Alan Keith Barnett: 10 June 2023 [Heath 1962–1971]

Alan was born in Bridlington and spent the first 18 years of his life there. He played cricket and rugby for the grammar school. He wanted to see the world but failed an eyesight test to join the Merchant Navy; so he continued at school in the sixth form and then followed German and French through Leeds University. The course included 18 months learning and teaching in schools in Germany.

Alan began his teaching career in 1962, at Heath Grammar School where he stayed for nine years, before moving to Bingley GS for another year. He became very disgruntled with the way languages were being taught in England and he spent the rest of his career working abroad, together with his wife Mary whom he met at the wedding of Richard Barrett [Heath 1957–1964].

He worked in Germany for three years, teaching at the technical college and university in Brauschweig. Three years in Germany enabled extensive travel to most of the East European countries. He enjoyed driving around Europe with a bag full of different currencies and trying a few words of many different languages.

He returned to England and obtained an MA in Linguistics, after which he went with his wife, Mary, to run an English Language Centre (ELC) for the British Council in Athens. They got to know Greece well and they also travelled to the Far East and India where they fell in love with the different cultures and food. Alan would work out a proposed itinerary for their trips before taking it for a local travel agent to see what could be put together (a habit that continued throughout his life).

Alan was reluctant to leave Greece. It was a very challenging and interesting job with responsibility for 50 teachers and 3000 students but, after eleven years in Greece, Alan was asked to head up the British Council in Muscat, Oman, from 1987–1991. He and his wife would like to have stayed in Oman longer but, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he was needed in Hungary (Budapest) for his language skills and to set up the first ELC in a former communist state. After four years he was asked to move east again, to Malaysia.

Malaysia proved to be hot and steamy but it was a vibrant, colourful, multi-cultural country and always busy. Alan loved his work in the centre of Kuala Lumpur but also from Malaysia nearby countries and islands were visited — Burma, Borneo, Timor — and many happy hours were spent with colleagues in Singapore. He retired from Malaysia in September 1998. The very last thing he did in Kuala Lumpur was to attend the opening of a new art gallery by the Queen. He had met her previously in 1996 to receive an MBE for services to the British Council.

Not knowing how he would cope with going straight from full-time work to retirement, Alan and Mary put everything in store in Kuala Lumpur and flew to Australia where they hired a 6-birth motorhome. Six months and 25,000 miles later there wasn’t much of Australia they hadn’t seen!

Back in the north of England, they settled in Wetherby. Alan continued his lifelong learning, regularly attending courses at York University. He watched his beloved cricket at Headingley and Scarborough as well as helping to keep the travel industry in business.

He passed away in June 2023, doing what he loved most — travelling to new countries, discovering their history, culture and way of life today. He was on a tour of the one European country he had not previously visited — New Macedonia. In all, Alan set foot in 108 countries. All his journeys are preserved in photo albums with meticulous details of each country.

His funeral took place at Stonefall Crematorium, Harrogate on .

He left his beloved wife, Mary, in Wetherby and friends near and far.

With thanks to Roger Morley [Heath 1954–61]