An obituary in a newspaper in Victoria, British Columbia, tells of the “incredible spirit” of an old boy who entered Shebbear more than 50 years ago. A friend was quoted as saying: “Any time you spent with him, you came away feeling a better person.”

Born in Tintagel and brought up in Launceston, Roger Colwill was to spend five years at Shebbear from 1954-59. On leaving he trained as a chartered surveyor with a large surveying company in Plymouth.

He emigrated to Canada in 1968 where he had a successful and lucrative career in commercial real estate in Vancouver, becoming Associate Vice-President of Royal LePage. He retired at the age of 47 and devoted the rest of his life to environmental issues.

He suffered a severe stroke 10 years ago and spent more than three months in hospital. He was left with impairment to the left side of his body and had to learn to walk again. He fought back, accompanying his former tennis partner on jogs on an electric bike. Naturally left-handed and a keen artist in watercolours, he soon learnt to paint with his right hand. The results were “good”.

From the moment of retirement, he “devoured” environmental literature. His “green activism” began with taking part in a project to remove an evasive species of the broom plant that was threatening wild flowers at a local beauty spot.
He also introduced “Green drinks”, informal monthly gatherings at a Victoria pub for those concerned with the environment.

Roger died, aged 65, in September 2007 while having a cup of tea with his wife Barbara. He also leaves a son Mike, 27, and a daughter Sarah, 25.