V A Vout

V A Vout at Whit Camp,
Newstead Abbey, 1958

Alan Voutís time at KES coincided exactly with mine, 1956-63. As I started my first year, the legendary Alan Vout arrived to become RI teacher (as RE was then known). I have heard recently that sadly, he died in the early months of 2005; I had been looking forward to meeting him at the School centenary in October, and he too had been looking forward to the event.

Within days of his appearance he had been named Eli. His job was to instil a knowledge and appreciation of Christianity into boys in that prescribed one lesson a week. It was all Christianity - there were no concessions to other religions, and in any case the law had to be met. He was clearly a devout, moral and thoroughly decent man, but boys accustomed to the hot house academic atmosphere at KES perhaps switched off in that lesson, especially since hardly anyone would be doing a public examination in it. In this role he taught every boy in the school, and probably suffered more than his share of boyish misdemeanours, but took it mostly in good spirit, and indeed over a relatively short period of time came to be a much respected figure within the school in spite of the less then heavy manner in which many boys regarded his subject. Perhaps the yardstick of this would be that, on sixth formers' final day at the school when it was customary to tour teachers rooms, thank them, and say farewells, Eliís room was invariably the first visit, even though he would not have taught most of the boys for three years by then.

His lessons were perhaps characterised by a certain anarchy, but not entirely unappreciated. He would set essays on the topic at hand, and subsequently whiz round the class marking them with a rapid tick. It was suspected he did not read most of the proffered work, and was once put to the test by a boy with an account of Bede's grandfather crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a dugout canoe, which duly got its tick. Similar stories appeared years later in the Daily Sport, from the same hand! Nonetheless Eli was a solid theologian. I have read recently that his lessons could sometimes be punctuated by an outburst in frustration, but I have no recollection of this, just the mild manneredness of his approach to the boys he genuinely considered were in his tender care. My chief memory of his classes is that of his ability to chalk a map of Palestine on the board with two rapid downward sweeps of the hand, one for the coast, with a notch to depict the Bay of Haifa, and another to its right with two loops indicating the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea and the River Jordan. He would then use the map to illustrate the point in question. My memory has the map drawn virtually every lesson.

Eli was just as well known for his other major contribution to the school, and where I got to know him well, as Scoutmaster of A Troop, which I have a memory of it being said he volunteered with no scouting background simply because someone was needed. If that was so, it was typical of the man. Many of us got to know him well in this role, and developed a fondness and admiration for him that has survived the years. He never missed a Monday night or a Whit or Summer camp, until he suffered from a serious lung condition at one time in his KES career. He was a fine leader of A Troop. My fondest memory of him must date to 1960, when in the early spring I succumbed to a bout of viral meningitis as a result of which I spent a week in Lodge Moor Hospital and 2 or 3 weeks off school; not exactly the best preparation for O level. One evening, after dark, a knock came at the door. It was a completely unannounced visit from Alan Vout, who had travelled across the City by bus to Handsworth to find our house, simply to check how I was and how I was getting on. It was an act of great kindness, quite typical of the man, and which I shall never forget.

Mr Vout and Michael Lodge (Head Prefect), Autumn 1959

I understand after leaving the school he became a methodist minister.

David Cook, Apr 2005

Biographical Details (supplied by Rev D H Thorpe):

"Victor Alan Vout, was born in 1925. After KES, he went to Ripon Hall Oxford (one of the four Anglican Theological colleges then in Oxford) in 1963, was ordained to a curacy at St Paul's Norton Lees in 1965 where he stayed until 1970. Then he went to be vicar of Clifton St James in Rotherham, and stayed there until he retired in 1992. I met up with him again as we were both visitors to the retired clergy. He had a stroke two or three years ago, and his wife, Janet, who had been a hospital chaplain in Rotherham, helped him with the visiting when she retired."



KES Mag of Summer 1956 reveals that Alan Vout joined KES from Hull University in Sept 1956.