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Tribute to first Education Minister 10 April 2007

TRIBUTE has been paid to the Island's first Education Minister, who died on Sunday aged 89.

Victor Kneale held the post from the advent of the Ministerial system in 1986 to 1990. The Douglas West MHK went on to become Speaker of the House of Keys. He retired from politics in 1991.

Mr Kneale was also a long-serving member of the Board of Education and twice chaired it.

Present Minister Anne Craine MHK today (Tuesday) paid a warm tribute to the politician in whose footsteps she followed.

Mrs Craine said:

'The dedication in the front of Hinton Bird’s "The History of Manx Education" is to "G.V.H. Kneale – A doughty fighter for education". Indeed he was and his name is synonymous with Manx education. No-one on the Island has dedicated as much time or interest to the educational well-being of our students and schools as did Mr Kneale over a long period of time.
'Before entering the House of Keys he was a member of the Board of Education from 1951-1962 and then went on to serve as Chairman of the Board of Education following his election to the House of Keys in 1962. He was to fulfil the role of Chairman initially for 10 years to 1972 and then again from 1981 to 1990, during which time, with the introduction of the Ministerial system, he was to become the first Minister of Education.
'From recollection, the old Board used to have a very large membership and used to meet in offices in Regent Street. My late mother was a member of the Board of Education at that time and Victor Kneale was a very firm and respected Chairman.
'He was responsible for driving the amalgamation of technical education in Hanover Street School, the Art Department in Kensington Road and the College of Domestic Science in Kingswood Road to form the basis of the College of Further Education, which has expanded to incorporate so many other fields, all contributing importantly to Further Education on the Island.
'The opening of the Victor Kneale Wing in May 1988 was soon followed by Mr Kneale’s award of the CBE in the June honours, a fitting recognition of his many years of service to education in general and further education in particular.
'Over the years he saw much of what he instigated come to fruition and he always adopted a very commonsense approach to education - an approach that I suggest came from his many years associated with Scouting.
'When I was appointed Minister for Education in December, he was one of the first to contact me with words of encouragement and support and I have always appreciated his sound advice and friendship. He will be sorely missed, not only by his wife Thelma and family but by the Isle of Man community as a whole. We can be thankful that he worked so tirelessly for education and gave us the foundation for the success that we as an Island can be justly proud of today.'

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