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News > Alumni News > David Gibling, English & Drama Teacher, Judd from 1955 - July 1979

David Gibling, English & Drama Teacher, Judd from 1955 - July 1979

David Gibling will be remembered by many Alumni of The Judd School, where he taught English and Drama from the mid 1950s until his retirement in July 1979.

16 Oct 2020
Alumni News
The OJ Community was delighted to receive a beautiful photo album recently that a Dr. Felicity Gibling was kind enough to send in. She found this Judd treasure when she was clearing out her Uncle's things after his passing.

Mr Gibling was so loved by his students, they endowed the Gibling Drama Prize in his memory, which is still awarded to a deserving pupil at our prize-giving ceremony each year. Dr. Gibling describes the photo album as a delightful momento of some of the plays that were directed by David in the 60s and 70s.

I wonder if any of you can recognise yourselves in the photo album below? Please do sign in to comment below: 

David Gibling, was a kind, caring and humble man with a keen sense of humour and an interest in others, he was always pleased to hear how you were getting on and a prolific writer of encouraging letters. He remained a bachelor and passed away on 7th April 2017 at the age of 95.

David was brought up in Sherborne, Dorset, where his father, Robert Gibling, taught English, as did his mother, Kathleen Parker, during the First World War. His love of the natural world was nurtured early in his life and encouraged a lifelong interest in bird watching. He played the ukulele—a skill that only came to light recently from a family photo!

It was understood that David, like his father, would become an English teacher. At Balliol College, Oxford, David had tutorials with CS Lewis and attended lectures on Anglo-Saxon literature from J.R.R. Tolkien, whom he thought rather resembled an ancient Anglo-Saxon himself.

Unfortunately, his university education was interrupted by wartime service. David came ashore in Normandy on June 10 on Sword Beach. He joined the mortar platoon of the South Lancashire Regiment and was stationed close to Caen. But David’s own battle experience was brief. Only a few weeks later, on 8th July, he was seriously wounded by a shell while checking a failed communication system. Having been left for dead and experiencing ‘locked-in syndrome’, he was saved by a Canadian doctor who realised that he was still alive and he spent a month in a critical condition, followed by a long period of convalescence in hospital. As a veteran who had taken part in the liberation of France, he was awarded the Légion d’Honneur from the French government at the time of his death in 2017.

After the war, David completed his studies at Oxford. He took up his first teaching position at Woking before moving to teach English at The Judd School, to which he felt a very strong attachment and great pride throughout his life.

A talented actor, he directed numerous school plays but was modest about this accomplishment in his gently self-deprecating manner. However, some former pupils who were inspired by David’s encouragement of drama and the arts, have recently initiated the “Gibling Drama Prize” to commemorate his years of service and to recognise his significant contribution to the arts at the school.

After his retirement from The Judd School, David lived in Tiverton, Devon close to his brother and family. He maintained the ancient chained books in the library of St. Peter’s Anglican Church and volunteered for the National Trust. He was always very well read and remained well informed about books, giving the first Harry Potter book to one of his great-nieces long before Harry became famous.

David loved travelling and regularly visited family members all over the world. He was also a keen photographer, and on one trip to Canada, he insisted on hiking across a frozen sand dune during a winter gale in order to take photos.  

At about age 75, David started driving to France to visit one of his nieces and help with the work on their farm each year. Every morning he would get up early to watch the birds, and he continued to work on his French until his death. He stoically endured leg pain from shrapnel as a result of his war wounds, and after his leg was amputated late in life, he adapted to the prosthesis with characteristic patience, courage and determination. Despite decreased mobility and independence, he remained perennially cheerful and engaged in world affairs and made the most of every moment.

He will be remembered with great fondness as a thoughtful and solicitous, good-natured and gracious man by our whole family and I am sure all those he taught at Judd. 

Dr. Felicity GIbling (David's Niece)
 Some of the photos from the beautiful album are depicted below: 


To view this photo gallery

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