Fond farewell for a favourite teacher

w092617c'Headteacher of Hawsker Primary School, John Barber.
w092617c'Headteacher of Hawsker Primary School, John Barber.

A WELL-known and much-loved Whitby teacher has died after a battle with cancer.

John Barber was the head at Hawsker School and also played an active part in community life.

John was born in 1949 in Essex where he began his love of fishing – one of his first jobs as a teenager was digging worms for fishermen and carrying tourist’s luggage.

Other interests included model railways, train spotting and going to the pictures where he became a huge fan of Westerns and the old Hollywood musicals.

Much to his parents’ distress, he bought a motorbike and left school without many qualifications, taking a number of casual jobs but after a year or so, he decided he wanted to be a teacher, so took his A-levels and applied for college.

In the early 1970s John was thrilled to land a place at Padgate Teacher Training College, making many lifelong friends.

Despite dividing his time between teaching practice and running the bar, he still qualified as a primary school teacher and started teaching in Wigan.

Whilst at college John met Jane and they married in 1979 and would have celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary this year.

Jobs took them around the country but finally to Hawsker in 1990 where he was very pleased to become headteacher, especially as he had had two interviews that day and riskily turned down the one he was offered in the morning.

By then Tom, Jack, Daisy and Will had come along and he always supported and encouraged them in all the activities they pursued.

In addition to music school and his personal achievements he was passionate about giving youngsters the chance to be involved at whatever level they could.

He was an enthusiastic supporter and organiser of the Eskdale Festival and also Saturday morning music school.

But music wasn’t his only interest – he encouraged pupils with sport, science projects, gardening, maths and art and to have the opportunity to fulfil their potential. After a long and successful career he approached retirement with equal enthusiasm.

It wasn’t long before he was diagnosed with cancer but this didn’t stop him always planning for the future.

He enjoyed many trips abroad with Jane and stepped up his involvement with Fylingdales Cricket Club by playing and organising the darts and dominoes.

During this period, he also found time to fund-raise for various local charities, notoriously shaving off his beard.

If he wasn’t on his allotment John would be helping with gardening chores at the Fylingdales Inn which also provided the stage for his little local jazz band.

Despite often playing to an empty pub it never dampened his enthusiasm and with more free time he had the opportunity to get to know his four young grandchildren and took great pleasure from reading them stories.

He leaves wife Jane and four children Tom, Jack, Daisy and William, their partners as well as four grandchildren.

l FYLINGDALES Cricket Club paid tribute to John with a minute’s silence before their Beckett League division B game at Staxton 2nds on Saturday.

Full match report on page 78