Warm tributes to former Walberton teacher and amdram stalwart

We reproduce the following tribute, written by friends and family, to David Fido, who died peacefully at St Wilfrid's Hospice last November after being diagnosed with primary liver cancer


Born David Robert Fido on the 6th June 1954 – 10 years after D Day - he was a Portsmouth lad, but as his mother was taken to Blackbrook Maternity Home in Fareham his place of birth on his birth certificate and passport stated Fareham which sounds a bit posher!

He and his younger sister Janet grew up as part of a large loving family which included grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and David also spent many happy hours with his best friend Derek- who later became his brother-in-law!

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David enjoyed Primary School and was still in touch with three of his classmates from those days. A shy, reserved boy then, one of the memories he had at this time was of being one of the children being allowed to assist in the recordings of Schools Radio Programme on to a reel to reel tape recorder – remember those!

Having passed the 11 plus exam in 1965, David attended the Portsmouth Northern Grammar School. It was there that he was in the CCF (Combined Cadet Force) and joined the RAF section.

David left school in 1973 and started a 3 year teacher training course at Bishop Otter College, College Lane, Chichester. He had always wanted to teach and was encouraged by his uncle who had been a teacher and was, at this time, a college lecturer.

Happy times were had at Bishop Otter and David still had contact with a lot of the friends he made there until he died.

Leaving college in 1976 he couldn’t get a teaching job as the numbers of children had dropped dramatically. As nothing was forthcoming he worked in a Printing Office where he had worked in his college holidays, printing display cards for shop windows and then progressed to being in charge of the printing machines which produced forms, booklets etc.

After a year of this he was approached by the Personnel Manager and was interviewed and offered a job as a Training Officer.

Staff training became his career from 1977 until 1985 and looking back at some of the staff at the time it was very much like being part of the tv programme “Are you being served?” His work included instructing assistants about selling the latest music craze – cassette tapes!

David learnt his people skills at the Co-op – interviews, appraisals, disciplinaries and the absolute worst job – making people redundant.

Following redundancy, from1985- 1988 David worked as Training Officer in the Personnel department of Britax Ltd in Chichester. He was based in Terminus Road and was responsible for recruiting and arranging training for a number of apprentices. The office where he worked was used for filming ‘Ever Decreasing Circles’- David had fond memories of meeting with Richard Briers and other cast members.

Leaving Britax, he returned to college in September 1988 to complete a year of refresher teacher training.

David applied for three teaching posts and was invited to his first two interviews very quickly. He opted to accept the post at Walberton and Binsted School and started teaching a Year 3 class (7/8 year olds) in September 1989. Hard to believe that those children are now 33 and 34!

On the staff at Walberton was one Jeanette Smith- a lively, sociable lady who was also single! Matchmaking amongst the staff soon started. The Headteacher had obviously been watching Blind Date as she set up their first date which was two free tickets to see the film “Shirley Valentine” at the Windmill Theatre, Littlehampton. Romance blossomed; they were engaged on David’s 35th birthday in 1990 and married on March 23rd 1991. Next year would have been their Silver Wedding. They have shared many happy times, holidays and their love of theatricals together.

Sadly children didn’t happen for them, but they have nephews and nieces and godchildren and have taught so many children over the years that children became a big part of their lives in other ways.

Many happy hours were spent at Walberton carrying around a very heavy maypole and music stands which David never did master putting up! Other fond memories include theatrical offerings for charity days such as ‘Thunderbirds’ and dressing up as Mr. Blobby and being invited to throw the headmistress on the floor! Later, his sister Janet also joined the staff, making it a family affair.

After twelve years at Walberton, something prompted David to move on. He applied for a post at Oakwood School in Chichester and was offered the job as Head of Science. Within a couple of years he moved across to become Head of Humanities and taught History, Geography, Religious Studies and Maths. David became Head of Pastoral Care and served on the Senior Leadership team for twelve years and was also one of the Year 6 form tutors for most of his time at Oakwood. David was partly responsible for helping many children achieve their Secondary School entrance exam goals and through his interest in History he knew of at least three past pupils who have been inspired to read History at University and hope to use it in their future careers.

The work was demanding but very rewarding.

David was Stage Manager and responsible for props for numerous school plays and even made a cameo appearance as Cagey Joe in Bugsy Malone in June of last year. He accompanied Year 6 children on 13 successful visits to France and Belgium and in 2014-the centenary of WW1- was very humbled and honoured to be given the opportunity to lay a poppy wreath at the Menin Gate in Ypres.

He led an active life outside working hours too. Having been a committee member of Highbury Players in Cosham for thirteen years in various roles, he took over as Chairman of Walberton Players (which he joined in 1990) and had held the post for nine years. He enjoyed taking part in musicals- especially comedy roles, and directed and appeared in many plays and murder mysteries which were often performed for charity. David also worked alongside other directors using his experience to offer valuable advice.

As a Governor at Oakwood School, which he was invited to become on his retirement, he was the Safeguarding and Child Protection Governor and was a member of the Curriculum and Standards sub-committee. David was looking forward to helping implement new and exciting changes at the school following the appointment of a new head teacher.

Throughout his life, David had a strong faith which was nurtured by his active attendance at St. Philip’s Church, Cosham from an early age. This continued as he became an active member here at St. Mary’s Church, Felpham where he was a member of the Parochial Church Council and a member of the Social and Fund Raising committee, David also enjoyed serving, reading lessons and leading the intercessions.

Last, but by no means least, he was a member of Chichester Priory Rotary Club where he quickly became involved, taking over the chair of Club Services. He thoroughly enjoyed attending all the events that are part of the Rotary calendar and was proud to be part of an organisation that helped others in so many different ways.

July 2014 saw both David and Jeanette starting retirement. They were so glad that, in the last few months they had together, David directed a play by local author Simon Brett - a world premier- entitled “Murder with Ghosts” which was a resounding success. They also travelled to The Holy Land, to Madeira and, just in October, to USA where David drove over two and a half thousand miles, taking them from one end of Florida to the other.

He will always be remembered for touching the lives of many with his caring nature, his sense of fun and laughter and the generosity of his time.