Jock Cawse “swallow sculpture” to the unnamed boy - St Andrew's College

Jock Cawse “swallow sculpture” to the unnamed boy

K-Day Rugby
Jun 17, 2023
Library News
Jun 20, 2023

Jock Cawse “swallow sculpture” to the unnamed boy

One of the little 13-year-old boys in the picture (right) is the newly enrolled Jock Cawse who would have been at College for only two months when the corner stone for the third (and present) Chapel was laid on 13 September 1913.

A year later, after the Chapel had been built and blessed, World War I began, and it became the memorial to many of the senior boys in this picture.

One wonders what impact it had on young Jock and his fellow Andreans during that time, when every week the 8th Headmaster, Canon Percy Kettlewell, would stand in the Chapel and read the names of boys who had been killed – not faceless names but real schoolmates, maybe friends in their House, a previous dorm monitor, an athlete against whom they had played sport, a senior boy who may have had a meaningful impact in their early days at College.

What a formative, and probably also traumatising, experience it must have been; witnessing such courageous and selfless sacrifice for a deeply felt cause by so many, relentlessly over four years of the war. 

And maybe it contributed in some way to the profoundly compassionate, loyal, and empathetic man that we remember Jock Cawse to be. The poet and activist, Maya Angelou, said: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

We celebrate the man who:

became the boy-teacher of his fellow classmates while still at College, stepping into the breach of a shortage of staff due to the war. 

as a science teacher, developed the subject at College through the building of the Cory Laboratories and later supported the 11th Headmaster, Freddy Spencer Chapman, in the building of the present Spencer Chapman Laboratories in 1961. 

together with his wife, Joan, built a water fountain for hot and tired passers-by to rest and refresh themselves – a simple act of kindness and thoughtfulness during a period in our country’s history of great evil and prejudice towards black people. 

answered the call of Council to take on the role of Headmaster with humility, diligence, wisdom, and distinction on the sudden departure of Spencer Chapman.

In 1963, righted a wrong towards the Reverend Mbopa of St Stephen’s in Port Elizabeth by inviting him to preach again in the College Chapel after a shameful row had erupted when Ronald Currey had previously invited him to preach in the Chapel in 1946.

formed Graham House, the sixth boarding House at College, by gently inviting boys from all grades to be pioneers and emulate his own sense of duty by leaving their present Houses to create a new legacy in this most beautiful and special corner of the College campus.

in 1977 had the newly built Library named in his honour.

We celebrate the man who:

would have simply burst with pride witnessing his magnificently charismatic, resolute, courageous, intelligent, energetic, and totally devoted young great-grandson, Sinjhun Cawse, leading College this year.

and who

would have been so immensely proud of his family honouring its deep roots in the fabric of this community and their pursuit of making this dream of his a reality, a dream he left in words which his family did not forget, and which so perceptively and warmly cherish the contribution of the unheralded and unsung boys of College who give of their best joyously and selflessly every day to make College the special place that it is.

In 2019, Nicci Cleasby, Jock’s granddaughter, wrote in an email to Ryan von Ruben (OA) that:

“In one of Jock’s speeches he mentioned how he would like to see a memorial built to remember the unnamed boy – the ordinary boy who makes up the backbone of the school, yet who is unheralded and unsung.

The anecdotes of boys in The Boy in You, who were not necessarily the big achievers, but who created much laughter, gees, and many collective memories, is an example of the various characters that make College special.  They were and are the quirky ones, the introverts, the out of the box thinkers, the risk takers, the underdogs, and the friendship makers.

I am reminded of the story of Jock and “Arsie” Clapham, who let off a nest of fireworks in assembly at the precise moment that Grandad was reprimanding the boys about their bad behaviour. (Although hopefully there is not too much of that!)

The concept of birds as a flock, which is made up of unique individuals contributing to the whole, ties into our idea of ordinary boys, who when they band together give the school it’s strength and character. 

Furthermore, the idea of swallows (and others) that migrate to far reaches of the world, but always come back to their original nest makes sense to me. This incorporates that sense of continuity and infinity which you mentioned, as so many old boys send their sons back to College, and the fact that each generation builds on the next and influences the future, is key. 

Our boys and girls are 5th generation so it’s truly meaningful.”

The sculpture in this garden, composed of 450 small swallows, commemorates our 12th Headmaster, Mr Jock Cawse, who recognised that the unnamed boy …

… is the backbone of the community. He goes about his work and play to a great extent unheralded and unsung, but it is to his solid contribution that the name of the school owes so much for the maintenance of its reputation.

Aidan Smith and Maretha Potgieter