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Ewell Castle School

Accomplished Old Ewellians

Accomplished Old Ewellians


Sampha Sisay

In the past seven years, the 28-year-old singer and beat-maker has become the go-to guy for authentic emotion. His honeyed, mournful vocals have appeared on some of the most personal songs by the biggest names in US hip-hop and R&B: Beyoncé’s Mine, Kanye West’s Saint Pablo, Drake’s Too Much and Solange’s Don’t Touch My Hair. Much like Pharrell is hired for his cosmic production, Sampha is parachuted into writing sessions armed with depth and soul. So it is ironic that, as the prospect of his own debut solo album, Process, looms on the horizon, it’s the fear of feeling nothing at all that worries him most.

“It’s that thing of not being able to embody something as much as I thought I would when reality comes,” he says of the anticipation in the buildup to his album release. “I go into shutting-down mode. Maybe I’m not meant to feel excited. Maybe it’s partly that the journey is more important than the destination. The closer you get to something the further away the next stop is.”

From his early collaborations with the new wave of leftfield British pop and dance artists in 2010 – SBTRKT, Koreless and Jessie Ware – to the present day working alongside an assortment of global megastars, Sampha has had to “fight” his submissiveness in order to succeed. Relationships with recent collaborators have helped a more confident version of himself emerge. While working on Ocean’s surprise album last year, Endless (Sampha’s vocals can be heard on the track Alabama), he ended up giving his own song-in-progress, Blood On Me, a spin. Ocean – who he describes as “quiet” but also “very confident” – encouraged Sampha to speak his mind in the studio. “Frank said: ‘Don’t worry about [what anyone else thinks] – what do you think? Tell me what you think,’” he says, though he also explains how that experience in Ocean’s writers’ room was, by contrast, relatively functional: “I felt like I was of a service.”

Process is not without a subtle scattering of stars, either. Timmy’s Prayer features a writing credit for Kanye West. The end result is a whirring electronic track, which showcases Sampha’s beautifully textured voice, always understated but full of tenderness. On it, the lyrics refer to the “heavens” and “the gates”, but while he and Kanye have both shared the loss of their mothers, the two musicians never discussed their emotions. “When we did talk it was mostly about music,” he says. “We didn’t really have much time to get that deep.”

He didn’t always make the same beats, though. Far from the introspective soul of Process, Sampha originally started making music as a grime MC and producer called Kid Nova, a name based on a Marvel Comics character. It was under this guise that, in 2007, singer Kwes discovered his music on MySpace, and sent it to a friend who worked at XL subsidiary label Young Turks. They released his first two EPs, but they also passed his music on to a Canadian rapper called Drake. “The first time I got an email saying: ‘Drake wants to use your beat for his album’, it came with the name of the beat and some kind of contract. I was like: ‘Mum! Drake wants my beat!’ And she was like: ‘Who’s Drake?’”

Edited from an article by Harriet Gibsone – The Guardian online 6th February 2017

George Atkinson

Old Ewellian George Atkinson was just 16 when he arrived in Kathmandu in Nepal. The Ewell Castle School schoolboy was about to begin the final part of his quest to become the youngest person ever to climb the highest peak on each of the world's seven continents – the Seven Summits. He had already climbed six: just Everest to go.   At 29,029ft, Everest stands more than 6,500ft higher than any of the others. Since 1921 there have been more than 200 fatalities on the mountain. Around 50 per cent of climbers who attempt to scale Everest fail to summit.

For George the idea of completing the Seven Summits had not at first been a determined plan. When he was 13 he and Mark climbed Europe's highest peak, the 18,510ft Mount Elbrus in Russia. It was the first mountain that required a level of technical ability, as it involves walking on snow and ice. George wore crampons for the first time. He remembers it in his blog as fun, with some 'really crazy characters', and some of the best food he has eaten while climbing mountains. (Food figures large in George's accounts of his early expeditions.)

At 10.40pm the night before he reached the summit, George set out in the dark. 'It's a strange feeling because you think, "Somewhere in this dark is the summit of Everest and that's where I'm going." As he joined the north-east ridge at 27,900ft, George's oxygen mask began to malfunction. 'I did panic a bit,' he admits. 'I couldn't get enough oxygen in so I was breathing quite heavily. Then I'd stop, try and fix it and so on. I was thinking, "This is so awful, it can't be happening." I was afraid I'd have to go down.'

'From the top of the Second Step to the summit, I was optimistic, feeling pretty confident. The sun was coming up at this stage. It was amazing, you don't realise what's on the other side of the ridge until the sun comes up, and then you can see all the mountains below you. You look back to the Tibetan side, and there are dozens of mountains laid out around you, summits and twisted rock and snow. It's reassuring, too. The sun symbolises hope, and also it gets warmer, which always helps.'

There was still a two-hour climb to the summit, and George was beginning to experience some effects of extreme altitude. 'I felt my brain going, I just couldn't think straight. I would imagine conversations I would have with random people.'  At the top of the Third Step, with 157ft left, he knew that the summit was within reach. 'I couldn't actually judge it, I was just too tired. You don't actually see the summit until you're about 30ft away.

'When I was 60ft from the summit, I slowed down a bit. Sonam (George’s personal Sherpa) was just shouting, "Go George, go." ' At 16 years, 362 days, George became the youngest British climber ever to reach the summit of Everest, and he took the world record for the youngest person to achieve the Seven Summits by 299 days from the American climber Johnny Collinson. But at the top, he says, he was too tired and dehydrated to whoop and shout. He remembers looking down at the route he'd just taken and looking at the mountains, taking it all in.  'I was pretty hypothermic by the time I got to camp two. I was shivering in my sleeping bag. I went on emergency oxygen, and felt so much better after that.'  He is not sure what mountaineering challenges lie ahead, but he intends to keep climbing.

