Skip to main content
(The following notes have been compiled by the editor)

OM Member Profile:  JOHN CLARK 

John was born in Long Preston in Ribblesdale, the son of Brigadier John Clark, who was a farmer's son from the hamlet of Tosside which is just in Yorkshire on the border with Lancashire, and of Mollie Grimshaw from Great Crosby, Liverpool.  She was the daughter of a master grocer and baker who before the war delivered bread and home-made specialities by pony and trap from Crosby almost to Southport.  She attended Merchant Taylor's School and then worked for her father, as well as playing a lot of golf which resulted in a handicap of eight.


John’s father had joined the army as a teenager and, as he was considerably older than his wife, he fought in many campaigns in France, India and what is now Pakistan. He had started off in the Royal Horse Guards but then joined the Royal Garhwal Rifles, a regiment which fought alongside the Gurkha’s.  In the Second World War he was Brigadier I/c Administration in India with a base in Lucknow.


When his dad eventually returned to England in late 1946 after the conflict in Japan, young John was on his way to Lime House prep school in Dalston, near Carlisle, where  he was to become Head Boy and a leading sportsman.  From there he moved to Sedbergh in 1953,  where he achieved 1st XV Rugby standard, played Fives, appeared in dramatic productions and ended up as Head of Hart House.  Sadly, just before John’s last term his father died, partly due to injuries suffered in warfare. 


S levels were taken in Modern Languages.  Fortunately the results were good enough for John to obtain a place at Durham University in Bede College, where he spent a really happy three years gaining what would now be described as a B.Ed (with Distinction).  He became Captain of the Bede College Rugby XV and played for Durham Colleges, enjoyed Fives and some football and was personally instrumental in organising  a fund-raising event for the College coffers.  


Every year since 1961, his Durham year-group has held a Dinner until Coronavirus has caused a cancellation in 2020, but John hopes this will resume in 2021!


John's first intention after qualifying was to go to work in an Approved School, having visited a number in the North East while at Durham.  His mother, who had been a Guide Leader in the Everton and Bootle area of Liverpool, felt that many of the girls would have been better off if looked after by others, rather than their parents.  This was very sad, but was a fact, hence John’s keen interest in residential education.   However, a number of letters requesting an interview for a job in the sector were not answered. 


By contrast, a phone-call to Bernard Gadney, then Headmaster of Malsis, elicited an immediate and positive response.  "Come and see me at 9:00 am tomorrow". 


John had secured the job by 11:15.


Ten happy years then followed,  with John's main achievements being the Housemastership of Coates, after being Master i/c the New Wing (sleeping accommodation for the 47 youngest boys), the introduction of Audio Visual French, the running of the Scouts and the coaching of the 1st XV.

John Clark

From 1972-75 the Clark family enjoyed the Wirral, where John ran the Cricket and Rugby, taught French, acted as Assistant Head which meant he joined the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS) and played some golf on the Royal Liverpool.  When the school closed in the eighties, the 18 acres of playing fields became part of the golf course.  This meant that the course could again host the Open as all the TV equipment could be based there.


An opportunity to return to Malsis as Headmaster occurred in 1975, and so began 19 years of fulfilment with Pam playing a crucial role.  During this time John had many roles in the IAPS, first as Northern Chairman, then as National Vice Chairman in 1983, culminating in Chairmanship in 1984 when he had to organise the Annual Conference at Trinity College, Cambridge.  He had also been active on the committee of the Independent Schools Information Service, the Independent Schools Joint Council, the Common Entrance Committee and the Beer Committee (chaired by Harrow Head and former Rugby International Ian Beer).  This was set up to review the 13+ examination. Much building took place at Malsis during John's 19 years in office and the number of pupils averaged in the 180's, practically all being borders.


Since his rather premature retirement in 1994, John has been a founder member of the Hebridean Liqueur Company, covering the northern shows with the invaluable help of Pam, then for a short time they both helped  to set up the House of Bruar in Blair Athol,  He was an advisor to Ampleforth College, chaired the Governors at Casterton School (now Casterton Sedbergh) and was a Governor at Cargilfield School, Edinburgh and also Far Headingley Prep, Leeds.


Moving to Burnsall in 1984, John soon became a Church Council member, later one of the editors of the Wharfedale Rugby Club programme and a part-time contributor to the rugby press, a member of Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the chair since its inception of a political policy forum (the CPF) which submits ideas to the Government.  He was instrumental with three others in narrowing down the candidates to be the local MP from 147 to 18 before a meeting open to all of whatever political persuasion made the final decision, which was unanimous, between four left in after a further filtering at Ripon racecourse.


John's main hobbies have been sport, gardening and the theatre.  He bred ponies and drove them with his father in law when still at Malsis and started to breed racehorses and pin hook with OM John Royle and his wife Sue.  Stoproveritate”, named after the Malsis motto, was a successful racehorse both on the flat and over hurdles and became their brood mare.  This led to the Malsis parents' breeding and racing group with the title JD Clark and Partners.  Their most successful horses were the mare's foals Exstoto and Classical Ben, multiple winners in National Hunt races. Since then John has been in other racing partnerships, currently with Foxtrot Racing run by the son of a Sedbergh contemporary.


