Local Face: Barrie Searle

Barrie left school at the age of 17 to join the Royal Marines under the “Y” scheme; he was demobilised in 1946. Three years in Nottingham including Vice-Chairing the Young Conservatives, led to Unilever and Lagos, Nigeria in 1949. His next 15 years were spent in West Africa, mainly Nigeria where he started life in Administration, Line Management and latterly as General Manager Walls Nigeria Ltd There were some interesting interludes; when he was posted to Kano in 1953 as Administrator, Northern region, Civil War broke out between the Hausas and the Ebos, an event for which he does not claim responsibility and for 3 months he became a member of the Colonial Police. He played hockey for Nigeria and became President of the Nigerian Hockey Federation. He felt it also worth recording that he had the pleasure of marrying his wife, a former Colonial Civil Servant, twice, once by Native Law and Custom and two days later at St Saviours Colonial Church, Lagos. Princess Alexandria came out to Lagos that week; contrary to expectations, it was for the purpose of representing HM the Queen at Nigeria’s Independence.

Joining Rothmans in 1964, he directed two overseas companies, one in the South Pacific and the other in the Mediterranean. As Chairman of the 1968 South Pacific Hibiscus Festival, an 8 day event in which every island in the South Pacific participates, he had the honour of persuading the All Blacks to visit Fiji where they played 3 entertaining matches. On his arrival in the Mediterranean the following year, the company agreed to sponsor the Arsenal Football Club in the days of Bertie Mee to spend a week in Malta. Apart from playing two National Matches, they did a lot of coaching with the schools and Youth Clubs. On his return to Baker Street in 1972 he spent a great deal of time on aeroplanes on overseas Project Management activities, mainly joint ventures, and believes he must have been the worst District Councillor Wendover ever elected; in 1983-85 he was averaging 120 days a year overseas in countries which included China, Sri-Lanka, Egypt, Ghana, Sudan, Pakistan.

In 1986 he was seconded to the County Lieutenancy office liaising with the media, Thames Valley Police and Royal households on occasions when royalty visited Bucks. Simultaneously he worked for the D. T.I. supporting small businesses in the Thames Valley. As a new boy (and girl) to Wendover, in their words, they have only been here 20 years, 14 have been spent on the District Council, and the combination of living in Wendover and working in the Vale have given them great pleasure.

In “retirement” Barrie says that he has lapsed into a fairly sedentary existence interspersed with a spot of golf, walking Benson the Boxer, a little gardening and an occasional holiday. When he has the opportunity for serious reading, he inevitably reverts to his life-long interest in Colonial and Military History.

Politics obviously plays a role in his life, he is Chairman of the Wendover Conservative Association, and he derives a great deal of satisfaction playing a small part in the local community particularly as a Governor of John Colet School, he has just been appointed to a third four year term of office. Chairman of the County Appeals Committee and Holding Trustee of Bucks Age Concern, Hon Treasurer, Abbeyfield (Bucks) Society Ltd, Chairman of Wendover Continuing Education Committee and has been associated with S.S.A.F.A (Soldiers, Sailors and Airmens Families Association) for 16 years.

Input into the community is not confined to Barrie, his wife Phyllis shops for residents of Leonard Pulham Home and is Area Representative of Church Recorders which is part of NADFAS and, according to Barrie, plays a fair game of bridge.