Melvyn Brooks, (1957-64) Brittens writes,
“It is only in retrospect that we appreciate our schooling and education. This was the overall agreement reached at the end of the Clove Club reunion held at the Maxim Hotel , Netanya Israel, on 26th May 1999. It was the second dinner of the Old Boys of Hackney Downs (Grocers’) School held in Israel.The previous one in 1988 had 20 in attendance and this time there were over 50. On both occasions the President of the Clove Club, Leslie Mitchell and his wife came from Newmarket, Suffolk.
Mr Mitchell had been the master in charge of sport at the Grocers’ School from 1948 to 1960 and also commanding officer of the School Cadet Corps. He is remembered for his training of the school athletics team which won the Grand Challenge Shield of the North London Grammar Schools Athletic Association for over 20 years.
Perhaps even more he is remembered as a proxy father to many boys at the School urging them on in their careers and always available for a friendly chat. At the reunion Old Boys related acts of kindness shown to them many years before.
Les Mitchell took on a tradition that had been fostered during the War when the School had been evacuated to Kings Lynn. The majority of the Norfolk people had never been in contact with Jews before and there were many problems to be sorted out. One Old Boy told the story of Joe Brearley who had befriended his mother during her terminal illness years after he had left the School. Joe would come to her bedside to read to her in her native German.
The wife of on Old Grocer related that she did not realise that life had existed outside Golders Green until she met husband and was then introduced to the world of Hackney Downs and its camaraderie.
A standing ovation was given to Arthur (Anschel) Citron the oldest Old Boy who attended the School 1915 to 1922. Arthur came to live in Palestine, as it was then, in 1933 having seen an advertisement for an accountant at the Potash Works near the Dead Sea. He promised to come to our next reunion in 5 or 10 years time.
Old Boys of Hackney Downs (Grocers’) School have played a prominent part in public life in Israel. They include director generals of two government departments, the head of the Mossad, pilots in the IDF and professors in all of the Israeli Universities.