Ted Clifford Award for History

Ted Clifford Award for History

Ted Clifford came to MGS in 1930, the fourth generation of his family to do so. His father, James, was a Governor of the school and a past President of the Old Maidstonians Society. His grandfather and uncle had also been President.

The family had a very long connection with Maidstone. The family business, in which Ted spent his entire working life after leaving school in 1938, traced its origins to 1747. When it was finally wound up in 2005 it had spanned 258 years. His forebears had also been active in local politics (both his great-grandfather and grandfather served as Mayor). Ted was a magistrate for over 30 years and Deputy Chairman of the Maidstone Bench, as well as being on the committees of several of the principal almshouse charities (a block of flats in the Holland Road area is named after him).

The call of the family business and the War combined to deprive him of the opportunity of university and his academic potential went to an extent unfulfilled. He was enormously fond of the school and looked back on his 8 years in Barton Road with great affection. He joined the OM Society almost immediately on leaving and became President in 1951 at the age of 29. He rarely missed a Supper, often chivvying several of his contemporaries to join him.

Ted was an excellent chess-player, and had a natural facility with numbers and a deep love of history which lasted all his life. MGS developed all three. He had the odd eccentric party piece – he could, for example, recite the family names of all the twentieth-century Popes in chronological order. He had a sharp eye for character and loved to tell a story; history provided him with an inexhaustible supply of raw material. He believed strongly in colour and narrative flow: possibly outmoded concepts amongst professional historians now, but essential to fire the imagination of boys and kindle a love of the past.

After his death in 2006, his family decided to institute an annual award to be given by the Committee on the Headmaster’s advice to a promising historian either for a particular piece of work or for outstanding general potential in the subject. They donated an inscribed Victorian silver mug in Ted’s memory. The award was first made in 2007.

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