Richard Talbot Announcement

17th September 21

It is with great sadness that we have all heard of the tragic news that Richard Talbot has recently passed away. Richard is without doubt one of the giants in the legacy of our School, having started his career here in April 1990, being promoted to Deputy Head in 2005 and finally retiring in 2016 having served under three Headmasters during that time.

Although I sadly never had the opportunity to meet Richard in person, I have heard nothing but glowing reports of his dedication and service to our school community throughout his time here. I thought it would be fitting to share a few words therefore, from those who knew Richard best and I am most grateful to John Crook, Philip Cottam and Sean Slocock for taking the time to help in this regard.

John Crook, former Headmaster, shared these words:

Richard was appointed as Head of the PE Department at Halliford in 1991. He later ran the Geography Department and later still was appointed Deputy Headmaster to Mr Philip Cottam. Throughout his stay at the School he gave his considerable support to successive Heads of PE and was always willing to be on the touchline or the boundary after school or on Saturday mornings.

He subsequently left Halliford and became the Golfing Manager of two successful young lady golfing internationals in Thailand. In this capacity he travelled the world, wrote a number of articles on golf and golfing, and made a large number of friends in a totally new and totally unexpected career move, but Richard was always capable of surprising people.

He was an excellent Head of PE, an inspiring coach, an exuberantly larger than life character whose own enthusiasm could transmute mere eagerness in others, into confident and more than confident performances, that could surprise the aspirants themselves and even, on occasions, their parents. Richard Talbot managed to convey to individuals that he wanted them to be successful. He also possessed qualities of leadership that are priceless in a small school, which still had its way to make, surrounded as it was by bigger and better- known establishments; he wanted Halliford School to be successful. Furthermore, he saw no reason why it should not be!

Two months ago, Richard had lunch with Mary and I, and two former colleagues. It seemed impossible then that all that bubbling good humour and kindliness could not retain life for an appropriately longer span. We shall miss him and his occasional flying visits and his sporadic but always lively e-mails.

Philip Cottam, former Headmaster shared these words:

There is so much one could say about Richard but here are just some brief comments. He was a real Schoolmaster who contributed so much to the life of the School and the care of its pupils and staff. Although Geography and PE were his main subjects, he seemed to be able to fill all sorts of unexpected gaps in the timetable. As a Sport Coach he was in his element and one of the best sights at Halliford was to watch him coaching and refereeing his Year 7 Rugby Squad. They were a wonderful essay in how to inspire the confidence and grow the skills of the young. Those who heard his assemblies will also not forget them as so often they were based on funny stories in which he was laughing at himself. Speaking as a Head I could not have asked for a more supportive and loyal deputy whose sage advice stopped me from making many more errors than I otherwise would have done.

Sean Slocock, Assistant Head Co-Curricular shared these words:

Richard Talbot was the most amazing colleague, mentor and friend. A true legend and inspiration to staff and students alike. A great servant to Weybridge Vandals Rugby Club and Shepperton and Hounslow Cricket Clubs, the respect that all the Halliford Community had for him was unparalleled. He instilled in all, a true sense of what it meant to be a Hallifordian, and he was the greatest example of this. Richard believed that the best thing one could give to students was your time and for that he will be remembered, among many other things, as generous, caring, loyal and passionate. He gave his time selflessly to his students at Halliford School for 26 years and there is no doubt that he fulfilled his mantra to the full.

Richard started his career as a Geography and PE teacher, and has inspired many of his students to further their own paths in these fields. However, he came into his own on the sports field where his Year 7 rugby training sessions in particular, were legendary. For many of his students, the sight of Mr. Talbot wearing a pair of short shorts and a Lions shirt that he wore for nearly every session, socks halfway up his calves, will be entrenched in their memories forever. He instilled in every team he coached, which at Halliford meant virtually every student, a deep desire to win, coupled with respect and humility whether in victory or defeat. His ability and the accuracy with which he was able to judge how far a javelin or shot put was thrown without the use of a measuring tape was astonishing, as was his ability to referee a game of rugby or conduct a training session without a whistle. Richard was passionate about all sport, supporting Stoke City to his newly adopted Pattaya FC, from Taunton to Somerset County. To this day, his golf swing, once frequently put into practice, confounded the laws of Physics. Running, however, became his passion and he was frequently seen traversing the seven hills or beachy head roads far and wide. Legend had it that one of his proudest moments was once he was an elite athlete, winning and then donating, a fridge that he was unable to carry home.

Richard Talbot was an amazing Deputy Head, known for being firm yet kind and compassionate, but equally someone who no-one wanted to be sent to following a misdemeanour. To colleagues and friends, he was known to have immense emotional intelligence. Someone you could confide in, seek advice from or expect to be told straight and truthfully. He was a great orator whose ability to regale and enthral an audience, often off the cuff, with a different story for any given situation, was possibly only overshadowed by an equally dubious taste in suits. Richard interviewed hundreds of students to join Halliford School and his ability to settle the nerves of every student and his superb judge of character combined with his energy, enthusiasm and drive helped shape Halliford to the school it is today.

‘Gone but never forgotten’ and ‘Legend’ are oft overused phrases and words, but never has it been so accurate when talking about Richard. In the words of an old Hallifordian, Richard, “Your wit and big heart will be sorely missed. I can’t think of many who have become the embodiment of what it means to be a Hallifordian.

As a School we are gathering together any words of reflection and photographs that you may have, and we will then collate these to pass on to Richard’s family. We will also use these to put together a celebration of Richard’s life into the Centenary version of the Hallifordian to be published at the end of the current academic year.

We are also currently planning a Rugby Fixture between the School and Vandals RFC as we felt this would be a fitting occasion to remember Richard as a school community. However, mindful that another of Richard’s great passions was Cricket, we will also be dedicating his name to our annual fixture with the MCC so that we have a point in the school year to reflect on his enormous contribution in enabling Halliford School to be such an outstanding place.

We will be in touch once again with further details soon, but in the meantime if you would like to forward any thoughts to Sean Slocock he would love to hear from you. His email is:

Our thoughts and prayers will be with Richard’s family and those who knew him as they prepare to say farewell at his funeral on Wednesday 22nd September. Representatives from the school will be in attendance and as a school we will mark the occasion with a two minute silence here on site at 2pm on Wednesday 22nd September.

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