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Obituary - Meyrick Rowlands 1952-2012

Meyrick Rowlands was, people said, nothing but a big child at heart. This was what made him so successful, both as a headteacher and as a practical joker.

He was born in Pembrokeshire in June 1952. Both his parents played cricket; from childhood onwards, cricket was simply part of his life. But he also knew that he wanted a career in teaching: he always found children easy company.

He was, and remained throughout his life, a fan of pranks and practical jokes. He would, for example, carry around a musical horn, filled with talcum powder. Whenever anyone tried to play the horn, the powder would blow back into the would-be musician's face.

He was similarly renowned for his shaggy-dog stories. Friends and colleagues eventually learned that, when Meyrick embarked on a story, there would mostly likely be a punchline at the end.

After losing a bet while at Caerleon teacher-training college in Newport, he spent a year wearing only red shoes. He liked it so much that he adopted the habit for life: red shoes became his trademark. Newport also became a habit: he taught in its schools for the next 30 years, eventually becoming deputy head of St Woolos Primary School and Nursery.

His fondness for jokes and stories followed him into the classroom. He would tell pupils that, one Christmas Eve, he had heard a noise downstairs. Later, he had found a piece of red cloth - promptly produced - on his windowsill. Clearly, he concluded, Santa's coat had been caught in his window.

He brought magic to the classroom. Each year, he would take infants on a walk through the woods. They followed clues to find crystal stones - one for each child - buried under a tree. "These stones have magical powers," he would tell them. "Put it under your pillow. If you can't sleep, it will help."

He met Angela Williams at the wedding of some mutual friends. They married in 1990, when he persuaded his groomsmen that it was bad luck to look at the wedding rings before the ceremony. The hapless best man was therefore at the altar when he discovered that the ring box was empty; Meyrick pulled the rings from his own pocket.

His first headship was at St Peter's Primary School in Blaenavon. But, keen to move back to Pembrokeshire, he accepted the headship of Pennar Community School, his own primary alma mater, in 2001.

He played cricket for Wales' national team in the 1980s and for local clubs afterwards. On the committee at Whitland Cricket Club, Meyrick demonstrated the same thoughtfulness that school colleagues had long observed. Joining the committee was part of his retirement plan. He also wanted to travel more: he and Angela were planning a trip to Marrakech.

He retired on 20 July; on 24 July, he was first up to bat. Minutes after he was caught out, he collapsed with a heart attack.

Meyrick Rowlands is survived by his wife, Angela, and by his children, Daniel and Lisa.

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