Ian Rowarth: Champion of Norfolk small schools and lay reader for 48 years

A headmaster of a Norfolk village school for a quarter of a century, Ian Rowarth, has died aged 88 after a long illness at Hingham.

As a lay reader for more than 48 years, he was invited to preach at more than 30 churches in Norfolk. He became a lay reader in 1957, initially for the churches at Scoulton and Wood Rising and later at Hingham's High Oak group.

In retirement, he remained active in the community for the next 20 years, initially as a hospital car driver then helping as a community driver.

When he retired from Scoulton School, near Watton, in 1984, he was convinced that smaller village schools would deliver a better rounded education.

'They give youngsters the personal contact you cannot get in bigger schools,' he added.

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The numbers at his school fluctuated between 40 and 70 with many children coming from the nearby RAF quarters at Watton. In his final year, while the RAF station was fully operational just a dozen of the 42 children came from the village.

Born in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, his parents moved to Norwich when he was 10 years old.

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He went to CNS Eaton but after passing the entrance to Cambridge University, he was called up.

He served in the RAF as a radar mechanic and was in Germany at the end of the second world war.

After he was demobbed, he went to read history at Trinity on a two-year degree course in order to qualify as a teacher.

He taught at Weston Longville and Blofield before becoming headmaster at Scoulton at Easter 1959.

He was a back-stage man with Breckland Players for more than 20 years, where his wife also acted.

A member of Wayland Young Ornithologists' group for many years, he also enjoyed bird spotting.

Married for 59 years, he leaves a widow, Geraldine, two daughters, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A service of thanksgiving will be held today at the Well Christian Centre, Swaffham Road, Ashill, at 2pm.

Michael Pollitt

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