(1st Oct 1953 to 16th Feb 1958)
Mr. Hugh Catchpole was born at Ipswich, a town in Suffolk, a county on the east coast of England on 26thMay, 1907. His father, Mr. William Henry Catchpole, was the head of a building firm in Suffolk. Mr. Catchpole had five siblings.
He received his early education From Ipswich School; he passed his school exam with distinction, and his sporting record at the school was also creditable. After the completion of school education, he proceeded to University/College, Oxford, and from there he won a scholarship to Oxford University.
Hugh passed history preliminary in 1926 and took final Honours in Modern History on June 7th 1928. He represented his county in cricket, hockey and squash racquets. Reminiscing about his Oxford days with Air Marshal (R) Abbas Khattak (an Abdalian) in 1993, Hugh mentioned that he studied Indian history at Oxford, which developed interest in him to take up the teaching assignment at the Prince of Wales Rashtria Indian Military College Dehra Dun, (RIMC) India as a teacher in 1928.
Mr. Catchpole kept serving at the RIMC till the Second World War broke out. Then, he joined the Royal Army in 1941 and left the RIMC for training as 2/Lt. at the Officers’ Training School at Mhow in central India. On completion of military training, he got the rank of Captain and began teaching Urdu to British cadets till 1944; whereupon he proceeded to the UK and spent the rest of the war years in interrogating escaped Indian soldiers, who were captured by the Germans to gather information. After that, he began teaching Urdu to India Cadet Company at Surrey. He was relieved from military duties on 14th September 1946 when Urdu instructions were terminated.
Eventually, Mr. Catchpole returned from Military duty on 10th December 1946 to rejoin RIMC. On October 1st 1948, he was reappointed Principal RIMC. That marked the beginning of an association of heading Public Schools by Mr. Catchpole in the Subcontinent which lasted for nearly nineteen years, five in India and about fourteen in Pakistan.
After the end of his tenure of 5 years as Principal at RIMC, he proceeded to Pakistan. When Mr. Catchpole came to Lahore, he was all set to assume responsibility in Aitchison College. However, on the initiative of the army, the then Education Adviser to the Punjab Government approached him and offered him the job as the Founder Principal at Hasan Abdal. The army contributed its camping ground and the funds for the entire project were provided by the government of the Punjab. Persuasion by the senior Pakistani Rimcollians, strengthened his resolve, and he took it on in earnest to set up a residential school at Hasan Abdal.
The new school was named by Mr. Catchpole as Punjab Cadet College which began with its first batch in 1954. He served in Hasan Abdal as the founder Principal till 1958 and then left Hasan Abdal to join PAF Public School as its founder Principal. He remained Principal at PAF School till 1967 when he finally got retired at the age of 60 years.
After his retirement from PAF School, he joined as Head of English Department at Abbottabad Public School (APS). In addition to teaching, his passion for cricket is evident from the fact that even at the age of 60 plus, he continued serving as cricket coach in APS for 11 long years till he was 71. It is pertinent to mention here that he chose to go to Abbottabad because it suited him climatically, and moreover, he preferred teaching to administrative job of the Principal. He served in this position for a long time and remained in APS till his very last days.
Mr. Catchpole remained a bachelor throughout his life. He was an educationist, humanist and philanthropist. He had a rich sense of humor which made him an extremely successful teacher. He led a simple life and donated his entire life’s savings to further the cause of education and sports in the institutions he served both in India and Pakistan. Truly, he commanded respect and love of his students which was evident during his lifetime, and especially at the time of his departure from this world.
In recognition of his services in education, Mr. Catchpole was duly honored both by the British and Pakistani governments. On 1st January, 1971 Queen Elizabeth conferred the Order of the British Empire (OBE) upon him. Once again, on 31st December 1980, he was decorated with Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE). Similarly, on 23rd March, 1979, Mr. Catchpole was awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz by the President of Pakistan for his services in the field of education in Pakistan.
Mr. Hugh Catchpole breathed his last on 1st February 1997, and in accordance with his will, he was buried on the soil of Cadet College Hasan Abdal.