Our own Mr Neil Hoare, a Riebeek College Freedom holder and long an institution in the teaching of science at Riebeek College, could sadly not be with us in the fourth term of 2015 and we sadly bid farewell to a long serving member of the Riebeek staff whose role at Riebeek was large and whose presence in the classroom was legendary. Mr Hoare, while visiting his daughter in Cape Town, fell ill and is unable to return. In his absence, we wish him the best and hope that he will soon be feeling better. Mr Hoare has given his life to education and the greater part of that time at Riebeek College as a Science teacher and as Deputy Head.   Here is an article he wrote in 2010 on his memories of Riebeek:


Happy Days

By Mr N. Hoare


The year was 1976 and I arrived at Riebeek after the June holidays as the first Deputy Principal,   having taught at Muir. The thought of teaching an all-girls class did not bother me – for a few years before that I had been teaching Riebeek girls because Riebeek did not offer Physical Science until I arrived. I loved teaching at Muir and had been reluctant to move, but this was a promotion that did not entail a house move, so it suited me.


What I did not expect was the change of behaviour in an all-girls environment! I thought the girls where undisciplined, noisy and  exceedingly quizzy about my personal life. The Muir boys came to attention at lines: “School ‘tion! At Ease!” and really did not care what you wore or how many children you had at home. But I soon got used to that – it was just a female thing.


The first six months on the job were very hard. I was Deputy but I only had one free period every second week and, to top it all, I had to teach two Standard 7 (Grade 9) classes at the same time in the lab because I did not have enough periods to teach them separately. At least I did not have sport to coach, but that did not mean no extra murals!


Soon after I arrived, Mr McIntyre (who was Head of the School Committee) asked me to look into facilities and make recommendations. We had money to spend! I came up with three projects which became my special interests. The first was lack of storage. I designed what was to become known as the Jurgens Building. It incorporated a double garage for the school busses, an office for the school psychologist, a remedial teaching room, a chemical store room, a dark room for the Photography Society, a tuck shop leading off a tea room and a small store for the prefects. I had a lot of fun with the tea room which was for serving   refreshments to sports teams in the afternoons and for the prefects’ use in the mornings. The tables folded up against the walls, while some bench seats fitted into others which were designed as boxes. My second project was to improve the stage lighting and the fitting of a modern dimmer board because I was very involved in theatre in those days. Finally, there was the quad which was a barren space. All the rooms in the science wing were extremely hot in summer and freezing in winter hence the introduction of trees was to form a micro climate and also to provide much needed shade for the girls during breaks. Finally the “mound” was to be a stage for outdoor theatre some time in the future. I got swimming pool  contractors to dump their waste material there. At the hostel I drew the plans for the conversion of a storage area into teacher quarters, and the extension of the principal’s flat to form an office area. When the new hall was constructed and, when I was acting principal, I applied for the land for the top fields next to the hostel. The late Mr Jooste and I marked out two hockey fields inside an athletics track on those fields. I remember that the wind was blowing so strongly there that the tape measure acted as a sail pulling two large men!


I also started the first Prefects’ Camp at Riebeek. My wife and I (and our baby daughter) took the prefects to Van Stadens Beach Resort where we hired several cottages. We really worked the girls hard so there was not much time to play.


I had been involved with amateur theatre in town since my arrival at Muir, so I was told to produce the one-act play for the annual Inter Schools’ Play. I found that I had a natural talent for it, winning the festival for Muir every year while I was there. The principal of Muir wanted me to direct a Shakespeare production, but I was not keen as I felt that I lacked experience for that type of theatre. So I chose a musical instead. We needed a few girls for the play Paint My Wagon, which was mainly for men, so Riebeek was approached, and that was the beginning of the bi-annual school musicals. Later, the trend continued with Riebeek now a full partner. Muir made the sets and had the musical director, Mr King, while Riebeek did the costumes and I directed. The musicals were hard work: rehearsals four nights a week for three to five months. It was time-consuming because I was involved in set design, décor, props, programmes and tickets. The last musical in our hall was Grease but, for the Muir Centenary, I was asked to do Fiddler on the Roof in the Muir hall. After the musical co-operation with Muir ended, I only did two full length productions at Riebeek: I Remember Mama, which had a few boys in it and also the last play in the hall before it burnt down, and a thriller with Daniel Pienaar boys.


