Geoff Rowe

5 July 1925 - 17 August 1992

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 a team.

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 catch phrase.

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.

Norman Rowe.