As Chris was a schoolteacher, and an outstandingly good one, I think it would be appropriate to start with a quotation from a school song – not Chris’s, but my own, as I feel it sums up our friend’s character to perfection:-
……..” What to help the future total can I render as my score?
Breadth of mind and moral courage,humour, kindness,brotherhood,
Never- failing zest for service, and the power to find life good “.
Add to that the ability to lead and inspire others and you have Chris Cowell.
Chris became an active member of what was at that time the Yorkshire Group of the Wolseley Register whilst he and his wife were still living in Whitby, where he was Head Teacher at Caedmon School, whilst Pam was head of 6th form at the other Whitby Secondary School
At that time he had joined the Register, but was looking for a particular Wolseley, namely a 14/56; such was his enthusiasm that he used to travel to our meetings, latterly at Bolton Percy – a round trip of some 120 miles. Chris found his 14/56, which he had restored at David Palmer’s. David and Chris became very good friends, and Chris began to enjoy his Wolseley, although very sadly his health became an issue and he very reluctantly took early retirement at the height of his career as Head of what had become an outstandingly successful school under his inspiring leadership. Chris cared for and brought out the best in every pupil in his care, not only in Whitby but at every school in which he had taught; this became very obvious in the huge number of tributes to Chris which appeared on social media after his passing was announced – this must have been very heartening and comforting to Pam and daughters Louise and Sarah.
After retirement Chris and Pam left Whitby and moved to Church Fenton to be near Sarah and her family, and Chris became more involved in local Register activities, and also represented the Group on the National committee, where his astute mind and ability to see the best in people was valuable, as was his great enthusiasm. Chris loved our rallies, both local and national, and drove his 14/56 whenever possible with great gusto (I am sure Dave Palmer would agree that sometimes the gusto was a little too great!), so that it was not always the epitome of reliability, but Chris loved that car. Those of us who took part in the marathon Jubilee Tour are agreed that trip was Chris and the 14/56’s “finest hour”; the sight of Chris driving along, singing hymns at the top of his voice, enjoying every stopover and holding court there will live with us for ever AND apart from an exhaust manifold leak, cured by Ian Clarke on our Scottish day of rest, the 14/56 never missed a beat in the 2,000 mile+ adventure.
Sadly, Chris’s health began to deteriorate and driving his pride and joy became too difficult, so that he sold it, making sure it went to a good home, but it did not stop his enthusiasm for the Register, and he was instrumental in starting our successful monthly get-togethers at the Bridge, Walshford, attending whenever he felt well enough.
Chris’s other great passion was Church music, and his background in education led him to realise that there was a considerable number of talented young musicians who were keen to play church organs, but whose backgrounds made this ambition financially impossible.
With his usual enthusiasm and acumen he decided to do something about this and started approaching possible sponsors, many of them his past pupils; he succeeded and founded the Young Organ Scholars Trust, which is almost unbelievably successful.
Typically, after making sure the Trust was in good hands, Chris stood down as Chairman, retaining an honorary position as Chairman emeritus.
On a personal note, I have lost a very good friend; we had the ability to “rib” each other without offence on either side – I even tolerated his occasional lapse into “the schoolteacher”, describing him as a benighted pedagogue on more than one occasion!
Christopher Cowell, you may not be with us physically, but you will never die; you live on in the love and gratitude not only of your family and friends but all the countless young people you have helped and encouraged during your well lived life.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Pam and all her family.