Matthew Horwood obituary

Other lives: Teacher, councillor and mayor respected in his Suffolk community

My father, Matthew Horwood, who has died of prostate cancer aged 66, worked as a teacher for almost 40 years, and in retirement served first as a town councillor, then mayor of his home town of Southwold, Suffolk.

Matthew was born in Walberswick, one of three children of Donald Horwood, a schoolteacher, and Irene (nee Harbert), who worked with children with special needs. He grew up on the banks of the Blyth estuary, where he learned to sail. He attended schools in Walberswick, Southwold, Reydon and Beccles, before moving to London to study drama and English at the Central School of Speech and Drama.

Matthew graduated in 1973 and took his first teaching job in Lowestoft. After a year he decided he needed a break from education and joined Birdseye frozen foods. He was even featured in the staff magazine, which highlighted him and another teacher as evidence of Birdseye attracting “intellectuals”. He lived up to this label by reading War and Peace in its entirety while on the factory floor.

After leaving Birdseye in 1975, Matthew taught at special schools in Suffolk and London for the rest of the 1970s. In 1974 he met Jane Blythe, and they married in 1980. They moved back to Suffolk where Matthew taught in Southwold and Lowestoft, before being appointed headmaster of Ringsfield primary school in 1995. He finished his career as headmaster of Grove primary school, Carlton Colville, where he worked from 2003 to 2012.

Outside work, Matthew was a passionate sailor. He was given his first boat for his 21st birthday, a Mirror 14, which he took to a national championship in Plymouth, finishing a very respectable 16th out of 60. He was a national champion in a Silver Streak (a small, two-person sailing dinghy), and participated in many other races and contests. In retirement he fulfilled a lifelong ambition to own his own sailing cruiser – Phantom, which he moored at Orford.

In 2015 Matthew was elected to Southwold town council. He was astonished by the amount of support he received, convinced there had been an error in the count; in 2017 he was elected the town mayor. He had always been at the forefront of his local community, and dedicated his mayoral year to highlighting the work of community volunteers and raising money for youth services in the town, which have been starved of funds in recent years.

He is survived by Jane, their children, Charles and me, and their grandson, Joseph; and by his brother, Ben, and sister, Caroline.

William Horwood

The GuardianTramp

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