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Obituary: Gordon Fillis – former governor of Colbury's Foxhills school

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A WELL-LOVED member for many years of St John Ambulance and a former governor of Foxhills Junior School, Gordon Fillis, has died at the age of 93.

Born in Acton, London, in 1928, after leaving school Gordon went into the RAF for his national service then became a hotel manager with British Rail.

He worked at the famous Savoy during his career, meeting famous people including Charlie Chaplin and Laurence Olivier.

Gordon celebrating his 91st birthday
Gordon celebrating his 91st birthday

An asthma sufferer, Gordon eventually had to give up his job in the hotel industry in what was then an often smoky environment. He went to work for Jackson the Tailor in London where he was a window dresser.

During a business trip to Southampton he met his future wife Pauline whom he married in 1958. They moved to Hounslow where they had two children, Heather and Simon.

The family relocated to Southampton and after being made redundant Gordon went to work for Tyrell & Green as a soft furnisher.

A keen cyclist, Gordon was a member of South Norwood Cycling Club and would often cycle 150-200 miles in a weekend. He also played football for Scarborough Town in his younger days.

Also a member of St John Ambulance after moving to Totton, Gordon became very involved with the local branch of the charity.

For many years he attended the Netley Marsh Steam Engine Rally as the representative of the organisation and, in recognition of his dedication, was awarded a Grant of the Dignity of an Officer.

After retirement, Gordon became involved with Foxhills Junior School, in Colbury as a school governor which he served as for 25 years, receiving a Don Allen Award for Outstanding Service from Hampshire County Council for his role.

At his funeral held at St Matthew’s Church, Netley Marsh, chair of governors Ann Arscott told how Gordon had inspired teachers and children.

She said: “All governors take on a particular responsibility to enable the board to fulfil its duties, and Gordon decided his skills would be best suited to being special needs governor.

“Reading fluently is an essential life skill, and listening to children read became one of Gordon’s great contributions to Foxhills. He came into school every week to listen to children reading.

“He was patient, humorous and kind, and the children loved him.”

She said teachers had reminded her of Gordon’s enthusiastic participation in an Evacuation Day the school had held to teach pupils about this moment in history.

Mrs Arscott said: “Gordon was always up for supporting the school in any way he could. So he arrived at school dressed in best World War 2 style.

“He threw himself into the role of shepherding children to meet their new hosts, complete with their rations and ration books, small suitcases, and cuddly toys.

“The fact that he could remember the war, and the evacuation of children, made the whole experience come alive for Foxhills pupils.”

She added: “Gordon was, above all, a gentleman of integrity and honesty. As a governor he offered a considered point of view, he was hugely supportive of Foxhills staff, and cared deeply for the children.”

Gordon had asked for any collection held at the service to be given to the school where his family said he had “loved” the role of governor.

In his retirement he enjoyed the company of his four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren and was known, said his family, for “liking a good old chat”.

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