Tributes paid to the 'Wizard of Goz' - Dave Rowland, the man who helped bring Gosport community together

BRINGING the town together through one of the first community Facebook groups for Gosport will be Dave Rowland’s legacy.

Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 5:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 9:52 pm
Dave Rowland from Gosport, who has died aged 69
Dave Rowland from Gosport, who has died aged 69

Dave, creator of ‘Gosport area: memories and photos, past and present’, died at home on July 19 aged 69 and the group has seen an outpouring of heartfelt tributes.

It started five years ago with a couple of photos and Dave told friends it would be brilliant if membership reached 50.

After two weeks there were 500 members and then 5,000 joined within two months, with the page boasting more than 22,000 people now.

Dave Rowland became affectionately known as the Wizard of Goz

Terry Rhodes, Dave’s friend of five decades, said: ‘It’s not just about history, it’s about who we all are and what made us who we are and the connections we have with each other wherever we are in the world. It went straight into people’s homes and straight into people’s hearts.’

Born in Reading in 1949, Dave moved to Gosport when he was 10 and has touched the lives of many with his local history knowledge and love of live music, becoming affectionately known as The Wizard of Goz.

Terry remembers Dave as a humorous man, who also had a sensitive side. Some of her earliest memories of Dave are him playing pranks on Terry’s mum and enjoying festivals together.

She said: ‘He was someone you couldn’t help but have good times with really, there are so many humorous times to look back on.’

Dave Rowland from Gosport, who has died aged 69

Dave regularly received messages from members who had moved away but were thankful for the group’s link to home, and lonely people who felt the group gave them confidence to meet new people.

Terry said: ‘He was always very much about community. It seems it doesn’t matter whether you knew him all your life or just for the last few years, the level of feeling people had for Dave was the same.’

Anyone who knew Dave is welcome to attend his ‘FUN-eral’ on August 29 at Portchester Crematorium at 2.30pm, with an After Show Party to follow at the Carisbrooke Arms from 4pm.

A collection will be held for Gosport charity Motiv8, as Terry said Dave would approve of young people getting an opportunity to be able to explore musical talents.

Dave Rowland playing with one of his heroes Big Jim Sullivan in West Dean in 1988