Philip Stevenson

(History, 1964) 

Teacher of history, cricket master and former RAF electrician.

Philip Hugh Victor Stevenson, a greatly respected secondary school teacher and an inspiration to students in Barbados, Trinidad and Nigeria, has died, aged 87.

Born in the rural parish of Saint Lucy, Barbados, in 1935, the first six years of his life were filled with poverty and deprivation.

Despite this challenging start in life, young Philip was a promising student. He performed well in his studies at primary and secondary school – and with the bat and ball at his local cricket club.

After brief stints as a primary school teacher on the island, he seized the opportunity to emigrate to England in 1955, joining thousands of immigrants from across the Caribbean in what is referred to as the Windrush Generation.

‘Phil’ or ‘Steve’, as he was popularly known, was a fitter and aircraft electrician in the Royal Air Force (RAF) for three years, serving at RAF Melksham in Wiltshire and RAF Gütersloh in Germany, before enrolling at King’s College London. He graduated in 1964 with a BA degree in History with honours.

Phil always spoke fondly about being in the uniformed services followed by studying at King’s. From the numerous photographs documenting his life at King’s, he clearly enjoyed dancing in student balls and socials and representing the university at cricket.

In 1965, Philip set sail for Trinidad, where he became a history master at the island’s then-leading school, Queen’s Royal College. He went on to become head of its history department in 1966.

It was during this period in Trinidad that he married his childhood sweetheart, Marva, in 1966. Their two children, John and Christine, soon followed.

Feeling the need to upgrade his qualifications and advance his teaching career, Phil left Trinidad in 1971 for Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University, to undertake the Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course in 1972.

Phil and his family returned to the Caribbean – this time to Barbados, where he taught history and English at the Coleridge & Parry School from 1972–77.

With itchy feet and a yearning to live in Africa with his family, Phil journeyed to Nigeria, joining the staff of one of northern Nigeria’s most prestigious schools, Government College Keffi, as a history and English master. There, he became a popular staffer, adding to his portfolio the roles of housemaster, director of studies and cricket master – and from 1981–84, vice principal.

Returning to Barbados in 1984, he taught history, again, at Coleridge & Parry School for the last portion of his teaching career, eventually retiring in 1999.

Philip was a family man, a keen photographer, a bibliophile and a music aficionado, with jazz and the classics at the top of the list.

He is survived by his son John and five grandchildren. Thank you to John for providing us with this obituary.