Anthony James Earl's State Scholarship to Queens College, Cambridge, in 1960, where he would read Modern Languages before going on to complete a Post Graduate Certificate in Education, perhaps set the tone for all that was to follow.
It was at Cambridge that Anthony furthered both a well-developed schoolboy curiosity for all things European, first gained from early school trips to France and Germany, and his passion for cultural walks of discovery in historical settings; these, together with his exceptional gift for forming lifelong friendships. These strands together – a dedication to extending his knowledge of European languages, art, culture, and history, and to sharing that knowledge with others through on-going in-depth discovery of Europe’s rich heritage - plus, a deep sense of personal responsibility to and for others, already cited in his school report at the age of eight, would underpin Anthony’s journey through life.
His knowledge was not simply academic. Anthony knew himself and so was never limited to seeing others through his own cultural anchors. His customary jacket and tie did not get in the way of his outreach to others whom he perceived in need of support and understanding. He will be long remembered for his dedication to projects that offered practical assistance to those in need, young and old.
This dedication is evidenced in his work with Leonard Cheshire Care Homes, a charity dear to his heart. His concern for the care of the elderly is a consistent theme in Anthony’s life evidenced in many ways to include his solid and varied contribution to the welfare of many both in his own church and local community, and far beyond. At Leonard Cheshire Bromley he is fondly remembered for his re-design of the garden to enhance the pleasure of the residents.
A qualified practising educator, young people, their educational development and success, were a large part of Anthony’s mission in life. Often remembered with deep emotional gratitude by many of his students (evidenced by the attendance at his funeral), Anthony never failed to display a somewhat formal yet quiet, modest exterior. This could belie his fierce determination to support young people in the search for their futures; to encourage their drive to succeed in a chosen endeavour thus achieving self-worth and a solid sense of belonging to their respective communities.
A lifelong RSA fellow with a profound commitment to the interests of the Fellowship’s wider outreach, Anthony loyally, quietly and constructively promoted the values of the London Group from its formation and under its founding and successor Chairs. While serving as the Vice Chair of the RSA’s London Region, Anthony was the driving force behind various youth programmes, working tirelessly with colleagues to turn around so many young lives. Under his clear values-based stewardship, the RSA London Youth Awards took life in 2008; many successful recipients were celebrated over the years. Anthony’s success at this led to other collaborative initiatives. The London Region’s Student Carers Initiative was one. Using photography as its vehicle to progress personal expression through confidence-building, the initiative focused school-age students burdened with carer duties that inevitably restrict ‘normal activities in the crucial years of ‘growing up.’ The project enabled participants to produce some remarkable personal portfolios celebrated at award ceremonies and local events. Anthony travelled long distances to tough schools on public transport to assure the quality, integrity, and appropriateness of each initiative session. Student participants from so many backgrounds, often unsure at first, found an unexpected advocate and friend in their programme’s ‘reporter.’
Anthony will be particularly sorely missed by those of us who served with him on the London Region Committee over two terms in office.
An expert and enthusiastic believer in our European civilisation and its spiritual roots, Italy was his passion. Fluent in Italian, French and German, as already noted, Anthony developed very broad cultural interests in history, literature, art and architecture resulting in many bespoke Travellers Club educational tours across Europe for fellow enthusiasts. From biking around his surroundings as an Ashford Grammar Schoolboy, checking the specifics of local cultural heritage, Anthony remained a quiet lifelong adventurer. His final tour would have been an exploration of the lesser known paths of the Reformation highlighting the Protestant Reformation in Germany which celebrates its 500th anniversary this year.
On Thursday, January 19, a bright, sunny London when family, friends, colleagues and ‘students’ came from far and wide, from across Europe, to Ashford Congregational Church in celebration of Anthony James Earl’s life and faith. Anthony’s gift of friendship assembled so many to share personal memories of how he played a role in their lives and will continue so to do, not least in the new friendships established that day!
Anthony James Earl FRSA, May 30 1942 – December 29 2016
Written by Andrea Charman on behalf of RSA London Region’s Committee 2010-2014