|15 Dec 2020
Former Society President Stuart Mathieson was described by his Old Brentwood son John as setting “the gold standard, exuding unwavering dedication, kindness and love---the model family man and a respected professional, caring friend and teammate, neither pretentious not materialistic and setting the ultimate example on how to conduct oneself and treat others.” He was speaking at his father’s funeral following his death on September 10th 2020. aged 75.
“He cared about whether those around him were healthy and happy. He could maintain a sense of total calm, regardless of how stressful the situation or how big the problem. He was always there. I was privileged to have him in my life and to benefit from the values he held closest to his heart.”
Stuart joined the School and South Town in 1956. His scholastic career finished in Economics VI. The Sports field was his prime metier: football, cricket, squash and rugby enlisted his skills variously at 1st XI, 2nd XI and house levels. Leaving in 1963, he gained a Higher National Diploma in Business Studies at South East Essex Technical College (now the University of East London). He took articles with accountants Baker Sutton, qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1970.
A year with the FoMoCo was succeeded by a spell with Save & Prosper as Group Accountant, thereby launching a successful career in the investment funds industry. He moved to Sun Life Trust Management as Finance and Administration Director in 1985, where he helped set up the unit trust operation. In 1994, he became Deputy Managing Director of IFM UK Ltd, part of Baring Asset Management. Despite the nefarious activities of rogue trader Nick Leeson, he stuck with the business to expand its fund administration services until its sale in 2005 to Northern Trust. Even in semi-retirement, his knowledge and financial expertise were still much in demand.
Stuart’s involvement with the Old Brentwoods was massive. He played soccer for the 1 st and 2nd XIs. An intelligent and inspiring leader, he captained the Seconds in 1978/79 to the League and Cup double. He was modest in victory, generous in defeat and the perfect ambassador, always looking after the opposition. He was highly respected by players from other Arthurian League schools. His post-school cricket was played at Shenfield and then with the OBs for whom he also performed at squash and rugby.
He served as treasurer for the soccer and cricket clubs, bringing necessary order to their finances. His skills were soon deployed on the Society front. He was appointed to the General Committee in 1975 and succeeded Michael Snyder as treasurer in 1980, continuing in this role for 30 years. Stuart marshalled the funds from Joe Hodgson’s bequest to provide backing against unforeseen capital items and supervised the transfer of OB subscriptions to the Society from the School. He coped extremely well with the demands of VAT officers, local ratings on the Ashwells Road clubhouse and grounds and with the waxing and waning of affiliated clubs. Most deservedly, he was elected President of the Society in 2005.
First and foremost, Stuart was a family man. His first marriage to Diane produced Paul and Daniel. The couple were divorced in 1978. Stuart’s life changed considerably in 1985 after he interviewed an attractive young lady for a position at Sun Life. The interview went very well indeed and Stuart and Sharon were married in 1993. John and Sarah completed their family.
Fellow OB Pat Francis remembered “a lovely man, great company, a class act, pragmatic, reliable, courteous, loyal, engaging, modest and self-deprecating. He had a strong moral compass and was very firm and steadfast in distinguishing right from wrong. If he disagreed with or disapproved of someone’s behaviour, he left them in no doubt about it. He didn’t immediately judge people and always saw positive outcomes, focusing on practical solutions after careful and measured consideration.”
Pat and Stuart met on joining Brentwood’s senior school, enjoying an immediate rapport through sport. “We became best friends for the rest of our lives. As teenagers, we embraced the big changes in society in the 1960s. We were devout if conservative followers of fashion, loved the Beatles and the Stones and dreamed of playing football for West Ham. Stuart was always eminently sensible and measured in his behaviour. He didn’t drink alcohol and while some of us overshot the runway in The Gardener’s Arms, he was always sober and erudite and looked after the best looking girls.
In June, Pat saw Stuart for the last time at his home. “After cursory observations on Covid, the lack of political leadership and a trip down a memory lane lined with pop groups, we found ourselves in full agreement on issues that mattered: a dislike of Reality TV and celebrity culture; incomprehension about people telling their life stories on Facebook and Instagram; the changing nature of Brentwood High Street; the very sad perception of Essex in the media; and the perennial question as to whether West Ham would avoid relegation.
“What a fantastic man he was. As the song has it, he was ‘Simply the Best.’ ”