Pupils set up fund in memory of former headteacher

Teacher memorial - Mike James.
Teacher memorial - Mike James.

STUDENTS of Orsdall Hall School have set up a fundraising page in memory of their former headteacher.

Mike James, who was headteacher at the school for 19 years after joining in 1979, passed away on 6th February aged 67.

Students and staff wanted to find some way in which they could pay their respects to Mr James, described as talented, dedicated and proud.

They set up a Just Giving page where students, past and present, families and staff can pay their respects by donating to Mind.

“Mr James’ family’s wishes are being respected in that no direct contact is to be made with them. However, so many people wanted to say their farewells and thank you to a wonderful man and so this page was set up in his memory,” said one student.

Arthur Deakin, Mr James’ successor at the school, said: “He was a true believer in the comprehensive ideal, coupled with the pursuit of excellence.”

“He expected only the best form and for the pupils in his care, and was dedicated to raising the aspirations, performance and success of a generation of young people.”

“In his time as head of Ordsall Hall he never lost this love of pastoral work, despite his many other responsibilities.”

He was considered by his peers as one of the most skilled investigators of pupil incidents in any school, said Mr Deakin.

He added: “Coupled with this, was his burning desire to challenge all young people to gain the greatest success possible; one aspect of this was his extreme reluctance ever to exclude or suspend a child. He would move heaven and earth before taking this final sanction.

“It is a testament to his skills in this area that only two weeks ago I was speaking to a 30-year-old who had been, by his own admission, a ‘troublesome young man at school’ who asked after Mike and spoke of him with considerable affection.

“Mike took his role very seriously and extremely conscientiously. He never lost his love of teaching, especially his specialism of English literature.

He applied the tried and trusted ‘acid test’ of sending his own daughters to Ordsall Hall, and was always very proud not only of them ,but also of being able to say with great sincerity ‘this school is so good that I send my own children here’.”

“His work in helping to set up and sustain the Retford and Tuxford Sixth Form consortium was also a very significant achievement, as through it post-16 education in the area was fundamentally reshaped and sixth formers of Ordsall Hall gained the experiences that led them to premier universities and top jobs.

“Mike was a devoted man and a very fit and ultra-competative sportsman. He was a great public servant for Retford and district.”

To donate visit www.justgiving.com/Toni-Iannantuoni.

If people wish to carry out a collection or make an individual donation to the charity, instead of donating online, they can send cheques directly to Mind, quoting in a cover letter that the donation is linked to the Just Giving page set up in memory of Mike James and the web address.