In Loving Memory of

Screenshot 2023-02-16 at 19.07.00

John Udy

In loving memory of John Udy, who passed away in February 2023, aged 87. Deeply missed by his wife Margaret, daughters Cathy and Helen, son-in-law Geir Olav, grandchildren Kate and Sev, and his siblings Anne, Robin and Martin, and their families.

John’s life was dedicated to his family and a career in education. He met Margaret at Leicester University where he studied history, and Margaret studied geography and geology. They both became exemplary secondary school teachers, championing new approaches to teaching, and supporting each student individually in their learning, no matter what their background.

John’s first post was in 1960 at Guthlaxton Grammar School, Wigston Magna in Leicestershire. He was Head of History and developed a Careers Department.

From Leicester, the family moved to Egremont in the Lake District and John became Head of House at Wyndham School, Egremont. The Lakes inspired the whole family with a lifelong love for mountains, lakes and sea, and for sailing and hill walking. John joined the mountain rescue team, and he shared memories of training exercises and rescues, including whiteouts in the snow.

In 1968, John became Senior Deputy Headmaster at Burnage Grammar School in Manchester, and then in 1971 became the founding Principal of Knutsford County High School, Cheshire. He successfully brought two schools together to create one new comprehensive school of very high standard and renown, now the Knutsford Academy. This was a testament to his considerable personal skills, vision and belief in the comprehensive system.

John had a strong love and affinity for the Southwest of England, and he spent much of his youth in Torbay with his mother Kitty and his brothers and sister. In 1980, in a homecoming, he returned to the Southwest with Margaret to become Head Teacher of Queen Elizabeth School in Crediton, Devon. At the school, he respected and acknowledged the importance of long-held traditions, and alongside this brought in the very best of current educational curriculum approaches.

Former teachers and pupils from all his schools have said that John was a kind, fair and supportive teacher and Head Teacher, and he was held in high regard and respect by all.

An adventurer, John loved the sea and sailing. He skippered sea-going yachts with Margaret and friends, from Queen Anne’s Battery in Plymouth, and the Torquay and Brixham Marinas. John founded the Hurley Owners Association in 1998 and played a leading role in organising sailing rallies, building a membership across the UK and around the world. There are now over 1,500 global members of the Hurley Owners Association Facebook page.

After retirement, Margaret and John settled in Devon and then Somerset, enjoying the beautiful and peaceful countryside and coast – travelling in Europe, Asia, and Australia with their children and grandchildren – and spending time in their wonderful gardens and allotment. John planted 485 deciduous native broad-leafed trees in one of their gardens.

John lived a long and good life and was well-liked and loved by all. His family and friends hold many treasured memories.

Donations in John’s memory can be made to Trees for Life, a charity working to restore the Caledonian Forests of Scotland:

Book Owner: Cathy Preston

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Mr Nick Vass, Hurley Owners Association (email)

Hi Cath I am very sorry to hear that John has passed away. That is very sad and I’m very sorry for your loss. John was THE founding member. Without John the association would not have happened. Like John I was a teacher and we had a lot to talk about and your parents came to our wedding in 2001. I shall send another email later with photos of your dad attached. Please send me a link to the online condolence book and I shall email it to Hurley Owners Association member and post it on our Facebook group. Sorry again for your loss. Kind Regards Nick …

Ms P Smith (email)

Dear Cath Thank you for taking the time to contact, I was glad to hear that your father’s work at Queen Elizabeth’s was able to be honoured at his funeral – I think that school leadership in any era is a very challenging task! I have put the link to the book of condolences in our staff bulletin this week.  I’m not sure if you are aware, but a picture of your father still hangs in our Library in College House.    I think the heritage of QE is very important and it is lovely that our current staff and students have that portrait as a physical link to the history of the school.   My very best wishes to you and your family.   Paula   Ms P Smith Headteacher …

Mr J A Whittaker (email)

Dear Catherine   I am so sorry to hear the news about your father. I have worked here for 26 years and whilst I never met John, worked with colleagues who were here at the time he was headteacher. People spoke very fondly of him, and I know that he was very much missed when he retired.   I will, of course, pass the link you have shared with the current staff and where possible with ex-colleagues who might have known your father.   Please accept my sincere condolences at this sad time.   Warm Regards   James Whittaker   Mr J.A.Whittaker Headteacher – Knutsford Academy & Cheshire Studio School …

Kate Parker (from Crediton Community FB page)

Dear Cathy, so sorry to hear about your dad. I will pass on the news to mine, David Clarke who was his deputy head and friend for many years. We are now living back in the area. I have fond memories of him coming round with your mum for dinner and also of him as our headmaster. I’m also very sad to hear about Mr Taylor and chuckled at the memory of his student throwing story! He once made me write lines.. quiet means no noise! My brother Andrew and I have happy memories of QE. Love and condolences to your family x …

Alison Erkmen (from Crediton Community FB page)

My dad John Brown worked with your dad, he thought really highly of him , he always said he was an inspirational leader and a really lovely man. Sending condolences to you and your family at this difficult time xxx …

Jeff Pym (from Crediton Community FB page)

Catherine, I just wanted to pass on condolences to you from myself and a few of the guys – Dave Ley, Dave Allen, Mark Woods, Will Ruck, Andy Hines and Ant Blackmore – though they may add their own messages as well. We still meet up each year and as we reminisce, we never fail remember your Dad, ‘Mr Udy’, as he is to us, with both respect and fondness, especially when recalling some of the antics of a few of those named above! I will leave you to guess who. Your Dad, as is true of many teachers, will have played a major part in influencing the lives of so many people, both pupils and teachers, as he did ours, given we still remember him after more than 40 years. Whilst his passing is very sad, we will continue to remember him, and will definitely raise a glass to him when we next meet. Jeff …

Sarah Dickinson (from Crediton Community FB page)

He was great headteacher; just the right amount of gravitas mixed with a kind and caring nature. So sorry for your loss. …

Councillor Stuart Penny (from Crediton Community FB page)

I was only thinking about John Udy on Saturday as I walked past his old house in Eastleigh. He was a good man. …

Kim Beardshaw (from Crediton Community FB page)

So sorry to hear this, thinking of you all.He was a great headteacher in the good ole days. X …

Kate Hutchins (from Crediton Community FB page)

I’m so sorry for your loss, Mr Udy was so Lovely, he was the Head Teacher when I started QE. Such a lovely gentleman. Thinking of you all xx …