The Worshipful Company of Horners

CHARLES KEITH HOWE 11th March 1935 to 3rd May 2019

By June 7, 2019Company News

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Past Master Charles Howe who passed away on 3rd May.

We have sent our most sincere condolences to Carole and the family. A celebration of his life was held at the Surrey and Sussex Crematorium on 6th June at which Past Master David Beynon addressed the congregation with memories of Charles from university sport and the Horners.

With his kind permission, here is what he had to say…..

Charles and I first met when he and I arrived at Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1954, Charles to read Classics and I , Natural Sciences. I and one or two other friends were from a Yorkshire Grammar School and were wary of the Southern Public School types we were going to meet. We were footballers and were roped in for the College team, where we met Charles, rapidly formed the view that he was a very good player and, although he went to public school at Lancing in Sussex, he was all right too !  And he was ! He played left half and I played inside left – that’s 1950s football terminology – so we immediately developed a close relationship on the field which became an enduring and close friendship.

Charles was a very talented sportsman, particularly as a footballer and cricketer, but also in the lesser known Cambridge sport of liar dice, together with much time well spent at the darts board of our favourite Cambridge pub, the Volunteer. But, lest you think that our studies were being neglected, Charles (and I) went on to gain our degrees.

At Cambridge I remember Charles as a modest and assured person, with a great sense of humour and an ability to get on well with everybody, including those from Northern

Grammar Schools, qualities which stayed with him throughout his life.

After Cambridge, for many years, we really lost contact, as we went our separate ways , Charles getting married to Carole, raising a family and following his business career until, in the early 1980s, my new involvement in the plastics industry and membership of the British Plastics Federation  brought us together again. I was delighted by this happy reunion and, I have to say, somewhat surprised to find my old friend, a Cambridge classicist, running a substantial plastics company, Crystalate Holdings, and occupying a senior position in the industry, where he had been the long term Secretary of the Moulders Liaison Committee (the MLC ) – an important national industry body. I believe that David Williams, an industry friend and colleague, plans to say something about Charles and the MLC at Yew Lodge later.

Which takes us to the Horners. Charles’s involvement in plastics led to his admission in 1977 to  the Worshipful Company of Horners, the City Livery Company with close links to the plastics industry. Charles became a committed Horner, highly regarded by his colleagues and making a major contribution to the life and activity of the Company for the next 40 years, always with the strong support of Carole. He was particularly interested in the Horners’ charitable activities in support of science education, and closely involved in the major extension of these activities, following receipt of a substantial legacy from a former Horner and a business colleague of Charles, Ralph Anderson. Always courteous, charming and good natured, Charles had a shrewd, balanced and to the point approach to issues and problems, becoming Master of the Company in 1997, when he and Carole had a highly successful year, including an enjoyable trip to Brussels.

He will be particularly missed by a small, unofficial Horners group of plastics industry veterans and their wives, who are either Welsh or have strong Welsh connections, and found themselves getting together and enjoying excursions back to Wales. Charles and Carole were the group’s driving force, and Charles decided that the group should have a title – “The Suspender Party” (I leave you to conjure on the origin of the name). Trips were spent putting the world to rights, with Charles as leader, Carole as organiser, and the rest of us in support . Another friend, Clive Thompson, will say something  at Yew Lodge about these trips, but they were very happy occasions, and Charles never stopped smiling ! Someone once asked what was Carole’s work – ‘she’s a sex therapist’ was the answer. ‘No wonder Charles smiles so much’ was the response.

Sadly, in the end, Charles had to endure a prolonged, painful and aggressive illness which he bore with trademark stoicism and equanimity. As ever, our admiration for him knew no bounds, as it does for Carole who, with her own battles to fight, has fought his as well, and cared for him devotedly.

Charles was passionately fond of cricket, and he was a member of the MCC, as I am. We know that Charles will find a place in heaven because, set out in his membership card, there is a statement “MCC Membership guarantees entry to the Lord’s Enclosures”.

Charles, dear friend, lovely and distinguished man, we will all miss you, but will treasure our memories of times together.


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