Tributes to teacher, vicar, and manager of TV It's a Knockout team

29th January 2021


Reverend Arthur Bowles, former chaplain of Norwich City FC and Great Yarmouth Town FC, died on January 19. Daniel Hickey reports – photo credit: submitted

The year 1970 was a special one for Norfolk man Arthur Bowles
He was manager of the team representing Great Yarmouth in that year's TV gameshow 'It's a Knockout', which saw contestants from towns across the country compete in absurd races and challenges
After two sets of televised games, his squad of teenage boys and girls won the chance to represent England in the European round of the competition
Training was hard and the town was short of sporting facilities in those days - it was a case of making use of the beach and seafront, as well as a small private pool for water activities


A Radio Times cover from 1970 showing the Great Yarmouth 'It's a Knockout' Team representing England in Europe. – photo credit: submitted

But those challenges didn't put off Arthur, a passionate and committed man, and the team flew to Berlin for its first international match, making it through to the final, held in the Italian city of Verona. They came fifth overall and earned £300 for the town
Mr Bowles, who taught at Oriel Grammar School in Gorleston and would later become a vicar, chaplaining at Norwich City FC and then Great Yarmouth Town FC, died on January 19 of a heart attack at the age of 84
He was born in January 1936 in Martham to parents Annie and Leonard and had one sister, Avis Higg
When he was nine-years-old, the family moved to Great Yarmouth, where Arthur attended Greenacre School then Great Yarmouth Technical High School
He was among the first group of students to take A levels there


Arthur Bowles, former teacher and chaplain of Norwich City FC and Great Yarmouth Town FC, during his national service with the RAF. – photo credit: submitted

Arthur went straight from school to do national service with the RAF and was offered pilot training but declined in favour of enrolling at Loughborough University, where he studied P.E. and Maths
Before leaving school, he played for local football clubs - Lowestoft, Gorleston and Great Yarmouth
He also took part in several games as an amateur for Arsenal, playing at Highbury Stadium, but never signed up as a professional
After graduation, he married his fiancée Margaret and began teaching at his old school, now renamed Oriel Grammar School and housed in a new building in Gorleston
He and Margaret had two children together - Stephen and Cheryl
While at the school, Arthur managed football and basketball teams and enjoyed working with colleagues who were once his teachers
In 1975, Arthur left his teaching post and attended Reading University for a year to gain a diploma in counselling in education, which led to an appointment in Norwich at a centre for teenagers who had been taken out of school
His final job in education was deputy head teacher at North Denes Primary
In 1978, the family moved to a derelict farmhouse in Scratby, where five years of hard work followed, with the house renovated and Arthur turning the large farmyard into beautiful gardens
In 1989, he retired from teaching due to osteoarthritis and eventually had both hips and knees replaced

Arthur Bowles, who taught at the former Oriel High School in Gorleston, has been praised as a "passionate and committed man who helped many people" – photo credit: submitted

The following year, he was put forward by Great Yarmouth FC rector, Rev Michael Woods, for training to become a non-stipendiary priest, a position to assist the paid clergy
After three years, he was priested in Norwich Cathedral and then shared a chaplaincy at Norwich City FC with Rev Bert Cadmore
Arthur would visit the club training ground every Friday with Bert, talking with players over lunch, and attending every home game
He later became chaplain of Great Yarmouth FC and spent many happy hours there with the local people he knew
He is survived by his wife, two children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren
On its website, Great Yarmouth FC said it was "devastated"
The club said Mr Bowles "provided wonderful support to the club in the past six years as a loyal supporter, committee member and so much more, to so many"
"His connection with the club goes so much further, and his link to the local area runs deep for so many. This is such a difficult loss to deal with at this awful time”
"There are few who get talked about with the reverence he holds in the local area, and many are hurting with the news today. No more so than the wonderful family he leaves behind, who the club will support in any way we can in the coming weeks and months"

this article first appeared on the Great Yarmouth Mercury website and is reproduced with permission


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