John Heath, Former Pupil, Parent and Chairman of Governors died on 16th April 2015 following a typically brave and uncomplaining two year struggle with cancer.
John came to the school in 1952, the eldest of four Heath boys. Many of his contemporaries were represented in the huge crowd at his Memorial Service and they have written very warm tributes to him. Rugby (he played prop for the XV in 1957 & 1958 and for Cornish Schoolboys) featured prominently but he also had a good mind. He won a place to read physics at Oxford and went up in 1960, playing rugby for the college 1st XV, rowing in the second boat and ‘helping make the college a warm and welcoming place’.
After Oxford he worked in industry in Cardiff and at that time married Janet – the best thing he ever did in his life, he would say – and his family grew: Guy (Truro School class of 82), Richard (85) and Mark (87) soon appeared on the scene.
The family hardware business in Perranporth meanwhile needed a new hand on the tiller. John weighed the options and Cornwall won. It was a decision he never regretted. He redirected the business to make it one of the leading surf centres in the country and he became a much loved and respected figure in the surfing community.
It was typical of him to put something back into society. He was a governor of Perranporth School, chairman of the Perranporth Garden Trustees, instrumental in setting up the Women’s Refuge in Truro and, later, accompanied blind and partially sighted people on sailing expeditions.
After 12 years as a Governor of Truro School he became Chairman in 1992, finally retiring in 2003 – an unusually long commitment. For a variety of reasons it wasn’t an easy time to take the helm. John recruited an excellent team of governors, most specialists in their own fields, and together they tackled the challenges. He didn’t confuse the role of the chairman with the day to day work of the executive, an area where many a school has run into trouble. He would always be a listening ear, would advise and support but he did not interfere unnecessarily.
Paul Smith, the third of the three heads to serve under John, writes:
“I learned very soon that seemingly innocent enquiries about the School, or more particularly the pupils, were his way of ensuring that the Headmaster was on the ball!” – It was the right recipe!
He had a real interest in young people and their development. He surprised boys and girls with his easy communication, he delighted in their achievements and more than once journeyed up to Okehampton to watch the returning Ten Tors teams.
He was a skier, a walker, a diver, a bit of a boatie and an inveterate traveller – the best of companions, a good humoured, unflustered stalwart not fazed by the unexpected.
His connection with Truro School was long and immensely valuable. He will be much missed but his contribution is well remembered in Heath Hall, named in John’s honour.
Written By Guy Dodd – Former Headmaster at Truro School