Memories of East London teachers Allan Tuffin and Brian Arkell

Two great teachers in our local community died at the end of last year.

Allan lived for many years just round the corner from us in Aldersbrook.

My brother was good friends with Allan and Mary’s son Luke.

Allan and Mary have been lifelong socialists and members of the Labour Party. They have always striven to make the world a better place.

Allan was chair of the constituency Labour Party for a time. He also stood as the Labour Prospective Parliamentary candidate in a general election.

But many will remember Allan’s devotion to the cause, walking the streets, knocking on doors, listening and persuading, attending the Labour Party stall in the high street and organising branch and constituency activities.

Mary and Allan also attended numerous protests and marches across the country.

Allan was always there, an activist well into his eighties, in fact right up to his dying day. Always striving to make the world a better place.

Another teacher to pass was Brian Arkell, who was a deputy head teacher at Wanstead High School when he retired a few years ago.

Brian was at the school for his whole 40-year career. I remember seeing him at the adjacent school when attending Aldersbrook Primary. Once, at Wanstead High, he took us for games.

A fan of the cross country run, he was always on the look out for those trying to take short cuts. Always firm but fair, he was also a rugby enthusiast, though many of us preferred the round ball. Brian also taught geography.

I most recently met Brian a few years ago when my nephew was in some of the school drama productions. He was helping out behind the scenes.

Brian was on good form that night, as he recalled some of the old days at the school.

There was something of an impromptu reunion of staff and pupils at Brian’s funeral at St Thomas of Canterbury Church in Woodford last month.

Brian and Allan will be sorely missed, they both contributed in different ways to the local community and beyond.

It us because of such people that our community has endured and grown over the years.

Allan and Brian were great teachers in so many ways, it remains for those who come after them to take on their work. RIP Allan and Brian.

Paul Donovan is a Redbridge Labour councillor for Wanstead village and blogger. See

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