Farewell, Mr Siddle

John Siddle was headmaster at Headlands School between 1976 and 1986
John Siddle was headmaster at Headlands School between 1976 and 1986

Tributes have poured in for a former Bridlington headmaster whom friends, family and ex-pupils described as a “true gentleman”.

John Siddle, who was headmaster at Headlands School between 1976 and 1986, passed away peacefully aged 85 at Mallard Court Nursing Home on 28 July, following a short period of illness.

Mr Siddle was captain St Oswald's Church, Filey

Mr Siddle was captain St Oswald's Church, Filey

The headteacher of 10 years was credited with developing a new curriculum at Headlands, which was in the first stages of becoming a comprehensive school when he took charge.

His son David Siddle, 59, who lives in Crayke, North Yorkshire, said: “Dad had the overall responsibility of developing a new curriculum and also overseeing a major building programme which involved the transfer of half of the Lower School buildings to the Bridlington College of Further Education.

“He was a wonderful father to me and my two sisters. We will all miss his sense of humour and zest for life.”

Further landmark achievements Mr Siddle claimed for Headlands School included the establishment of a link with St Mary’s College in Burlington USA, and the acquisition of a chapel building in Rosedale which was converted into a field centre.

He went on to become a senior member of the Yorkshire Association of Bell-ringers

He went on to become a senior member of the Yorkshire Association of Bell-ringers

A well respected figurehead of education provision in the Humberside area, Mr Siddle was also deputy headmaster at Greatfield High School in Hull prior to his role at Headlands School.

A former colleague at the school, Rev Dr Peter Phillips said: “John was Head of English and appointed me to my first teaching post. At first I was disconcerted by his directness when he disagreed with an opinion.

“I soon learned, however, that his responses arose from listening carefully and thoughtfully to the opinions of others and responding constructively.

“Directness and honesty of expression were central to John’s great integrity. Balanced with this was a warmth and liveliness in his dealings with people. When I myself became a head of English some five years later I leant heavily on the humane and rich model of John’s leadership.

“We shall miss you. Rest in peace, mentor and friend.”

Upon news of his passing, former pupils of Mr Siddle took to social media to pay tribute to a man they described as a “true gent.”

David Campleman said: “A proper headmaster long before the times of headteacher, a true gent who knew how to run a school.”

Jon Hornby added: “An amazing bloke, taught me to question everything, and I always do!”

In 1986 John Siddle was appointed to the post of Advisor to the Humberside County Council Education Department focussing on the reorganisation of the schools in Hull. He stayed with the authority until his retirement in the summer of 1991.

Aside from Mr Siddle’s outstanding work at Headlands School, he was also an adored member of the community and was an active member of the Bridlington Priory Restoration Committee and the Rotary Club.

Malcolm McKaie of Bridlington Rotary Club said Mr Siddle was a close friend, and a lively member of the organisation.

“He came to Rotary when he first became head at the school, and he became president in 1984”, added Mr McKaie. “He then became secretary and bulletin editor. He was extremely talented and English and Drama were two of his loves.

“He wasjust an exceptionally nice fellow.”

Mr Siddle’s interest in bell-ringing was rekindled following retirement when he moved to Filey and joined the local bell-ringing group. He also attained senior positions within the Scarborough and District Branch of the Yorkshire Association of bell-ringers.

Mr Siddle’s first wife, Jean, died in 2002 and in 2011 he married Kathy Carter with whom he shared his love of bell-ringing and travelling around Europe in a campervan.

The then vicar of Filey, Canon Chris Humphries said: “He had recently retired and was keen to be active in the parish. John became captain of our Bell Tower at St Oswald’s Church, and under his leadership we had a strong team of ringers, including several youngsters whom he coached and encouraged.

“John was blessed with many creative skills, and for some time was editor of “The Filey Envoy”, our parish magazine.

“Above all, for me, John was a people person. He saw the best in others, and was particularly keen to encourage the young. I will miss his wisdom and his wit, and feel that my wife Barbara and I have lost a true friend.”

Mr Siddle utilised his artistic flair as a member of Filey Arts Society and was also one of the founding members of the Filey Scribes, a group dedicated to calligraphy.

He leaves behind his wife Kathy, his three children David, Rachel and Catherine from his first marriage and 4 grandchildren.

Following a committal at Octon crematorium yesterday a service of thanksgiving at St Oswalds, Filey was held on the same day.