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

Reverend Arthur Bowles

Reverend Arthur Bowles, former chaplain of Norwich City FC and Great Yarmouth Town FC, died on January 19. - 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.

Radio Times cover 1970

A Radio Times cover from 1970 showing the Great Yarmouth 'It's a Knockout' Team representing England in Europe. - 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.

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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 frist group of students to take A levels there.

Arthur Bowles

Arthur Bowles, former teacher and chaplain of Norwich City FC and Great Yarmouth Town FC, during his national service with the RAF. - 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 fiancee 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

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". - Credit: Submitted

The following year, he was put forward by Great Yarmouth FC rector, Rev Micheal 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."

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