In Memoriam: William Cecil McGivan Master 1939 – 1974

Cecil passed away on 31st October 2005 soon after his 93rd birthday. He taught at Dynevor for 35 years. The funeral service took place in St Michael’s Church, Manselton on 9th November, followed by cremation at Morriston Cemetery. The following account was provided by his son John (Class of ’54)

IN MEMORIAM. My father, was born in Swansea in 1912 and lived all his life in Manselton. He went to Swansea University where he was a member of the First XV rugby team and was also an accomplished Harrier. After graduation his first teaching post in 1936 was in Bishop Foy School, Waterford where he spent three happy and active years, very much involved in sport and music. He returned to Swansea in 1939 and took up a teaching post in Dynevor, where he remained until his retirement. He continued his interest in music but was saddened when his oboe, together with the rest of the School Orchestra instruments were destroyed when the school was bombed in 1942. During the war Cecil served as a Meteorologist in the RAF, based in a number of different locations throughout England and Scotland, and in later years used to relate how he had worked with people who later became well-known as weather forecasters in the early days of television.

In 1940 he married Irene Phillips who, like him, was a member of St Michael’s Church in Manselton and they set up home in St. John’s Road, at that time on the edge of Manselton. Their marriage lasted 57 years and produced three children John (b. 1943), Ian (b. 1946) and Angela (b. 1959) and eventually three grandchildren of whom they were very proud.

After the war Cecil taught mathematics at Dynevor at both junior and advanced level. He was one of a number of staff members who would meet before (and sometimes after) school every day to attempt the Times Crossword. He also ran one of the junior rugby teams for some years and was an enthusiastic participant in the annual Staff v. pupil cricket matches.

Cecil formed a strong A-Level mathematics teaching partnership with W.S. Evans for many years. Indeed the standard of A-Level Mathematics and Science teaching in the school when I was a pupil in the fifties was very high with Graham Gregory teaching Chemistry and Mr Andrewartha teaching Physics among other staff members, and excellent results were achieved.

After W.S. Evans moved away to New Zealand, Cecil was appointed Head of Mathematics. He retained this position until he retired in 1974, soon after the school became comprehensive. Many former pupils have told me that they found him to be a rigorous, enthusiastic and inspiring teacher, in what is a relatively difficult subject.

Iorrie Mort adds the following comments:- “Cecil was highly respected by not only the pupils of the school but also by those who had the privilege of being on the same staff. He will always be remembered as one of the founders of the Monday Coffee Club (referred to by W. S. Evans as the MCC). Cecil, Graham Gregory and Bill Evans (French) had the idea that ex members of staff should meet and put the world to rights every Monday and discuss matters over a cup of coffee. Thus they started the MCC and more than 30 years later it is still in existence”.

In the years following his retirement Cecil and Irene travelled quite widely, in particular visiting their family, all of whom had settled some distance away from Swansea. He maintained his interest in piano playing and sport and remained an active member of St Michael’s Church. My brother and I spent many happy hours at Christmas and Easter “assisting” him to solve the large prize holiday crosswords in the newspapers, although little help was actually needed. This contented retirement lasted until the early nineties when Irene contracted a serious and progressive medical condition which eventually completely incapacitated her. Cecil abandoned all his other activities and selflessly looked after her at home until her death in 1997.

In his final eight years he was fiercely independent and continued to live alone in the family home. He was greatly sustained by his sister, Betty who also lived in Manselton and by frequent visits from his far-flung family. He remained physically fit and the highlight of his week in these last years was the coffee club meeting on Monday mornings. During his final illness the visits he received in hospital from members of the MCC brought him much happiness. He died in Morriston hospital on 31st October 2005 at the age of 93.

Dynevor was a very large part of Cecil’s life and he always followed with interest the careers of old boys of the school. At his funeral service it was fitting, and very much appreciated by the family and particularly by myself, to see so many old Dyvorians present, wearing the Old Dyvorians tie with pride.

John McGivan
Dynevor 1954-1962