IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


In memory: Eric Earle

11 January 2022

Eric William Despard Hemphill Earle, 27 November 1925 - 23 December 2021

Eric Earle

Born to William and Evelyn (nee Hemphill) Earle in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, in a newly independent Ireland, Eric enjoyed an Anglo-Irish education: prep school in Littlehampton, Sussex, then St Columba’s College, Dublin. He read Modern History and Political Science at Trinity College Dublin, where he won the privilege of becoming a Trinity Scholar in 1946. He subsequently became an active member of TCD Dining Club (London).

After graduating he moved, like so many Irish people, to seek opportunities in post-war England, where he met his future wife, Auriol. They married on 29 March 1952 and moved to the Gold Coast (now Ghana), where Eric was appointed an Education Officer in the colonial education service. His 10 years in Ghana was to have a lifelong impact on him.

His first job after returning to England in 1961 was at Regent Street Polytechnic. He moved to the Institute of Education, University of London in 1968, where he served first as Deputy Secretary, and then as Secretary from 1974-1988, overseeing the expansion of the administration department and the complicated move of the Institute of Education from Senate House to its new bespoke home in Bedford Way. He finally retired in 1990. He was always proud to have worked for the Institute and to have played a role in its development.

Approaching retirement, he, with several friends from his Ghana days, founded Ghana School Aid in 1986, chairing the committee for many years and organising two official visits to Ghana. The charity has grown from strength to strength since then, supporting the development of over 100 schools in Ghana with small grants for practical purposes, particularly in the rural areas, and building strong links between British and Ghanaian educators.

Eric and Auriol settled in Guildford, Surrey in 1961 and lived there for the remainder of their long lives. They raised their four children there - Wendy, Jennifer, Roderic (all born during their time in Ghana) and Patrick (born in Guildford).

Eric was an active citizen of Guildford, variously engaged in the Campaign for the Advancement of State Education, the local Lib Dems, the St Catherine’s Village Association, the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre and the Guildford Institute (which he was centrally involved in the campaign to save).

He died at his home of 60 years in Guildford, 8 months after the death of his beloved Auriol, and is survived by his four children and seven grandchildren. He is best remembered by many for the generous friendship he offered throughout his life.

Wendy Earle