July 2014: Peter Hamilton and John Ingram

Dale Vargas describes the lives of two Fives players with Harrovian connections, both of whom have sadly died this year.

Peter Hamilton

Andrew Michael Hamilton (always known as Peter – a name he later adopted by deed poll to mitigate the confusion) was Captain of Fives at Harrow in 1957-58. He was usually partnered by Mark Weedon, who was to go on to win half blues at Cambridge in 1962 and 1963, but as The Harrovian correspondent wrote at the time, “Hamilton and Weedon have been much too good at one [rugby] or the other [Harrow] brand of football to have as much practice playing together as could have been wished…” They were unsurprisingly well beaten by Richard Burrows and James Leonard, an outstanding Eton pair, in the Eton courts but Hamilton recorded in his Captain’s Review that the School had had an excellent season. Twelve matches were won and seven lost, and two Harrow pairs reached the last eight in the Public Schools Competition at Highgate.

Peter Hamilton played fives for the Old Harrovians for a few years after school but his attention and energy were chiefly channelled into developing his knowledge and skills as an ophthalmologist. He became a distinguished surgeon, a pioneer in laser coagulation, in short-duration laser therapy and more recently in photo-dynamic therapy. His publications were landmarks in the study of retinopathy. Although he worked all his life at Moorfields Eye Hospital and had a thriving private practice, many of his distinctions were obtained overseas: he was Honorary Life President of the South African Ophthalmological Society, Visiting Professor at the University of Lisbon, won a senior achievement award at the US Academy of Ophthalmology and was holder of the Ridley medal, awarded for devotion to “the ideals of creativity, innovation, perseverance and productivity”.

He died on 7 July 2014, aged 74.

JGK Ingram

John Ingram died on 24 January 2014at the age of 82, suffering from cancer which had been diagnosed four years ago.

He had been at school at Merchant Taylors' in Northwood, where he first learned to play fives. After National Service in the Royal Artillery, he went up to St. Catharine's College, Cambridge to read Natural Sciences. A big man and a talented games player, John captained the college rugby team, bowled fast for the college cricket team and won two half blues for rugby fives.

His first teaching post was at Fettes, where he stayed for three years before moving to Harrow in 1959. He taught all three sciences, although Chemistry and Geology were his real loves. After a stint as Head of Chemistry, John was granted a sabbatical and chose to research the behaviour of geminal dicarboxylates on electron impact (no, nor do I ― Ed.) at York University leading to an MSc.

On arriving at Harrow, John found that they played fives in a strange three-walled court with steps and a protuberance. To his dismay, his best-hit shots kept soaring out of the back of the court. Worse was to follow: he was appointed master-in-charge, a position he accepted with good grace and later, enthusiasm. Indeed he became an important member of the ‘beaks’ team for the annual match against Westminster Masters, where his physical presence dominated the court.

John coached rugby at all levels and he played, coached and refereed long after others had hung up their boots. For a number of years he was an active and respected member of the London Society of Referees.

For ten years John was the Officer Commanding the Harrow School CCF ― earning him the moniker 'General Jack' ― and from 1974 to 1989 he was House Master of The Park. In 1993 he retired to his old home town of Northwood, where he was an elder at Emmanuel Evangelical Church.

Fortunately John had been well enough to see and admire the magnificent new courts (of both codes) at Cambridge and had been hoping to be able to attend the Sparrows’ Dinner at Selwyn College earlier this year. Unfortunately his deteriorating health prevented this. John is survived by his wife Ann, his children Kim, Mark and Sarah and three stepchildren to whom we send our condolences.