Maurice Reaney RIP

Of your mercy, please pray for the repose of the soul of Mr Maurice Reaney, Headteacher of St Mary’s Catholic High School 1955 – 1986.

Born on 8th September 1923 - Maurice attended St Elphege’s Junior School, Wallington and The John Fisher School, Purley. On leaving school, he worked for Coutts Bank before serving in the Royal Tank Regiment during the Second World War. Fighting in N.Africa and Italy, he rose to the rank of Captain and was awarded the Military Cross for bravery in 1945.

From 1947-1949 Maurice trained to become a teacher at St Mary's College, Strawberry Hill, after which he took up his first teaching post at St Mary’s RC Junior School, Croydon. In September 1955, Maurice was appointed as Headteacher of the newly constructed, St Mary’s Secondary Modern School (renamed St Mary’s Catholic High School in 1971). He led the school for 31 years until retirement in 1986, and was awarded the Papal Cross for his services to Catholic Education.

As Headteacher, he was known as a leader who had great care for the welfare of pupils and staff in his care, while at the same time successfully leading the school through a period of great change in education. To mark his retirement the Croydon Advertiser wrote: “Under his leadership the Croydon Catholic School…seems to have stood like a rock in an ever more erratic educational sea… St Mary’s has stuck with ideals of sport and academic achievement…instilling the values of the Catholic Church as important as anything else it does.”

SMHS MRPic2Perhaps it is no coincidence that Maurice, born on the Feast of Our Lady’s birth, served his entire career in Catholic Education establishments dedicated to Mary, the Mother of Our Lord. Maurice visited Lourdes on many occasions and, as evidence in the school’s log book shows, during his time as Headteacher of St Mary’s he ensured that prayer and worship was foremost in the daily life of the school.

In his retirement, Maurice continued his life-long dedication to his  parish of St Elphege’s, as well as supporting many other charitable causes, including the Alzheimer’s Society. He was a proud and active member of The John Fisher Old Boys Association, editing its newsletter faithfully for over forty years with a style and wit unique to Maurice. Amazingly, he continued to play football for the Old Boys Association until he was 71 years old.

Tom’s Midnight Garden is a book which many of Maurice’s former pupils will recall had special significance for him, as he read it to every Year 7 pupil in the school. In the book, Tom, determined to stay in the garden for ever, wishes to “exchange time for eternity”. We can be assured that Maurice has now exchanged his time for eternity and is now in the arms of Our Lady, to whom he was most faithfully dedicated.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.