With his larger-than-life personality and colourful bow ties, Roger Butterworth was a unique figure in Littlehampton.
In his three decades of teaching history at Littlehampton Community School, he made a lasting impression on his pupils – and more than 2,000 have joined a Facebook group to share their memories of him now he has passed away.
His nephew Russ, 44, from Bristol, said the outpouring of emotion from the Memories of Mr Roger Butterworth page was ‘incredible’: “It just shows the high esteem he was held in.
“What is also nice is that the group encouraged other students to get back in touch with their teachers and fellow ex-pupils. Even in his death, he brought people together which is an incredible legacy for him.”
Roger was born in Bristol and studied at Exeter University before taking a placement at a school in Basildon, after which he settled down in Littlehampton.
He was an avid traveller, having visited Brazil, China, and the USSR when it existed.
Russ said: “He was a wonderful uncle to me. He would bring me back USSR propaganda and bows and arrows from the depths of Brazil; all these amazing gifts from these amazing places.”
Roger was also very involved with amateur dramatics, and his starring role was as an extra in a film about Queen Victoria.
He volunteered prolifically, including for the Samaritans phone line, the St Barnabus House charity shop and Arundel Castle, where he was a tour guide.
He was a researcher at Littlehampton Museum, where he would authenticate donations, and gave up his time after retiring in the early noughties to teach children to read at schools including River Beach Primary School in York Road, Littlehampton.
He passed away aged 69 on Monday, November 6.
One of Roger’s ex-pupils who has paid tribute to him is the mayor of Littlehampton, Billy Blanchard-Cooper.
Roger was head of Billy’s house, Highdown House, and after leaving school in 1999, the pair stayed in touch and remained friends, with Billy inviting him to his wedding.
He is due to give a speech at Roger’s funeral, which is tomorrow at Worthing Crematorium at 3pm (Wednesday, November 22).
He described Roger as ‘eccentric’ and ‘loveable’: “He was such a big part of the community, there was no-one quite like him. He was everyone’s friend, and he would tell you what you needed to hear.
“You could never miss him, with his big red hat and plethora of bow ties, and he was just the person you needed to see to brighten up your day.”
He said Roger would be ‘touched’ by the online outpouring of emotion, but the irony was that he was not a fan of the internet and social media. Billy said: “For one person, especially one school teacher, to have that much of an impact on so many generations and so mant people who have moved out of the area is amazing.
“I don’t think anyone will have that impact again; maybe the Queen.”
He is survived by his nephew Russ and his mother, Doreen.