There are very few people in this town over the age of forty who were not taught by Bob Huxstep. He was one of those few very special people one meets in a lifetime whose example leaves a lasting influence.
He was modest to the extreme and even though we pressed him, in those schooldays of the early fifties, about his adventures during the War he only commented that he was in Bomber Command but that was all. This made him a hero in our eyes (most young boys then were dreaming of a career in the R.A.F.) Had we known he was on his way to play for Arsenal when the War broke out he would have been placed on an even higher pedestal.
Bob Huckstep was one of Rye’s greatest sons, an outstanding teacher, spectacular sportsman and a very fine man.
John Robert Alfred Huxstep
An abridged version of the eulogy given by his son Roger
It was with great and sincere sadness that we heard of the death of Bob Huxstep in January 2008 at the age of 86, following soon after the death of his wife Babs. Bob was born in Ashford in 1921. His father, Ambrose, and his mother May, with Bob, Eric and Kitty, moved to Rye and to several subsequent addresses there, for some time the parents running a newspaper and tobacco shop. The family always worked in the hop gardens in September as money always presented an extremely worrying problem for them at that time.
Bob started at Rye Grammar School when he was 11 and became a star pupil and finally Head Boy. This is recorded on a plaque at Thomas Peacocke School. As well as being academic, Bob was an accomplished natural sportsman in cross country running and cricket but he really excelled in football and it was only because of the threatened imminent war that he was deterred from following up Arsenal’s approach to him.
While at school he joined the Boy Scouts and had the honour of becoming a King’s Scout. When he left school he had decided on a teaching career but the war had now started and he commenced with a very different kind of training – he joined the R.A.F. when he was 18 and became a true high flier.
For the next 3 years in the R.A.F. his training took him to the U.S.A. and Canada – to the Rockies, Vancouver, Nashville, Alabama, Lake Erie, Florida, Quebec and Toronto.
Knowing him, it will surprise nobody that in his wonderful travelling as well as training, he met a number of pretty girls who became important to him at the time!
On 8th July 1942, at the R.A.F. Graduation Dinner, he was commissioned as an R.A.F. Officer – a Flight Lieutenant. On his return to England he became a member of the crack 624 Squadron R.A.F. It was typical of Bob that we have so little detail of this time as he never revealed anything this was “top secret”. He was on the Yugoslav run and also Rabat Casablanca. In 1944 he served as a navigator in a variety of aircraft, including, Lancaster bombers. Bob was recognised for his wartime service and awarded the decoration of Distinguished Flying Cross, saluting his skill, bravery and enthusiasm. A number of his closest friends were not told about the award of the DFC until years afterwards.
At the end of the war, in 1946, Bob met and quickly married the love of his life, Babs, a most charming girl and a member of the W.A.A.F. They had some 60 years of happiness together and kept open house for their children, Roger and Lynne.
Bob became a teacher at Rye Secondary Modern School specialising in Maths, Woodwork and P.E. and also played an important part in raising funds for youth clubs in the district. Later on he was appointed Deputy Head of the Lower School of Thomas Peacocke School. His many friends in the farming world were very important to him but he and Babs were always ready to join a get-together in the pub. After the children left home they went to South Africa, America and Australia where their son Roger lives with his wife Edwina and their two children. They also visited their daughter Lynne, her husband Andy and their children in Cirencester.
Bob will be long remembered by many people. Throughout his life he worked modestly for the good of other people. He faught for his country and taught its children. He was a man of strong principles, influencing many people…. an unforgettable and exceptional person.
“Rye’s Own” March 2008
All articles, photographs and drawings on this web site are World Copyright Protected. No reproduction for publication without prior arrangement. © World Copyright 2017 Cinque Ports Magazines Rye Ltd., Guinea Hall Lodge Sellindge TN25 6EG