Obituary - Roy Harvey, 1950-2012

21st September 2012 at 01:00

Roy Harvey was a dedicated teacher who, as head of sixth form at Eastbury Comprehensive School, Barking, helped many students get into university. He will also be remembered for producing the school's legendary musicals.

Mr Harvey was born in Barking on 11 May 1950 and spent his entire career working for the London borough of Barking and Dagenham, initially at Erkenwald School for three years, and then Eastbury, a large comprehensive, for 37 years.

A geography specialist, Mr Harvey was known for being impeccably dressed and thoroughly prepared for his lessons. During his time at Eastbury, he was promoted to head of geography and head of sixth form.

But he was not just renowned for his work in the classroom. When he first joined the school, he played on the staff rugby team. Around school he was thought of as a gentle giant, being over 6ft tall, but on the field he was an all-out competitor - seeing him jump for the ball in line-outs was described as a "frightening" spectacle.

The headteacher at the time gently persuaded Mr Harvey that his enthusiasm for rugby might perhaps be leaving too many of his colleagues as the walking wounded - which is when Mr Harvey turned to the theatre.

His productions, which included Oliver!, Grease and The Little Match Girl, were meticulously planned and rehearsed over five months. He seemed to have a talent for casting, with students - and staff - given roles that matched their personalities, and drew the best out of them. The reputation of the performances was such that the school has now created the Roy Harvey Award for Expressive Arts in his memory.

His attention to detail was also clear in his day job. As head of sixth form, he insisted students were smartly dressed - the young men in shirts and ties and the women suitably formal. When A-level results arrived he was meticulous in ensuring that students' needs were catered for: counselling, advising on courses and contacting university admissions tutors. The process sometimes lasted several days, and whether the goal was further study or the world of work, Mr Harvey continued until every student was settled.

Outside school, he was a dedicated member of the Salvation Army and a past president of the Rotary Club of Barking.

When his health began to deteriorate in 2005, Mr Harvey moved into an administrative role, working behind the scenes to ensure the school ran smoothly. Having for many years lived just a few streets away from Eastbury, he moved in 2009 to Great Oakley in Essex. He worked until March 2012, when ill-health forced him to take retirement.

Roy Harvey died on 18 August 2012 at Colchester General Hospital, aged 62. The significance of his death was such that the school was closed for an hour for his funeral on 7 September because so many staff wished to attend and pay their respects to their friend and colleague, whom they knew as "Mr Eastbury".

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