A retired teacher who taught across north Norfolk for more than three decades has died at the age of 85. 

Francis Sparrow, who went by 'Frank', had a lifelong connection to the county which started with his father. 

Born on August 26, 1938, in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, Mr Sparrow was the son of a First World War Royal Flying Corps pilot and a nurse. 

Between the two wars, his father became the area manager for a brewery, which led the family to spend the Second World War in Reedham, near Acle

Eastern Daily Press: Frank Sparrow has died aged 85

With his father’s name above the door at The Ship, Mr Sparrow was left with many memories of German planes sweeping in overhead under anti-aircraft fire. 

After the war, the family moved to Haringey, in London, where Mr Sparrow found himself as one of a very small number of Arsenal supporters in a mainly-Tottenham school. 

Following the early death of his father, and with his older brother David having already left home to pursue a career in teaching, Mr Sparrow moved with his mother, Margaret, in the early 1950s to the village of Magdalen, near King's Lynn

Eastern Daily Press: Frank Sparrow and his wife, Elisabeth

Here he went to King Edward VII grammar school.

He remained a member of the Old Lennensians – a society for former pupils and staff which dates back to the 16th century – and attended many annual reunions up until recent years. 

Mr Sparrow trained as a teacher at Birkbeck College, London, in his early 20s and returned to Magdalen afterwards. He started his teaching career in Downham Market. 

The pull of 1960s London saw him move back there in his mid-20s where he worked at a correspondence college in West London. 

During this time, he boarded in a bohemian household where parties were regularly frequented by the likes of actors Derek Nimmo and Dudley Sutton.  

In 1968, French language student Elisabeth 'Liz' Delsol moved into the same boarding house. 

Eastern Daily Press: Frank Sparrow with his son, Chris

They soon became a couple and went on to marry in Carcassonne in south west France on December 23, 1970, before moving to Clapham, London. 

When Mrs Sparrow became pregnant in early 1972, they decided to move to Norfolk and rented an apartment in St Mary’s Road in Cromer.

Their son, Chris, was born in the West Runton maternity unit that November.

The family eventually moved to the Old School House in nearby Aldborough, while Mr Sparrow took a position teaching English at Aylsham High School

They moved again a couple of years later to the then new Lynfield Road development in North Walsham. 

Mr Sparrow remained within the English department at Aylsham High School for more than 20 years, becoming a union representative during his time there. 

Eastern Daily Press: Frank Sparrow taught across north Norfolk for three decades

Eastern Daily Press: Frank Sparrow and his wife, Elisabeth

During the mid-1990s, when Mr Sparrow was aged in his late 50s, he took early retirement from full-time teaching at Aylsham. 

The couple remained in North Walsham until 2010, moving to the new Valley Gardens development, as Mr Sparrow carried out occasional supply teaching duties at the town’s high school. 

He retired during the early years of this century. 

In his retirement, Mr Sparrow enjoyed long walks around Norfolk with his wife and friends, invariably taking the opportunity for a pint of ale in the nearest county pub afterwards. 

He also maintained a keen interest in current affairs. 

In 2010, the couple moved to Harleston, south Norfolk, to be nearer to family. 

Eastern Daily Press: Frank Sparrow

Following a short illness, Mr Sparrow died at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital on October 31. He leaves behind his son, daughter-in-law Lara, and grandchildren Ethan and Will. 

His funeral will take place at Waveney Memorial Park and Crematorium on Friday, December 8 at 11am. Bright colours for all and family flowers only are requested. 

  • To read all of the EDP obituaries and tributes click here.
  • To pay tribute to a loved one, email norfolkobituaries@newsquest.co.uk 
  • To read all obituaries and tributes join the Facebook group Norfolk's Loved & Lost