A gentleman, a scholar and an inspiring teacher
Charles Basham was a member of staff of the City of Coventry Training College/Coventry College of Education and the University of Warwick from 1961-1985. Initially Head of English and subsequently Head of Arts Education. Wonderful tributes have been made about Charles both from his students and colleagues.
Here former students Joyce Miller (BEd 1965-69, MA Arts Education 1989- 92, EdD 1996-2010), Peter Crampton, Midge McCormack (née Elcoate) (both Certificate in Education 1962-65) and Beryl Saunders, a former colleague, share some memories.
Along with Margaret, his wife, Charles was very involved in numerous charities. They supported the Boys & Girls Towns in southern India started by Joe Homan – a Warwick honorary graduate – visiting them many times. They spent several months each year working in orphanages in Romania playing, teaching and taking out the very deprived children. Charles’ love of animals was reflected in his support of animal charities and Guide Dogs for the Blind. They were great travellers and enthusiastic members of the University of Warwick Chorus both at Warwick and on tour. Over many years both Charles and Margaret were a tremendous help to the Alumni Engagement team in enabling the University to keep in touch with former Education students and staff.
Joyce Miller remembers him as “the quiet, courteous and scholarly Head of what was a large, energetic and thriving department. I also knew him because from time to time, he led morning assemblies in the Main Hall. It was always a pleasure to talk to Charles, his erudition, his love of learning and literature and his dry humour shone through all his conversations.
One of Charles’ most obvious qualities was his modesty. He politely but firmly pushed aside any attempt to pay compliments or offer praise. It was only through other sources that his wife, Margaret, learned that his was the best poetry lesson HMI had ever seen, when he was still a teacher at a boys’ grammar school in London. It was also through finding some evaluation sheets from students in Michigan, USA, where he had been a visiting lecturer that she learned that they wanted to ‘keep this guy’.”
Midge McCormack remembers that “Charles’ lectures were full of humour, interesting, critical and inspirational. As a result of his tutoring I became a life-long bookworm and my enthusiasm enabled me to instil a love of books in my primary school pupils. Now I am retired I often meet ex-pupils. I am delighted when they tell me how much they remember my encouragement to read - how lovely that Charles was responsible for so many readers.”
Peter Crampton remembers his former personal tutor as being “very popular with students who studied English, admired for his thoughtfulness and willingness to listen.”
Charles is remembered for ‘his iron fist in a velvet glove’. However, Beryl Saunders recalls appreciating “the vein of irony and wit that was part of Charles’ personality. He was never the noisiest contributor to discussions but was certainly one of the most pertinent and articulate and his judgements were always respected.”