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Tributes to Board of Education member Geoff Cannell 25 September 2007

ACTING Education Minister Mr Bill Henderson MHK has led the tributes to Board of Education member for Douglas West Mr Geoff Cannell, who died yesterday aged 65.

Mr Henderson described Mr Cannell’s death as ‘a sad loss of a Manxman dedicated to his Island and his community’.

Mr Henderson said:

‘I am saddened and my sincere thoughts are with Geoff’s wife Lynda and daughter Zoe at this time. I have worked closely with Geoff, both in the House of Keys and most recently on the Manx Foundation for the Physically Disabled, where he was board chairman. We have lost one of the Island’s biggest supporters, particularly in the field of motorsport.’

He concluded:

‘Geoff was totally dedicated to any position he took up and wanted to give back to the community. He was a great supporter of young people, who he saw as our future.’

In their own tribute, fellow Members of the Board of Education said:

‘Geoff always made a valuable contribution at meetings and will be greatly missed. He was a master at summarising the various viewpoints aired at meetings. He was great on committees and always spoke his mind. You might not have always agreed with what he said but you need people like that.'

They added:

‘He was a governor of seven schools – chairman at Ballacloan Infants’ School, Fairfield Junior School and Scoill Vallajeelt and on the governing bodies at Ballakermeen High School, Queen Elizabeth II High School, Murray’s Road Junior School and Ballaquayle Infants’ School – and was also a governor of the Isle of Man College. He cared deeply about them and liked to be involved. He had a big workload and they will miss his input hugely.’

The Board members added:

‘Geoff had, in recent months, played a leading role in presenting the Board’s vision for its future when it ceases to be a publicly elected body. ‘He was a larger than life, one-off character who was full of enthusiasm and had a wry outlook on life.’

Dr Ian Killip, Principal of the Isle of Man College, said:

‘During his five years as a College governor, Geoff could be relied upon to ensure that the policies of the College were solid and sensible and he was a champion for the principles of value for money in everything the College did. I will miss Geoff’s down-to-earth approach to governance.’

At Queen Elizabeth II High School, where the flags are flying at half mast today, head teacher Ms Sue Moore said:

‘Mr Cannell was a very supportive member of the governing body and of school events. We will miss him.’

Ballakermeen High School head teacher Mrs Adrienne Burnett said:

‘Geoff brought the same energy, sharp intelligence and individuality that he used in his commentating to the governing body. He was fierce in his support of the school and was never afraid to speak his mind. In meetings he was always willing to question received wisdom which would stimulate debate and ensure we challenged our preconceptions.
'However he was always willing to listen to the arguments of the people he respected as professionals in education. I shall miss his wise counsel, the twinkle in his eyes, his sense of humour and courteous manner. He was a great friend of the school and will leave a big void on the governing body.’

Mr Ian Longshaw, head teacher at Fairfield School, commented:

‘Geoff was a great support to the school. He was always positive about the community and the children. His enthusiasm and commitment will be greatly missed.’ This was echoed by Mrs Linda Green, head teacher at Ballaquayle Infants’ School, who said pupils had enjoyed the occasions Mr Cannell had lunch with them and chatted to them about motorsport. ‘He is going to be a big loss to our school,’ she said.

Mrs Jill Gill, head teacher at Ballacloan School, said:

‘Mr Cannell held Ballacloan in special regard as both he and daughter Zoe attended here. He always took his responsibilities towards the school seriously.’

At Scoill Vallajeelt, head teacher Mr Ian Walmsley recalled how Mr Cannell gave assemblies on motorsports, which had pupils captivated.

‘He did the commentary for our TT re-enactment – there was the “Voice of the TT” doing the commentary for our event. It was fantastic. He really gave it 100 per cent like he was commentating on the real thing, and it just made it,' Mr Walmsley said.
‘He was a very warm and genuine human being who loved children.’

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