Derek Sidaway – Electronics teacher at the Towers School, Ashford, Kent | Odd Blog

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Derek Sidaway – Electronics teacher at the Towers School, Ashford, Kent

The name of this man comes to mind often, as he was that teacher who was a great inspiration in my life. I hope everyone has one of those teachers they can remember.

At the age of 13 I became a proper geek and was obsessed with Physics and in particular, because of my Dad, Electronics. It was absolutely my life. How lucky for me then that the school I attended, the Towers School, taught Electronics as a subject! So when I bounced into the fourth year and had to choose my option subjects, I was on cloud nine for two years.

There were a few of us like this and I always hope it made his job more interesting and worthwhile, having a bunch of super-interested students. I remember there were times I would ask him a question at the beginning of a class and then the whole class would suddenly be about that whole subject. I learnt a LOT.

Eventually it came to the exams and there wasn’t an ‘O’ level available, they offered the ‘OA’ level, which I believe was between an ‘O’ and an ‘A’ level, i.e. meant to be taken at the end of the first year of sixth form. We had to take it at the end of the fifth year! I gained a result I am very proud of and he was super pleased too I remember, which meant a great deal to me. Off the back of this I took the Radio Amateur’s Exam (RAE) up in Camden not so long after and so have had a lifetimes pleasure as a Radio Amateur too, that influenced very much by my Dad.

During the sixth form, my friends Dave and Brian and I went with Mr Sidaway as contestants in The Young Engineer for Britain competition. I think the regional one was at Brighton, from memory. We won through and went to the finals at the Wembley Conference Centre. It was quite an experience but looking back, we didn’t have anything at an advanced stage at all. Here is an image of Dave (right) and Brian (left) with Mr Sidaway at Wembley.

I have a memory that Dave and I went to help him move house. I remember he married another teacher, Mrs Elvey. Looking online now, I can see they were married in 1978 and that would be right for when we helped with the house move. I feel he became a friend to us towards the end of the sixth form, he was a good man and a very great influence. I wish I had told him this at some point, but life took over, I moved on and he stopped teaching at some point.

I doubt he is still with us. If he was I would very much like to thank him for the influence he had on me. I would tell him that I just finished an Open University module in Electronics (T212) for my Open Degree course and today learned that I gained a Distinction – after 48 years of being in the hobby and 38 years professionaly! Nice to know you can still do it at just on 60!.I took the module because I still love the subject with a passion and it covered areas that simply didn’t exist when I was last formally learning.

So, thanks Mr Sidaway, you were certainly a significant influence on the course of my life.

If you knew him and find this, I would value your comments.

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