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Heartfelt tribute to a Wall Heath teacher

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: January 22, 2014

  • Mr Greenfield with pupils

  • Phil Greenfield at his adopted New Zealand home in more recent times

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WALL HEATH historian and regular contributor Terry Church writes with the following sad news, concerning the recent death of one of his former teachers, a figure who will be well-known and fondly remembered by many of Terry's contemporaries ...

"I feel sure that many former pupils of Wall Heath Church of Ascension School will remember being taught by Mr Philip Greenfield who was a master at the school between 1950 and 1953. Sadly Mr Greenfield has passed away, aged ninety-four, at his home in Auckland, New Zealand where he had lived for the past twenty years.

"Mr Greenfield was born in Manchester and spent part of his National Service at Wolverley. By the end of his time in the Army he had met a local girl, Audrey, who was soon to be his wife and they decided to make their home in Kidderminster.

"Fast tracked as a trainee teacher, Wall Heath was to be his first position. Without transport he made his way each day by cycle or hitch hiking and on occasions coming on a Whittle's coach if that firm had a trip organised to the north.

"He was only to stay at Wall Heath for three years and I consider myself fortunate that he was my form teacher for all three of those years. He was an inspirational t

eacher and still young enough to show us his footballing ability on the park in Albion Street where we had our games lessons.

"After leaving Wall Heath, Mr Greenfield taught for many years at Wolverley, and as I worked in Kidderminster our paths quite often crossed.

"His daughter, Janet, had emigrated to New Zealand with her husband Tony Wooldridge, who originally hailed from 'the Lye'. Soon after the death of his wife Mr Greenfield decided to also emigrate to Auckland, having spent several enjoyable holidays there with his daughter and son-in-law. He was able to have his own self-contained bungalow at the end of their garden and there he was able to be independent and immerse himself in his newfound hobby of computers. I think that to label him 'the happiest man in the world' was not an understatement.

"For a time he did return to England every couple of years for a holiday and my friend and former classmate, Chris Bateson, and myself were able to treat him to a meal and be thoroughly entertained with his repartee.

"My daughter lived for some time in Dunedin on New Zealand's South Island, and four years ago whilst travelling to visit her my wife and I spent a few days in Auckland and were able to spend a day in his company. We also had a conducted tour of the city by Janet and Tony, as well as being entertained to lunch.

"It is almost sixty five years since I first met Mr Greenfield and however much he tried to insist that I address him as 'Phil' such was my respect for him that he was always Mr Greenfield whether speaking to him or exchanging the written word.

"The world is definitely a poorer place for his passing."

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