Donald Samuel, Headmaster, Bybrook Infant and Junior Schools | Odd Blog

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Donald Samuel, Headmaster, Bybrook Infant and Junior Schools

I’ve only just leaned of the passing of my old headmaster, Donald Samuel. I wanted to say something because I always felt he had influenced my life over many years.

He was an old school type of headmaster, you knew not to do anything wrong as he could show great displeasure! But he ran the school in such a way that even at such a young age, I felt he was teaching me something. One example would be how he would often play a piece of classical music in school assembly. Now these are pieces I still know to this day and have gone out of my way to find and listen to again and again – La Fille mal Gardee, Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, Sain- Saens Carnival of the Animals and of course Holst’s The Planets, to name but a few.

He was also very encouraging and I can remember kind words from him that certainly boosted my confidence. I felt like he taught me that learning was a great thing, something I covet and crave to this day. I wrote to him way back, around, 1996 and told him how I felt he had influenced me greatly. He replied and I was so pleased to receive a letter from him. He was apparently equally pleased to hear that I had felt that way as he seems to have been hounded from the school, apparently because his methods were not in keeping with more modern times. A terrible shame, as ‘modern methods’ have a lot to answer for in my mind. I had posted the letter in the school letterbox, not knowing if he still worked there and the kind caretaker made sure it reached him.

Bybrook Infants School... due for demolition

Bybrook Infants School February 2014… due for demolition

One last memory was of seeing him cycle the five or six miles every day from where he lived outside Ashford. Even into his late sixties I remember seeing him making that trip. I often meant to stop and re-introduce myself, I wish I had. Oh, and he had the most amazingly perfect handwriting and that included blackboard writing – absolutely perfect. His wife was a teacher at the school and I was in her class for a year. She taught me French for the first time, something I continued up until my early twenties.

The school is gone now (Juniors) but the infants school he was the first headmaster of is still there, just. It is due to be demolished very soon. I went there yesterday, quite coincidentally, to take some last photographs of it. That was my first school and I have only happy memories. I will probably write a second post about that. I learnt the news from an article of Steve Salter’s in the Kentish Express, from a few weeks back. He had pictures of some of the staff who worked in the school in the early days – fantastic.

So, goodbye Mister Smauel. I feel I owe you a lot.


If you knew Mr Samual, please do leave a comment. I was at the infants from 1969 to about 1972 and then the Juniors until 1975? Something like that, it was a long time ago!


  • What a lovely piece about Donald Samuel and Bybrook CP Infants School/and Juniors. Donald was a rare gem and although he was very sick with Parkinsons, I spoke to him 3 weeks before his passing. I wanted to tell him how appreciated he was and how he influenced my future – and he was overjoyed. I made sure I told him so as I knew how ill he was – and I recorded him – a lasting memory and lots of pics of the old place too. Contact me at the KE, I would love to share!

  • Thanks Steve. Yes must contact you for that. I’ve kept this blog pretty anonymous so you probably don’t realise we know each other. I will email you in a minute to let you know.

    Mr Samuel was a rare gem, as you say. I was fascinated to see the images of the staff that you have published recently in the KE. One you asked is anyone knew any of the others. I think I do know one of them and would be interested to know if anyone else would coroborate my guess. I will pop that in the email…

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