School News

Obituary for Donald Holt

We were sad to hear the news that former Birkdale teacher, Donald Holt had died peacefully on 27 March 2017. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Donald was very dedicated to his teaching. Through it, he was able to help so many people be successful. When Birkdale decided to set up a Sixth Form, Donald was one of a core of staff of the old 'Senior School' in the Oakholme Building who got things up to enough speed to make this possible. He was instrumental in establishing the Physics Department and was appointed Head of Science.

Born in Sheffield on 29 December 1938, from his early years Donald became involved with St Luke’s Methodist Church where he was a member of the Boys Brigade. In those days, like most children, Don enjoyed simple pleasures of playing out on the streets with his friends – there was almost no traffic and so it was safe to do that.

He went to Weston Road School, where he first met Hilary, who in time would become his wife. He then went on to Firth Park secondary school, and from here won a scholarship to Trinity College Cambridge. He read Natural Sciences specialising in Physics, which was to become a lifelong passion for him.

Donald and Hilary were married in 1962, and were to be together for over 40 happy years.

Donald’s first job was teaching Physics at Bemrose School in Derby. There was then a brief spell in Northampton before coming to Rowlinson School in Sheffield, from where he went to Abbeydale, and then finally to Birkdale.

Donald and Hilary were blessed with three children, and, in time, five grandchildren. The family enjoyed caravan holidays to France each summer. They would pack everything into their little 12ft caravan and would take advantage of the school holidays to head over the channel for a long holiday in France – often to Brittany.

Donald was very dedicated to his teaching. Through it, he was able to help so many people be successful. When Birkdale decided to set up a Sixth Form, Donald was one of a core of staff of the old 'Senior School' in the Oakholme Building who got things up to enough speed to make this possible. He was instrumental in establishing the Physics Department and was appointed Head of Science.

In the summers he would mark O and A level scripts, something which he continued to do right up until last year. His experience as an examiner meant he was very much on the ball when preparing students for GCSE and A Level. 

Donald and Hilary used to accompany school trips to the theatre and were often seen at school concerts. Donald also supported Cross Country Running. It was the time of Seb Coe, a Sheffield schoolboy, and every Saturday in the season Don would be at a sports event encouraging his school team. He was the sort of person who supported things very loyally.

In retirement Donald kept himself busy and was involved in a whole range of activities, including the Lunches Group at St Luke’s, walking, playing bridge and occasionally going for a sauna.

Donald achieved so much from his humble beginnings. He was very grateful for all that he had and considered that he had been very lucky. Throughout his life, Donald’s Christian faith was very important to him. He always had a close connection with his church, and he kept his Bible and his study notes by his bedside.

He is described as having a ‘unique’ personality! He could be a little dogmatic at times, but underneath he was kind and honest – a peacemaker, and never said a bad thing about anyone.

(Compiled from the eulogy given by Rev Chris Stebbings and notes from Stephen Gordon and Andrew Sanderson)

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