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Mr Derrick Short (OS Head of Chemistry 1975-2005)

We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Mr Derrick Short, Former Head of Chemistry (1975-2005), on Sunday 6th February 2022, following a long illness. Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time.

The school was informed by Mr Short’s daughter, Old Stopfordian Alison Sutherland née Short (OS 1995).

If you would like to share a tribute to Mr Short or receive details of the funeral please contact Rebecca Shawcross on 0161 419 2408 or email

Donations to The Amyloidosis Research Fund 24

A tribute to Mr Derrick Short, Former Head of Chemistry (1975-2005), extracted from The Stopfordian 2004-2005:

1975 saw Derrick Short arrive as a fresh-faced young man, clad in a brown leather jacket, from William Hulme’s Grammar School.  He was an appointee of the inimitable Francis Scott, replacing the retiring Head of Chemistry, David Cassie.  The Chemistry department consisted of two members of staff.  The onset of co-education in 1980 saw a rapid expansion of the department to three, four, five teachers, eventually becoming six, along with the conversion of the Sykes’ lecture room to another laboratory.

In those early, heady days Derrick proved to be a talented football and tennis player, running a tennis team and often to be seen competing against members of the Sixth Form in five-a-side matches on Wednesday afternoons.  A new influx of staff and a mixed Sixth Form meant that social events in the school became more prominent.  He was the instigator of Sixth Form discos, held in what is now the Lower Sixth Common Room; the organisation of refreshments were his speciality and he was often to be seen serving behind the bar.  He organised his famous ‘Folk and Wine Evenings’ for staff, pupils and parents, arranging entertainment from far and near.  One of these nights was recorded by Les Barker on an LP now in the custody of the School Archive; such evenings eventually came to an end Health and Safety ruled that candles on tables were a fire hazard.

Derrick kept his contacts with William Hulme’s and in 1982 led a joint trek to Morocco in two minibuses which introduced the boys to travel not only on the African continent but also through France and Spain.  Sleeping in tents in the High Sierra in sub-zero conditions certainly was an interesting experience! The expedition became SGS’ own in 1986, when Third, Fourth and Lower Sixth Formers travelled for three weeks on a double-decker bus.  His ever-present Nikkormat camera snapped away at every opportunity, recording fascinating and eye-opening events, from riding camels, swimming in an oasis, watching the sun rise over the Sahara desert to experiencing the sights and smells of Fez.  Derrick has a passion for travel, always arriving back after the summer holidays with an excellent tan.  The quincentenary year saw an absence of Derrick from SGS; he took part in a teacher exchange, meaning he took his inimitable style of teaching to Australia. He spent a year down-under with his wife Christine and daughter Alison.  On his return he became the administrator for future exchanges for other teachers.

Derrick has always maintained extremely high standards in the teaching of Chemistry (he often bemoans the lack of rigour in modern syllabi).  He has received an M. Ed. For a study of the History of Science Education in Stockport from 1860-1914.  He has been a long-time examiner for many examination boards – at present he is the Chief Examiner for the International O-level (yes, they do still exist).  Former pupils look back with affection to his lessons.  Members of the present Sixth Form have likened him to a teddy bear!  He has always had a very dry sense of humour and those who were on the same wavelength filled the labs with laughter.  Those who needed his help were always given it – not only the pupils, but also teaching and ancillary staff.  As a Head of Department he can always be relied on to put forward their cases.  His observations are shrewd and staff meetings are illuminated by his matter-of-fact approach.  As a colleague he has always been a font of sound advice and it will be a long time before we will meet his like again.

Dr W. Krywonos


Cara Steele née Lallement (OS 2003) shares:

Such sad news. I am a chemistry teacher myself now and it is in no short way due to the amazing chemistry teachers I had myself at SGS, Mr Short being one of them. He had such a dry sense of humour and was so fiercely intelligent and I look back on my days in those old chemistry labs (above the Hallam corridor, the big old drafty ones!) with great fondness.

Please pass on my sympathy to his family.

Dr Geoff Herbert, former Chemistry colleague of Mr Short:

I was saddened to hear the news of Derrick’s death. I have many happy memories of the twelve years during which we worked closely together in the chemistry department. The department prospered under Derrick’s leadership. Please pass on my sincere condolences to Alison.