Obituary - Allan Giles 1956-2012

Kerra Maddern

Allan Giles was kind, creative and meticulous. He was always willing to help struggling pupils and he spent hours making sure his own work was as near perfect as possible.

Mr Giles, a technology teacher, had himself experienced difficulty with lessons as a child. He tried for years to prove he could outperform the expectations of his own teachers.

He was born and brought up in Baildon, near Shipley in West Yorkshire, with his younger brother, Keith. His father was an engineer and his mother worked as a doctor's receptionist.

The young Allan was gifted with his hands, but struggled to overcome his dyslexia. His primary school teachers criticised him - unconstructively, he felt - and because of this he wanted to prove himself academically. He would spend hours painstakingly memorising the spellings of words.

He had a better experience at his secondary school, Beckfoot in Bingley. He was able to study woodwork and metalwork, and he made many friends. But, even so, teachers told him he was not clever enough to be an architect, his dream career. So he chose teaching, because he thought he would love working with children and helping them to develop core skills.

Indeed, his quest to prove his teachers wrong about his academic abilities continued throughout his adult life: achieving his MA in education from the University of Leeds in 1990 was a personal triumph.

As a pupil at Beckfoot, Allan sat next to a girl named Pauline in maths lessons. The pair were firm friends for many years before embarking on a romantic relationship, although Pauline later recalled that she immediately thought Allan was handsome.

The couple went on to do their teacher training in London, but were based at opposite ends of the city. Both were thrilled to be awarded their degrees by the Queen Mother at the Royal Albert Hall in 1979.

Mr Giles first taught at Sheredes School in Hertfordshire; then at Breeze Hill School in Oldham. Later, he moved to Heckmondwike School in Kirklees, which merged and moved sites to become Spen Valley Sports College in Liversedge, West Yorkshire. There he became head of design.

He and Pauline married in 1988 and settled back in Baildon. They had three sons: Nicholas, Richard and Patrick. Family life revolved around the outdoors. But Mr Giles's love of outdoor pursuits had a serious side: his grandmother and mother had suffered from heart problems and he tried to keep fit. He raised money for charity by doing sponsored bike rides and he ran Spen Valley's annual school skiing trip.

Despite his efforts, Mr Giles's family medical history caught up with him earlier this year when he experienced sudden heart failure. He died aged 56.

Recently, Mr Giles's tutor group paid tribute to him at a school memorial service. Afterwards, they each released a white balloon from the school field. A memorial garden will open at Spen Valley Sports College in September.

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Kerra Maddern

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