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Ian Mellor (OS - former Headmaster 1996-2005)


Ian Mellor was born in Oldham and educated first at Alexandra Park Junior School, where he met Margery Ainsworth, who was later to become his wife and devoted companion. They had three sons and ultimately seven grandchildren, a close family which was always the focus of his life. From Oldham he went on to the Manchester Grammar School and thence to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where he read French and German. Choosing a career in education he was a charismatic, inspirational teacher first at King’s School Chester, followed by Head of Department posts at Kirkham Grammar School and Bristol Grammar School. He then served as Deputy Head at Sale Boys’ Grammar School until he was appointed to his first Headship at Sir Roger Manwood’s School, Sandwich. Stockport Grammar School was founded in 1487 by Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company Sir Edmond Shaa and, with his appointment as Headmaster in 1996, Ian gained the distinction of leading one of the oldest schools in the country. Ian was a man who quickly and unassumingly absorbed the culture of a school and was able to move forward while others would still be finding their feet.

Ian was essentially a giver. This was partly because he was self-reliant and resilient but also because he had no great sense of position and importance. He was totally lacking in pomposity or sense of status – finding as much pleasure in running his under 13 cricket team as in attending dinners at the Goldsmiths’ Hall or reporting to the governing body on progress on the next phase of the development of the school. He was generous in his praise of others, always willing to see the best in people and genuinely admiring and appreciative of those who had skills which he did not possess. Wherever he worked he received and deserved respect.

At Stockport, Ian was a passionate and enthusiastic advocate of bursaries in order to maintain the social mix and fabric of the school, to maintain academic excellence and to give the same opportunities to children as he himself received and he energetically promoted the recently introduced Bursary Fund. He showed a determined and particular vision for IT. When he joined Stockport in 1996 the school had just a small number of computers. He argued passionately from his earliest days that there needed to be a massive investment in IT and persuaded the Governors to spend more than £1 million on hardware, software and infrastructure in order to ensure that pupils could benefit from the latest technology. By 2005 the school had over 300 PCs, laptops, printers, whiteboards and scanners with more to come.

Although he was essentially a reluctant public speaker, but a talented and much admired one, Ian Mellor held strong views and was forthright in expressing them. He had no time for what he perceived to be political correctness in the educational system. He made no attempt to hide his frustration with league tables and educational targets set by successive Education Ministers. Equally he was irritated by the inexcusable variation in standards of marking by the Examination Boards which took forever to correct.

Ian’s interests were wide-ranging. He had been a keen soccer player in his younger days, and he maintained his enthusiasm for cricket and particularly football, as a lifelong and loyal Oldham Athletic supporter and season ticket holder at Boundary Park. He was a brilliant and almost fanatical bridge-player, remembering details of hands which he had played months or even years in the past. He enjoyed the challenge of quizzes, setting and running quiz matches for the Stopfordian Parents’ Association and taxing both friends and family with questions which he had spent many hours researching. He was a knowledgeable collector of both stamps and records, and the walls of his study at home were lined with a vast array of hit singles on vinyl. He was also a self-taught pianist, frequently launching himself with gusto into a repertoire which ranged from hymns to boogie-woogie. At the end of the school day, when almost everyone else had gone home, he could often be heard performing a loud and spirited concert on the school organ.

Upon his retirement in 2005, Ian and Margery moved to the village of Whittington in Shropshire, both becoming committed members of the local church. Ian joined the governing bodies of three schools, clearly gaining most satisfaction from his close association with Whittington Primary School. Sadly, his long-term plans were cut short just four years after retirement by a devastating illness, which he bore with typical stoicism, good humour and determination for six years until his death. He will be remembered with affection and gratitude by all those colleagues, pupils and friends whose lives he touched.

Compiled by S E Helm from the thoughts and recollections of M Harris, S Burgoyne and D Walmsley

Old Stops’ Review

Our annual magazine which features news from and interviews with Old Stopfordians, memories of times gone by and highlights from the past school year.