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News > Archive News > Obituaries > Eric Poyser (B 37-42)

Eric Poyser (B 37-42)

22 Sep 2022
Written by Tracey Ahmet

Former Bradley Head of House Eric Poyser was born in 1937 and passed away in September 2022, aged 98. He had already been two years at Rugby when war broke out in 1939. “We lost a few masters who joined up” he wrote “and a few older dons, surplus to reduced universities, joined us in their place”. Rugby had been chosen for Eric after a housemaster’s mother, a Mrs Harris, had found Eric’s two older sisters so polite on a Mediterranean cruise that she liaised with her housemaster son to ensure the girls’ younger brother went to Rugby.

“I enjoyed Rugby generally both in peacetime and in War” he wrote. “At 13 it was a bit of a shock. In one sense the new boys were the lowest of the low, but in many ways we were treated as adults. Notices on the board referred to pupils as ‘gentlemen’ and letters were addressed to us as Mister”.

At Rugby Eric was made an Honorary Scholar, its announcement in Bradley gaining him an ‘allow me to congratulate you’ ovation. He then matched this by gaining a scholarship to Cambridge.

After Cambridge, Eric joined the Royal Navy where he was a liaison officer on Italian ships that had joined the Allied cause. He was, in his own words, ‘highly promoted’ to make the Italians feel they had someone very important. As a 20-year- old Royal Navy liaison officer, he had to tell experienced Italian officers more than twice his age whether or not the Royal Navy wished them to fire at any German ships they spotted.

He returned to Cambridge after the war to finish his degree and then trained as a Chartered Accountant with Deloitte’s. Like others among his lifelong Rugby friends, he converted to Catholicism and joined the Newman Association (he was President from 1959-1961), an organisation for Roman Catholic graduates, where he met his wife, Pamela Parkes, who was working there as a secretary. Together with Pamela they had a happy family of four children, while he built up the East Midlands family retail jewellery business, E. S. Poyser and Sons, Limited.

As a committed retailer, with that same independence of mind that had drawn him to Catholicism against his family tradition, he bravely instigated a revolt of a group from the retail section of the Nottingham Chamber of Commerce in the 1970s and, with others, set up an alternative retailers’ association to, as he saw it, “protect the motorist from the local authority plan to encircle the city and impede access to it”.

Eric was very involved in public life in Nottingham – from 1979 chairing the Health Authority, in the early days of the major new (currently somewhat infamous) Queen’s Medical Centre and the growing Nottingham City Hospital.

Nationally he was Chairman of the UK’s National Association of Goldsmiths (1964-7) and later Treasurer and then President. As a result of this experience, he held various international roles in the jewellery business and he was particularly honoured to be elected the first British President of the international jewellery organisation, CIBJO, whose role includes lobbying various international organisations such as the EU, about standards in jewellery. Perhaps exceptionally for a Midlands’ businessman, he was a supporter of the EU and he, together with many others, campaigned hard for the introduction of a European Directive on precious metal trading in a way which they felt would best help the consumer while placing suppliers across the EU on a level playing field.

Throughout his life, he remained proud of his time at Rugby.

Adapted from a contribution by Eric’s son, David.

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