9 Apr '13

News Letter: The mountaineer George Lowe was one of my boyhood heroes

In 1960, as a young geography sixth-former, I went to two lectures at the Derby Art Gallery by George Lowe given while he was teaching at Repton school. One was on the Everest expedition, the other on the trans-Antarctic expedition, and both were illustrated by his superb slides. He was one of my boyhood heroes (and still is), and I came away in awe of this modest, humorous and self-deprecating giant.

In the late 1970s while teaching, I applied for a job as a geography inspector/adviser in Derbyshire. My head called me in to his office, and told me that an HMI wished to talk to me. I asked who he was. "George Lowe." Interviews are stressful at the best of times, but I was a jibbering 16-year-old again. George was the epitome of quiet charm and good humour and spent most of the day with me. In spite of his best efforts to put me at my ease, I put down my failure to get the job at least partially to my nervous reaction to the proximity of this demigod.

Incidentally, George maintained that on the trans-Antarctic expedition, although he was officially the photographer, his main job was to act as translator between the New Zealand and English sections of the group.

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