The night of the fire was something that will stay with me. In the early hours of the morning I received a phone call from Mr Vincent, headmaster of Muir Primary, who stayed in the house opposite the front gate, telling me the school was on fire. I arrived at about the same time as the fire engines and opened up the front doors for them. The heat was terrific, there was smoke, the noise of the fire and falling roofing. I went to call Mrs Hutton at the hostel and brought her over dressed in her gown. We made do with no hall for quite a while. Matrics wrote exams in church halls, inter-house plays became radio plays recorded on tape, and assemblies were in the quad. The one good thing that came out of all this was that when the hall was rebuilt, other improvements were made to the school. The staff room was enlarged, a new kitchen was built, the hall acquired a balcony area and the Science Lab was reconstructed.


One project that I pushed for that never happened in my time as deputy was the Beehive. I had drawn sketches of a building constructed between two railway coaches which were going cheaply at the time. The idea was that the two coaches would provide seating at tables for eating and the area between them would look like a Victorian railway station, with iron girders and this would be large enough for socials, music and for writing exams. There was a problem transporting the coaches, so the building was never built.


I ran a Dramatic Society and an Astronomical Society. Our telescope is in the computer room and, although I have not used it for many years, I suppose it still works. I had to fundraise for that telescope which we bought through the planetarium in Johannesburg, but we also received donations from three people: Mr Jooste, father of Rupert (who taught History), my own father and Mrs Steyn. Since the biggest donation came from her, I called our telescope the Nellie Steyn Telescope.


Taking early retirement was a difficult decision. In hindsight, it was the wrong one. But one of the factors that prompted it was that if I did not go, we would have lost one of our senior teachers in a promotion post. But then something good did happen – Mrs Woods became Deputy and then Principal! I have really never left this school that I love so much because I was asked to take just the matrics the next year, which I was very happy to do as my younger daughter, Stephanie, was in matric and was Head of Eleanor. Half way through that year I was asked to take a Grade 10 Geography class. When the lady who replaced me left after two years, I was back in my old post again!


Throughout my teaching career my wife, Yvonne, supported me beyond the call of duty. During my early years at Muir, she acted as prompt for all my plays, attended debates and drove boys to sport matches. This only stopped when we had our first daughter, Jacqueline, and we made the decision that she would not work while the children were young. Yvonne’s last job was as secretary at Riebeek College, her old school. She loved the   children very much and kept all the letters the juniors would write to her. She finished work on the last day of school, saw Jackie graduate as a Doctor and, two weeks later, lost her battle with cancer. She would be very proud of both her children today as I am of their achievements,  bearing in mind the solid ground this school gave them not only academically, but also in leadership and community service.

 February 05, 2016
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BY Mrs M. Woods

