Latymer Upper Publishes Memorial to Mel Smith

Comedian's former teacher Chris Hammond shares fond memories


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Latymer Upper School has published a fond memorial to its former student Mel Smith by his former teacher Chris Hammond.

The memorial also includes pictures of the comedian, who died in July of a heart attack at the age of 60, during his time studying at the Hammersmith school. Prior to attending Latymer, Mel Smith had gone to Hogarth School in Chiswick.

Chris says: "Latymerians around the World were shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Mel Smith on Friday 19th July.

" Mel, who joined Latymer Upper School in 1964 from Hogarth primary school, was a star pupil before the World got to know and share him with us. He was a true Latymerian, excelling both inside and outside the classroom. Astute, organised and mature for his years, confident yet pleased to be encouraged, Mel was very popular with both his fellows and his teachers.

" Mel’s talent for performance was apparent from early on and he was the leading light in many of the school’s plays. His performance as Falstaff in Henry 1V Part One was a defining moment in his acting career, bringing immense praise for his maturity, gleefulness and cynicism, in an outstanding performance.

" His part as Birdboot in the Real Inspector Hound showed his ability to deliver comical lines after relaxing his audience with his charm.

" A few decades later Mel was an honoured guest, together with fellow Latymerian Alan Rickman, at the opening of the Edward Latymer Theatre in 1999.

" Although his public persona was associated with comedy, Mel was one of the outstanding sportsmen of his year, playing rugby in the first XV and cricket, where his forte was bowling. In his younger days he was the captain of his year team, leading from the front without hesitation or fear.

" He chose to study sciences at A Level (I remember Chemistry classes with him were often quite literally a laugh a minute) but he could also be serious and hard-working, succeeding in his goal to study experimental psychology at Oxford.

" Mel never forgot his old school and visited it even at the height of his fame. On the 50th anniversary of the Gild, all at the School were delighted to receive a recording of a bespoke Latymer themed head-to-head dialogue, performed with Griff Rhys Jones, that Mel had written about his old school - its staff, its pupils and its eccentricities!

" Following his inspirational English teacher’s untimely death, Mel set up the Colin Turner means-tested scholarships which have, since 2002, given a number of young people from low income backgrounds a free education at Latymer.

" When the school publically thanked Mel for such an extraordinary act of philanthropy he responded in a self-effacing manner with a heartfelt speech about his happy memories of being a Latymer school boy.

" We extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife Pam, his family and his very many friends at this very sad time."

August 13, 2013

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