Thank you very much to Glyn Court’s widow, Clare Court, for allowing us to publish this piece about Glyn, who passed away recently. Glyn was a much-loved former contributor to Exmoor Magazine and we extend our sincere condolences to Clare and the family.
13th May 1924 – 25th May 2018
When Glyn was born in Minehead, his parents, William and Ada Court, were already middle-aged. They ran a post office and a business selling boots, shoes and bicycles in Washford.
Education at Taunton School and University widened his general knowledge, which already at the age of 14 was encyclopaedic. He came second out of the whole school in a general knowledge quiz organised at Taunton School in 1938.
At the age of 18 Glyn began his studies at Exeter. But these were soon interrupted when he was called up in 1944. Leaving this country for 3½ years, he spent time in India and Burma, an experience which left a lasting impression on him and in later years he was active in the Burma Star Association and the British Legion.
Returning in late 1947, he resumed his studies at Exeter and it was not long before Glyn met me. We were married in 1950 and with the help of a grant proceeded to live in France for a couple of years, teaching English and researching the life and work of the composer Hector Berlioz.
Returning to a country still scarred by war, jobs in teaching were hard to find. By a strange quirk of fate, the headmaster of a school in Doncaster was staying in Minehead that summer and from the dubious attractions of Paris the move to the grime of a Yorkshire coal-mining village happened almost at once.
Our three oldest children, Alison, Mark and Joy, were born here. The Percy Jackson grammar school was an excellent establishment and lifelong friends were made there. And summer outings in the old Austin 10 YD40 took us to lovely spots in the Yorkshire Dales
But the West Country called and after the death of his father Glyn needed to live nearer home and to his mother.
There followed several years in Devon, including a happy time at Shebbear College from 1959-63, where Philippa was born, and five years in Ilfracombe. After Ada died in 1967, Glyn was appointed head of Modern Languages at Taunton School and the family moved back to Washford.
It would be untrue to say that the first few years went smoothly – two academics wrestling with the complexities of a run-down property and struggling to keep a business going. In the late sixties there were several shops in the village – one by one they eventually disappeared, ours among them, until only a small Post Office remained.
Glyn had always loved reading, and in later years confessed to having taken cover when a boy with a book in Hill Head copse in order to avoid being called into the house or workshop to help shift boxes of boots or fetch logs for the fire! He also had an excellent memory and in 1973 I suggested he enter for ‘Brain of Britain’ on the radio. The screening tests were held in the Bristol BBC offices, from which Glyn proceeded to the final in London where he won the valuable prize – a book voucher for £25! After that I was really pleased if I was able to beat him at his favourite game of Scrabble.
Glyn had tested the waters of community politics for some years, as a town councillor and being involved in election campaigns. A lifelong Methodist, he was a liberal in the old-fashioned mould. His first contest for a county council seat was in 1970. In 1974 he tried again – and successfully; he won with a small majority. After early retirement he was able to devote himself full time to council work and became chairman of many committees. Oddly enough he was particularly fond of waste management! He said it was so interesting. And Highways gave him the opportunity to drive around his beloved county of Somerset, helping to improve safety and convenience by minor works rather than major expensive schemes.
During this time Glyn also stood for Parliament – twice: in 1974 in Westbury, division of Wiltshire, and in North Dorset in 1979. (He came a respectable second.)
But it was the County Council work that gave him the most satisfaction and over 20 years after his retirement from the public service his work was honoured by the presentation of Honorary Alderman in February 2018.
The years after retirement were occupied in various ways, and notably by writing. Glyn has always loved history and especially the history of his native county. He produced many small booklets and at his death there were several unpublished books on the computer.
Glyn’s talents were many – an accomplished pianist and organist, and linguist. We cannot be quite sure of how many languages Glyn could read or speak, even if only a few words; we stopped counting when we got to 14. At the age of 93 he asked for a Romanian ‘Teach Yourself’, so that he would be able to speak to the staff in their own language. With help from surprised and delighted Nicola and others, he made excellent progress and could hold a simple conversation. His dialect pieces and readings were popular. There are recordings of these on the Internet. He was a valued public speaker, a skill learnt by years of practice as a local preacher.
Most of all he was a kind and loving person – I shall miss him very much.