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News > Archives/ History > Richard Cock (O:1965; PM:1966) returns to Bishops.

Richard Cock (O:1965; PM:1966) returns to Bishops.

Richard Cock, after the Ceremony at Bishops, at where he was presented with the Robert Gray Medal Award. (Please see below, for the names of those standing in the photograph).

In March 2020, Richard Cock returned to his old school where he was awarded the Robert Gray Medal.
In March 2020, Richard Cock returned to his old school where he was awarded the Robert Gray Medal.
PHOTOGRAPH ABOVE - STANDING, FROM LEFT TO RIGHT - MICHAEL FORD HEAD OF SCHOOL; SIMON PEILE, CHAIR OF COUNCIL; RICHARD COCK - RECIPIENT OF THE 2020 ROBERT GRAY AWARD;  WILBUR VAN NIEKERK CHAIR OF THE ODU; RAYMOND ACKERMAN, PATRON OF THE ODU; FR MONWABISI PETER, SCHOOL CHAPLAIN; DAVID CARTER, PRESIDENT OF THE ODU; PETER WESTWOOD, DEPUTY PRINCIPAL.  

RICHARD COCK (OH - 1965; PM - 1966) RETURNS TO BISHOPS IN MARCH 2020. 

On Friday 13 March 2020 Mr Richard Cock was awarded the ROBERT GRAY MEDAL for his distinguished service to Music in South Africa.  This award ceremony took place at a full school Assembly in the War Memorial Chapel at Bishops.  After receiving the award, Mr Cock's reply included an account about the inspiration that he got for his music career, from being at school at Bishops, leading to an extraordinary career as an Organist.  As a Bishops schoolboy, Richard was preceded by his father Charles and he, by his father, Charles Ernest Cock.  Through Richard's grandmother, he discovered that church organists ran in the family, which planted the seed that he should be an organist.  The rest is history, as the adage goes, as Richard progressed through Bishops 'under the baton' of Dr Claude 'Bruno' Brown,  followed by John Badminton and others.  Richard's music career at Bishops, seeing him achieve the highest awards as an organist, will feature in a forthcoming article.  The purpose of the current article is share the occasion and provide some photographs and to provide a bit of background for the 'next episode'.   




PHOTOGRAPH ABOVE  - BISHOP ROBERT GRAY, BISHOPS' FOUNDER - AFTER WHOM THE MEDAL IS NAMED.  [THE PHOTOGRAPH WAS DOWNLOADED FROM THE INTERNET SITE https://www.google.com/search?q=bishop+robert+gray+bishops ON THURSDAY 30 APRIL 2020.]



PHOTOGRAPH ABOVE - THE START OF THE PROCEEDINGS AT ASSEMBLY; PROCESSING IN.



PHOTOGRAPH ABOVE - MICHAEL FORD, BISHOPS' HEAD OF SCHOOL, READS THE CITATION FOR THE AWARD - [Please contact Paul Murray - [email protected] - for a copy of the citation that was read by Michael]. 




PHOTOGRAPH ABOVE - MR COCK IS RECEIVING THE AWARD FROM MR WILBUR VAN NIEKERK THE RECENTLY APPOINTED ODU CHAIR.  TO HIS LEFT IS THE CHAIR OF THE BISHOPOS COUNCIL, MR SIMON PEILE.



PHOTOGRAPH ABOVE - MR RICHARD COCK DELIVERING HIS REPLY TO HAVING RECEIVED THE ROBERT GRAY MEDAL AWARD - 2020.



PHOTOGRAPH ABOVE - AFTER THE CEREMONY, STANDING FROM LEFT TO RIGHT - MR PETER WESTWOOD, DEPUTY PRINCIPAL; MR RICHARD COCK, (OD) THE 2020 RECIPIENT OF THE ROBERT GRAY MEDAL AWARD; MR RAYMOND ACKERMAN, (OD) PATRON OF THE ODU & RECIPIENT OF THE ROBERT GRAY MEDAL AWARD FOR 2018; MR DAVID CARTER, (OD) PRESIDENT OF THE ODU; MR SIMON PEILE, (OD) CHAIR OF THE BISHOPS COUNCIL; MR WILBUR VAN NIEKERK, (OD) CHAIR OF THE ODU; MICHAEL FORD, BISHOPS HEAD OF SCHOOL, 2020.


