EGH Kempson, known to his many climbing and Marlborough friends as ‘G’, was awarded a first class degree in Mathematics from Cambridge (in spite of all the time he spent in the mountains) and came to teach at the College for the rest of his working life. He was a housemaster, firstly in B3 then subseqently in Preshute, turning down several offers of headships.
He joined the remarkable 1935 reconnaissance expedition to Everest with Shipton and Tilman, and proved a strong climber, meticulous in his mountain-craft and very fit; the Sherpas called him ‘the walking sahib’. The next year he got leave of absence from the College to go again to Everest, but this time the expedition was frustrated by bad weather.
He formed a climbing club at the College, taking many small groups of pupils to the Alps, North Wales and Scotland. Of the team that finally climbed Everest in 1952, no less than three, the leader, John Hunt, Charles Wylie and Michael Ward, had been inspired by his enthusiasm while at school, as had so many others.
But mountaineering was not the only interest which he shared. He was a natural historian of note, making detailed records of birds and animals on his pencil-written diaries of his travels and founding a natural history society at the College. He started a printing press and a Scout troop, and in his later years became a keen local historian; his lectures on Marlborough’s surprisingly rich history would start out with the main subject, the Civil War battles perhaps, or the Great Fire, and would canter intriguingly over a vast range of fascinating detail before returning to his theme at the end.
He became Mayor in 1946, and discovered in the Town Hall roof an important collection of books gathered by a 17th-century cleric, William White, as guidance for future vicars. ‘G’ recognised its value and catalogued this ‘Vicar’s Library’ which was later passed to the Bodlean.
At the time of his death in 1987, a friend, Kim Meldrum, wrote ‘He was a true Renaissance Man, interested in everything and everyone, with an ability to inspire others through his own meticulous work and with a great facility to adapt to changing circumstances. When asked if he missed Alpine and Himalayan climbing, he simply responded, philosophically, “If I can’t do those things, I learn to live without them”’.
After his death, a meeting of his friends was called at the Master’s Lodge at the College on 20th February 1988 to establish this trust, called the Kempson Trust, in his memory to encourage sixth-formers at St John’s and the College to do enterprising things in their sixth-form and gap years; and aptly so, for few people have taken so broad an interest in so many aspects of the world about them as ‘G’ did, nor transmitted their enthusiasm to young people so effectively.
The first grants were made in 1989, and since then The Trust has continued to interview and make grants every year. By 2009, it had made grants of over £40,000 to over 160 sixth-formers. But by 2009 it was clear to the Trustees that with a declining income reflecting the financial crisis, lower interest rates and fewer friends who still remembered ‘G’, we could only continue to make worth-while grants for a few more years.
In the closing days of 2009 Rupert Rosedale, 37, Head of Outdoor Activities at the College from 1999 to 2009, was killed in an avalanche on the wintery slopes of Ben Nevis, on 30 December 2009. His death shocked the town and College community. He was a natural leader in the outdoors, and through his skill, great physical fitness and warm, humble and open personality, was an inspiration to staff, pupils, friends and family.
Son of Barney Rosedale, former Medical Officer at the College and Everest doctor in 1972, and his wife Rachel, Rupert was destined for a life working in the outdoors. In his younger days, family hikes and holidays in Wales and the Scilly Isles were never taken without ropes, karabiners, windsurfers and boats. At 12, Rupert joined a group taking on the Tour de Mont Blanc – a 100-mile plus circumnavigation of the Massif – and two years later trekked with his family to the base camp of Mount Makalu in East Nepal. At 16, Rupert led a small group walking the Coast-to Coast path across England from Robin Hood Bay to St Bees Head and at 19 went to Borneo with Operation Raleigh to spend three months cutting jungle trails, climbing mountains, diving and nearly dying of malaria. After a happy innings as pupil at St John’s School, Rupert accepted a place at Plymouth to study Environmental Sciences, where he continued to pursue his passion for the outdoors and became an avid surfer, cyclist and explorer of his local environment. After graduating he took alternate seasonal work in Scotland and France: summers were spent on Rua Fiola, a tiny island south of Mull, leading groups learning survival skills in a beautiful and remote setting – sea kayaking with seals and camping out with deer; in the winter he worked in Chamonix as a ski guide. It was here he completed such great climbs as the Walker Spur on Les Grandes Jorasses and had intended to work as a guide and raise his family.
At the College Rupert will be remembered in many ways. He led trips to Peru, Ladakh, Tibet, Scotland and the Alps, but is probably best known to current and Old Marlburians for leading weekends away to places such as Snowdonia, the Brecon beacons and the Wye valley. Rupert was also instrumental in developing the College’s involvement in the Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race. This 125-mile paddle over four days has been enjoyed by many crews and has helped those who have taken part grow as individuals; for some it has been a turning point in their schooling. Rupert was also instrumental in creating the Shell Life Skills Week in Wales, during which the Shell take on various activities, and will of course be remembered warmly by the boys in Turner House where he was a House Tutor, and by members of the Climbing Club.
Rupert had the art of imparting skill and enthusiasm for his subject. The greatest testimony to him is that many have continued with the activities to which he introduced them; some now excel in his field. Rupert also kept a very keen pastoral eye on his pupils. Going to the Kempson Centre offered many space and friendship; he held everyone in positive regard and built self-esteem and confidence in all with whom he came in contact. He was greatly respected here and in the world of outdoors. Rupert leaves behind his wife Ulrika and two children, Ted and Svea.
The flood of tributes (see RIP Mr Rosedale on Facebook) and charitable giving has helped the Trust to face the future with more confidence.
The Trust offers financial help to sixth-form pupils of St John’s Marlborough and Marlborough College to assist and encourage them in pursuing enterprising activities in any of the many areas which G’s and Rupert’s interests covered. We want to encourage young people to do challenging and interesting things which will change and enrich their lives.
The main focus of this website is to bring together a community of those who have benefitted from generous donations received by the Kempson Rosedale Enterprise Trust.