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C K Spittall (J, S 1950-1957) (1940-2016)

Posted in Alumni News

Christopher Keith Spittall (1940-2016) (J, S 1950-1957)

Died at Noble's Hospital, Douglas on 18 April 2016.

Christopher was the son of Peter Arthur Spittall (J, S 1925-1934) and after leaving College trained at Edinburgh Agricultural College, and worked on a farm in the Scottish Borders. Form there he went to Kingham Farms in the Cotswolds before managing farms in Wiltshire and then Somerset.

Returning to the Island in 1972 to help his father with sheep farming, he became involved with the Athol Gallery in Douglas and also in Mount Street, Mayfair. He also assisted Richard Holt (H 1959-62) in the design of windmills, taking him to windy areas of Crete and other Greek islands; but it was as a supremely skilled glass engraver that he really excelled. Examples of this exquisite work can be seen in the beautiful east window of St Anthony's Church in Onchan (Christ Walking Across the Water), in door panels at St German's Cathedral, an RAF memorial at Kirk Andreas and in the chapel at Noble's Hospital. He was also commissioned to engrave pieces for HM the Queen and members of the Royal Family, commemorating their visits to the Island.

He had many other interests, foremost of which was gardening, but also sailing, shooting and other outdoor pursuits. Apart from assisting Nick Keig (J. C 1945—53) in building his ocean-going trimaran, Three Legs of Man, his sailing activities are perhaps best remembered for his well-publicised capsize in Carrick Bay, following which he and his crew were required to swim 'over a mile' to safety.

In due course Christopher and his wife, Julie, took over Injebrek, which prior to the First World War had been a hotel with formal gardens. He rediscovered the old pleasure grounds and planted a great number of trees and shrubs, the gardens now being a lasting tribute to his artistry and imagination.  In fact his horticultural knowledge was considerable and he knoew the name of every plant, which he would rather tiresomely always refer to by their scientific names. At Injebrek he would host shooting parties both in pursuit of woodcock on Boxing Day and News year's Day, and clay shooting on the mornings of Rugby internationals, after which participants would enjoy Julie's legendary hospitality.

He was a keen traveller, especially with friends and family. His particular liking for France made him an expert on boules, for which his own interpretation of the rules could not be challenge, but my abiding personal memory is of a marvellous birdwatching walk which we enjoyed in the Serranía de Ronda in Andalucia.

Christopher was a long-serving member of both Round Table and Rotary, greatly enjoying the resultant repartee and friendship, and duly becoming Chairman or President of both.

Very much a law unto himself, his personality was best described by his brother-in-law, Jonathan Teare at his very well attended Service of Thanksgiving at Kirk Braddan, suggesting that he had the ability to be the most infuriating, argumentative and obdurate man you would ever wish to meet. Yet at the same time he was the most charming, generous and understanding friend.

Our sympathies go to Julie (his wife), Teresa and Peter (JD, H, C 1976-84).

Pat Cullen