Tributes paid to prominent Wendover resident and Dr Challoner's School headmaster John Loarridge OBE who has died at the age of 89

Mr. John Loarridge OBE, RD, BA (Hons), Dip Ed

Thursday, 9th April 2020, 11:21 am
Updated Thursday, 9th April 2020, 11:22 am
A painting of Mr Loarridge by Cathy Pridis

John will be remembered best as the outstanding Headmaster of Dr. Challoner’s Grammar School from 1972-92, during which time the school nearly doubled in size and rose to be among the top twenty in the national league tables. Despite the academic success, John insisted that Challoner’s continued to care for each pupil as an individual with their own needs and abilities. As part of that ethos, he also ensured that sports and the arts received every encouragement on the curriculum.

One of John’s favourite questions to pupils was, “What have you done that was brilliant?” The young men of Challoner’s grew taller as they realised that their Headmaster not only thought that they were capable of brilliance but also focussed on them as he listened to their answer.

Both of John’s parents were teachers, so his choice of career was not a complete surprise. He was brought up in Herne Hill before being evacuated to Hove during the blitz. John used to observe rather drily, ‘They moved us nearer the Germans!’ After being at Hove High School, he was able to return home after the war as a pupil at Alleyn’s, and thence to Nottingham University to read History.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A painting of Mr Loarridge by Cathy Pridis

During his adolescence, Scouting was an important part of John’s life, as it was for Ted, his cousin and closest friend. Being made a Patrol Leader in his local Church Scout Group stood out in his memory.

For his National Service, John joined the Royal Navy which continued to play a key role for the remainder of his life. The Captain of the HMS Triumph on which he served told him that he would become an Admiral if he stayed in the navy rather than take up teaching, as planned. John served as a Reservist for 25 years, rising to the rank of Commander. He was awarded an ‘RD’.

Ignoring his naval Captain’s predictions, John taught history in Birmingham for 12 years, followed by 6 years as Deputy Head of Wallington Grammar School, then on to Challoner’s. In his retirement, John continued to serve in various educational roles, including as a Governor of the Beacon Prep School and St. Mary’s, Gerrards Cross, as well as on the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education. In 1992, he was awarded the OBE for his outstanding contribution to education, a proud moment for him.

Music was a vital part of John’s life and he was actively involved in running the Amersham Concert Club and Wendover Music as well as being a strong supporter of AmChor, the County Youth Orchestra, and, of course, the music of Challoner’s. His social life also included Rotary, golf and entertaining. His many cats were named after his favourite tipples! John attended the 8am Sunday Communion at St. Marys’, Wendover, for well over forty years.

John and his wife, June, also a teacher, met in Birmingham. They were married in 1964, though sadly she died in 1986. They had no children. John himself died peacefully a fortnight after his 89th birthday.