Prize day for City of London boy - after 75-year gap


A 90-year-old who was unable to attend his school's prize-giving 75 years ago because the ceremony was held on a Friday night was finally able to collect his awards this week after his grandson was also a prize-winner.

Now living in Edgbaston, Herman Zeffertt was a pupil at City of London School in the 1930s, excelling in Spanish and maths. As the son of the rabbi of the East London Synagogue, attending an event on Shabbat would have been unthinkable.

He did receive two books - one a PG Wodehouse novel - as belated prizes, but not the accompanying certificates.

Mr Zeffertt's memory was jogged when his grandson Simon started at City of London, and again this year, when Simon earned a prize for progress. Coincidentally, Simon is 15, the same age as his grandfather was when a prize-winner.

Without telling Mr Zeffertt, the family arranged for Simon to collect not only his prize at the Guildhall ceremony on Monday, but also the two his grandfather was owed. Mr Zeffertt - who served in the RAF and went on to qualify as a dentist - looked on from a front row seat.

"All these years I've had the books but no labels to say why," he said, adding that he'd chosen to study Spanish because his father didn't want him to learn German in the Hitler era.

The Spanish skills served him well when, as a young serviceman, he visited British Mandate Palestine and was able to speak Ladino to the Jews there.

For Simon, the prize-giving was a chance to introduce his grandfather to his school friends, many of whom have heard Simon repeat jokes told to him by Mr Zeffertt.

"It's nice for him to get to go to prize day for the first time," he said. "I always knew he went to my school but not so much about his time there. Now I have something to connect with. And it is nice to do something to make him proud."

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