Alec Stewart Memorial Tankard

The Old Maidstonian Society annually awards a tankard, dedicated to the memory of former member of MGS staff Alex Stewart, to the member of the Senior School contributing most during the School Year either on the field of play or in the administration of sporting activities. The presentation takes place at the Annual Supper.

It was originally stipulated that the award should be made for a period of not less than 20 years; the first presentation was made in 1973.

Alex Stewart

(From The Maidstonian, Winter 1972)

It was with feelings of deep shock that we heard in August of the
sudden death of Alex Stewart. He was one of the characters of the
School, a man who in the course of thirty years had stamped his
personality on those aspects of the School where, for a part or the
whole of that time, he had been primarily or completely
responsible. The sports field, the dining-hall, the gymnasium, the
swimming-bath, the quartermaster’s store, the little room near the
Staff entrance where he investigated ailments and peccadilloes, and
dispensed first aid and rough justice – in these areas, Alex imposed
his methods and struggled unremittingly to maintain the standards of
order, good behaviour and honesty on which he placed the highest
value.

If he was something of a holy terror to the shirker, this did not
displease him. But the asperity and ferocity were only a protective
covering, designed to prevent his basic kindness from being imposed
on. There was no limit to the trouble he would take to look after
someone genuinely sick or in trouble. One of the burdens he assumed
was that of investigator of school ‘crimes’ – a role which drew on him
some feelings of fear and hostility. But, though relentless in
pursuing the offence, he would always help the offender, not indeed to
escape punishment (for Alex believed that a punishment justly deserved
was salutary) but to find the strength to face it. And Alex did not
merely have the will, he had the knowledge drawn from years of
experience which enabled him to distinguish the serious from the
trivial accident or sickness, and to identify a culprit.

He was a very dedicated teacher, as interested in helping the
timid, the duffer, or the boy with poor muscular co-ordination –
provided always that the boy would try – as in giving expert coaching
to those specially gifted in games and physical pursuits. He was a
most able Rugby referee, serving in this capacity up to the highest
levels, devoted to the game and to the enjoyment and development of
those who played it. Incapable of partisanship, he brought to his
referee’s duties the integrity that characterised him. With Alex, the
half-truth, the shirked responsibility, the unkept promise, were all
unthinkable. He was the declared enemy of the sham, and was brutally
outspoken in his condemnation of it.

I find that most of what I have said about Alex concerns his
relations with the boys. This is as it should be, for his primary care
was the real welfare and responsible development of the individuals in
his charge. But he also gave help and advice to less experienced
colleagues, and his long service to his professional association – he
was local secretary of the NUT for several years – speaks for
itself.

My own acquaintance with Alex is long. He came into my form in
September 1929 – new master, new boy – and was in my Scout Troup for
several years. In class, on the field, in camp, he was the same
unassertive, dependable youngster. I lost touch with him for several
years, but found him established in charge of the School’s P.E. when I
returned from Army service. Since then, although our tastes and
interests have been widely different, I have found him a warm and
affectionate friend, and we have seen eye to eye on most educational
problems.

I shall miss him deeply, and so will the many Maidstonians who have
passed through his hands – not least those who penetrated his
forbidding exterior to find in him the kindly helper of whom they were
in need.

C.P. Holyman

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