A tribute to Alan Watson
It was with much sadness that we heard, on 27th October, that Alan Watson had died, after a long but determined battle with illness. We have lost someone who was very much part of this village, a contributor to many of its activities and organisations.
Alan, Pam and their two young sons moved to Nether Heyford in 1975 when Alan was appointed headteacher at Bliss Charity School, living initially in the school house before moving to Wakefield Way. Thus began a long and close relationship with Nether Heyford. He taught hundreds of children in his time there, gave them a wonderful start in life and a set of guidelines to hold them in good stead for the rest of their lives. Alan was first and foremost a teacher in the classroom, where he was happiest! At his retirement 28 years later Alan said that he had loved every moment, never had a bad day. I was privileged to work at Bliss with Alan for many years and have many happy memories of that time, becoming not only a work colleague but a close friend as well. Whilst not an overly keen coach traveller Alan did respond enthusiastically to the school’s Queen’s Golden Jubilee adventure in 2002 … to take the whole school to London for the day! Many will recall the fleet of coaches outside the school that summer morning, everyone went on the London Eye, KS1 had a river trip, KS2 toured the Globe theatre, then a sightseeing tour of the capital before a happy and weary return to base!
To many, Alan was a quiet, private, family man, but there was a very theatrical side to him as well! A regular performer in the annual village panto’s, he usually played the villain, giving his pupils the chance to boo their headteacher! When the Heyford Morris side was formed, Alan joined, generously offering the school hall as a regular practice venue. He relished the role of telling audiences in market squares and on village greens about the various dances performed. When Pam’s dance group, Queens Oak Ladies Morris, were short of a dancer Alan (aka Alana) stepped into the breach, although not necessarily wearing a dress!
Alan was a very fit and active person, he enjoyed walking in the countryside with Heyford Amblers and Bugbrooke Strollers, and at home he tended his garden and allotment, also belonging to Heyford Garden Club. He loved travel, France and Italy were favourite destinations and he and Pam spent many happy holidays there. Alan’s mind was ever active and he retained a great thirst for learning, becoming a keen member of CLASP and Whitehall archaeology group, taking part in ‘digs’, field walking and processing the finds. When Roberts Field was built Alan supervised the organisation and placing of a time capsule with the children at Bliss, connecting the present to the future.
But it is with music that I shall end this tribute. Alan loved music and especially singing. As a child he sang in his local church choir, eventually achieving the status of head choirboy at St Michael’s Church in Bournemouth. He developed a fine baritone voice which could often be heard soaring above others at school concerts, church services and other music events. Soon after it was formed Alan joined Heyford Singers and was a loyal and enthusiastic member. He thoroughly enjoyed the concerts and rehearsals, often performing solos or participating in readings and comic sketches. Even when cruel illness made him less mobile and he could not communicate as freely as he would have wished, he never gave up and continued to come to rehearsals and sing! The song quoted above was one of Alan’s favourites, he knew it by heart and sang it with heartfelt joy. It was played at his funeral, and would have been sung by Alan and the choir of Heyford Singers at the postponed concert in May. When we return to rehearsals and our next concert, we shall sing this song for Alan, sadness in our voices but in loving memory of someone who loved to sing, to share the joy of music, and feel “strong”.
Alan will be sorely missed by so many people, not least Pam, his family and his grandchildren. We, the community in Nether Heyford, are the poorer for his passing but richer for having known him. I do hope that in due course we, as a village, are able to mark Alan’s huge contribution to our school and community.
If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:
alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.