Simon J.W. Squires: 1944– [Heath 1968–1972]

Simon Squires, who taught Classics at Heath from 1968 to 1972, died at the age of 79.

Andrew Connell [Heath 1958–1965] writes:

Educational priorities change over time. Sixty years ago, with a two-form entry and about 400 pupils in total, Heath Grammar School employed three full-time teachers of Latin, Greek and Ancient History and still had to draft in teachers of Geography and History to cover two Latin classes. Heathens of the 1950s and 60s may recall that two of the Classicists were staffroom fixtures, Arthur Owen and Alan Guy, but there was a succession of third men — Jim Peters, Keith Hunter, Gordon Purdy and then Simon Squires, who died in December 2023, aged 79.

An alumnus of Westminster School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, Simon had spent a year on a kibbutz and two working for the Oxford University Press, before taking up his first teaching appointment at Heath in September 1968. I joined the staff a term later and we both moved on in the summer of 1972.

A bearded pipe-smoker, Simon was a meticulous but genial, popular teacher and an affable colleague, whose keen, active interest in the dramatic and choral aspects of school life was matched by his indifference to sport and games. In 1969 he was married in Oxford. His wife Ann was an academic at Durham University, and Simon would return each term-time weekend to their home in Durham after spending the week in digs in Halifax. In 1972 he got a job at Newcastle Royal Grammar School, where he contentedly saw out the rest of his teaching career, adapting his linguistic repertoire to include Arabic.

We kept in touch by Christmas card and occasionally met. The large turnout and warm tributes at his funeral at Durham Crematorium on 6th January bore witness to his kindly guidance of generations of students, his basso profundo impact on choirs of which he was a stalwart and his support for a range of local charities and cultural activities. Simon Squires was a good man.