Kept in line by my old friend Harry

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Last Sunday morning I decided to take advantage of the dry, sunny weather and go out for a spin on my 1968 Lambretta.

I paid a visit to my dear old friend and former woodwork teacher Harry Bourne and his wife Joan who live on Hayling Island.

The old chap then pointed to his badge that read ‘Topper Brown’!

As a challenging young student, Harry was the only teacher able to ‘reach’ me.

Harry’s wife also happened to be my uncle’s secretary, so Harry had a direct line of communication to my mum, which probably helped keep me in line.

He was a friend more than a teacher and came from a similar background to the kids, some of whose parents he had taught.

This was probably how he connected with so many of his students at Portsmouth City Boys’ School.

Harry’s teaching career spanned from 1967–1992, and during most of that time he also coached Pompey Boys and Hampshire Youth football teams.

As a result, there are several generations of Portsmouth men, aged 35-65, who have very fond memories of Harry.

As the 70th anniversary of VE Day was a big news topic last week, our conversation naturally turned to WWII, his army days and his recollections of visiting Normandy for a D-Day anniversary.

At one particular veterans’ gathering, a slightly older man recognised Harry from his football playing days in the Parachute Regiment whilst doing his National Service.

Harry apologised as he didn’t recognise the man, who asked Harry if remembered other teammates.

Again Harry apologised for drawing a blank, but then started recalling some names, one of which was a big Company Quartermaster Sergeant and veteran of D-Day called Topper Brown. He played at centre forward and was also a former services heavyweight boxing champion.

The old chap then pointed to his badge that read ‘Topper Brown’!

When it was time for National Service, Harry completed two years with 16 Para Brigade Police Unit serving in Cyprus and Egypt after first training at Aldershot, and a further three years with the Territorial Army.

Before I left Harry and I posed together with his legendary one-owner 1968 Volvo Amazon and my 1968 Lambretta that, would you believe, are the exact same colour!

Antiques expert John appears on TV shows including Cash In The Attic and Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is and also runs Nesbits auction house in Southsea. E-mail or call (023) 9229 5568.