The five grandchildren all play sport, most at a very good level, so it is great for Pam and John to have plenty of time to support them.  John says it is something of a miracle that they are all being independently educated.


The Old Malsis Association

OM Association

The OM Association will keep alive the name, reputation and memories of Malsis, so that those of us who spent our most formative early years at the school can continue to remain in contact during the years ahead.  This website is dedicated to this mission.  As members of our Malsis community we can explore the archives, receive news and exchange views from time to time.



We hope and expect there will also be interest and support by members to meet up at informal OM Reunions occasionally, and you will find a section here where dates and details of proposed  events can be posted. 

We are a widespread community spanning different generations, but what we all have in common is a lasting affection for the school that played such an important part in our early lives.

Because we remember with respect and gratitude the key staff who taught and looked after us, the OM Association welcomes as members not only Old Boys and Old Girls, but also Teachers and Support Staff, Parents, Grandparents, Friends of Malsis and even some who were born and grew up on the premises before striking out into the world.

We want to build this into a vibrant and active social community and we need your participation.  We'll publish your own Memories of Malsis, and you can let us have your Profile too to keep old friends up to date.  Please take a look at the "Contact Us" section of the site and let us know how we can stay in touch!


Final Day at Malsis – February 2015


Built in 1920, this early aviation prototype provided many a blindfolded Malsis New-Boy with his first flight! As the youngest in the school from 1944 to ‘46, I was taken up twice! This unique oak table-top contains the carved names of Malsis boys from 1920 onwards. By the time we arrived it was already full.


9 February 2015.

Greetings from Patrick Birdsall, to all OMs and friends who signed our preliminary list at Malsis.

I trust everyone has now recovered from the trauma of the viewing day and auction which followed!

As I explained very briefly to those whom I met, my main purpose in  coming up from Sussex to Malsis has been to represent the views of a few of my friends who share my enthusiasm to set in motion a revival of our Old Boys & Girls Association, before it becomes too difficult  to organize.  

We have already received considerable support for the plan, following the final Carol Service and Reunion Day which took place at the school on 5th and 6th December.  I now feel certain that through our OM Association the name and memories of Malsis will live on for many years.  Between our members we  possess  a great store of knowledge and achievements based on  academic records, personal memories, professional success and  lifelong friendships which stretch back for almost a century. Although our old school is sadly no more, through our OM Association the name and message of Malsis will continue to thrive and flourish in the years ahead.

So this invitation is extended to all generations of Malsis boys and girls who would like to keep in touch with each other in the future, also making the acquaintance of others with a similar background who share their life experience and values - and maybe those who are interested can meet up with old and new pals for a social reunion from time to time?

However, this is not just about looking back.  In particular, we hope to sign up girls and boys who have received their early education at Malsis in recent years, including those who are now at replacement prep’ school, public school, university, or out there in the world of work - so that  your early friendships can be resumed and maintained, even facilitating some professional networking to develop, with new ideas being exchanged and developed from a shared background as you embark on future careers.

Of course, former staff, parents, grandparents and friends who have been loyal to Malsis, giving their substantial financial and moral support to the school over many years, are most warmly invited to join us too!

OK, to bring myself back down to earth for a moment, my own IT skills being very basic (and sadly without the knowledge and experience of Alan Turing to crack the codes)  I have encountered some difficulty in deciphering a few of the handwritten email addresses, some of which, quite understandably, had to be hastily scribbled onto sheets of paper by some of you who called at my desk  at Malsis, in the midst of visitors and bargain hunters trawling round last Tuesday in  what at times seemed  more like a car-boot sale than a respectful visit to a traditional seat of learning (complete with mobile burger bar stationed right outside Malsis front entrance! though I must admit I nipped out and purchased one myself, to be consumed in secrecy!)

I can’t imagine what Bernard Gadney would have said……except that I can!

So back to my email: my apologies to those of you who will not receive this. (and if that sounds a bit Irish, it’s not 100% Yorkshire blood in my veins with a name like Patrick) I’ll make a note of emails which come back undelivered, then try again.


In the meantime I  attach my provisional list from last Tuesday and would be grateful if you can please have a look at your own contact details,  make any alterations/additions  you think  necessary, then just send me back your revised entry and I’ll revise the master list as necessary from time to time.  When we get sorted we can create a webpage which will make everything easier.

Also, If you have any other buddies who you think might be interested in joining us, just ask them to send me name/year group/email address and, as additional interest, the school attended after Malsis,  

You can be email me at  also  text or whatsapp  07946166471

Best regards to you all.

Patrick Birdsall

 Elm Tree Cottage, 51 Church Street, Willingdon, East Sussex, BN220HR.




Contact Us

Please join our community by letting us know a little about yourself and your connection with Malsis here. We may send you the occasional relevant email but we will not use your personal information for any commercial or otherwise nefarious purpose whatsoever!

Add link to form