Saying Goodbye

Last week we said goodbye to my Grandad. During the funeral service the Vicar read out a sermon that my Grandad wrote in at the time he was retiring from a being Headmaster in 1984. It was so beautifully written and poignant that I wanted to share it with my readers.


Sermon of Ian Rowarth on 29th July 1984 on the occasion of his retirement from teaching as Headmaster of Scoulton School.

Entitled ‘Ian’s Benefit’.

I consider myself to be a very fortunate man. Fortunate first to have been born British for I think that ours is, overall, the best country in the world, despite the efforts of a certain section of the community to ruin it. What is more, since the age of 10, I have lived in one of the most pleasant parts of it. Other parts have a more spectacular beauty and I like to visit them, but as a place to live Norfolk is beyond compare.

I am fortunate to have been born into a family of loving & caring parents and grandparents who helped to form my character, the good bits and the bad, and gave me an interest in a wide range of subjects. This of course makes me a jack-of-all-trades, but I think this is a desirable quality for a primary teacher. It is thanks to my mother and a little twist of fate that I am able to retire now as she got me registered as an un-certificated teacher and on the county’s books before I began my 4 years War Service in the RAF.

I have a lovely wife who has supported and encouraged me all these years, and has made me a nicer person than I might have been otherwise. I also have 2 daughters of whom I am very proud, and 2 gorgeous little granddaughters.

Since I began teaching I have never had to work with anyone unpleasant, in fact almost all of my colleagues have been very nice friendly people and those with whom I have been working recently can’t have been nicer. A lot of complimentary things have been said about me and my school in the last few days and I must share the honour with them because we have all worked together so well as a team. Of course, there are two other groups of people involved in a school – children and parents, and I have been very fortunate there too. If you are a carpenter or builder or other kind of craftsman you can look at a job when it’s finished and say “I made that” and get a feeling of satisfaction. But if you are a teacher you can never do that. It takes a lot of years before you see a former pupil making good, but it’s very satisfying to know that you have had a hand in them getting there.

Some people say things like “They don’t stay children long” and really don’t want them to grow up, but I have always been glad to see them growing and learning and changing, my own as well as other people’s.

I have spent 25 years at Scoulton school and 23 living in Watton and I really enjoy seeing old boys and girls of the school – often enough now with families of their own. This is my reward for having stayed here a long time and it is one which I shall be able to enjoy for the rest of my days.

This has been a recounting of my blessings so I hope I haven’t bored you with it. Rather, I hope it may encourage some of you to go home and in a quiet moment to count yours. Thinking positively about the good things is an important factor in being happy. Remembering niggles and upsets and rows can only lead to bitterness and misery – and who wants those? Scoring one over someone else may make you feel good for a moment, but it won’t win you any friends.

In the business world it may bring financial advantage, but do you remember Ken Dodd’s song ‘Happiness’?  It says there “When it comes to measuring a man’s success, don’t count money, count happiness”. And that is very true – well, I hope it is, because I haven’t got an awful lot of money!

None of us is likely to make an impact on the world in general, in fact most of the world will never know that we ever existed, but we can try to shed a little light in our small corner of it and to leave the world a little better than we found it.

Thank you all for coming here today to support me. I really do appreciate it.



10 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye

  1. Such wonderful words…your Grandad was a big influence in my life…I left a message on one site to pay respects..I only heard the news today from my Dad (Graham Goodwin also a teacher but at wayland..retired)……Ian was one of the only other people other than my Nana who never judged me…he was a very possitive influence on me and was always so very caring and genuine…He was the best teacher I ever had and he was mine between the ages of 8-12…I loved him and his classes…I learnt so much about life the world and nature on our many nature walks with the classes…also the extra bottles of milk hed save for me 🙂 I still remember the rock he brought back from spain for me when I was about 11 yrs old!…Also george his little friend that fascinated me as a child!…ill never forget the owrd hed get me writing when I misbehaved “I must trea other as I wish to be treated myself”..ive taught this to my own children…Im so glad that at least on my last visit to England I met him and his lovely wife in the coffee shop and was able to share with him that memory and thanked him…also happy that he remembered me…god bless Ian say hi to Nana for me…much love…sympathies to your family also.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your memories with me. It was wonderful to read! Have passed on your words to my Mum and Grandma so that they can read them too. His funeral was beautiful and full of people’s stories – Grandad touched so many people’s lives in the way he touched yours. And because of that he’ll always be alive in our memories and our hearts.

      Thank you for commenting – it means a great deal.

  2. Sorry alot of typos as it has upset me greatly his passing my appologies for the bad typing…was crying as I wrote it as the memories came flooding back!.

  3. It was good to read your emotional comments about Dad, Evette. I’m glad that his teaching and mentoring has made such a difference in your life. Don’t be too sad though. He had a good life and made the very best of it. He was well loved by family and his many friends. He had a strong Christian faith so we are reassured that he now has his place in heaven.

  4. Ive actually been talking to alot of people especially my work collegues about him and what a wonderful teacher he was..ironically theres a young lady at our work who was totally in awe of how he taught us because this is the kind of teaching shes hoping to do also…It kind of spurred her on to carry on with her dreams!…So still Ian in inspring people even people who have never met!…Quite remarkable!…it funny because through talking about him Ive remembered so many more memories of my years at scoulton…Im also very happy that these words have reached you all…thank you for responding!…I think Ian would of been proud of me in the end!…I also have taken up teaching but of the canine variety!…Which also reminds me of how myself and a friend at scoulton school used to make Ian laugh because we had between us 300 invisible dogs and they all had names!…wonderful days…the best school years of my life!…God bless you all.

    1. Thank you so much Evette for your memories of Ian, I remember him talking about you with affection. I have heard so many wonderful stories from his pupils. Sometimes he was called Dad by mistake & he took that as a compliment that he was loved, rather than feared , as a teacher. God Bless him.

  5. lol yes Im sure or actually know I called Dad by mistake!…he would always laugh or give that over the top of the glasses look n grin!

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