Edited from an article by Chris Harvey – The Telegraph online (24th June 2011)


Oliver Reed - Ewell Castle School 1949 - 1954

Oliver Reed was born in Wimbledon in 1938 and attended Ewell Castle School from 1949 - 1954.  Reed was an accomplished sportsman, was captain of athletics and second in the national junior cross-country when the Ewell Castle team came first.  Oliver Reed got his first break terryfing children in the BBC's children's series 'The Golden Spur', and though he played plenty of ruthless, scheming villains, he proved his versatility through the years in numerous comedic and swashbuckling parts.
After landing his first staring role in 'The Curse of the Werewolf', he attracted attention as a motorcycle gang leader in Joseph Losey's 'The Damned'; and as an upper class cup in Michael Winner's 'The Jokers'.  Reed's memorable turns as the evil Bill Sykes in the Oscar-winning muscial 'Oliver!' and as arrogant, intransigent mine owner Geral Crich in Ken Russell's adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's 'Women in Love' brough him international recognition and he went on to star in many other feature films.  He died in May 199 during the filming of what would be his last motion picture, Ridley Scott's spectacular 'Gladiator'.

Jimmy Sangster - Ewell Castle School 1938 - 1943

Jimmy Sangster was born in North Wales in December 1927 and attended Ewell Castle School from 1938 until 1943.  He started in the film industry aged 16, working his way up from gopher and clapper boy, through to projection assistant.  Between 1949 and 1954 Sangster worked consistently as an assistant director on Hammer's adaptation of BBC Radio serials and on the Lippert co-productions.  Sangster's short 'A Man On The Beach' was followed by his script for 'X The Unknown', designed as a follow up to 'The Quatermass Xperiment'.  It would be Sangster's reworking of 'Frankenstein' that changed not only his career but the direction of Hammer itself.  Sangster shifted the emphasis from the creation onto the creator, in the process providing Hammer with one of its most interesting and complex characters.  The 1970's saw Sangster add the role of director to his Hammer portfolio of writer/producer with 'The Horror of Frankenstein' followed by, 'Lust For A Vampire'.  The thriller 'Fear In The Night' would be his last produced screenplay for Hammer, though his association wtih the company continued for several years.  Jimmy worked extensively on television and film across the globe and was in constant demand for interviews, convention appearances and DVD commentary recordings.


Fred Winter - Ewell Castle School 1937 - 1942

Fred Winter was born 20th September 1926 and attended Ewell Castle School from 1937 until 1942.  Fred Winter was a British National Hunt racing racehorse jockey and trainer.  He was British Jump Racing Champion Jockey four times and British Jump Racing Champion Trainer eight times.  He is the only person to have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle and Grand National as both jockey and trainer.  Winter won the Grand National four times, as a jockey in 1957 (Sundew) and 1962 (Kilmore) and as a trainer in 1965 (Jay Jump) and 1966 (Anglo).  His most famous victory as a jockey was on Mandarin in the 1962 Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at Auteuil.  His victory despite his ilness, a broken bit and Mandarin breaking down in the last half-mile was voted the greatest ride ever in a 2006 Racing Post poll.  The race was listed in The Guardian as one of the greatest races ever.  As a jockey he rode a then-record 923 National Hunt winners before his retirement in 1964.


Peter Austin Harley Newbrook - Ewell Castle School 1931 - 1936

Peter Newbrook was born in Chester and educated at the Chester and Worcester Cathedral Schools and Ewell Castle School.  He began his career as a trainee cameraman and focus puller with Warner Brothers British Studios at Teddington.  During the Second World War, he made Army training films with the Army Kinematograph Service and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.  In 1947, with drummer Carlo Krahmer, he co-funded Esquire Records which specialised in jazz.  In the 1970's he turned to Television and worked at Granada and Yorkshire Television and spent several years with Anglia Television in Norwich, making episodes of the popular drama series 'Tales of the Unexpected'.  He retired in 1990 as a senior lighting director.  He was president of the British Society of Cinematographers from 1984 to 1986.  During the filming of 'Lawrence of Arabia', Peter was behind one of the two cameraa David Lean deployed to shoot the gripping and seemingly endless, 'mirage' shote, in which the mystery figure Ali (played by Omar Sharif) trots on a camel out of the shimmering haze.

Terence Ivor Grant Morgan - Ewell Castle School 1932 - 1937

Terence Morgan was an English actor in theatre, cinema and television and attended Ewell Castle School from 1932 until 1937.  He played many 'villain' roles in British film but is probably best remembered for his starring role in the TV historical adventure series Sir Francis Drake.  Terence Morgan was born in Lewisham, London and started work as a shipping clerk at Lloyd's of London before winning a scholarship to RADA.  After training at RADA, Morgan began as a repertory theatre actor.  His career was interupted by two years in the army in World War II before he was invalided out.  In 1948 he joined the Old Vic Company alongside Lawrence Olivier and played the role of Laertes in the 1948 film of Hamlet.  He was the first actor in such a role to get fan mail from teenage girls.  He appeared in 20 films.  As roles became fewer, Morgan bought a small hotel in Hove, Sussex and ran that for some years before becoming a property developer.