coaching role from Derek Jones (who deserves credit for getting us started but would be the first to admit he’d taken it as far as he could) and inherited a team (I use the term loosely) whose strengths started and stopped at enthusiasm.  We’d lost all but 2 of our matches in our first foray into Surrey Schools Basketball.  Del had played a fair bit at university and was no mean player himself.  He was able to pass on a lot of those skills and engendered teamwork in us with great personal enthusiasm and commitment.  Within 2 years that same team, with the addition of some younger players Del had coached (including a skinny lad called Colin Wood), had won the Surrey Schools U-19 Championship and at least 3 of us had played at county level.  This success continued at the school for many years and Purley became synonymous with success at the sport, thanks to him.

Although after leaving school, I played club basketball elsewhere, I know Del was involved in helping to set up an Old Boys Team, which became Purley Basketball Club, featuring Nick Peaty, Dave Barnes, Paul and Keith Masters, Paul Cocks and many others, with whom I had the pleasure of playing when I returned to the fold some years later.  Although not involved in the club by then, Del would occasionally turn up to matches to enjoy seeing how his (then ageing) protégés were doing.

With such success on the basketball court, Del’s considerable skills as a Maths teacher are less well known, except by those whom he taught.  Speaking personally, without his guidance and considerable patience, I would certainly never have passed A level Maths, which was to form the single most important qualification for my chosen career.  I owe him big time for that.  In fact, I was able to tell him so the last time we met at the 2007 school reunion.  With typical modesty, he played it down, preferring to reminisce about the basketball.

Actually, a number of us owe him a debt of gratitude for what he contributed to our lives during those formative years.  I guess we all have people we remember from our schooldays who made a significant positive influence to us.  For me personally, Del joins Arthur Jewitt and Bill Patterson as the 3 most influential from those days and to whom I owe a great debt of gratitude, and I know he will be sadly missed.

Derek Eneas in the 1970 PGS School photo alongside Bill Rainforth who died earlier this year.

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