Earlier tonight while over at my brother's he turned to me from Facebook to tell me that Richard Lowry had died earlier today.
Mr Lowry as we knew him was the younger Economics teacher at Regent House Grammar School when I started my A' Level in the subject. But he was the one who was more inspirational. He was only 15 years older than us but he had ways to get us involved in practical Economics.
When it came to learning about how the stock market worked, he gave us all pages of accounting paper and the sum of £500 on the credit side. For the next three months until the end of that first term we would trade shares at the closing day closing prices from the previous day. He would have to sign off any transactions so on the days we didn't have him for economics we would end up in his hut with our broadsheet paper ( in my case the Guardian, or the new Independent) to carry out our trades. At the end there was a prize of a mint Bank of England one pound note* in a frame. That One Pound Note has traveled to London and back then off to Scotland and back in my safe possession since.
The first time I watched the budget was actually in one of Mr Lowry's classes, wonderfully scheduled for the Chancellor's presentations (they were in the Autumn in 1986). We knew what we were looking out for and were filing in notes of key changes as we went through. It is something I've done many times since, so the fact that I learn of his death on the day of a Chancellors Autumn Statement seems even more poignant.
However, with Doctor Bell seemingly part of the furniture at Regent Mr Lowry looked for better options so before the end of our first year of our A' Level he went of to Glenlola as the head of Business Studies. He later went on to be head of sixth form and Vice Principal. He'd only taken half our our A' Level classes but we always looked forward to them. When he let at the start of June his substitute was Sammy Wilson who is now in charge of the Northern Irish Executive budget.
One morning he drew up a graph of a good type on the board and started to tell us what to write about it, then half way through started to say that in reverse this meant something else, which got more and more ludicrous as he carried on speaking. I either sadly, or happily, don't have all that he said as more and more of us stopped writing until he got the the line. "Many people have taken this reverse theory as truth and written long studies of this principle but are no better than April Fools" Yes there were a few still writing when he got to those last two words. One person even didn't stop until he wrote down 'fools'.
It was Mr Lowry who inspired me to take Economics further to University (okay I started out at Polytechnic, but my degree is from a University). Of course doing so also got me involved in politics, not the them and us of Northern Irish politics but the real politics of the rest of the UK. I got involved with the exciting new party that had just formed from two founding parties in their first freshers events in September 1988. It has led to so much more (see the political experience tab).
I seen him occasionally around Bangor since he took the role at Glenlola and had told him about standing for Westminster in 2005. He was truly and inspiration that led me to what I've been involved with for the past two decades.
He truly was an inspirational teacher. He took early retirement in January 2010 on health grounds, sadly he has died at the all too early age of 56. So my thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sharon and sons Matthew and Peter.
* Younger readers (who aren't from Scotland) may not believe in the mythical one pound note, whose greenness is mentioned in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The reason being in 1987 they were phased out.