Lord Frank Ashcroft Judd, Class of 1953

1935-2021

Reminiscences by Malcolm Cooke (Class of 1953)

I went to CLS in Autumn 1947 and joined Old2A.  Among the 30’ish was Frank Judd.  Most of us lived in the suburbs and came in each day in old pre-war trains, cranky trams or Underground.  The atmosphere was smoky and really rather unhealthy and I recall seeing the eye stinging green pea soup fog in that playground.

Frank had come to the school in 1946, his elder brother having been at CLS when it was evacuated to Marlborough.

Mr Lee-Uff was our form master and I recall a tall man with his academic robe standing in front of the coal fire in the corner of the room blocking out the meagre heat.

In the next year we were divided into Classic, Modern or Science  a or b streams.  Frank and I were placed in M3a and proceeded through to M5a at the end of which we took the newly introduced O levels.  At this time our paths within the school differed and he joined the History 6th under the leadership of Joe Hunt.  Frank and Joe maintained a close intellectual relationship until Joe’s death (I believe in his 90’s).

By the 6th form Frank’s skills and aptitude for debate were well established and much ahead of someof  us lesser mortals. He wore the CEWC badge on his lapel (Council for Education in World Citizenship) which was indicative of the influence his Father had on Frank.  Indeed both his parents were very influential on Frank’s life, his Mother being active in the Labour Party and his Father in Internationalism. I recall lunchtimes when Frank would take ages to finish his eventually cold meal.  This was because he would load his fork with food but then expound at length on his subject while the food fell from the fork, piece by piece, until needing a reload.  This trait was to remain throughout his life.

Our ways then parted, came together and went to and fro as circumstances changed and the years passed.  Frank met his wife Chris which occasioned a remarkable series of coincidences.  Chris lived in Bexleyheath as I did.  I briefly went to a Primary school there before joining CLS.  Chris, 4 years younger, was also there and her Mother taught me. It was not till some years later that the coincidence came to light and Frank always delighted in telling the story.

Frank’s distinguished and very active life has been remarkable and well documented and I will confine my remarks to highlights in our personal and family relationships.

When a constituency MP  for Portsmouth North, we lived near there and I was able to witness his and Chris’s activities, as well as meet socially and watch our young families grow up.  Frank was a truly excellent constituency MP ably supported by Chris.  It was a great disappointment to them when they lost the seat having initially survived the rising Conservative fortunes. 

Some years later when Frank had been elevated to the peerage, he and Chris moved to their delightful cottage in the Lake District.  With a flat in Pimlico he was able to continue as a working peer for many years but this could only have been possible with the tireless support of Chris.  She had to ensure that the ‘Judd’ firm could survive by mastering the inevitable march of conducting business by email.  Frank’s enormous range of talents had to stop somewhere and that was technology. 

The cottage was never lacking visitors at weekends during which extensive and strenuous walks would take place.  They were generous hosts and their energy was extraordinary.  I  can recall Frank wishing to have a deep discussion with me about the nuclear deterrent while sitting in a teashop by the lake in Keswick. 

In his later years, Frank’s hearing became disabling.  To Frank, where communication has been his life, this was so difficult and it was distressing to see that.  Yet he continued to play an active part in the House of Lords and a wide range of local activities as well as Newcastle University.

Frank Judd – tireless in endeavour and generous in friendship.