Keith Howard, Headmaster of Queen Mary's Grammar School 1979-1995

Mr Howard appointed me to my first teaching job, starting at QM in 1989. I knew I’d like the school; it was similar to the one I’d attended and I could see that he espoused what you might call ‘good old-fashioned grammar school values’, which suited me. He actually gave me a telling-off before I’d even started work – I’d attended for interview in suit and tie, of course, but when I was invited to come and look around a couple of weeks after I’d been appointed, I thought a pullover would be acceptable. Apparently not: “The approach here is formal, Mr Cox, and members of staff wear jackets.” Things did get better, though, and the two years I spent at QM under his leadership gave me the perfect grounding to a teaching career. I remember a First Year (Yr 7) rugby coaching session too: he said he’d come out to run the rule over the boys but I more than half-suspect that I was being evaluated too. He had an excellent pass – firm, into the midriff, present your hip to the tackler – and I made sure I was safe under the high ball that day. I can’t claim to have known him well but I did know where to turn for guidance if I needed it and I know that he genuinely wanted me to stay longer at the school and would have offered me a promoted post if there’d been a vacancy. Firm but fair might be his epitaph. RIP.

Gareth Cox

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