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News > Obituaries > Brian Odell (OB 1938-1947)

Brian Odell (OB 1938-1947)

22 Jan 2024
Written by Karen Faulkner

Brian Odell (OB 1938-1947), died on 3rd December 2023 at the age of 94. He attended the Preparatory and Main School as a pupil between 1938 and 1947 and returned to the school in 1951, serving as Head of PE, West Junior Housemaster for 13 years and later South Senior Housemaster until his retirement in 1987.

As a pupil, Brian excelled at swimming, gymnastics, athletics and cross-country.  He studied arts subjects to 6th form but decided to leave for Denmark to study at the Fredensborg College of Physical Education, then a centre of excellence.  He set-off in September 1947, travelling all the way overland on his BSA Bantam motorcycle through postwar Germany. 

On his return in 1949 his national service was served as a PT instructor for the army and shortly afterwards he became a teacher at the Royal Merchant Navy School in Wokingham. However, a letter from the Head of Physical Education at Brentwood, Mr Shortland, had him packing his bags for Brentwood after such a short period that the school just finished making his merchant Navy uniform as he left!

Brian started work at Brentwood School in September 1951 and later that year began the school holiday rowing trips to Denmark which were to continue for the next ten years. He met his wife Olwyn Ovens while she was teaching at the Prep School in 1952 and in the same year started the annual school ski trip to Igls in Austria, which he led until his retirement.

Always looking for a unique sporting opportunity, in his early years at the school he flooded the athletics track in the winter to let it freeze, providing pupils with an ice rink and ice racing track.  He also memorably took the school Gymnastics Team on Blue Peter to pedal around the studio on balance wheels.

In 1965 he obtained his law degree from London University and started teaching law at the school in 1972. Brian retired in 1987 and he and Olwyn moved to Chilcompton near Bath where they remained until September 2009, eventually moving back to Farnham in Surrey to be near the family. Brian is survived by his sons Edward (OB 1963-1974), Rodney (OB 1967-1977), and daughter Doramy.

Throughout his life Brian was considered by everyone to be a true gentleman. He was never heard to speak ill of anyone.

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