Memories of Alan Clark - the ‘best teacher ever’

Alan and Shirley Clark
Alan and Shirley Clark

Glowing tributes have been paid to the ‘best teacher ever’.

Alan Clark, who taught in Horbury for nearly 50 years, passed away peacefully aged 83 on September 20.

Many of his former pupils attended his funeral service at Wakefield Crematorium on October 2. They have also left many heartfelt messages on Facebook following his death.

The grandad-of-two, from Lupset Park, spent all of his teaching career in Horbury. He first taught at St Peter’s School from the early 1950s and then at Northfield Lane Junior School, now Horbury Primary, from 1961 until his retirement in 1997 when he was the deputy headmaster.

Mr Clark was a familiar sight in the locality with his trademark silver beard and rucksack.

Son Tim Clark said: “When I was young, dad and I would walk from home on Lennox Drive to Horbury village at weekends, normally a 30-minute walk there and back, and it would take us sometimes up to three hours to do the round trip as many people who my dad had taught over the years would stop and speak to him - these people whose own parents had been taught by him, and their own children also!”

Alan Clark was born in Bishop Auckland, He came to Yorkshire aged 11 when his father, Thomas Metcalfe, took up a teaching post of physics at Ossett Grammar School. Alan’s mother Vera was also a teacher.

It was here that he met his future wife of 57 years, Shirley Farrar. Outside of school he was a keen ten-pin bowler and travelled widely.

Mr Clark, following an illness in 2014, set about writing his school memoirs and of his time in the RAF in Hong Kong. The first lines of which are: “Don’t go into teaching,” advised my infant school-teaching mother and my grammar school-teaching father, so I tried it for forty years, and couldn’t understand why they had both said it.”

Tim Clark, in his eulogy at the funeral service, said: “Thank you, dad, for being so important to me, my mum and my family, and also for hundreds, even thousands of other families over the last 83 years of your wonderful life.”

Some of Mr Clark’s ex pupils have taken to social media to pay their respects to the inspirational teacher.

Former Northfield Lane pupil Andy Nichols, posting on the ‘You know you have lived in Horbury’ Facebook group, said: “Best teacher ever, I was pleased to let him know what a great influence he had been to me and many pupils in our time in Form 4C (1968/69).”

Neil Moyes, commenting on the We went to Northfield Lane School site, added: “What an absolute legend, he taught all our family over the years and was a ‘fantasic fella’, he always remembered your name even after 30 years of leaving the school, I hope his family members get to know all these great comments of such a top man!”