Former pupils launch creative fund to honour inspirational teacher

David Lund former UCS teacher

Former UCS English teacher David Lund whose £10,000 family bequest kicked off the £1 million charity fund by former pupils. - Credit: David Lund/UCS Archives

For three decades, David Lund was an inspirational UCS Hampstead teacher who ran top class concerts and encouraged pupils to reach their creative potential.

Now, past students, including ex-head boy Hugh Dennis, are hoping to raise £1 million to continue his legacy by offering disadvantaged children access to activities such as film making, poetry writing, and drama.

Next year, comedian Simon Brodkin and Adam Meggido, co-founder of improv troupe The Showstoppers, join Dennis for the fundraising show April Foolery at University College School's Lund Theatre – named after the English teacher.

Heading up The Lund Fund is another former head boy, Matt Lane, who is chief executive of Hackney charity Eastside, which unlocks the creative potential and confidence of young people through participation in the arts.

He said the idea came when a cheque for £10,000 arrived in 2018 from executors of the Lund family estate.

"When David passed away in 2010 he was survived by his brother Peter who bequeathed the estate – including the family house in Frognal – to charities which supported the creative development of young people. I recognised the name and asked if there was any connection to my former English teacher. Purely by coincidence, there was."

As a teenager, Lund taught himself jazz piano and during teacher training at Cambridge and became musical director to the Footlights review of '67, which was directed by Clive James. As well as forming his own jazz trio, he wrote sketches and jokes for The Footlights, Dave Allen, Tim Brooke Taylor and Nicolas Parsons among others.

David Lund and Peter Cook

David Lund with comedian Peter Cook who lived in Hampstead - Credit: David Lund/UCS Archives

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Between 1967 and 1996, when a Parkinson's diagnosis forced his early retirement, Lund established "an ethos of joyful learning" at UCS. Through his network of contacts he also organised charity fundraising comedy nights and concerts, which drew a loyal local audience to the 250 seat theatre to watch Victoria Wood, Griff Rhys Jones, Douglas Adams, Fry and Laurie, and jazz greats Ronnie Scott, Benny Waters, Humphrey Lyttleton and Courtney Pine.

Frankie Howerd was among a host of comedy names who appeared at UCS theatre

Frankie Howerd was among a host of comedy names who appeared at UCS theatre - Credit: David Lund/UCS Archives

An article in the UCS newsletter sparked testimonies from alumni about Lund, as well as boosting the fund to £28,550.

Adam Meggido remembers Lund as "a force for kindness" who would play jazz and songs from musicals with him before school.

Former headteacher John F Hubbard recalls a "warm and civilized man of principle who put others before himself" and a "modest mentor who instilled his love of literature and theatre into his pupils, and inspired many to enter the worlds of literature and journalism".

Ronnie Scott appeared at The Lund theatre as part of a celebrated series of jazz concerts

Ronnie Scott appeared at The Lund theatre as part of a celebrated series of jazz concerts - Credit: David Lund/UCS Archives

Former head Giles Slaughter adds: "He sought to inspire his students and in the way he conducted himself, he taught them the life enhancing attributes of respect for others, kindness and tolerance."

UCS school

UCS school - Credit: Archant

Archie Young remembers a "kind gentle, encouraging and empowering teacher" whose classroom was covered with posters from his beloved jazz nights, while Daniel Rosenthal owes his career as an arts journalist to early interviews with performers such as Benny Waters and Stephen Fry for the school magazine.

Matt Lane says the fund will be invested in programmes which help young people develop their voice and increase participation in the arts, focusing on areas where "there is the least provision" and youngsters on free school meals.

"It's about getting cultural provision to those places with the greatest need," he said. "I was so fortunate to receive the benefit of those efforts David made, not only in the classroom but to make the theatre come to life. He was one of those unique individuals who was always doing things for the community. We want to recognise that synergy, the effect that a great teacher can make and turn it into something bigger." 

Lane hopes April foolery will become an annual event and that those who were affected by David "will contribute in some way either to tell us stories about his life, or help build a gift which we will turn into young people experiencing the richness that we experienced at school".

In his testimony, John F Hubbard said: "It came as no surprise that two brothers should leave much of their estate to charity. The Lund name should live on: David and Peter were kind, thoughtful, unselfish and generous men who devoted their lives to the service of others."

To donate buy at ticket to April Foolery or find out more about the Lund Fund, visit www.eastside.org.uk/lund-fund

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