SCORES of mourners crammed into a High Wycombe church to pay their final tributes to “inspirational and well respected” former RGS headmaster Rowland Brown JP OBE.
More than a hundred friends, family members and colleagues packed into the Union Baptist Church on Easton Street for yesterday's service in memory of Mr Brown.
Mr Brown passed away at his home last Wednesday with his family by his side following a six-week battle with pancreatic cancer, aged 77.
A private service was held at the Chilterns Crematorium before the memorial service, which featured moving tributes from Mr Brown's family and friend and deputy headteacher of the Royal Grammar School, Roger Pantridge.
Following a hymn chosen by Mr Brown, his eldest brother Russell read John 14: 1-6 from the Bible, which the brothers were “made to learn before we went to school.”
Mr Pantridge, who lead the service, then introduced the 36-strong boys choir from RGS – where Mr Brown was “an inspirational headmaster” for 18 years – who gave “a performance which would have made Rowland proud”.
A further reading by son-in-law Neil Kendrick was followed by a touching tribute from Mr Brown's eldest of three daughters Caroline Wallbank, and two of his eight grandchildren – Harvey and Oliver Wallbank.
Mrs Wallbank recounted her childhood memories of her father and spoke about his love for spending time with his family, and organising parties.
She concluded by saying: “He was a quiet man but he had a wicked sense of humour, which would catch people by surprise and he was happy being the butt of his own jokes.”
“Thank you dad from all of us for all of your love and support. You have given us the strongest of foundations which will stand us in good stead for the future.
“You are a remarkable man and we love you so very much.”
Mrs Wallbank's children praised their “fun-loving” grandfather and paid tribute to the former High Wycombe Rotary Club president, who was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship in June, for his 'love, support and advice'.
Mr Pantridge fought back the tears as he gave a touching eulogy to the “quiet, loving family man who I was privileged to call friend”.
He went on to say: “Only the best is good enough for RGS and in that, we had the best in so many respects. He raised the school to new heights of success.
“One teacher summed him up quite well when they said he encouraged and inspired everyone to go the extra mile, then Rowland would go another two miles.
“Never a man for the grand statement or gesture, but when Rowland spoke, it was always worth paying attention and listening carefully.
“His quiet authority, wisdom and passion for the will be much missed.
“He was hugely respected by his fellow headteachers; frequently offering quiet but pertinent advice to colleagues seeking his opinion.
“There was even a 'rumour' based on good inside knowledge that when a new Government initiative arrived, the Education Department at County Hall would frequently wait to see what Rowland Brown would do about it before acting.
“Rowland was blessed with huge intellect and great wisdom and he used his God given abilities to serve – it has been a privilege. He is a remarkable man.”
The service finished with Mr Brown's favourite hymn, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory, before friends and family gathered for a drink in the church's Hub – the building he helped fund.
See this week's Bucks Free Press for further tributes from Mrs Wallbank and current RGS headmaster Roy Page to Mr Brown.