LOOKING BACK - June 7, 2018 edition

Trevor White
Trevor White

Remembering Trevor White

Fifty years ago tomorrow Rugby lost an outstanding councillor and public servant, who devoted his short life to helping others and improving the town’s facilities.

Colin White has written this lovely tribute to remind us just how much his older brother achieved in his 36 years:

“Trevor White had organised a week’s cross-country running and orienteering on the Fraser Estate in the north east of Scotland for four of his young athletes from Dunsmore School (now Ashlawn). The boys had travelled by train and Trevor by car with all the necessary equipment.

Three of the boys returned by train a week later on the Friday night but it had been agreed that one of the boys would accompany Trevor on the return trip. They left the estate early on the Saturday morning, but only got as far as Daviot on the main A9 Inverness - Perth road six miles south of Inverness when at 7.38 they were hit head-on driver’s side by a car that had travelled north from Coventry overnight and failed to take the gentle left-hand curve. Both drivers were killed instantly but the seat belts saved the two passengers from serious injury.

Cllr White, who was 36 and had been deputy mayor to Ray Holder the previous year and was unmarried, lived with his parents in Eastlands Road.

They were on the way back from a week’s holiday in Blackpool and received the tragic news from their younger son Colin when they returned home later in the afternoon.

Cllr White was educated at Eastlands, Lawrence Sheriff and Rugby Schools and went on to Trinity Hall (Cambridge) where he graduated in English and Law.

He qualified as a solicitor after being articled with Seabroke -Harris in Rugby for three years, but his first love was teaching and he became a master at the old Eastlands Secondary Technical School and then moved to Dunsmore when it opened in 1958.

Having been inspired by Chris Brasher who was ahead of him at Rugby School (who was later to become one of the pacemakers for the late Sir Roger Bannister when he broke the four minute mile barrier) and having been a member of the ‘Running Eight’ at Rugby, he introduced cross-country running and orienteering to Dunsmore and the school quickly amassed every trophy given for the sports in the district.

He also took an active part in the Rugby Schools Cross Country Association and became a AAA starter, taking part in major meetings all over the Midlands.

He coached swimming at the old Regent Street baths which he was keen to see replaced as a matter of urgency by a larger and more modern facility.

Cllr White was also prominent in the Rugby branch of the National Union of Teachers, becoming its local president in 1964.

He helped revive the Liberal Party in Rugby in the 1950s and he won a seat on the council in 1955 when, aged 23, he was the youngest member.

He represented Eastlands ward and was always returned with large majorities.

He was also a Special Constable, coached private pupils in various subjects, was a BBC researcher in classical music and a keen follower of association football.

Among the many tributes paid to him in the days following the accident, the headmaster of Dunsmore Mr Frank Hodson said: “ His untimely death was a profound shock and he will be sorely missed at Dunsmore where he was held in the highest regard by all.

“A guide, philosopher and friend of all, his contribution was immeasurable and his loss irreparable.

“He implanted his personality indelibly in our school and stood on the threshold of an outstanding career that he chose from the many open to him and his loss extends far beyond the boundaries of Dunsmore.”

Over 700 people who attended Trevor White’s funeral at St Andrew’s heard the rector, Canon DM Davies declare that he had lived a life fully and well, enriching his own in the process of helping others and he recalled the words of Dr Martin Luther King - “Life is not a matter of longevity. It is not how long you live that matters but how well.” These words, said the rector, were equally true of Cllr White and were the best and most fitting epitaph to his life and work.

The original approach to Rugby’s leisure centre, via Cromwell Road was named Trevor White Drive because it was his ‘drive and determination’ which eventually led to much better sporting facilities in Rugby but subsequently the main approach was moved to Hillmorton Road which meant that Trevor White Drive just became a footpath used by a very small minority of pedestrian visitors and also took his name off the addresses of the various sports facilities.

Plaques commemorating Trevor’s and Ken Marriott’s contribution were subsequently placed in the main entrance of the old centre and were removed for safe keeping.

Negotiations are currently in progress with representatives of Rugby Borough Council to have them re-installed in the new centre and have his name put on one of the facilities.