Michael Wellby (53-57) died on 18th September 2023 following a fall as the OP Society was
informed by his daughter Kate Wooding. He was 83 and left a widow Frances, a daughter
and a son.
At the NCP Michael was in Macquarie Division and became a Cadet Captain in Winter Term
1956. A member of the Boxing team for three years, he captained it in 1956 and 1957. Aged
13, he was the only cadet who could climb the full height of the ropes hanging in the gym just
using his arms. Reaching Form V1c, he gained ‘A’ levels in History, Physics and Maths – an
unusual combination for the time.
Destined for the Royal Navy (like his father Roger who became a Rear Admiral and, as a
young officer, commanded the mine-laying British Expeditionary Force RN section in France
during the Phoney War 1939-40), Michael aged 16 and a friend had to be rescued by an RAF
helicopter when their boat capsized while sailing off Hayling Island – an incident which
made the national press. He also spent a week in July 1956 at BRNC Dartmouth as a RN
scholarship holder along with 50 others including R.C. Merrick (53-57), writing later about
the “enjoyable” experience in The Log.
On leaving Pangbourne, Michael decided to attend Melbourne University to study
engineering prior, he hoped, to joining the RN. At the time his father was head of the UK
Liaison Staff in Australia and based in Melbourne, but poor eyesight prevented him joining
the Navy after university. Instead, he returned to the UK and spent most of his working life in
computers with a company called Centre-File (part of the NatWest group), specialising in IT
Services and IT Consulting.
A true polymath, Michael loved words and challenging his colleagues and friends to spell
them correctly. His biggest passion was reading books, both historical and biographies. On
retirement he completed two Open University degrees, getting a First in both of them. He
also went with his son on a climbing expedition to the Himalayas, was a high-standard bridge
player and became a world amateur champion international poker player.
For 50 years Michael and Frances lived in Wimbledon in southwest London. In a Eulogy
given at his funeral at St. Mary’s Church on 28 th October, his daughter Kate described him as
a “devoted father – very supportive, wise and patient.” Letters of condolence, she said, had a
common theme – “the twinkle in his eyes, the cheeky smile, the mischievousness.” She
added: “One of the letters said: ‘Michael livened us all up with his antics, his sense of fun and
sharp mind. He was a good companion and conversationalist with the ability to converse
intelligently on almost any subject. He had warmth, energy and kindness.’”