Obituary - Dave Boalch, 1948-2012

Kerra Maddern

Dave Boalch was a funny, friendly and highly approachable headteacher. He was well known for his enthusiasm, idiosyncratic humour and warm, welcoming smile.

Born in Guernsey in the aftermath of Nazi occupation, Mr Boalch was from an established island family. His parents, Eileen and Charles, owned a grocery and as a child he helped them in the shop and made deliveries to customers on his bicycle.

He was educated at St Martin's Primary School and then at Elizabeth College, both on Guernsey, and he was an exceptional sportsman, representing the island at cricket, hockey and football.

After finishing school, Mr Boalch moved to the mainland to study teacher education at Goldsmiths, University of London and remained to teach in primary schools in the capital. Working in the inner city was a complete contrast to his personal educational experience on Guernsey, but one that he relished.

After working in numerous schools in London, Mr Boalch became headteacher at Pilgrims' Way Primary in southeast London in 1989. He remained in the post until 1996, when he returned to the Channel Islands to be closer to his parents.

In January 1997, he took up the post of assistant director of policy development at the Education Department of the States of Guernsey. In the two years he worked there he supported schools through a new validation - or inspection - process, managed the 11-plus selection, helped to develop a pupil support plan and worked on a headteacher appraisal scheme.

But he enjoyed being with children, and in 1999 he became temporary head, and then headteacher of Hautes Capelles Primary School on the island. He was a caring and solicitous leader, taking time to listen to his staff and pupils, particularly when the infant and junior schools were amalgamated to form a primary.

He was president of the local branch of the NAHT heads' union, and threw himself into the position with enthusiasm and good humour. Mr Boalch was always trying to find ways to improve the lot of teachers and children on the island. He loved Guernsey and took to the stage at NAHT annual conferences to tell UK headteachers how wonderful it was to work there.

He retired in February 2010, aged 63, but remained close to the school. His visits during retirement were considered by pupils to be a great treat.

Four years ago he married Soo, his long-term partner whom he had met in London, and Mr Boalch's love of the sea resulted in them living a mere 100m from the shore.

They enjoyed using their motorboat to venture to the French coast, and they loved fishing and had their own oyster beds.

Mr Boalch passed away suddenly after suffering a heart attack on 27 September. On the day of his funeral, the staff and pupils at Hautes Capelles wore loud shirts and shorts in honour of his unofficial dress code.

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