The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


Eric Dinneen first came to Waterlooville in 1973 with his wife Pam, to take up a Head of Department post at Highbury College. Very soon Pam and Eric were regulars at St. George’s, with Pam involved in the Mothers’ Union and Eric playing his part as the Church’s representative at Deanery and Diocesan Synods and in the Parochial Church Council. In later years he also helped establish the Stewardship Gift Aid scheme, and of course the Hearing Loop system, which helped him and many others benefit from finally being able to hear the sermon!

Born in South London in 1924, Eric won a scholarship to St. Dunstan’s College, and after studying the sciences in the Sixth Form in the early war years, his talents were employed by the Army in communications in the Royal Signals regiment in India and Burma for the last three years of the War.

However, his political values and interests were framed by a visit to Berlin in his teenage years, and those clear political images at that time not only determined his commitment to the Armed forces and as a Major in the Territorial Army, but also gave him his lifelong interest in teaching and learning History. He swapped his study of physics upon his return to England in 1946 for a degree in History at New College Oxford, followed by a postgraduate teaching qualification at Cambridge, and this was to set his future career and reputation as a first class teacher for the next 34 years.

Starting his career at Stretford Grammar School after his marriage to Pam in 1951, he became known not only as a passionate teacher of history, but also a soccer and drama coach. Living in the shadows of Old Trafford and literally just next door to some of the ‘Busby babes’ caught up in the infamous Manchester United air crash of 1958, Eric took up soccer coaching very successfully even though he was an avid Rugby man at heart. He also directed plays, working with a teenage Ian McShane, who of course later became known simply as ‘Lovejoy’ in the TV series, but who remained a great fan of Eric and his early teaching, contacting him to wish him well on Eric and Pam’s Golden wedding day in 2001.

After a spell at Stockport College of Technology, Eric and family moved back to the South, to take up his promotion to Head of Department in Portsmouth, where he established the reputation of the Journalism course as one of the best training grounds for budding journalists in the country, with the cricket commentator John Arlott included in the visiting lecturers.

Although, Eric retired from Highbury in 1985, he remained active in all kinds of local voluntary community activity, driven by his desire to see a fairer and more just world. He organized and drove minibuses regularly for the local charity ‘Anders’ transporting children with physical and learning difficulties, and also spent many years sorting out the finances of the community association on the then new Stakes estate. He was a great supporter of charity work in the developing countries too, along with Pam who introduced ‘Fairtrade’ goods to St. George’s in their joint attempt to raise cash for good causes across the world.

Pam and Eric celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary in 2011, (marked by photos and comment in the News), along with their ever expanding family of over 30, including 4 children and partners, 12 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. The service at St. George’s on August 29th celebrated Eric’s rich and fulfilling life, with tributes from father Mike and family members including Tracey and Kaylie, who recited poems and sang to a packed church of family, friends and members of his church family.

The service followed a Woodland burial on Old Winchester Hill with Father Mike leading the committal on a glorious, blue-sky day in the woods. The grandchildren supported the bier as the whole family walked through the trees to Eric’s final resting place, and as the willow casket was lowered grandson Ben played guitar and sang a song to his Grandpa. It was a wonderful and moving ceremony in the shaded and tranquil woods as members of the family shared a private moment and followed Father Mike’s lead in sprinkling holy water on the grave.

150 people continued the talk about Eric and the celebration of a wonderful life at the Brookfield Hotel in Emsworth, where Pam and Eric had organized many happy family occasions and where Eric’s former school still hold St. Dunstan’s Old Boy re-unions.

An appropriate final tribute to a humble man who had lived on the edge on many of the historic moments of the twentieth century, who had developed an interest in History itself, and had lived his life according to the true values of justice, and integrity, passing on his experience and wisdom to others.

Phil Frier

• Pam Dinneen and her family thank you all for your beautiful cards, prayers, hugs and support.

Autumn Edition 2013

Eric Dinneen 1924 - 2013