JOHN Makin, a well-known Oxford schoolteacher and athletics official, has died aged 89.

He joined the staff at Edmund Campion Roman Catholic School at Iffley Turn when it opened in 1958 and worked there for 25 years until he retired.

After 16 years as head of English, he said: “I practically know Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream backwards.”

Mr Makin was born on May 24, 1924 in Radcliffe, Manchester, and went to school and college there.

He caught the train from Bury station to school every morning and it was there that romance blossomed when he first set eyes on his future wife, Peggy, standing on the opposite platform.

When war broke out, he joined the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy. After initial training at HMS Royal Arthur, now the site of Butlin’s holiday camp at Skegness, he joined HMS Nabob, an escort aircraft carrier, but soon left to join a team working on radar.

HMS Nabob was later torpedoed in the Barents Sea by a German submarine, with the loss of many of his former comrades.

After the war, he trained as a teacher and worked at a parish school in Prestwich near Bury before moving to Oxford. His wife was “aghast” when she realised he had spent £2,410 on a house in Broughtons Close, Old Marston.

Mr Makin’s son, Stephen, said: “Dad lived and breathed Edmund Campion, seeing it grow from a small secondary school to a large comprehensive. If asked what he taught, his reply was always ‘children’.”

His specialist subjects were English and economics.

Stephen added: “He believed in each pupil reaching their full potential. He was instrumental in the development of the CSE examinations as an alternative to the academic O-Level.”

Mr Makin, a rugby player and athlete in his youth, was a Grade 1 international track referee and regularly officiated at athletics meetings, including many at Oxford’s Horspath Road and Iffley Road tracks.

His other interests included cars, gardening, travel, church, and his devoted family. In recent years he lived in Kidlington.

John Makin died peacefully on March 8. He is survived by his children, Anne, Margaret, Susan and Stephen, and five grandchildren. His wife predeceased him.

The funeral service took place at St Thomas More Roman Catholic Church, Kidlington, in March.

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