Roger Wickins – BaA 49-54

Tuesday 18 October 2022

Submitted by Peter Hill (BaA 48-56)

Roger was born in Portsmouth, in 1938, the son of a Royal Marine Officer who served in both World Wars.  Throughout a long life he was to pursue a career across the world’s oceans, and from 25, he made his livelihood  in Hong Kong and Australia.

He came to Christ’s Hospital in 1949 as a scholar of  the Royal Mathematical School, though he admitted he shone neither  as a scholar, nor as a sportsman. But the school had a profound effect on him. He could recall many details of his time there, as swab to the historian David Arnold, for example, and he followed the careers of many contemporaries. In Australia, as Convenor in New South Wales, he organised reunions of Old Blues, and sent several presentees to the school. He helped organise the planting of a Wollemi pine in the garden of one of the Grecian houses, in the words of Hugo Middlemas, ‘as a reminder of how philanthropy can change young lives’. He once sent me a well-researched essay on Old Blues who had  influenced Australian life over the centuries. He welcomed OB visitors to his beautiful house in Avalon Beach overlooking the sea (and his boat) and loved to reminisce.

From school he trained for the Merchant Navy at HMS Conway in Anglesea, and became a Purser for seven years with the Orient Line, which ran passenger liners. He had to buy his own uniform. He served on the S.S. Orsova  and the S.S.Oronsay , across the Atlantic and the Pacific, and found he had a knack for keeping books, so he settled in Sydney and studied accountancy. He married Margaret and they had a son and a daughter.

When he was 33 he moved to Hong Kong to be Financial Controller of Gilmans, then of another large firm (from which he was fired for refusing to sign off a document) and finally a French civil engineering company. It was in Hong Kong that he renewed acquaintance with another Ba A Old Blue, Lt. Cdr Rob Wilkins, who was ADC to the Governor.

After a divorce from his first wife he married Diana, who shared his love of sailing, bushwalking, nature, and extensive travel. Towards the end of his life they were visiting New Zealand, and the islands of Japan.

Roger was a man with wide experience of life and business, and with decided opinions, which he gladly shared. He certainly helped to make a positive difference to the lives of others.

At the end, well into his eighties, after suffering  from problems with his heart and his hip, he passed away peacefully at his home, after enjoying from the other side of the world the ceremonial funeral of the Queen.