Mike Rimmer was born in 1947 and did his schooling in Sunbury-on-Thames – at Nursery Road Primary and Sunbury Grammar. After obtaining a BA at what is now Portsmouth University and a teaching diploma at Didsbury College, Manchester, he emigrated to Queensland and taught there for 20 years – at Brisbane State High (1971), Ravenshoe State School (1972-3), Oakey High (1974-6) and Kepnock High, in Bundaberg (1977-90).
In 1990 Mike resigned from the Queensland Education Department because he felt uncomfortable with many of the changes being introduced into the state’s schools. He then worked for almost two years at Evelyns High, in West Drayton, which was just a stone’s throw from Harlington Secondary School where his father, J.F.D. Rimmer, served as principal for most of the 1960s and 70s.
While he was at Evelyns Mike brought his sixth form history class to Harefield for the 1991 ceremony. When the vicar, Rev. Dennis Connor, realised he knew a thing or two about the Anzacs he invited him to give the address the following year. He opted to tell the story of one of the soldiers buried in the churchyard – one Joseph Hogarth, who came from a part of Queensland (the Darling Downs) that Mike knows well.
Mike enjoyed being back in the UK but soon discovered that British teachers are subjected to just as many ill-conceived government initiatives and just as much unnecessary paperwork as their Aussie counterparts. This led him to cast around for a more congenial environment in which to teach and in 1992 he found one – at the British School of Lomé, in Togo, West Africa.
After first ascertaining from the school authorities that his life wouldn’t be blighted by levels of achievement, attainment targets and similar such nonsense, he took himself off to Togo. Life in Lomé certainly had its drawbacks: there were frequent power cuts and often there’d be no running water for days on end; malaria was an ever-present menace; and for several years there was a low-scale civil war going on, which led to some hairy moments. But he was very happy in his job: the children were highly motivated, the parents supportive and the teachers weren’t forever being pestered by so-called ‘experts’ peddling a lot of hot air and nonsense, and they didn’t have to waste time filling in masses of forms that weren’t the slightest bit of use to anyone. Mike ended up staying 11 years in Togo and loved every minute of it. He even managed to pursue his interest in the First World War (click here for details).
In 2003 Mike took himself of to the former Soviet Republic of Tajikistan and taught at the Dushanbe International School for a year. He then moved to Uzbekistan and was four months into a stint at the Tashkent Ulugbek International School when he was forced to come scurrying back to Sunbury to look after his ailing parents.