A much-loved former headteacher of Rodillian School in Leeds has been described as “one of life’s good guys”.
John Heald died in his sleep aged 68 after suffering from Pick’s disease, an aggressive form of Alzheimer’s.
Mr Heald was made head of Rodillian in Oulton, south Leeds, in 1990, a role he remained in until his retirement in August 2002.
Before that, he was a consultant for the old Leeds Education Authority and had also taught at Foxwood School and as headteacher at Silver Royd School for four years.
Sarah Smith was a student under Mr Heald at Rodillian and is now the school’s Head of Performing Arts.
She said: “John gave me a job when I returned as a teacher in 1998. When I decided to go into drama and the arts, there were a few teachers who doubted me but John always backed me to do what I wanted in life.
“He really helped people give 100 per cent and he gave them 100 per cent in return.
“He was always the first person in school in the morning and the last out at night. He wasn’t a headteacher who didn’t get his hands dirty – his office was always open and his energy was infectious. He was passionate about education and knew all the students’ names.”
Mr Heald’s funeral was held at Lawnswood Crematorium on Thursday afternoon.
Mrs Smith added: “The funeral was absolutely packed, and I was in a second room watching it on video because it was so well attended.
“He was such a nice man with a warm personality.”
Former colleague Jennifer Ward gave a reading at the funeral, which ended ‘John Heald: son, husband, father, grandfather, teacher, headteacher, leader, sportsman and educationalist. We celebrate your life.’
Mr Heald was born in Chorley, Lancashire, and was married to wife Evelyn for 47 years.
He leaves behind wife Evelyn, children Paul, Victoria and Andrew, son-in-law Ian, daughters-in-law Julie and Zoe and grandchildren James, Beth and Matthew.