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The parish church of St. Gregory and St. Martin, Wye, Kent. 12:00 noon, 24 June 2017

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Front cover, Order of Service, Celebration for the life of James Frederick Lowry King

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James King, the middle boy on the top level of the diving platform, Sherborne School, Dorset. Photographed on the bookshelf of James King's son Matthew, at the end of an oral history interview about his father.

Craig Fees writes:

I drove down to Kent on the weekend of June 23-24, 2017, to take part in the celebration of the life of James King: a man I never met.

Gemma Geldart had the great good fortune to interview him in 2012, and a bit of that interview is here:  "She said, "James there is a riot on the top floor of girls"....

 

What an extraordinary person, within an extraordinary family:

  • Gave up a promising corporate career in international trade to go into residential child care (beginning, with wife and children, at the Caldecott Community in 1961)
  • Was chosen by Leila Rendel (d.1969) to succeed her as Director of the Caldecott Community - her Caldecott Community, founded by her in 1911, and creatively run by her for over 50 years
  • He did that successfully (!)

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Left to right: Diana Howarth, Leila Rendel, and Miss Dave of the Caldecott Community; a photograph taken by former Caldecott Community staff member and current Chair of the Caldecott Association Simon Rodway, and given to the Archive on the day of the celebration.

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A piece of Brian and Tricia Ellis's wedding cake from 2016, saved and given to the Archivist on Friday; Brian is a former Caldecott child, and a member of the Caldecott Association Committee

 
  • He transformed the Caldecott Community's structures, with Leila Rendel's blessing (which says a great deal about her), and successfully guided it through one of the most tumultuous periods in British therapeutic child care
  • He retired himself in 1992 after a quarter of a century, successfully handing the Direction of the Community to others
  • He retained his connections with children and staff, and with the Caldecott organisation itself, and at the celebration for his life the church was full. 150 people travelled back to Caldecott House to continue the celebrations there.

Any one of which is an achievement in its own right.

Add to it  the stories of connection, care and dedication which flowed from the church and into Caldecott House afterwards, 

and the family -  Tessa partnered him fully in the life and work at the Caldecott Community, and together they raised a loving family of their own within the Community - 

and it is clear with certainty we were in the presence of one of the genuinely immense figures of 20th/21st century therapeutic child care.

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And I had the privilege to be there, and to record  memories.

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Above and below: Order of Service, middle pages

 

James King, born November 19, 1930,
died at the age of 86 on 8 March 2017

 

A very big thank you to the Caldecott Organisation and the team at Caldecott House (formerly "The Paddocks"),  who created a warm welcome. Damion Napier found a quiet room in which to set up my recording devices, and the exceptional patience and understanding of the staff became clear when the last person and I emerged from recording memories and reflections to find the House empty, the food cleared, the doors locked, and everything but the recording devices tidied away. Even at that stage there was no sense of "hurry up". Given the power of memories and emotions recorded, going back 30, 40, and even 50 years, I am personally grateful for that thoughtfulness and understanding.