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Martin Wood (1956) - letter to the Reunion Dinner of 2007

Martin WoodTalk about a voice from outer space! Perina Shryane forwarded your email to me in the absence of Simon, and you are right; Harrow hasn't lost address contact with me, though physical contact was lost many years ago. Likewise with Malsis, which I last visited on a return trip to England in 1983, when our family took a cottage in the dales for a week. Before that, I think it was a reunion for recent leavers held in about 1960!

Looking at the pictures posted at the end of your letter brought back many memories and I should just love to come back for an evening at the school. Unfortunately, I get back to England seldom these days, and when I do pressure is always there to look up relatives and other more recent, but equally out-of-touch, friends.
You may ask why I don't get back to England. So you have some idea of my doings in case old Malsis boys should query "where is Wood?" Here is a brief bio since I left England in 1976 for Canada.

I worked in Eastern Canada for two years on pulp mill construction, then moved to Vancouver for three years staying with forest products but more in the office. With three kids, we all went to Nigeria for three years working on a hydroelectric dam; from there to Cairo, Egypt, for another three years working on the construction of the World Trade Center project on the banks of the Nile.

After a year back in Vancouver, an old Harrow friend asked me to join his Office Products business in Newport Beach, Southern California. The whole family [wife and three children] moved down there and I lasted for eight years before the lure of travel, and desire to work more in my own field, took me to Bosnia in 1998. I worked on a USAID [US Agency for International Development] project rehabilitating the country's infrastructure after the war, and was there two years. After that it was a natural transfer to go to Kosovo to do the same there for three years'. When I left Kosovo in 2003, I thought that was the end of my time in the Balkans. My parent company Parsons sent me to Qatar in the Gulf, but after seven months of envying the money Qatar had to spend on luxury, I sought out an opportunity to return to the Balkans. Which is where I have been for the past three years. There's one more year to go, after which perhaps there will be opportunities for longer trips back to the UK, and to revisit places such as Malsis.

People may not remember that I was the youngest boy ever to go to Malsis up to that time - 6yrs 5 mos - and I stayed 7 years and a term. It was a marvellous time and I truly appreciate all that I learnt there. My grandfather always recalled the first Speech Day he attended [my parents were in Nigeria and were abroad most of the time I was at Malsis]. He told me Mr. Montague [could have been Lund] gave out the prizes and in his speech he said that if parents, strapped after the War, could only afford a prep school or a public school education for their son, then pick the prep school because that is where your son will learn lessons, morals and values for life. He was right - and Malsis was one of the best there was.

Martin Wood, (1956). Written in November 2007.

And to the Editor:-  "I thought you might like to see some old B&W photos I took in early 1956. They are attached - and I think I can name at least 80% of the boys, and of course all the Masters."