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April 20, 2011

Gail Howe and Jon Battye: at the Celebration of Huw’s life

by huw15

As spoken by Gail Howe, Holmfirth High School’s Acting Headteacher  and Jon Battye, Head of PE – at the Celebration of Huw’s Life  on 25th March 2011. 

Gail Howe

Jon and myself are here to tell you about: HUW the PUPIL, HUW the SPORTSMAN and HUW the BOY as we knew him at Holmfirth High.

It is perhaps hard to describe adequately to those of you outside Holmfirth High School the effect and impact Hugh’s passing has had on the school community – pupils, parents and staff.

There’s an empty desk, an empty chair, an empty locker…and a space on the register. BUT out of something quite heart-breaking, has come respect, kindness, dignity and the coming-together of a whole-school community. There have been lots of tears, and for a while it seemed we all forgot how to smile or laugh…but that’s not really in keeping with the Huw we knew.  So,


Even on his way to school Huw liked to demonstrate the personal qualities we like to encourage at Holmfirth High – responsibility, creativity, independent-thinking and initiative. Huw had these in abundance. For example, a favourite way to pass his time on the way to school was to take a For Sale sign out of someone’s garden and put it in someone else’s garden. Whilst others played ‘knock a door, run’, Huw played ‘knock on a door and don’t run’ – relying on his smile to charm his way out of mischief. He liked to dance…in the road. He was a dare-devil; his friends soon learned that if they dared Huw, he would do it…usually involving balls and windows. There was nothing malicious about his actions, it was all in the name of fun!

At school and in lessons, Huw was extremely intelligent. He was thoughtful, articulate and his teachers say a pleasure to teach. He was potentially A*s across the board, an all-rounder. One of his teachers in his recent report states: ‘I have never taught a pupil as able as Huw, who achieves so highly…with so little effort!’ If Huw didn’t do as well as he hoped in a test or an exam, it was ‘faulty marking’ or a ‘faulty paper’.  He worked well on his own or as part of a group, not always the class clown. He could also be sensitive and perceptive, kind and considerate to others. Beneath the humour and laid-back demeanour, was serious sense of ambition and a genuine desire to be the best he could.

Between lessons, there was always time to find a mirror to check his hair and perfect that smile. At lunchtime he loved, not surprisingly to eat…lots…and to tease the lunchtime supervisors – they said he was cheeky, Huw said it wasn’t cheek, just ‘his natural wit.’ He was easily bored and a favourite saying of his at lunchtime to his friends was ‘Let’s go out and cause some carnage.’ The carnage usually involved girls. Another of his sayings was ‘Let’s take a gander round the school at the girls, guys.’ Huw had an eye for the ladies. He used the same chat-up line repeatedly…’You’re faultless…just perfect…the best in England’. And it seemed to work – he certainly had his admirers!

Even on residential trips Huw made his mark. There’s a broken bed in a hotel in Cologne that bears a connection with Huw!

Huw was, it goes without saying, incredibly popular – he was simply great company, incredibly  sociable and fun to be around, a natural leader. And just to finish on HUW the PUPIL – l reckon he owes me 13 after-school detentions, about 3,500 lines, apologies to several local residents and about £2000 to a hotel owner in Cologne! Huw was, quite simply, Huw – there were many sides to him, some more obvious than others, and we would’t have wanted him any other way.

 Jon Battye


We first met Huw in Year 7 when he turned up for football trials for the school team, a tall powering full back with a sweet left foot.

As he grew up through school in lessons and representing school in football and cricket, we soon realised he possessed other qualities:

Reliable, gifted, hard-working, determined and committed team player, who developed into a brilliant centre half.

Recently, Huw had started the GCSE PE course and brought his charming charisma to the classroom.  He was always willing to lighten the atmosphere with one of his corny jokes or trying to get the Banta going with his mates. 

The enthusiasm he showed on the course and the work he produced was second to none and I am certain he would have achieved a top grade.

Even though Huw had so much passion for sport, his main love was football.   Only just a few months ago, he entered his team into the year 10 Samba league, fittingly calling them the “bluebirds”, after his beloved Cardiff City.  Under Huw’s shrewd tactical management they have not lost a game and currently sit top of the table.

Huw was a strong centre half, in the ‘samba’ he loved to get on the score sheet and in doing so created a rivalry with his peers – for the golden boot!  He scored 15 goals in 6 matches, proving he possessed a lethal finishing touch.

Finally, Huw’s proudest moment was being named Captain of the school football team. He was an honest leader who wasn’t frightened of speaking his mind, led by example and as a result was respected and held in high regard amongst his team mates.

Huw will be missed by so many both in and out of school; the PE dept. feels honoured to have met, known and worked with such a hard-working and inspirational young athlete.

Gail Howe


So…Huw was many things, talented on the field, and in and out of the classroom. Out of everything, it’s his cheeky smile and his sense of humour we will perhaps be remembered most at Holmfirth.

 We may not know what Huw would have done with his life…but what is sure, Huw could have achieved whatever he put his mind to, and been whatever he wanted to be.

There may be an empty desk, an empty chair, an empty locker and a space on the register…but Huw will always be remembered at Holmfirth High with love and affection.

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