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News > In Memoriam > Mr Bryan J Boardman, former Head of Maths, CGS

Mr Bryan J Boardman, former Head of Maths, CGS

Written by his children, for inclusion in the 2023 edition of The Patesian, this tribute remembers the life of their father who was Head of Maths at CGS in the 1960s and 70s.
Bryan Boardman
Bryan Boardman

Bryan James Boardman

5.10.1929 – 13.11.2021

Those are the simple facts for our dad, but it is what the hyphen in the middle covers that is important for any of us. 

Dad was born in Manchester, a second child with an older sister. As a toddler, he survived a horrific accident when a bus ploughed into his pushchair, injuring his mother who feared that he had been killed. However, Dad had demonstrated his quick thinking mind at that early age and leapt to safety just before calamity happened. This speed of thought stayed with him throughout his life and he was always ready with a quick riposte to any comment!

At the start of WW2, Dad was at primary school and like many, he was evacuated. During this time, he took the entrance exam for Manchester Grammar School and earned the thanks of his peers when he was awarded a scholarship, as the primary school pupils were all given a day off to celebrate! Dad worked hard at school, favouring the maths and sciences throughout his school career. However,  he must have had a bit of a rebellious streak in him, because he got in to trouble in the sixth form when he and a friend decided to play truant and go to the Isle of Man to watch the TT races!

Two other interests saw him through school: singing and sport. Dad had started out as a performer at an early age as his parents were stalwarts of local amateur dramatics. As a boy he joined the  choir at St Mary’s, Crumpsall, the church his family attended.  Before long, he became a soloist there and then there was demand for him to sing at events throughout Manchester. In the days when Dad was a chorister, roads were mercifully less busy than now and children were safe to walk or cycle around. On one occasion, he was cycling to his music practice with no hands on the handlebars, but music instead on those handlebars, trying to learn his notes when suddenly he found himself spread-eagled on the road. A cat had shot out in front of him and caused the accident. This incident sums up dad: conscientious – learning his music for practice; last-minute – leaving that learning till the end; risk-taking – cycling no-handed and finally good humoured – he didn’t mind sharing his self-inflicted misfortune with others!

Dad was a keen sportsman and played hockey and soccer for the school. Tennis was something he came to later in his teens, but he enjoyed considerable success at it. Dad was in the RAF for his National Service, and competed for the RAF in inter forces tennis matches and also played on the courts of Wimbledon in the RAF Championships, where he reached the final in 3 consecutive years. In doubles, he partnered Bobby Wilson, then the British number 1. 

National Service followed his time at school, then Manchester University – studying mathematics and Durham University, where he completed his teaching certificate. He met our mother during his university years whilst playing tennis on the opposite side of the net in a mixed doubles final. He lost that match, but won the match of his life! For the three of us children, tennis was an important part of our childhood and brings back many happy memories of evenings after school playing at the club in Cheltenham.

Dad started teaching at Leeds Grammar School, and whilst there, Caroline was born. Alexandra arrived soon after the young family moved to Cheltenham and Andrew was born a few years later. Dad taught for many years at Cheltenham Grammar School – starting off in the old building which stood on the High Street before moving to the modern school in its first incarnation on Princess Elizabeth Way. He became Head of Mathematics there, and encouraged many boys through ‘O’, ‘A’ and ‘S’ levels, as well as supporting and offering extra tuition to those sitting the Oxbridge exams. Dad was not just a mathematician though. He recognised the importance of the pastoral side of his role and understood that developing young men socially was as important as their academic prowess. Therefore, he also participated in the sporting side of school life, forming and supporting the hockey and tennis teams.

In the mid 1970s though, he was appointed Senior Inspector for Maths in the county of Essex. This was a role he fulfilled with aplomb, never giving up on teachers who may have been struggling, but supporting them in their early and later careers, so that they became fine teachers of the subject.

There was always an adventuring spirit in our father. He had cycled around England as a young man and the long summer holidays enabled us to travel with our caravan to countries in Europe which were not then known holiday destinations. We saw Italy, Austria, Germany, Scandinavia and Yugoslavia over the course of a number of summers and our lives were enriched by those experiences. 

After he retired, Dad took up drawing, painting and later sculpture and the family home displays a number of his pieces. He was always active, and loved to be involved in the village where he made his home for over forty years. He took part in the Village Produce Association competitions and was for many years one of the churchwardens at the village church. 

After his death, many people told us how he had supported them as pupils, or in their careers, or as a friend or confidante. He was not a man to shout his brilliance from the roof top, but he was clearly a highly regarded member of society and has left a wonderful legacy, not just for his three children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild, but for many others whom he has helped on his passage through life.

Caroline Stubbings, Alexandra Stevens and Andrew Boardman

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