An inspiration to all who knew him

Kenneth Allott
Kenneth Allott

TRIBUTES have poured in for a popular Morpeth teacher whose wide range of interests ensured he made a mark both locally and nationally.

Former King Edward VI High School (KEVI) geography and geology teacher Kenneth Allott died on Friday at the age of 65.

He will be missed by many for his kind and helpful manner and work in numerous community groups.

Mr Allott was born in Ripon and spent much of his childhood in Lincolnshire. He first came to the North East in 1959 when his father became Headteacher of Gosforth High School.

He attended the Royal Grammar School until 1964, before going on to study a degree in geography and geology at Liverpool University, followed by a Masters in tropical physical geography.

In 1968 Mr Allott spent a year at the Department of Education, before becoming a teacher at Northampton Grammar School, where he worked until moving to Morpeth with his wife and young son Nicholas to take up a post at KEVI.

The couple have lived in the area ever since and their two daughters Kate and Lucy were born in the North East.

Mr Allott helped hundreds of pupils through Duke of Edinburgh awards and field courses, as well as working as a volunteer at the Morpeth Youth Association and teaching evening classes for the Morpeth Adults Association.

He was also an active member of the KEVI choir and went on many tours, including several trips to Italy.

Mr Allott left teaching when he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in April 2002, but he still travelled with the choir to Salzburg and continued singing with local choir Voicemale.

Before his illness he was a Northumberland National Park warden and a fell rescuer, as well as enjoying orienteering, archeology digs and expeditions.

He had a passion for learning and research and as a member of Morpeth Antiquarian Society presented many talks, using his voice controlled computer to prepare Powerpoint presentations in the later stages of his illness.

His research into the Rastrick engineering family is partly behind moves to place a plaque on the Morpeth property thought to be their home.

Mr Allott was also interested in railways and became the first Chairman of the South East Northumberland Rail User Group. He campaigned tirelessly for better disabled access at stations, even making a short piece for TV about the difficulties passengers face.

He also highlighted problems with kerbs and roads to Northumberland County Council.

Mr Allott agreed to speak about his illness for a health website and as a result was asked to join a NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) committee looking into non-invasive ventilation in motor neurone disease.

The year-long work involved travelling to Manchester and London, but Mr Allott was determined to make the difficult journeys to help doctors and other health experts draw up national guidance on patient access to non-invasive ventilation.

His wife Caroline said: “He was very determined and a very strong character. He was direct and practical.

“Kenneth was curious all the time to find out about people and to research local and national topics.

“You could describe him as shy and reserved, but he really thrived on his activities. His interests were so wide it is difficult to sum them up.

“It was hard for him not to be able to go out and walk around, but he was very pragmatic and because of his intellectual curiosity he was able to make something of the illness, finding out how to live with it.

“He loved his family and felt very proud of what they have done with their lives.

“We are very grateful for the support we have had at home through the surgery, the district nurses and Helping Hands.”

Friend and fellow Antiquarian Kim Bibby-Wilson said: “Ken always had a wonderful respect for the younger generation.

“He was very well known in the town and the wider community. So many people passed through his care and I have never known anybody have a bad word for him. He was an inspiration and a wonderful person.”

KEVI’s Head of Sixth Form Chris Ramsay worked with Mr Allott for 20 years.

He said: “Ken was an incredibly dedicated and committed teacher who gave of his time generously to everybody.

“He had a wonderful enthusiasm for his subjects, as well as a terrific knowledge of them. Just as importantly, he gave a lot to the school and the wider community.

“He was a man of generous spirit who was concerned for other people.

“I have teaching colleagues who were taught by him and they remember him as a hugely inspiring teacher.”

Voicemale members will sing at Mr Allott’s funeral in tribute to their friend.

Musical Director Graham Stacy said: “Ken was a fantastic tenor. Despite the onset of his illness, which more or less coincided with him joining the choir, he managed to continue singing and making a contribution to the choir really until the Christmas before last.

“We had some interesting times getting him into venues because some still don’t have disabled access. I particularly remember when we were performing in the upstairs room of the Queen’s Head and we had to improvise with bits of planks and tie a rope around him to get Ken up in his wheelchair. It required considerable bravery on his part, but he was determined to sing if he could.

“I have known him personally for about 30 years so we have been friends for a long time and he is a big miss.”

Mr Allott’s funeral will take place at West Road Crematorium, Newcastle, on Monday at 12.30pm. Family flowers only, but donations can be made to the Motor Neurone Disease Association or The Great North Air Ambulance.