One of Littlehampton’s best-loved teachers was given a fitting tribute at a memorial on Saturday.
Around 70 people filled the sports hall of The Littlehampton Academy in Fitzalan Road to pay their respects to Roger Butterworth, who taught history at the academy’s former incarnation, the Littlehampton Community School, for three decades.
He died, aged 69, on November 6, and hundreds of people attended his funeral on November 22.
Co-organiser Emma Harrison Thayre, of Kendal Close, Littlehampton, was one of Mr Butterworth’s A-level history students and he was also her head of house. The 38-year-old said it was a ‘really lovely celebration of his life’: “He was such a giving and generous man.
“There were so many stories about how he inspired people and got them back on the right track.”
Friends, colleagues and ex-pupils were among the speakers. Rosalind Waite, a former colleague, was one of them. She said: “Roger was my colleague but most of all my friend. He listened, he cared and he had a compassion for all. He made people laugh, wiped their tears and taught them the value of Classic FM.”
Joe Butt, now a primary school teacher, first met Roger as a pupil in 1976.
He said: “He inspired learning with everyone he worked with. He was brilliant at finding time to get to know people; he wasn’t all about the exam results.”
Born in Bristol, Roger studied at Exeter University before eventually settling down in Littlehampton. He was an avid traveller, having visited 60 countries including Brazil, China, and the USSR.
Roger was also very involved with amateur dramatics, and volunteered prolifically, including for the Samaritans phone line, the St Barnabas House charity shop in Wick and Arundel Castle.
He is survived by his nephew Russ, who attended the memorial and showed the group pictures of his uncle in his youth and astride camels and elephants while on his travels.
He said: “It was fantastic; Emma did a really good job. It was so nice hearing people’s first hand memories of Roger.
“I want to extend the thanks of the family to Emma because it took up a lot of her time. We really appreciate it.”
There was also an outpouring of emotion online for the teacher.
Scotty Vine said: “Mr Butterworth truely was an amazing teacher that gave so much and took such little in return. Sleep tight sir.”
Fiona Eyre said: “Roger was a wonderful neighbour, always keeping a quiet eye out for us. Anything you needed he was there for you. Many evenings spent having a glass of wine and a natter.”
David Bridgeman described him as ‘one of life’s characters who gave so much to so many’, and Kathy Redman added: “Mr Butterworth was an inspiring teacher, who taught me and my children. Whenever we saw him out and about he stopped to chat and remembered our names. He was a truly remarkable man.”
Karen Shaw spoke for many present at the event when she said: “Roger’s memorial was poignant, compassionate and extremely funny at times. I think he would have enjoyed it. The heady reminiscence of a large glass of good wine. Our lives matter more because of Roger’s inspirational care.”