TRIBUTES have been paid from across the city for “gentleman and scholar”, Arthur George Bowden, who has died at the age of 92.

Arthur died on January 1, 2021, after a short stay in Salisbury District Hospital.

Arthur was born in Caerphilly in 1928, and moved to London in 1935, before coming to Salisbury in 1937 and attending Fisherton Anger Junior Mixed School.

From 1939 to 1946 he attended Bishop Wordsworth’s School, where he would later teach, before serving in the Royal Army Service Corps.

After his army service he went to Peterhouse College, Cambridge, where he read French and Spanish.

He then undertook a diploma in education at Bristol University before going on to teach at Bishop Wordsworth’s School, where he stayed for 39 years becoming Head of Languages, Bursar and Deputy Headmaster.

On August 12, 1956, Arthur married Joyce, and they were married for 64 years.

Salisbury Journal: Left Dorset & Wilts RFU President Stuart Murrow with Arthur Bowden and the citation signed by the RFU President John Spencer thanking Arthur for his commitment to rugby union football since he first pulled a Dorset & Wilts shirt in 1948..Left Dorset & Wilts RFU President Stuart Murrow with Arthur Bowden and the citation signed by the RFU President John Spencer thanking Arthur for his commitment to rugby union football since he first pulled a Dorset & Wilts shirt in 1948..

Rugby life

Arthur contributed “enormously” to the development of rugby union in the area for more than 75 years.

He played for Salisbury from 1946 to 1952, as well as for Peterhouse College during his time at Cambridge.

He then played for Dorset & Wilts in 1948 and, also Harlequins, before injuries forced him to retire in 1952.

Arthur then became an “outstanding” Club and County administrator, serving as chairman of Salisbury Rugby Club for nine years, from 1966-1975.

In 1966, he was elected to represent Wiltshire clubs on the Dorset & Wilts Rugby Football Union (D & W RFU), serving as Assistant Secretary from 1968 to 1975 and then as General Secretary between 1972-81 and 1985-2005.

Arthur then served two terms as President of the Twin Counties, between 1981-83 and 2005-2007 and became an Honorary Life Vice President of D & W RFU before retiring in 2017.

In 1990 Dorset & Wilts RFU were the very first constituent body of the RFU in the South West to appoint a Youth Development Officer (YDO). Arthur helped create a unique partnership between the RFU, South West Sports Council and several local authorities in Dorset and Wiltshire to provide core and revenue funding for a YDO to be employed to support Clubs.

An additional post was created in 1996 so that Clubs in both of the Twin Counties received even more support. Despite a difference in age, he developed a close and successful working relationship for many years with successive YDOs, who eventually became Rugby Development Officers (RDOs) when the RFU took over their funding and management.

Salisbury Rugby Club said: “Arthur’s commitment to rugby at Salisbury was tireless as player, Secretary, Chairman and long time supporter. He went on to organise rugby through Dorset and Wilts RFU fulfilling many roles over several decades, including Secretary and President.

“He further supported young people through his commitment to Rotary. He will be sadly missed by all at Salisbury Rugby Club.”

Arthur also found the time to improve quality of life and make a difference in his local community by serving as a Rotary District Governor, Chairman of Salisbury Round Table, Chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh Award’s panel, President of the Salisbury District Sports Council, and Chairman of the Salisbury/Saintes Twinning Association.

He even found time to be a visitors’ guide at Salisbury Cathedral.

Salisbury Journal: Arthur BowdenArthur Bowden

Rotary Club

In 1978 Arthur was elected Interim President of Wilton Rotary Club on its initial formation, then Founder President in 1979-80 when it received its charter.

He was District Governor for Rotary Wessex District in 1989-90 and was also awarded Rotary’s highly prestigious Paul Harris Fellowship for his outstanding contribution to Rotary.

During the early 1990s he was a member and Chair of the Rotaract Committee of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland. He was also supervisor for Rotaract activities in Continental Europe and Africa.

Other high profile positions included Chair of the British Isles Conference in 2000 and Secretary and Translator of the Inter Country Liaison Committee. In 2002 he was elected General Secretary and served until 2012, by which time 26 countries were mustered into membership.

On the occasion of his 90th birthday in 2018, he was appointed Honorary Life President of the club.

Rotarian Peter Edge, current President and on behalf of the members of Wilton Rotary Club, said: “Despite his grand age Arthur continued to put ‘service above self’ in his dedication to Wilton Rotary and supporting the community.

"From single handedly manning the exit gates at our mammoth car boot sales, to hosting and entertaining guests at our charity events and even blowing a whistle (often in the rain) at the Wilton Horse Trials, he kept all of us in order at the club he loved and was with us until the very last meeting we had".

“All past and present members of Wilton Rotary owe Arthur Bowden a great debt of gratitude for his time, dedication, and commitment."

The Twin Counties press officer Idris Martin said: “ I have known Arthur for over 30 years and the phrase 'a gentleman and a scholar' is probably the best way to describe him.

"I have travelled with him in the back of Willie Wildash’s car to many Dorset and Wilts county away matches and he would keep us entertained with his tales mostly of his time that he spent in the army and teaching future England International rugby players, one of which is World Cup winner, back row forward Richard Hill.”

“Arthur always had wicked sense of humour and made those long journeys very much more tolerable, he will be sorely missed by his family and everyone that knew him.”

Salisbury Journal: Arthur Bowden..No charge for use of picture..Arthur Bowden..No charge for use of picture..