Geoffrey Johnston

Mr. G. K. Johnston. M.A.
(H 1963-1977)

    Geoffrey Johnston came to Allhallows in 1963 from Leeds Grammar School and before that from St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, where he had read English and taken a Diploma in Education.

     Geoff brought a refreshing Yorkshire competence with him and soon made it clear that – in the Allhallows tradition - he could wear many hats - all of them very well.

    A shrewd Head of English with great experience as an examiner, Geoff knew what was required and how best to direct his pupils and he created a Department with an outstanding ‘A’ Level record; he reinforced his teaching with a judicious use of modern aids and occasional theatrical productions. Those who saw it will long remember his magical production of ‘A Penny for a Song’ with that superb set by Norman Butler and his artists.

    Geoff was a fine baritone and he made a major contribution to the school’s musical life; he sang in the chapel choir, in numerous oratorios; he played the French horn in the orchestra and delighted his audience with his performance as Fagin in ‘Oliver!’ Successive Directors of Music were indebted to him for his support – and expertise, which was based on wide experience in his native Yorkshire with the Seaton Singers, Axe Vale Operatic and ‘high-powered’ groups in Exeter.

    It was typical of Geoff that, though no great athlete, he should turn himself into a first-rate Rugby referee at school and club level. He was a member of both the Yorkshire and the Devon Referees’ Societies and Allhallows could count itself lucky to have such a referee on the staff.

    Many years ago – I think at the instigation of the then Headmaster, Mr. Hill, Geoff acquired a printing press and began to teach himself and the boys how to print; he was soon producing service sheets, fixture cards and a myriad other small items vital to the smooth running of the school.

    Geoff applied himself with the same dedication to his photography and when the local professional photographer, Mr. Courtenay Harris, retired he undertook the back-breaking task of photographing school groups and teams. The Editor of the Year Book will be eternally grateful to him for supplying a steady stream of high quality photos – many of which were incidentally used in the new school prospectus.

    On his appointment as Housemaster of Middlemist in 1971, Geoff found a house in which the amenities were, to say the least, rudimentary. He immediately set about trying to improve the situation; he supervised the great move to the top floor and nothing gave him more pleasure than to see the gleaming furniture, purchased with money from the Appeal, at last begin to arrive.

    Always ready to lend a sympathetic ear to those who found themselves temporarily out of step with society and encourage them in their aspirations – perhaps to write poetry or a play, Geoff presided with dignity over Middy, which certainly enjoyed more than its fair share of success under his aegis.

    Geoff decided to return to his old haunts in Leeds. He took with him Allhallows thanks for all he did for the School.

 D.J.B.

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