In my first year of teaching in 1978 I was allocated to the third year as a tutor and my Head of Year was Alec 'Pop' Allan, something of a legend even in those days. There were lots of wonderful teachers in the school at that time for a young newbie to look up to and several of them were there today to remember Pop who died last week.
It was testament to Pop that the church was full of people coming to say their goodbyes. As well as his family there were ex-pupils, boxers from his Police Boys' Club Days, 'adopted' children and grandchildren, friends from the community and a significant group of us from his time at school.
'Broke the mould' springs to mind when you think of Pop. You might not have always agreed with his methods but you couldn't fault his faith in young people. He believed in developing self respect and self discipline. He lead by example, being the first to arrive at school of a morning and the last to leave. At this time of year he turned the grass at the front of the school into a putting green and croquet pitch and kids were trusted to borrow stilts, rounders equipment, hoops and skipping ropes at break and lunchtimes. In winter he ran games clubs in his classroom, and boxing was his love. If boys chose to fight and didn't want to resolve their differences he would give them boxing gloves and they could sort it out in the hall with him as referee and to the rules. The annual third year trip saw us all loaded onto double decker buses to Knaresborough Zoo and Harewood House. At Christmas we had a huge party awash with sandwiches, jelly and cake. Cartoons were screened using a reel-to-reel projector and lots of games, including Miss Lovely Legs and Mr Knobbly Knees - totally non pc these days but the kids loved them. I think you could have counted the days Pop had off school in his long career on the fingers of one hand.
Although there were moments of sadness, it was also a day of reunion and lovely to see so many old faces looking so well. Alec has also left a wonderful legacy in his children and grandchildren, of whom he was rightly proud.
Sleep well Pop.....