April 15th 1936- April 10th 2020
George Quirke became the youngest Secondary school headmaster in Lancashire when he was promoted from the Deputy Headship at St Edmund Arrowsmith (later St Bedes) in 1974. George served in this post until his retirement in 1994. At this time of his retirement, St Bede’s was the most successful and sought-after Catholic State Secondary school in the region.
George was born in 1936 in the Isle of Wight (where his father was working building aircraft for the war effort). The elder of 2 children of Irish immigrants, he grew up in Woolton, South Liverpool, was educated at St Edwards Boys Grammar School in Liverpool and subsequently studied his degree and PGCE teaching certificate at Leeds University. In Leeds he met his wife Pat Quinn. George and Pat were married in 1960. They had 6 children between the years of 1962 and 1969.
George excelled at Rugby and captained both Lancashire Schoolboys and Leeds University. But his true passion was Everton Football Club. He attended his first game at Goodison during the war at the age of 7 in 1943. He was a season ticket holder and regularly attended home and away games until 2016. Upon his 70th anniversary of watching Everton he was invited onto the pitch to have photographs taken with family and friends. George attended Everton games, home and away and travelled abroad to watch their games with his eldest son Michael and friends.
His early days as a Comprehensive School Headmaster took place against the background of the gradual incorporation of Catholic Secondary Schools into the comprehensive system. Despite the resistance of much of the Catholic School hierarchy and of Catholic Grammar schools in Lancashire to this integration, George was a passionate advocate of the comprehensive system. The Christian socialist principles of George and his wife Pat (also a teacher at St Edmund Arrowsmith) led them to believe firmly in the Catholic Church’s social mission and that education existed to create equal opportunities for all children. Always an inclusive school, George was particularly proud to welcome children from families of all faiths.
As well as St Bedes’ being successful academically the school was very disciplined with both teachers and pupils knowing the standards that were expected from them. These high standards came from the very top of the school. Even his wife, who taught English, was not exempt from keeping up these high standards.
Aside from Everton, George was an enthusiastic Leeds Rugby League supporter. When his second son started to show an interest in Rugby League regular trips were taken to watch Leeds both home and away. He was also a keen snooker player, fan and local League referee. He founded and ran the Three Towns Snooker League which covered the working men’s clubs of Great Harwood, Rishton & Clayton -le-Moors.
In the years after his retirement in 1994, George and Pat travelled to Ireland and more regularly to Spain, where 2 of their children resided. They owned a holiday residence in Malaga but were always particularly keen to immerse themselves in Spanish culture, particularly in Madrid and Andalusia. George also started to cook extensively and took a great pride in trying many different types of cuisine.
Pat died in 2009. George leaves 6 children and 6 grandchildren. The family tradition of supporting Everton has been held up by all 6 children and many of his grandchildren.
George will be cremated at Accrington Crematorium on Monday April 20th.
Donations are being accepted for the Alzheimer’s Society as George suffered from Dementia.