Here's another tribute to Geoff, this time written by his brother, Norman.
Geoffrey Alan Rowe was, by four years, my younger brother. Our tweenage, teenage,
Service life during WWII and professional lives thereafter ran along parallel courses
and I regret that his years of retirement did not last longer.
Following two years or so of unqualified teaching we both became certificated in 1950
under the Emergency Teacher Training Scheme which, in the main, was directed towards
ex-H.M. Forces personnel, many of whom had travelled extensively, were familiar with
many cultures, had widened their geographical knowledge, and perhaps most
importantly of all, had learnt the benefit of the discipline of working together as
Geoff and I worked at different schools within, what was then, the Tottenham Education
Committee and the Education Offices would be very familiar to the pupils of Downhills.
I have read Steve's thumbnail biography and have been pleased and moved
to read the unsolicited tributes paid to Geoff by his ex-scholars. It's a pleasure,
but no surprise, to hear of Geoff's success and teaching skills
within the classroom. These tributes come from those at the receiving end after reflection
many years later. Equally pleasing to me were the comments of teaching colleagues from
various parts of the Borough, which were made at the time and were most complimentary
and reflected the respect which the profession held for him.
Typical of the unsolicited praise by his pupils was around 1950 when Geoff was to
accompany Mr. Voss, Barbara Brooker and the School's nurse to Kandersteg in the
Bernese Oberland. At the very last minute circumstances prevented Geoff from going
and I was asked to 'stand in' for him. During the journey I overheard some lads
discussing my presence as a non-member of Downhill's Staff. "He's OK", said one,
"he's Mr. Rowe's brother."
A postscript to that anecdote is that Geoff had previously asked me to keep a parental eye
on a particular female pupil who was going through a tough time. He made no mention
of the fact that, owing to a financial problem, her place within the party was in
some jeopardy and he had made sure she wasn't disappointed.
Similarly, around 1980, I was umpiring a cricket match and was surprised when an
incoming batsman, whom I had never seen before, addressed me by my Christian name.
During the course of the game he said that he knew I was the brother of his teacher
of the 1950s - Geoff Rowe. "He gave me my first pair of football boots and picked me
for the School XI. I shall never forget him for that and the encouragement he gave
me." He played a fairly long innings interspersed with much praise of Geoff and commented
that he was "a role model for my son and me." He was caught by the wicket keeper and on
his way to the pavilion said "Geoff wouldn't have been pleased with that stroke"
as he passed me. I related the incident to Geoff the next time I saw him. He
grinned and said, "That would be so and so."
Downhills Central, under Geoff's guidance, carried all before them as far as sporting
activities were concerned. Tottenham was fortunate during that era because
inter-school and inter-district activities were arranged and organised by an
energetic and enthusiastic body of some twenty teachers drawn from most schools in
the Borough and called the Tottenham Schools' Sports Association Committee. Regular
meetings were held to organise inter-school athletics on the Spurs Ground - "by
kind permission of the Directors" it courteously said on the admission tickets.
There were swimming galas at the Municipal Baths, boxing tournaments at Rowland Hill
School, and cricket knock-out competitions. Boxing apart, these competitive events
were arranged separately at Junior and Senior levels. It was time consuming work for
dedicated men and women and perhaps their efforts, and those of colleagues country
wide gave the Nation a boost in 1966 when "they think it's all over" first became a
Let it not be assumed that the object of the T.S.S.A. was to obtain stardom for the
few. Rather it was for the involvement of all to enjoy communal activities performed
to the best of their ability.
Possibly because, as Steve has mentioned,
Geoff was somewhat disadvantaged as a youngster, he was ever ready to assist those
whose lives he felt he could make a little happier and more tolerable. He did not
suffer fools easily, especially when he felt they were acting pompously or unfairly
against others. After his retirement, and not enjoying good health, he would offer
wise counsel to the aggrieved and even take action on their behalf, especially on
educational matters. There was a bit of the British Bulldog about him which stood
him in good stead when he felt his career threatened by bureaucracy.
To conclude on a lighter and musical note - this anecdote was told to me and I am
quite prepared to accept it as being true and typical of his attitude towards
youngsters. About 1950 'skiffle' music was on the way out - tea chests, washing
boards, thimbles, card and broomsticks were on the wane. So, too, were Teddy Boys
and D.A.s. 'My Old Man's a Dustman' was sliding down the charts. Geoff ran a youth
club at South Grove School and a club member asked if he might practise his newly
acquired guitar in an empty classroom. He could and did. A little later a request
was made that he might be joined by a friend who had a drum set. Request granted.
Two more guitarists appeared and Geoff suggested that if they practised a number
sufficiently well, they could have a 'live spot' on stage at a monthly dance
(which was to 78s). They did!
I am told that within a few years there was a group of five, dressed in white suits,
topping the charts and the original little lad is now a multi-millionaire living in
America. His name is Dave Clark. I like to think the story is true as it was so
typical of Geoff.