In Memory of
25 . 06 . 1938 – 21 . 03 . 2007
Wick gratefully acknowledge the source of this work as David Margaroni
Roger Stott (Varndean 1949-57) was one of the most memorable people I have ever encountered. He gained the ultimate accolade from Brian Stone, one of our most respected masters, of being the most exceptional English student he had ever had the good fortune to encounter, he achieved the status of head prefect, and he graduated in English from Cambridge University.
I first met Roger at Balfour Road primary school when his family moved to Brighton from Kenilworth in 1949. We became good friends at that point, and maintained a close bond after joining Varndean, spending much time together, though Brethren community strongly discouraged such fraternization.
Roger showed an early passion for literature, and we often visited the Theatre Royal. The Evening Argus correspondence columns often benefited from contributions by Roger on a whole variety of subjects.
He had an infectious boisterous enthusiasm in anything which took his interest, and had also something of a wild streak, possibly a reaction against his strict upbringing’ I recall having my first driving lesson in his father’s car when he was encouraging me to floor the accelerator !
Whilst at school he met Phoebe East, subsequently marrying her in 1960. They were blessed with five children.
On leaving University he worked for 3M then Schweppes, before joining the family business (Stott and Sons, a wholesale grocery company) as Sales Manager, then Managing Director.
He became a leading member of the religious group into which he had been born, the Exclusive Brethren, severing his ties with old school associates, but left the Brethren following the acrimonious split of 1970. He soon declared himself to be an agnostic and abandoned religious worship altogether, dedicating himself instead to better understanding the truths explored in the work of his most loved Poets and writers: W.B. Yeats, Auden, Shakespeare, Toni Morrison, James Joyce, Seamus Heaney and Brendan Kennelley.
At this point he was able to throw himself wholeheartedly into acting, joining the prestigious Wick Theatre Group based in Southwick, West Sussex. Here he played several lead rôles in plays written by his greatest literary heroes, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Shakespeare including, Othello and Night of the lguana.
Roger separated from Phoebe in the late ’70s, later meeting an English teacher called Mary with whom he had an important relationship until they separated ten years later.
When the family business failed in the mid ’70s, Roger secured a job in the BBC as a researcher in the religious programmes unit. In 1980 he began his new and illustrious career first as a researcher and then as a producer of religious programmes for BBC Television.
Intelligent, creative and hugely knowledgeable about all religious matters, Roger thrived at the BBC, soon writing and making his own programmes including Everyman “A Brief History of Hell” (with George Steiner), Everyman ”Just an Illness” (Susan Sontag) and “The Isle is Full of Noises” (with Seamus Heaney).
ln 1990 he left the BBC and set up his own business as a freelance filmmaker. During these ten Years he wrote a number of Plays, Poetry and his own autobiography. He also acted as a freelance copy editor for Cambridge University Press.
At the same time he met and married Pamela and they bought and restored an eighteenth-century mill together on the Fens in Cambridgeshire on the banks of the River Lark.
Following the turbulences of his former life, it was indeed tragic that in this final idyllic and peaceful setting he was cruelly struck down with pancreatic cancer, succumbing in March 2008 surrounded by his family.
I am much indebted to Roger’s daughter Rebecca who supplied so much of the information on Roger’s past history.
But I grow old among dreams,
A weather-worn, marble triton
Among the streams.
In 2017 his daughter Rebecca published “In the Days of Rain”, a biography of her father and a memoir of the Exclusive Brethren: ‘one of the most reclusive and savage Protestant sects in British history’. [Published by 4th Estate – ISBN: 978-0-00-820916-2]