Graham Hoare obituary

Other lives: Maths teacher involved in setting up the Royal Institution’s mathematical masterclasses

My father-in-law, Graham Hoare, who has died aged 85, was a mathematician and teacher who was one of the driving forces behind the Royal Institution’s mathematics masterclasses, which have been providing lively extracurricular maths lessons to gifted young people for almost 40 years. He taught many of the masterclasses and was involved in their administration, having helped Sir Christopher Zeeman to make the idea a reality in the first place.

Graham was also letters editor for the Mathematics Today journal, and the Graham Hoare prize is awarded annually to brilliant early career mathematicians. A member of the Mathematical Association, he served on its council and was for many years an assistant editor of its Mathematical Gazette, entertaining and challenging readers with his very own Problem Corner column.

Graham was born in Okehampton, in Devon, where his father, Harold, was a railway clerk and his mother, Ellen (nee Baker), was a housewife and part-time Methodist preacher. After a period living in nearby Ottery St Mary the family went back to Okehampton, where Harold became a station master. Once he had left Okehampton grammar school, Graham went to Imperial College London, with the intention of studying physics. But he was rapidly redirected into mathematics, and graduated with special honours in 1958.

The following year, after teacher training at the Institute for Education in London, he took up teaching at the Simon Langton boys’ grammar school in Canterbury, Kent, then in 1966 moved to Dr Challoner’s grammar school for boys in Amersham in Buckinghamshire as head of mathematics, where he spent the rest of his career, including a spell as deputy headteacher.

He retired from teaching in 1998 but kept in touch with many of his former students around the world, socialising when the opportunity arose. Retirement also allowed him to spend more time on the mathematics masterclasses, to serve on the council of the Royal Institution, and in his spare time to work as a guide at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire and to deliver lectures on the mathematics behind the Enigma machines.

His roots in Okehampton gave him a love of Dartmoor and a host of stories of epic walks that usually involved a pub. Walking (and when younger, running) was a big part of his life, and he passed the interest on to his children and grandchildren. He loved challenging terrain and was rarely deterred by bad weather. He also had a great love for philosophy and, as expected of a mathematician, the music of JS Bach.

Graham could be described as an old-fashioned socialist, having grown up in an era when improving people’s lives was considered important. He had robust views on Thatcherism and the futility of Brexit and was happy to share them.

He is survived by two children, Helen and Matthew, and three grandchildren, Lois, Jasmine and Nathan, from his marriage to Ewa Golowczynska, from whom he separated in 1983. His subsequent partner, Gertraude Ober, died in 2006.

Tom Doust

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Ruth Rogers obituary
Other lives: Mathematician who made valuable contributions in the field of fluid mechanics

Mike Owen

15, Mar, 2019 @12:29 PM

Article image
Larry Rudling obituary
Other lives: Teacher and tutor with a passion for adult education

Peter Thomas

17, Nov, 2022 @8:24 PM

Article image
Shirley Waine obituary
Other lives: Amateur artist and volunteer for good causes in rural Devon

Peter Donnelly

21, Dec, 2022 @7:03 PM

Article image
Ron Graham obituary
Prolific mathematician who came up with the inordinately large ‘Graham’s Number’ and was committed to making his subject fun

Colm Mulcahy

03, Aug, 2020 @1:50 PM

Article image
Jan Saxl obituary
Other Lives: Czech-born mathematician who made his home in Britain

Ruth Saxl

09, Aug, 2020 @4:47 PM

Article image
Shiela Hodges obituary
Other lives: Maths teacher and keen amateur actor who belonged to the same drama group for 70 years

Amanda Hipkiss

15, Apr, 2021 @2:12 PM

Article image
Joyce Fletcher obituary
Educationist whose maths textbooks were widely used in Nigeria

Andrew Hawton

09, May, 2018 @3:13 PM

Article image
Imran Imam obituary
Other lives: Banker who turned to maths teaching after the BCCI investigation

Aqeel Imam

13, Dec, 2022 @8:05 PM

Article image
Pete Long obituary
Other lives: Maths teacher who became an authority on musicians including Neil Young and Jackson Browne

John Soane

26, Jun, 2021 @11:47 AM

Article image
Maurice Harford obituary
Other lives: Maths teacher and lifelong member of the Scout movement

Jessica Lysaght

03, Feb, 2020 @4:36 PM