All too ready to criticise young

PUBLISHED: 08:41 10 April 2006 | UPDATED: 09:06 24 May 2010

FRANKIE Howerd may not have been the most adept with his hands. In fact, in his school report of July 26, 1929 for Manual Training (wood or metal), when he was in Form 1a, he came 26th out of a class of 32 and his teacher added the comment 'fair'. However

FRANKIE Howerd may not have been the most adept with his hands. In fact, in his school report of July 26, 1929 for Manual Training (wood or metal), when he was in Form 1a, he came 26th out of a class of 32 and his teacher added the comment 'fair'.However, how much pride and pleasure did I feel recently when sixth form pupils from Churchill School presented me with 11 pieces of imaginative and functional, individually sculptured pieces of outdoor artwork. These various and diverse works of art are now in our garden and form part of the museum which Dennis and I are opening to commemorate the life of Frankie Howerd. Each represents an important part of his life, such as 'Up Pompeii', the blitz over London, the Coliseum and New York.A lot of us are all too ready to criticise young people, claiming that they do not 'make much effort' or 'have any pride' in their work. Anyone who comes round the museum and admires these wonderful objects will instantly see the skill and painstaking effort that have gone into each piece. For me, it was such a great moment to be present when the mothers, fathers and grandparents of these students saw their work in place; such joy and pride on everyone's face. And I would like publicly to thank their teacher, Mark Barham, for all his hard work and energy given the lack of support he received and the limited resources at his disposal.When the students designed these projects they might not have been fully aware of the difficulties that lay ahead. For me, having these pieces of art ready on Mothering Sunday has a special significance; as many people know, I have overcome 24 years of alcoholism and my deep satisfaction is thinking of my late mother who would be so proud to see what I have achieved, and I know that Frankie would be 'tickled pink' if he could see the house and gardens now.I find another one of Frankie's reports (when he was 17 years old in Form VIe on July 31, 1934) quite revealing: 'His days at school are becoming increasingly beneficial to others as well as himself'. Dennis and I feel privileged that we can open up our home for others to enjoy. We help more than 24 registered charities that benefit from all the donations and takings that we make from our cream tea and jazz in the garden days, etc; all the money that we help raise goes to these charities; in fact, we do not even take out any running expenses as we consider that any expenditure involved in opening our house and gardens to others is just part of our normal, day-to-day upkeep.So once again many thanks to all involved in this project whose ability, it is clear, is much better than 'fair'. Finally, I look forward to seeing you at our museum, or at one of the many other events that we enjoy running for charity.CHRIS BYRNE - Wavering Down, Cross

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