My friend and colleague, Francis Tavernor died this morning at Q.E. Hospital, Birmingham. He had bravely and stoically endured a great deal of serious illness over recent years, had survived two liver transplants and put up with painful intestinal problems. This last year was particularly painful and difficult for him, and of course, for his wife, Eileen. Two weeks ago he returned to hospital and ten days ago he was told that respite care was all that could be offered. Eileen, stayed in hospital with him until the end.
It was a great comfort to him that Eileen and he had discussed and prepared for end of life and that their mutual Christian faith sustained them both. She was was with him at every step of the way.
Francis will be remembered by many grateful Lyonians whom he steered through to A-Level history alongside Bill Podmore and by others he took on skiing holidays. They’ will no doubt remember him for his sharp intelligence, his hard work and enthusiasm for his subject; for his sense of fun, his ear-splitting laugh and his loud and Tiggerish vitality.
He is to be buried in his beloved Herefordshire in Leintwardine Cemetery not far from his grandfather who was once the rector of Leintwardine Church. He spent many happy years with Eileen and gave great service to the church, to the community and as a hospital visitor.
There’s a great spirit gone.
Ian Whybrow - 21st May 2020
Francis Tavernor above, third from right, with the speakers at Bill Podmore's memorial service.
Lyonians might also be interested to see the valet that Bill Podmore wrote for Francis Tavernor in The Lyonian 1990
:Mr Francis Tavernor
When uncharacteristic quietness occasionally descends in the Staff dining room, provoking some comment, the retort is sometimes forthcoming "You must remember that Francis Tavernor is no longer with us!"
From the moment he arrived at John Lyon in 1979, after some years teaching in Peterborough, Francis enlivened us all by his breezy conversation, firmly stated opinions and vigorous repartee. The Common Room, indeed anywhere in the school, was never dull when he was around. Nor was any miscreant boy safe in his vicinity.
Like his hero, Napoleon, he believed always in marching to the sound of the guns. Woe betide the unruly jostler or the wearer of white socks! Voice well ahead of him, Francis would be off and school discipline was the beneficiary. Not that the irritation ever lasted long. Never far away were the essential humour and kindliness that we all appreciated so much.
I never went on a Ski-Trip, but no-one could be unaware of the great care he took in organising these, and the immense enjoyment everyone clearly found in them, despite the occasional shattered limb. Similarly, scores of cricketers had cause to be grateful for his devotion to the game, especially John Lyon Second Eleven players, and Middlesex School players here and elsewhere.
He came, of course, primarily to teach History, which he did with an energy and enthusiasm that reflected his love for the subject. Taking over the department a few years ago just as GCSE and other innovations made life so much more hectic, he helped to ensure a smooth adjustment to these changes. It can be no coincidence that hardly anyone failed A level History during his time here.
He has now settled in Leintwardine in his favourite border countryside. We miss his company - and his generous hospitality. W. Podmore