Meet Hillier and Maurice, our Chatanim for 2019.
Hillier's parents were born in the last decade of the 19th century in different parts of London
while he himself was born in 1928 in a house almost opposite what is now Nightingale House
in SW London. In the early 1930's the family moved to Cricklewood and Hillier remembers
that the road, Dicey Avenue, was not yet completed at that time. They were amongst the early
members of Dollis Hill Synagogue. At the outbreak of War, Hillier was evacuated to a village
in Bedforshire, where he was billeted with the local poacher and his family. Finally, he
returned to London and attended Kilburn Grammar School. His father, a veteran of WW1,
was the ARP Warden in charge of the local area. Hillier helped with the messages, and for
the last two years of the war was a member of the School ATC (ie an RAF cadet). The school
was bombed in the Blitz and, later, hit by a flying bomb.
Immediately after the War, Hillier entered the Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL to train
as an architect. While there, he became the Chairman of the Jewish Students' Society as well
as a member of the College Student Council. He also continued studying music and the
piano. As a boy he had played piano duets with his mother, who was a trained soprano, who
took him to his first concert (a Promenade Concert at the Albert Hall just after the Queen's
Hall had been bombed). He must be one of the dwindling band of those who remember
seeing Sir Henry Wood conduct. Hillier also gave a piano recital in University College. By
1950 he was an Associate of the London College of Music. However, having part qualified as
an architect, he gave up the study and, instead, went to Birkbeck College and studied the
History of Art and Architecture under Sir Nicholas Pevsner for some three years. It was at
this time that he began some of his comedy stage work, musical miming such as Figaro and,
on advice of the then BBC TV Head of Light Entertainment, the outrageous Madam
Belladonna. He once even had a late night spot at the famous Club Panama - opposite the
Having done some teaching, he again changed direction and enrolled in one of the oldest
Teacher Training Colleges, Westminster (a Methodist foundation) and obtained his Post
Graduate Certificate in Education. From there he went up to St Catherine's, Oxford. Although
the original idea had been to research some British Jewish History, he ended up by
satisfactorily completing his thesis on a history of the English Village School - and actually
taught in one for a short time. During his time at Oxford, he established a valued and lasting
friendship with Dr Cecil Roth, the noted Jewish historian and his wife. Just weeks after the
1967 War, Hillier stayed for a short time with the Roths, who had invited many Oxford
contemporaries for a most memorable reunion.
While up at Oxford he was one of the early Presidents of the “Choolent Society”, the Jewish
Dining Club, as well as holding other positions, particularly as a member of the Oxford
Union Society. There he had the privilege of making some speeches and, on one occasion,
joining Sir Keith Joseph in a debate, which they had the satisfaction of winning.
He also rowed for his College. This is an interest he has continued, being elected, many years
later, a member of the Stewards' Enclosure at the Henley Royal Regatta. It was at Oxford
that he became a Freemason and a member of the University Lodge.
After Oxford, he taught in many kinds of schools including Hasmonean Girls and after nearly
a year as an Education Officer for a large Examination Board, he joined the teaching staff of
the Willesden College of Technology. He stayed there for some 30 years, retiring as a Senior
He became the Choirmaster of Dollís Hill Synagogue for some years and also conducted his
College choir. Hillier was also a tutor and lecturer for the London University Extra-Mural
Department, giving public lectures at the Wallace Collection and teaching at the Open
University Summer Schools. He was also a Swans Hellenic Art Treasure Tours lecturer -
mainly in Italy.
Hillier’s honorary roles included being a London University Convocation Senator for many
years and for over 50 years he acted as what was originally called a Special Pro-proctor for
the Oxford University Encaenia. He is a Freeman and Liveryman of the City of London and
was for 8 years the Honorary Archivist of the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers and is
still an honorary member of their Court.
Some thirteen years ago Hillier made the happy decision to move to Wembley Park and join
the congregation of Wembley Synagogue - which he has found so welcoming and which
considers has added so much to his life in retirement.
Maurice was born in 1927, in Cricklewood, the only child of Louis Hearn (originally Lewis
Hanstater) and Hetty Hearn (nee Wacholder). He attended Mora Road Primary School until
1938, when he passed the scholarship to Kilburn Grammar School.
In September 1939 the family first evacuated to Gloucestershire until early 1940, and then
moved to Brighton, where he joined the Raines Foundation School. He celebrated his Bar
Mitzvah at Middle Street Synagogue in Brighton. They returned to Cricklewood in time for
the blitz, where he went to Willesden County School, in a form composed of Kilburn
Grammar School Boys. The family again evacuated, moving to Llandudno in North Wales,
where he joined John Bright County School. After another year they moved to Reading,
where he went to Alfred Sutton Secondary School and passed the Oxford Junior Certificate
examination. After completing his year there, he joined the St. Pauls School (then based at
Easthampstead Park, Wokingham) sixth form and, despite all the interruptions and upheavals,
Maurice successfully passed his School Certificate examinations.
Having left school, he took up articles with Tucker and Huntley (Quantity Surveyors) on 4
January 1943 and attended evening classes at The Regent Street Polytechnic, to study for his
RICS professional examinations. He qualified in October 1950.
In March 1953, having become a Fellow of the RICS, Maurice founded Hearn & Dollar
(Quantity Surveyors) with a Partner and spent the rest of his working life with the firm.
During these years, Maurice carried out considerable work for various organisations within
the Jewish Community.
It was also during this period that he joined the 3/4 County of London Yeomanry
(Sharpshooters), a Territorial tank regiment, making Sergeant in about eight years. Maurice
had the privilege of “lining the route” for the Coronation.
Maurice married Sheila Hack on 26 June 1963 and they moved into his old home in Anson
Road, Cricklewood, where his two sons, Nigel (now living in Thailand) and Roger (who is
also a member of Wembley Synagogue) were born. Both boys celebrated their Bar Mitzvahs
at Walm Lane Synagogue. Subsequently the family transferred their membership to Dollis
Hill Synagogue, where he joined the choir. Maurice came to Wembley in 2006 (also joining
our choir); since when he has been one of our reliable stalwarts, a familiar face on Shabbat
and Yom Tov.
In the 1980s, Maurice became the Treasurer, and later, Chairman of Brent East
Conservatives. He was elected to and served Brent Council from 1985 to1990, having
recovered his Ward from Labour. During his period on Brent Council, he served as Chairman
of the Brent Building Management sub-Committee and also on the Libraries and Works
Committees as well as the Race Relations Committee.
Maurice has also served on the London North West Valuation Panel, eventually being
promoted to Chairman of the Appeals Panels.
He also served as a Volunteer in Chalkhill Police Station and later moved up to Wembley
Police Station. Over the years his service to the Police has been recognised with a number of
Police certificates and awards, including a Borough Commander’s Commendation, and a
congratulatory letter from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner herself.
Sadly, Sheila died on 14 June 2017. Having been married for 54 years, she is sorely missed.
However, Maurice is blessed with the loving support of his sons. Nigel, rings him every day
and Roger comes to shul with him regularly on Shabbat and on Yom Tov.