Hundreds expected at funeral of well-respected former Stevenage deputy head

PUBLISHED: 17:07 27 February 2019 | UPDATED: 17:18 27 February 2019

Former Barclay School deputy head Donald Monk, who has died at the age of 91. Picture: Nick Monk

Former Barclay School deputy head Donald Monk, who has died at the age of 91. Picture: Nick Monk

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Hundreds of people are expected to attend the funeral of a former deputy headteacher tomorrow.

Donald and Rosemary Monk enjoying a dance. Picture: Nick MonkDonald and Rosemary Monk enjoying a dance. Picture: Nick Monk

Donald Monk, who was the deputy head of Stevenage’s Barclay School for 40 years, died peacefully at Wymondley Care Home on February 17, aged 91.

Don, as he was known, was born in Gaunt’s End, Essex, in 1928 and was the first of his family to continue education beyond primary school – winning a place at a grammar school.

He did his National Service in the Royal Navy and in 1949 met Rene, to whom he was married for more than 60 years.

After completing his teacher training, Don took a job at Barclay School, where he worked until his retirement in 1992.

Donald Monk with grandsons Jack, Freddie and Theo. Picture: Jack JewittDonald Monk with grandsons Jack, Freddie and Theo. Picture: Jack Jewitt

Former colleague Mervyn Smith said: “Don was an amazing teacher. He could cover every subject and deal with anything. Many students will remember him for his control and firm discipline, but he did so much more. He built the swimming pool, and only last week I was speaking to a lady who said ‘he taught me to ballroom dance,’ and she is in her 80s.”

Former colleague Richard Wallace added: “In its early days, Barclay was a secondary modern school for students who failed the 11+ exam. Don was a firm believer the iniquities of the 11+ were not going to prevail at Barclay. These children rejected at 11 were going to have self-esteem restored by being given access to all the educational, cultural and sporting advantages open to those selected to go to grammar schools. He was very much a pioneer.”

Don was well-known for his Friday morning assemblies, where he would lead the whole school in hymn singing, known as ‘SingalongaDon’.

Richard said: “Don also influenced a generation of teachers. Many stayed because they loved the ethos he was instrumental in creating at Barclay and wanted to emulate him. Don was instrumental in creating a school that embraced love, kindness, humour and hard work.”

Donald with daughter Jane. Picture: Jane MonkDonald with daughter Jane. Picture: Jane Monk

Barclay’s current head, Mark Allchorn, added: “Don’s service to Barclay was exceptional and his example continues to inspire the school’s current generation of teachers.”

Don is survived by his son and daughter, Nick and Rose, and his daughter-in-law Pascale. He was predeceased by his youngest daughter, Jane. He had five grandchildren.

Don’s funeral will be held at Stevenage’s St Nicholas Church at 3pm tomorrow, followed by a private family commital.

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