Chris Knowles

C Knowles, KES 1972-2004; died 17 September 2006 aged 60

CHRIS KNOWLES died on Sunday 17 September 2006 aged 60 after a tenacious battle against cancer.

Chris joined KES at the start of his teaching career in 1972 and remained here, rising to be Head of Chemistry, until his retirement in December 2004 after 32 years at the school. He was a very fine teacher, an enthusiastic sportsman and good singer. He was also a very modest and rather shy man. He was greatly looking forward to his retirement.

He was struck down with a brain tumour within months of retirement and struggled with all his legendary stubbornness against his illness. Chris was 60.

Funeral: Hutcliffe Wood, Sheffield, at 15.00 Monday 25 September. Former pupils and colleagues welcome.

The school intends to organise a Chemistry prize in Chris's memory.

Michael Lewis, Headteacher, 19/9/2006.

David Holford (formerly Head of Biology, and KES 1966-79) adds:

I remember him well as a delightful colleague who was always full of fun, and whose company guaranteed good cheer and humour. I know he was also respected by his students, not only of Chemistry, but rugby and any other School activities which brought them to his presence. Chris in full flight at Whiteley Woods or Castle Dyke was a sight to savour!

I had only seen Chris on rare occasions since I left KES in 1979, so I know nothing of his more recent life, or of his personal circumstances, but I just wish to offer my condolences to all of those who were close to him in more recent times.

I guess he never got round to writing up his PhD thesis, even though to have done so would have probably enhanced his career, although it would have made no difference to the esteem in which he was held by his colleagues.

KES has lost one of its great servants.

I regret that I will not be able to be in Sheffield next Monday, but wish to be remembered to all former colleagues and students at an appropriate time.

David Holford (20/9/2006)

Richard Doyle (KES 1991-1997) adds:
I am saddened to hear of Chris Knowles's passing, as I remember his chemistry lessons well. He encouraged me to continue my studies beyond school, and I am now doing postdoctoral research at the Chemistry Dept of the University of Sheffield. Chris was quite a firm, traditional teacher, but he had an outstanding ability to explain complicated topics, and present them in a clear and interesting way. I also remember that he accompanied us on a memorable school trip to the Czech Republic.
Dr Richard Doyle (21/9/2006)

John Barron (KES 1981-1987) adds:

I was very sad to hear the news. I had Chris as my chemistry teacher in my final year at King Edwards and he inspired me, through a combination of outstanding teaching and plenty of encouragement to study chemistry at university. I went on to become a chemistry teacher and I am now the head of science at a successful 6th form college in North London. He also accompanied the rugby team on one of our tours abroad and he proved to be a big success and a very popular member of staff. He will be sorely missed and my thoughts go out to his family.

John Barron (9/10/2006)

Mike Wilkes writes (2 messages, both 17 May 2007):

Message 1

I have recently been trying to contact some of the old friends from my school days at Wolstanton County Grammar School, Milehouse Lane, Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire.

Amongst them was a Chris Knowles who lived on my way and with whom I walked to school almost every day for seven years. We were also both at Wolstanton Church of England Junior School and May Bank Infants together. I haven’t seen Chris since the last day of our ‘A’ level exams in 1965, we both took Physics, Chemistry and Maths. To be precise I haven’t seen him since we finished celebrating the end of our school days at the Wulstan pub. However, I am aware that he went to a university somewhere in the North to study chemistry. I, on the other hand, went to the Midlands to study Electrical Engineering and left the country in 1972, eventually settling in Brisbane Queensland.

Whilst surfing the internet recently I came upon the announcement of a “Chris Knowles Memorial Prize for Chemistry” made by Mr. Michael Lewis, Head teacher of King Edward VII School. From the description of your Chris Knowles given in the announcement and my Chris Knowles I have a horrible feeling that they are one and the same person. May I presume on your time to ask you to find out if we are talking about the same person and advise me.

Message 2

The Chris Knowles on the Staff Rugby photo 1973/74 is the same Chris (Nogger) Knowles I knew at school. Quiet (unlike me; I was always the noisy one), a little shy, a good friend, a great trier (like his father; who held the Military Medal) on and off the rugby field, an excellent singer (a dreadful musician; you should have heard his guitar playing), an excellent teacher (I never had any doubt about that) …

Mike Wilkes, Brisbane
Sam Andrews (KES 1979-1985) adds:

I was upset to hear about the death of Mr Knowles. He was an inspirational teacher who had a lot of faith in me; I was quite a difficult pupil at school so the dedication of teachers such as himself was really what kept me in check and motivated.

His lessons were always very practical and driven by a real enthusiasm for his subject. In the shadow of the great Mr Denial he brought his own vision of the subject into the classroom and even managed to make the weighty 'Investigating Chemistry' an accessible and enjoyable textbook. He communicated brilliantly with certain kids like myself and was genuinely pleased to see us succeed. I got all grade Cs at O level but for chemistry I got a grade B. I can still remember much of what he taught me and I still have a keen interest in science, despite having gone on to university to study English, which I now teach.

I know it is rather late but I would like to pass on my condolences to the family.

Sam Andrews (26 February 2008)