Bolton School Former Pupils

Roderic Howarth (1937-1947)

Roderic wrote a short autobiography in 2017. Following his death in December 2020, his son, Jonathan, requested that his father's memories be published in his honour.

I was born in Bolton on 20th October 1929. After infant school at Heaton Village School, I started out at the Junior School, Bolton School, in September 1937. For a whole year I was the youngest boy at Bolton School, starting when I was not quite eight. At Bolton School I gained School Certificate and Higher Certificate and represented the School in swimming.

I left Bolton School in 1947 and started as a medical student in what was then call the School of Physic at Trinity College Dublin. I progressed without a hitch and qualified as a doctor in June 1953. It was while I was at Trinity that I met Aileen Frances Smith, my future wife. While at Trinity I represented the University at rowing. After junior hospital jobs at Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital, Dublin, I returned to England and worked as a Senior House Officer at Bolton Royal Infirmary.

In November 1954 I was called up for National Service and was commissioned in the Royal Army Medical Corps. I spent a year in Sierra Leone attached to the Royal West African Frontier Force stationed at Daru and then in Freetown.

On returning to England I married Aileen at Osborne Park Methodist Church, Belfast, on 6th December 1956. I was posted to Germany and was attached to the First Battalion Coldstream Guards, Bradbury Barracks, Krefeld. Aileen soon joined me and we set up home in 94 Roonstrasse, Krefeld. We had a very happy year in Krefeld with the Coldstreams.

Jonathan was born in BMH Hostert, Germany, on 8th October 1956. My demob was at first deferred, as I would have had to accompany the battalion to Suez where they were to be posted. In the event, the crisis ended and I left the army with the rank of Captain at the end of 1956.

Back in England I joined the later Dr Peter Cooke in general practice in Aspull, becoming a partner one year later. Katharine was born in February. In 1968 I left the practice and worked until 1974 for the Department of Health and Social Services. I was never really happy in this job and in 1974 I took the opportunity to join the newly-formed Employment Medical Advisory Service. This turned out to be my ideal job and I greatly enjoyed work with the field force. I obtained the Diploma in Industrial Health (DIH Eng) in 1976, winning the Society of Occupational Health prize. In 1968 I got ambitious and was promoted to Senior Medical Officer and took up post at the Head Office, Medical Division, Health and Safety Executive, Bootle. I retired in October 1989, but continued to work, first as a part-time medical referee for the DHSS doing ‘fitness for work’ medicals and attendance allowance visits. After this I worked as a part-time medical advisor to an asbestos stripping firm, finally hanging up my stethoscope on my 75th birthday.

From being at School I enjoyed golf. I played while at Trinity and again in Germany. I was a member of Bolton Golf Club from School to 1957, winning the Captain’s prize in 1953. With little spare time in general practice, I left Bolton and joined Wigan Golf Club in December 1957. I was on the management committee for many years and was Chairman of Handicaps. I was delighted to be Captain of the Club in 1968. I have won a few prizes at Wigan Golf Club, including some ‘board’ competitions, but I was never more than a club handicap golfer. The lowest handicap I managed was ten. I regret that I never reached single figures. I have enjoyed my membership of Wigan very much and have been delighted with the changes and improvements I have seen over the years. It gave me great pleasure when my dear wife, Aileen, became Lady Captain in 1983. I have ended my days as Senior Past Captain and I do not deny that I have enjoyed the status of that office.

I acquired Membership of the Faculty of Occupational Physicians (MFOM) in 1980.