ALL THE ABOVE PHOTOGRAPHS - THE BISHOPS ARCHIVES.


Richard Cock –  Speech for Acceptance of the Robert Gray Medal on Friday 13 March 2020

Thank you for the honour. Really nice that having had business and medicine last year, this year the arts are being honoured. Not enough honour and recognition for the arts in South Africa.
  • Interesting serendipitous facts:
    • Bishop Gray, after whom this medal is named, founded this school in 1849.
    • Sophy, his wife, designed and instigated and paid for the building of several churches in the Cape. St Saviour’s, Claremont, was one of these, and the first wedding celebrated in the church in 1853 was my great-great grandfather. So I feel a sort of connection to Sophy and Robert.
    • In 1949 à 100 years after Bishops was founded, I was born in Port Elizabeth.
  • Prep school Eastern Cape. Honored by Woodridge Prep There was no music in the school when I was there, but recently after the fire which destroyed many buildings they rebuilt and named the Arts building after me. I pointed out the difficulties of having a building called the Cock Block. They realized this and said it would be the Music, Art and drama Block opened by Richard Cock!  Rhodes University honoured me with a Doctorate in May of 2000 .These honours are from the Eastern Cape.  Now delighted to be honoured by Bishops in the Western Cape.
  • Came to Bishops in 1962 as mentioned. First Friday in prep school in class music I was auditioned for the choir and told to be in it. Peter Robinson, who eventually became head boy when we were in post-matric – sitting next to me said ‘bad luck, you’re in the choir’. Rehearsals took place in the chapel so my earliest musical experiences were in this very chapel. Church music has played an important part in my life ever since. My parents in 1962/3 were in process of divorce. Bishops and especially music became safe haven. During a Congregational practice, from which as a choir members we were excused, I was summoned by Mr Piley Rees, who was acting headmaster. He wanted to know why my work had deteriorated so badly. I blurted out the story in a flood of tears.
  • Somebody came to the rescue –  as my mother had no financial means to keep me at the school. I think it was Mr Rees who organised a Theron Bursary for me. I realized how important this was in my life and it has inspired me to do similar things for other people. Over the years the Apollo Music Trust has given out about R20M in support of students and educational concerts. And I have raised about another R20M for various charities through fund-raising concerts.
  • Directors of Music at Bishops – Claude Brown & John Badminton – gave me incredible opportunities. Conducting, teaching, Support.
  • Even while still at school I was on the committee of the Philharmonia choir.
  • Most important lesson, I learnt to be myself.
  • Two senior boys in the school who were both head of choir before I was, inspired me
    • Christian Ashley-Botha who later became director of the Drakensberg Choir Boys School
    • Alec Grant – went on to become a neurosurgeon, but also was a pianist, singer and actor (King Lear)
    • No recognition in the school for cultural activities in those days. You did it because you loved it, or because you got a half holiday – used to get a half day off school if you were in the choir. I think it’s a really good thing that there is more recognition for the arts now.
  • Important lesson for my life as well from these two – both of them were fiercely individual and refused to fit the mould. People need to be comfortable being themselves.
  • We were supported by an amazing staff here at school, many of whom, although it was not their discipline, were involved in the cultural life of the school:
    • Alfred Payne – Maths and singer
    • Michael Fisher – French and sang in the choir and great supporter of music
    • David Slater – Physics and played the piano, sang in the choir and ran a concert club
    • Vernon Harries – Chemistry and practiced piano every evening (RAC practiced organ at night in the Chapel and heard him practicing in School House. He was the Housemaster)
  • As soon as I left school, I was encouraged to take a job as an organist and choir master at a local church, and I could do so because of the training that I had had at Bishops. Church music has been a theme running through my life, and it comes full circle now again in receiving this special award.
  • Thank you to the school, the headmaster, the staff, you the boys and the OD Union as well as everybody who has supported me on my musical journey which started here.

 

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