In Memoriam

Proud Lancastrian John Baker, who trained to be an English teacher at the then Worcester College of Education in the mid 1960s, has been remembered by friends following his passing in the midst of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic last year.

John first came to Worcester in 1964, to attend an interview for his chosen subjects of English and Sociology. Having lost his father as a young child, John brought his mother with him to reassure her that the Faithful City would be a safe and agreeable new home for her son.

Having received his letter of acceptance from Principal Ned Peirson, the young Mr Baker successfully completed his A-Levels back home in Lancashire, before working in the local bleach factory over the summer in order to save up some money for college.

In stark contrast to the hippie trends of his era, John always presented an immaculately neat presence on campus in his signature suits, usually paired with a white shirt and any one of a broad selection of ties, including many from his beloved Lancastrian sports clubs like Preston North end and Lancashire County Cricket Club.

Gregarious and a great conversationalist, John’s high sartorial standards belied the born entertainer within. He would regularly join the band on stage at the college dances, produce a harmonica from his suit jacket, and break out in to some Howlin Wolf to rapturous applause from his fellow students.

John was a keen sportsman, playing rugby during his time at college, and his love of Preston North End and Lancashire County Cricket Club stayed with him throughout his life. During a 30-year teaching career, John also enjoyed coaching in football and athletics at school, often asking his old friend Les Dawson to present the prizes to his pupils at school sports days. The only payment Les would accept on these occasions was a bottle of his favourite aftershave.

John never married, but in later life he did find solace in hard times with Marion, with whom he lived until her passing.

In more recent years John was wryly amused to find a photograph of himself in the University of Worcester’s illustrated history book. The much younger Mr Baker can be found on page 49, leading a class during his final teaching placement.

Described by his friends as articulate and highly intelligent, John passed away in October 2020. His passing was said to be sudden and without pain. Also described as a ‘solid Lancastrian’ by those who knew him, John maintained his love of his county, it’s hills and coasts, sports clubs and people, until the very end. An only child whose parents were only children, at times John felt the lack of family around him, but he always maintained a positive outlook, and he looked back on his time in Worcester as some of the best days of his life.