Paul Wickham, Class of 1966
Paul was born in Norbury, where he enjoyed a very happy childhood. He entered the school in 1957, just before his tenth birthday. He was an avid sportsman, representing the school on the rugby field and athletics track. In later years his love of running would carry him to a highly respectable 3 hours 26 in the London Marathon.
He became Head of School in his final year and then went to Nottingham University to read Law. It was surely no coincidence that his friend Janet also attended Nottingham, and they married in 1970. Paul joined a graduate training programme at National Westminster Bank. He progressed within NatWest until early retirement at 50, when he stepped down as Director of Group Audit. At various times he was on the boards of Lombard North Central and Ulster Bank, and at one time was responsible for international syndicated finance for national governments’ aircraft purchases.
After his early retirement from banking he saw a job advert for Chief Executive of Surrey Wildlife Trust and in a blink swopped a suit and tie for wellies and a Barbour. He devoted years to this role, taking an organisation that was one of the smallest trusts in the country to the second largest after Scotland. His knowledge of business and decades of deal-making helped Surrey Wildlife Trust take on all of Surrey County Council’s green spaces – one triumph among many. Nationally, he was a trustee of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts from 2006 until 2012, latterly as Chairman. His charitable works were many and various, including Great Ormond Street Hospital, The Change Foundation, the Anthony Nolan Trust and his local Church.He was also a generous donor to the JCC Asquith Bursary Scheme.
Paul sat on the JCC committee for more than forty years and was Club President in 2003-04. He supported the uphill struggles for the first Club computer, for an electronic membership database, for a change to the old magazine format, for lifetime subs, and for a focus on younger members. But his key and lasting achievement was in helping create the role of Alumni Relations Officer, alongside Headmaster David Levin, as it became increasingly clear volunteer contributions would not be adequate for a digital future. David wrote: “Paul was a man of action who got things done, but he always saw the best in people and approached them accordingly. Thus he brought us all together and bound us to the humane and meritocratic vision that was CLS. His style was quiet and unassuming but all the more effective for that. I shall always remember his infectious laughter and ability to see the ridiculous – the basis of good English humour!” Paul was a member of two Masonic Lodges, a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Bakers.
He was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer in early 2017, to which he finally succumbed on 26 May 2019. Paul was a kind, calm, very able man and very generous, always prepared to hear the other side of any case, but not without a view. A diplomat and good (and effective) negotiator, committed Christian, husband, son, father, grandfather, President, Secretary, Chairman, Director, Trustee, Councillor and, to many, a staunch friend. He will be sadly missed by his wife Janet, his sons Ben and Steve, their wives and five grandchildren.
Alan Willis, John Emerson and the family