Obituary - Victor Locke (Class of 1956)



Former PC pupil Victor Locke (Class of 1956) has died suddenly at his home in Hong Kong on November 24th, 2013.

Victor Locke emigrated from Portadown to Hong Kong early in his teaching career. And not only did he make an indelible mark in a leading school in the Far East, but he ended up being Commodore of the world-famous Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club. Sadly, Victor died within days of his fellow Portadown College student, Professor Ernest Nicholson. Both were 75, and the College archives show them in the same rugby first XV photograph of 1956.

Victor was a member of the respected Locke family which ran a travel agency and farm machinery business in Woodhouse Street - later in West Street. His go-ahead mother Rachel (Ray) carried the responsibility initially, as well as bringing up a family of four. Her husband George A. Locke was killed in a 1942 road accident, and she bravely held business and family together, quite a burden for a woman in those days.

Victor is survived by brothers, Lester and Alan, a former Craigavon Mayor, and predeceased by sister June. He also leaves his long-term partner Pixie in Hong Kong.

After his education at the College and at Stranmillis Teachers' Training College, Victor taught in the Boys Model School in Belfast. He was also a talented musician, playing trombone in Thomas Street Old Boys Band and in the famed Fred Hanna Dance Band. He was also a member of 2nd Portadown (Armagh Road Presbyterian) Boys' Brigade for a number of years.

He was quite an adventurer, and a few years into his teaching career, he thought he'd give Hong Kong a try, and he loved the place from the day he arrived. He had great person-to-person skills and was loved and accepted by staff and pupils at the multi-national King George V School, where he taught science and technology, and was a vital part of the school dance band, which included staff and students.

He also got into sailing in a big way, and took to the South China Seas around Hong Kong - then a British Protectorate - like the proverbial duck to water. And while being Commodore of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club was invariably the preserves of the high-powered businessmen and the Knights of Empire, Victor Locke was so popular and so personable that he was chosen to lead the club.

Said brother Alan, "Victor was quite a character. We travelled out to see him occasionally and he treated us like lords. He would take us sailing, and we were caught once or twice in terrible squalls. But he was a brilliant seaman and took it all in his stride. "His death has been a terrible shock. It was totally sudden. He never suffered from ill health and literally dropped dead." Victor also came home to Portadown virtually every year until the death of his mother in 1990, and continued the occasional visit after that.

Edenderry Primary School principal Stephen Doyle was married to Victor's niece Hilary, and recalled a great friend and character. "When he retired, Victor set up a business in importing yachts to Hong Kong, " he recalled. "These were worth up to £1m and he did quite a trade. He brought them in from countries like Germany. They were top quality."

When China re-claimed Hong Kong at the turn of the Millennium, many of his contemporaries left the city, but Victor knew it would be the window to the world as far as China was concerned and stayed and prospered. In fact, the Chinese allowed the Yacht Club to retain the 'Royal' prefix, such was the minimal interference.

Victor also raised a lot of money for school charites in the Philippines over the years, organising a regular race from Hong Kong to the islands and the yachting fraternity loved the challenge in the stormy seas.

His remains were cremated and there will be a memorial service in the near future.