Although it is with a sad heart that I address you all this morning, I also feel privileged to be able to pay tribute to the late Mr Neill Hoare, who passed away on breaking up day, the 18 March, at the end of last term. Last year he was really not well at all and then arranged to go down to Cape Town to visit his daughter during the September holidays. He was diagnosed with cancer and was unable to return to teaching. His main concern as always, was his students. I assured him that we would make a plan and nothing was more important than his health. 
Mr Hoare was a gentle giant of a man who was loved and respected by all the staff and pupils, both present and past. However, being male, Mr Hoare never let the species down, in that he could be extremely stubborn. What I loved about him when in this mood, was his body language and voice. His shoulders would lift, chin would tilt, his eyes would peer through his glasses with eyebrows lifted, and glaring down at you from a great height, he would gesticulate with his hands and this booming “stage” voice would belt out: “Marilyn, I cannot give up any teaching time. It is simply impossible! I need every minute with the girls.” In this mood he was a real challenge! However, when convinced about something, he would be a great support and continue to give of his very best at all times. 
Mr Hoare came to Riebeek from Muir on a promotion post as Deputy Principal in June 1976. In an article that he wrote in 2010 he said the following, which I also believe is one of the main differences between an all boys and an all girls school; “What I did not expect was the change of behaviour in an all-girls’ environment! I thought the girls were undisciplined, noisy and exceedingly quizzy about my personal life. But I soon got used to that – it was just a female thing.” Mr Hoare, you were so right, as everyone who has ever been a guest speaker or performed for our girls has realized that an all girls’ school makes the best and most appreciative audience ever! Because, we girls are compassionate, positive and loyal beings and I know that Mr Hoare just loved this very “female” environment - as do the other few male staff members I may add! In fact, the men on the staff become quite spoilt by being surrounded by so many nurturing ladies!
Neil was first and foremost, an exemplary family man. He lived for his family and they always came first. He was also passionate about teaching his subject, Science, his students whom he fondly called his “mossies” and Riebeek College. No-one could ever question his loyalty and love for this school. Mrs Peltason says that, “the words that come to mind when I think of Neil are gallant, romantic, sometimes paternalistic, often dogmatic, and always very, very kind. Neil was kindness personified.” 
Mr Hoare used to give his Science matric students a sprig of rosemary as a good luck gesture before their final examinations, because of it being a symbol of remembrance.
One of his favourite sayings in class over all the years was, “Let’s start at the beginning.” I have no doubt that this was when he was trying to help his students understand some difficult concept with which they were struggling. He was a patient man.
When I was in matric in 1968, Mr Hoare, as a dashing young Muir teacher, got engaged to a beautiful, charming young ex-Riebeek girl, Yvonne Lemley. And so his relationship with the school started! In the summer of (19)69, December, Neil and Yvonne got married. He married into a “Riebeek” family as Yvonne’s late older sister, Vera, was an ex-Riebeek Girl and subsequently became a teacher in the Primary Section of the school for quite a few years, her younger sister, Jenny, an ex-Riebeek girl and secretary at the school for many years, and Yvonne’s, brother, Jimmy, who unfortunately, had to attend Muir College. So Neil was truly surrounded by Riebeek girls, even before he came to teach at the school. 
Yvonne became the front secretary at Riebeek and after her sad passing in 1999 just after her daughter, Jackie, qualified as a Medical Doctor, the mantel was passed on to her sister, Jenny. Jackie went on to specialize in Psychiatry and has recently attained Professorship. Our congratulations, Jackie, on a wonderful achievement. 
Stephanie, who was an excellent hockey player at school and passionate about horses, is living and working in London. She recently got married and was the most beautiful bride.
Neil was justifiably and exceedingly proud of his two daughters, sons-in-law and granddaughter, Arwen, an accomplished equestrian.
I will always fondly remember Neil as the “thespian.” He was an ardent supporter of theatre and a most accomplished actor and producer. He left an indelible mark on Uitenhage with his many dramatic and musical productions. What I also clearly remember and always found so special, was that Yvonne was always involved in or part of all of his productions, whether as a prompt or in charge of props or wardrobe. 
Both Neil and I love movies and we often had interesting and real fun chats about them. He loved series and collected many good movies, his favourites being dramas and romantic comedies. I remember him recommending the movie, “Tangled”, which was a 3D computer-animated musical fantasy-comedy film released by Walt Disney Pictures and loosely based on the German fairy tale, “Rapunzel”. The film tells the story of a lost, young princess with long magical hair, based on the story of Rapunzel, as being one of the best animated movies he had seen. He was a true romantic at heart. 
Mrs Viv Stevens, a colleague of many years and friend, says the following: “A particular love of his was, “The Amazing Race” and one of his favourite things was to come to school on a Tuesday morning and discuss the Monday night episode with me, because he knew that I was also a fan. He was passionate about our world and its wonders and tried hard to instil a similar enthusiasm into his “mossies”.
Many, many Riebeek girls and Muir Boys have been afforded the opportunity of unique memories, because of their involvement in the exciting school productions that Neil presented over many years; The Sound of Music, Paint my Wagon, Oklahoma, South Pacific, Fiddler on the Roof and Grease being a few that I can recall. 
Neil was truly a multi-talented, colourful, and happy character. He was not just a “Science” man, but was just as adept in the arts - he wrote beautifully and I once saw some sketches that he had drawn, and they were unbelievably good. I clearly remember saying to him that he could have become an artist!
Something close to Neil’s heart, was nature and animals. He was a staunch supporter of the SPCA and cared for his animals in a very loving way, treating them as family. They knew how 
to twist him around their little paws and were lovingly cared for, loved and taken for many walks. I remember his border collies in particular, being his devoted, loyal companions while he was living alone. 
Mrs Anne Peltason also says the following about Neil: “I shall always remember Neil Hoare for his passion for trees, dogs, and pastry, most especially meat pies. I think Neil Hoare’s passion extended to Mossies and Astronomy as well as to his two beautiful daughters, contemporaries of my own two children, and of course his beloved Yvonne.” She goes on to say, “I first met Neil when he was teaching at Muir College in 1967 and I was doing my teacher training at Riebeek College. I was roped in as a fourth for bridge, a game Neil was fond of and that he played with aplomb, and by the rules, sitting bolt upright.”
Mrs Stevens also says: “He has left a huge gap in our staff room. I don’t know who’s going to notice Mrs Mapoma’s new hairstyle now or who we are going to fuss over for eating all the wrong things – Mr Hoare loved his meat pies! 
The English poet, John Gay wrote, “We only part to meet again.”
This teacher, father, husband and friend, loved and respected by so many, and now parted from us, has now gone home to meet up with his beloved Yvonne once again. His legacy will continue to live on not only at Riebeek, but in the lives of his precious children and all who loved him.

 April 11, 2016
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Prayer at Mr Hoare's memorial service

BY Julienne Van Aardt

Let us bow our heads in prayer.

