Disrupting the Pattern 2023
John's legacy focuses on providing the opportunity of peripatetic music lessons, free of charge, to bursary students at Trinity. We work closely with our Music Department to identify students at school on substantial, means tested bursaries, who show a love of and dedication to music. Music enhances their school experience, and allows them to join in with our many ensembles and choirs. It allows them to fully participate in school life and explore their talent without a financial barrier to their music learning. Would you like to find out more or make a pledge to join our Mitre Society?
We were deeply touched and honoured that John Starling, who was a pupil at Whitgift Middle School (now Trinity School), from 1946 to 1953, has left an incredibly generous bequest in his Will to “be used or invested by the music department of Trinity School for the purposes of either the tuition of or for the purchase of instruments for use by pupils whose parents cannot afford to provide these and would not otherwise be funded by the school.”
Director of Music, David Swinson said: “There are students at the school whose parents cannot afford music lessons and who do not have the funds to purchase an instrument. It will be wonderful to be able to offer our bursary students the opportunity to participate in the life-changing experience of learning a musical instrument. John’s generous and lasting legacy is likely to fund two students for the entirety of their school music careers as well as the purchase of an appropriate instrument. Learning to play an instrument can be very costly so we are delighted to be able to offer lessons to more talented students as a result of John’s generosity.”
John, who passed away last August, was a very popular and engaged alumnus of Trinity School and was frequently found visiting us for many of our events throughout the year. His interests were wideranging from sport to the arts and he loved attending our annual Art exhibitions of A level and GCSE work. He was also a dedicated music lover and thoroughly enjoyed our Choral concerts, Jazz evenings, the opening of our new Music School and our Organ Fund Concert. John always was there to support us whenever we were celebrating the richness of school life.
John was a keen sportsman and as a student, he represented the school in the Athletics, Cricket, Harriers, Rugby and Tennis teams, gaining his colours in all but tennis and holding on to the record for the mile as a junior for many years. John also found time to devote to clubs and societies at the school, including Bridge, Badminton, Table Tennis, Sketching, Music Appreciation, Debating Society, the Natural History Society and Canoe club.
John’s love of sport ensured his continued membership of the Old Mid-Whitgiftians (now The Trinity Club), where he played 1st and 2nd XI cricket and was fly half for the Rugby Club well into his forties. He also played rugby for his Base when he served his National Service in the RAF and captained a Sunday rugby invitation-only team “The Wig and Pen”, which included many internationals. In his later years, John helped run the former players’ section of the Rugby Club as Secretary and as President of the Club from 2005 and 2011, regularly supporting them whether at home or away.
John was also one of the founding members of the Old Mids Golf Society, becoming Captain in 1991 and winning many a golf day during his time with the society.
John accumulated a massive collection of art over the years. Every inch of wall at his home was adorned with his collection – even on the inside of his wardrobe! John was always bidding at auctions and on one occasion in 2014, he diverted to Trinity from the Bloomsbury auction to visit us, proudly bringing an artwork by William Hayter to show us (Hayter was also an alumnus). John ended up donating the artwork to us, which was typical of his generosity and spontaneity. We were in discussions with John about hosting an exhibition of his art here at Trinity before his health began to fail. It was a great shame this did not come to fruition as John was looking forward to the exhibition, albeit he dreaded choosing what to show from his extensive collection.
In his eulogy, John’s God Daughter, Nicky Chambers, recalled he was “a very handsome, generous and charming man with a sharp wit”. John is sadly missed by us all, but his legacy will live on through his generosity.