dwainwright queens bday greetings

Dennis Wainwright, July 4, 2020

 

Dennis Wainwright was born on July 4th, 1920. His parents moved with him in December 1925 from the village of Hartley in Kent to Goffs Oak in Hertfordshire - living just a few hundred yards from Caldecott, where Dennis started school in January 1926. His father, Herbert Wainwright, had previously become friends with Caldecott Community co-founder and co-Director Phyllis Potter via a London Sunday School. It seems an arrangement whereby Dennis attended Caldecott, despite coming from a settled and loving home, was in return for Herbert taking a more active part in the running of Caldecott School. It is understood that Herbert was responsible for setting up a Wolf Cub Pack within Caldecott, and much later went on to become a Scout Commissioner. After nearly 6 years at Caldecott, Dennis passed the entrance exam for City of London School on the Thames Embankment by Blackfriars Bridge, starting there in September 1931. He travelled to school by steam train each day from Cuffley Station, which was about 1.8 miles from their home. He would have to walk to the station each morning and back again after school, at least until a bus service was introduced a few years later. In 1932, not long after Dennis left, Caldecott moved from Goffs Oak back to Kent, to the Mote.


On leaving City of London School in July 1939, Dennis started working in the August for National Provident Institution (NPI), a life assurance company in central London. After quite a short period with NPI he was called up to join the Army following the outbreak of World War II, starting his basic training in Honiton, Devon on 14th November 1940. Following his basic training he was sent to Dunbar in Scotland from May to September 1941 to train as an officer. The Army requisitioned a number of private hotels to house the trainees, and it was at the hotel where he was based that, in August 1941, he met Phyllis Munro, who was the daughter of one of the owners of the hotel.


On completion of his training, he was commissioned and went back to Devon in a coastal defence role. He maintained contact with Phyllis by letter, and while visiting her when on leave, on 27th April 1942 they became engaged. He was subsequently posted to the Kings African Riffles Regiment and left London on 23rd July 1942 for an undisclosed destination, subsequently arriving in Nairobi, Kenya in late August.


His role was to help train the African Soldiers. He reached the rank of Captain, and for a short period of time was an acting Major. On January 24, 1946, while still serving in Africa but during a period of 28 days leave, he married Phyllis in Dunbar. He remained serving in Africa until after the war finished, starting his journey home on June 6, 1946, and was finally demobbed from the Army on the 24th of June 1946, almost six years after being called up.


After the war, he was very pleased to return to National Provident Institution and was to remain working for them until he retired on July 4, 1982.  

 

After they were married, Dennis and Phyllis had a house built in Cuffley, about a mile away from Goffs Oak. This was thanks to his father Herbert Wainwright, who bought the land, and drew up the necessary plans. Their daughter Lorna was born in September 1947 and son Gerald in February 1949.

 

In 1968 NPI moved to Tunbridge Wells, prompting Dennis and Phyllis to move to Sussex, where Dennis continues to live. His elderly parents, who were still living in Goffs Oak at the time, also decided to move, and relocated to Tunbridge Wells just before Dennis and Phyllis moved, meaning they were able to continue living in close proximity.


Sadly Dennis’s beloved wife Phyllis died in 1989. By a strange coincidence Dennis started learning to play Bowls on the 27th of April 1991, which was the anniversary of his engagement to Phyllis. He has continued to enjoy playing bowls indoor and outdoor ever since, and was made an  honorary life member in October 2018.On July 4, 2020 Dennis turned 100, celebrating with family and and enjoying his card from the Queen. He is remarkably fit for his age, and still lives independently in the house he shared with Phyllis. He keeps his sizeable garden in very good order. He still drives, and walks 3.3 miles every day whatever the weather. In 2013 he had a bench made and placed on the highest point on the lane where he regularly walks, for both himself and others to enjoy the beautiful countryside views when out walking.

dwainwright goffs oak picnic

This photo was taken in the grounds of Caldecott School at Goffs Oak. Dennis’s father Herbert Wainwright is on the left, and Dennis is at opposite end of table cutting the bread.

 

dwainwright on leave parents

Dennis on leave after completing his Officer training with his parents Herbert and Nancy - probably in their back garden in Goffs Oak.

dwainwright kings african rifles

Dennis serving in Africa during the war.

 

dwainwright phyllis wedding

Dennis and Phyllis on their wedding day in Dunbar January 24, 1946

dwainwright phyllis 1987

Dennis and his wife Phyllis outside their home in East Sussex in September 1987

 

dwainwright bench

 

Very many thanks to Dennis' children, Lorna Tomkins and Gerald Wainwright, for sharing photographs and information with us, and for permission to share them with you. The photograph above: Dennis celebrating his hundredth birthday with some of the family, at his bench.