Tribute to Swaffham teacher

Rob GarrattA much-loved teacher and popular community figure has been honoured with a commemorative plaque at the school where he made his mark.Rob Garratt

A much-loved teacher and popular community figure has been honoured with a commemorative plaque at the school where he made his mark.

Dave Routledge was known for his inspiring teaching during his 17 years at Swaffham Hamond's High School, before he died of multiple sclerosis last year.

Now his former colleagues have gathered with the pupils of today to pay tribute to the former deputy headteacher with a brass plaque in the school's library.

Mr Routledge served at the school from 1970, first as an enthusiastic chemistry teacher and later as the deputy head.

But his enthusiasm spilled beyond the classroom, as he gave up his time to coach sports teams, lead expeditions to far flung locations like Luxemburg and Germany, and offer support to the school band, plays and events.

His friend and colleague, former head teacher Robert Young, said: 'As well as being good at his job he was a very nice man. He wasn't just a dull teacher, he had a lot of strings to his bow.

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'I've never met anyone who's not had a nice word to say about him - and when you become a deputy head there will always be someone who doesn't like you; but everyone respected him, trusted him, and knew he'd be fair.'

Mr Routledge passed away last May, leaving behind a widow Margaret, a son Mike, daughter Jane, and four grandchildren.

His good work also spilled out far beyond the school's four walls and into the wider community. For many years he gave up his free hours as a driver for the St Rafeal Club, transporting around families and individuals with difficulties. He later took on committee roles with the Swaffham Home Hospice and sat on the town's Crime Prevention Panel.

After his retirement in 1997 he also volunteered with the Patients Participation Group at the Manor Farm, and for spells was a member of the Round Table and the 421 Club.

Some of his most memorable achievements were as a member and keen fundraiser of Swaffham Rugby Club, giving up countless weekends to help raise the money that was used to establish the club on its current site.

Mr Young, of Swaffham, added: 'I think that when we join the teaching profession it is because we want to change things, we want to make the world a better place for succeeding generations.

'We soon recognise that we can only do this locally and incrementally. If our own community is better educated, more aware; if our pupils make more informed choices, experience better lives, then we may well have gone a long way in achieving our aim.

'Dave's legacy is that as an outstanding role model he achieved these aims. Swaffham is a better place for his efforts, for his industry and commitment, for inspiring so many young people with his enthusiasm and most of all by his example.'