Heath Old Boys Association


Obituaries


John Morton: ?–2013 [Heath 1982–2009]

John joined the modern languages staff at Heath Grammar School in 1982. He immediately proved popular with both pupils and staff. He was an excellent replacement for Alan Guy in the staff quiz team and provided a daily challenge to see whether I could fight through the traffic from Huddersfield before he weaved through on his bike. I usually just beat him homeward up the Ainleys.

On the amalgamation of the school with Crossley and Porter School in 1985, he was appointed Head of General Studies, a post for which his wide range of knowledge and interests perfectly suited him. His talents were such that he was appointed, successively, Head of Sixth Form and then Deputy Head in the year 2000. His ill health forced him to give up teaching in 2009.

His expertise in and enthusiasm for his subject meant that he was a skilled professional teacher and one who added much more to his work with the young people in his care. His warm personality and great good humour endeared him in equal measure to his colleagues and to those of whom he taught. He was unstuffy and had a ready wit. On one occasion, I (John) had to introduce him (John) to a visitor (John) and his first remark was to comment on how unimaginative our parents had been in the choice of names. As Head, I would encounter grumbles from staff, parents and pupils but John never grumbled and, moreover, was never the subject of anyone else’s grumble. I can truly say that I cannot ever remember a bad word being said against him.

His commitment went well beyond the confines of the classroom. His enjoyment of the natural world around him, linked with his zest for travel, meant that he undertook innumerable trips and expeditions. Tony Edwards, his long-standing colleague in modern languages, calculates that they must have undertaken at least 30 school visits to Europe together. In addition, he regularly volunteered to join visits associated with other subjects. He organised much of the field studies work during the weeks at Harlech, which will be fondly remembered by students of the 80s and 90s. It was he who conspired with Richard Fleming to get a rather uncooperative boy to carry a packet of so-called ‘concentrated water crystals’ up Snowdon, explaining that, when they reached the summit, they would only have to add water to provide a refreshing drink for everyone. He planned and carried out the Millennium Mediterranean Expedition in 2000. On all these journeys, he devoted himself tirelessly to the welfare of those for whom he so carefully took responsibility. He was truly an ‘all rounder’ with a breadth of intelligence, knowledge and interest that impressed all who knew him.

In helping to run the school, John ensured that he was the one who usually identified solutions rather than the one who came up with the problems. He was a skilful timetabler who always had an eye to the future and what needed to be developed rather than relying on how things had always been. He unhesitatingly put himself forward to lead in major projects such as the school’s ‘Beacon School’ programme and in acquiring the status of a specialist language school. His management of the senior students was patient and sympathetic, leaving all with the feeling that he cared personally abut them.

His death after a long and valiant struggle is a sad loss and the heartfelt sympathies of all who worked with John go to Lynne and Robert and Rachel.

Heath and Crossley Heath were fortunate indeed to have had the long-term services of such a teacher as John Morton.

John Bunch