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News > Life After Hymers > David's 'Singing Engineers'

David's 'Singing Engineers'

David Meggitt (OH 1952-62) reflected on his time at Hymers and how his Civil Engineering career combined with music
David with wife Cheryl on a visit in 2016
David with wife Cheryl on a visit in 2016

David Meggitt studied at Hymers College from 1952, starting in the Junior School, in Form 1 until completing his secondary education in the Sixth Form in 1962.

In his words, he "wasn't very musical" at school but he took part in the Senior School Carol and Summer Concerts; first as a treble, then as a bass.

David remembers how Mr Watson introduced him, and the rest of the class, to classical music in lessons which did inspire him to begin collecting vinyl 12" 33 rpm records.

Anyone who could sing in the senior school was picked out by Mr Watson.  His report on my singing in Junior School, read "Very fair, is making good progress."  

Occasionally, there were conflicted periods contested by relevant masters: should one attend a choir rehearsal (Mr Watson) or a first team rugby practice (Mr Minns). The former always won!

This sowed the seeds for David to participate in future choirs:

  • West London Light Opera Society
  • Crigglestone Light Opera Society
  • Riyadh Light Opera Society
  • Lady Eleanor Holles School Joint Choir
  • King's College School, Wimbledon Joint Choir
  • Local church choir with Choral Evensong (17 years and counting) 

As well as music featuring in David's school life, he also took part in Combined Cadet Force (CCF).

You were allowed to opt out, but most pupils did not. We had about 250 recruits. I became an Under Officer. 

CCF Inspection 1965 with Under Office Meggitt

Other activities at school that David participated in included the Astronomy Society, where he gave a lecture on the life span of stars.  He was also nominated to be Captain of athletics for two years, organising House matches and he was deemed an "enthusiastic captain."  As well as being a Full Prefect, he was also elected Holderness House Captain.  He also remembers taking part in a one-act play that lasted just five minutes and then having to repeat the painful experience!

While at Hymers, students were able to elect to go on week-long short works courses. David chose Vickers Armstrong in Newcastle (for mechanical engineering) and John Laing in London (for civil engineering).  The latter experience persuaded him to switch career choices and hence degree.  He continued his studies at Leeds University to do a three-year honours course in civil engineering.

At Vickers Armstrong, Newcastle

David's favourite teacher at Hymers was Col (Puff) Escritt who taught sixth-form physics.

He had a genial demeanour, and wonderful stories from his Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) military career.  For example, he told us that during summer leave in India, he took a trip to the lower foothills of the Himalayas with his porters, camping by a waterfall and winding up his gramophone to play Beethoven Symphonies.

He inspired the idea of becoming an "engineer" rather than following a career in pure science.

Lower 6th Science A with Col. Escritt

David still regularly sees from school his classmate, Professor Arthur Weston (OH 1955-62), and occasionally visits OH lunches with contemporaries.  He also kept in touch with Bill Blackburne KC (OH 1954-62), who is now a retired, Knighted, High Court Judge. He also communicated with John Kittmer (OH 1978-85) as their paths crossed due to business when John was UK Ambassador to Greece.

After leaving Hymers College, he immediately spent five weeks touring Greece with an Architect friend, ending with a week in Crete to pursue a newfound interest in the Minoan civilization, which he picked up 50 years later.  As already mentioned, he then attended Leeds University to do a three-year honours course in civil engineering, which did include spending a summer vacation in Sweden, mainly at the site of the Gothenburg Suspension Bridge construction site.  Further studies continued in life which included finance, entrepreneurship (Board Director of 3CsCommunity), telecommunications, nutrition, and organisation design.

During the University Milk Round (where companies tour colleges each year, in order to advertise their companies and recruit students), David was selected to join 17 other graduates on contractor Costain's indenture programme.  Subsequently, with Consulting Engineers designing bridges, he become a Chartered Civil Engineer.  He later transferred to Management Consulting and Management Services with professional services firms on assignments in the UK, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and in recent years Crete in the Mediterranean with a co-partner.

David with Cretan civil engineer business co-partner, Christie Sarri

He has since published a number of technical publications and extensive blogging, which continues, including a new upcoming book on the history of the bridge crossings at nearby Hampton Court.

David's family includes his wife, Cheryl, two children, and five grandchildren.  In 2014, he was elected a Freeman of the City of London having been nominated by a current Sheriff of London.

David with wife Cheryl on a school visit in 2016

Through his career as a Civil Engineer and his love of choirs, he coined the term "Singing Engineers" when making a video to publicise a new section he formed within the Civil Engineers Club. Originally focused on Choral Singing, he expanded it to incorporate solo performers and subsequently renamed it Singing.

Before being interrupted by the pandemic, civil engineers and friends joined up with choristers from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors to perform at St Margaret's Church, Westminster, and City livery companies.

To hear more about the Singing Engineers in David's own words, please click on the photo below:

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