Heavenly Father, we have gathered here to celebrate the life of our beloved teacher, Mr. Hoare, and we thank you for this opportunity to salute one of the great sons of our institution. We thank you for calling Mr. Hoare to this honourable vocation, and for blessing him not only with a brilliant mind, but also with a teaching heart. Mr. Hoare ignited a love for Science, his chosen field, in young girls, many of whom followed in his footsteps. Often, dear Lord, a subject is just another subject, but it takes a great teacher to create a passion in young minds. That is what Mr. Hoare did, and we thank you that he shared such a huge part of his life with us. Even after his retirement, You made it possible for him to still be available to the school, and it is with gratitude in our hearts that we celebrate his life today. Thank you for allowing him the best care while he was with his loved ones. We pray that you will continue to console them and help them to find peace, as his presence will be sorely missed. We pray that the teachings he gave, continue to inspire us. We pray that his questioning, analytical mind will continue to encourage us to question life and seek the answers within, where the Kingdom of God resides. May all who revered and loved him, find comfort in knowing that he has found his purpose, and he lived up to his purpose, and he completed his purpose. We pray that we too, shall find our own purposes in life and live it as fully as Mr. Hoare did. Thank you for blessing our lives with his, and may the Lord bless his soul always.



Written by Julienne Van Aardt

Read by Martez Meyer 

 April 08, 2016
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Rest in Peace, Mr Neil Hoare

BY Mrs M. Woods

It is with great sadness that we mourn the death of one of our own, Mr Neil Hoare. Mr Hoare was a beloved teacher at Riebeek College for many, many years. He came to Riebeek from Muir when he was appointed as Deputy Principal of Riebeek in June 1976. He retired after many years but was easily persuaded to return the very next year, to continue teaching and running the Physical Science Department on a part time basis. Mr Hoare was a gentle giant of a man who loved and respected by all the pupils, both present and past. His passion for his work and Riebeek College was quite evident in everything that he did. He always spoke fondly of the girls as his "mossies" and his compassionate nature was what endeared him to all who knew him. He became ill towards the end of 2015 and went to stay with his daughter, Jackie, her husband and his granddaughter Alwen Dumbrill, in Cape Town where he sadly passed away on 18 March. His late wife, Yvonne Lemley Hoare, who was a secretary at Riebeek for many years and his two beautiful daughter, Jackie and Stephanie, were all Riebeek Old Girls so Neil's wife was entrenched in the life of Riebeek College too. He has left his mark and will be sorely missed by so many, many people in the Riebeek and Uitenhage community. Neil was a lover of the arts and theatre and produced many musicals over the years with the Riebeek girls and Muir boys: Oklahoma, South Pacific, Paint my Wagon, The Sound of Music and Grease being the ones that I clearly remember. I had the privilege of working with him on the production of Fiddler of the Roof and Grease. I have but the fondest memories of all the fun we had doing Grease in particular. He was a masterful task driver and he even had a real car driving onto the stage at Riebeek. That certainly was a first. I also remember Neil as a young man, being an active member of the Uitenhage Amateur Dramatic Society which consisted of a very vibrant and talented group of people. Neil was a natural on the stage. He brought such energy to the characters that he portrayed so competently in many serious plays and comedies. He had a very precise sense of timing on stage and was a truly great actor. He spoke beautifully and projected his voice so well that he never really needed a microphone. He was a man of presence. Neil was an exemplary family man whose love for all his "girls" and his animals was too precious for words. He was a staunch supporter of SPCA and a great protector of those who could not speak for themselves. He was quite rightly extremely proud of his two talented daughters who were with him when he passed. Riebeek will pay a special tribute to Mr Hoare at an assembly when school resumes. It is going to be sad start to the term but also a celebration of an honourable man who lived a good life. We shall miss him terribly but continue to believe that to live on in the heart of those we love is not to die.

 March 18, 2016
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Message read out at Mr Hoare's memorial service

BY Professor Jackie Hoare

Dear Mossies

I wish to thank Riebeek from the bottom of my heart for giving Dad a home, sense of belonging and purpose for 39 years.
Your Facebook tribute following Dad’s death was a ‘light to me in dark places, when all other lights went out.’
I am so pleased and hearted to hear that he was not only a legend, and a gentle giant in my life, but yours too.
He believed as Tolkien did that “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future”
He taught and inspired me to be the best version of myself.

We read the following passage at Dad’s funeral in Cape Town, and I would like to share it with you:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

So dear Mossies! 
Do not be afraid, go out there and be legends!!
But don’t forget to do it like the Big Man did!
Gentle style!!

Lots of love
Professor Jackie Hoare

 April 11, 2016
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