Former Knaresborough headteacher dies aged 85

John Richard Forster, the former head of schools in Knaresborough and Shipley and a champion for youngsters keen to play tennis, has died at his Calcutt home aged 85.

By Janet Harrison
Monday, 4th July 2022, 11:41 am

A pupil of Ermysted’s in Skipton, Mr Forster graduated in English from Cambridge University and taught at schools in Kent and Lancashire before returning to his native Yorkshire. Prior to becoming head of Salts Grammar School in 1975 Forster taught in Batley, Wakefield and Horsforth.

He became head of King James’s School in Knaresborough in 1981 and retired from there in 1997.

The 1996 Ofsted report on King James’s said: “For many years the school has enjoyed leadership of considerable distinction.

“The Headteacher’s vision has an inspirational effect upon the school community which gives him its undivided support.”

As a fundraiser for King James, Mr Forster started and participated in the Knaresborough 10km Fun Run which has now become a popular annual charity fundraiser.

After King James, Mr Forster became an Ofsted inspector, a supervisor of teaching practice at Leeds University Department of Education and was twice called on to become acting head of schools in Yorkshire and London.

He served as deputy chairman and lead governor of the Harrogate and District Hospital Trust where he helped set up the Young Volunteers programme.

A lifelong sportsman, he worked with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) to provide courts for school and community use at King James.

He became the schools’ coordinator of the Yorkshire LTA and chaired its funding committee.

A keen runner, golfer and a life-long Leeds United supporter, he was a season-ticket holder at Elland Road.

He continued to study in retirement, earning an M Ed from Leeds University and a first-class BA in Literature from the Open University.

Mr Forster was the author of several books and wrote poetry, encouraging others to do so through the Calcutt Poetry Group and at Ilkley and Harrogate theatres as well as at Christ Church, Harrogate.

He is survived by wife Beryl, daughter Sally, son Michael and grandchildren Anna and James.

John Forster’s funeral will be held at St John the Baptist Church, Knaresborough at 12:30pm on Friday July 22.