William "Bill" Podmore
William "Bill" Podmore (1933-2016)
William "Bill" Podmore died 17th December 2016, at the nursing home Tabley House. Bill Podmore came to John Lyon in April 1970, as Head of History and retired after 23 years and one term in 1993. Always proud of his Manchester roots, Bill was a Russian speaker in the Intelligence Corps before becoming a teacher in History. Bill’s love of the subject of History was legendary, as was his total professionalism in the preparation of lessons, the punctual marking and return of written work, and his desire to keep fully in touch with the latest thinking on the topics he covered.
Bill taught the British History component of the A-Level course, and it was with the sixth form sets that he was completely at home, ensuring that the boys saw History as a subject requiring intellectual rigour and wide and careful reading. His method of teaching at A Level using a technique of question and answer kept his pupils alert and thinking and proved very successful with a steady procession of boys to Oxbridge to read History.
Between 1971 and 1987 Bill was Head of Sixth Form, working alongside David Dixon and John Neal, assisting boys through their UCCA applications, and Oxbridge applications. Michael Burrell (OL), when writing his book “John Lyon’s Dream” makes special mention of how Bill’s gifted teaching inspired Stephen Pollard (OL 1976-83) regular Daily Express and Telegraph Columnist and editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Gary Gibbon (OL 1976-83) political editor and journalist and Liam Halligan (OL 1980-87) School Governor, influential economist and journalist, to pursue the adventurous paths they have.
In 1987 Bill became Senior Master, where he watched wisely over many areas of School life but especially over the academic aspect. He oversaw academic developments, curriculum planning, department’s teaching requirements as well as being, what the Reverend Wright described as, a master in charge of school statistics. Bill pioneered the training of student teachers in the School under the then Government’s new scheme, his eye for detail and preciseness was invaluable at a time when GCSE exams were new, AS levels were altering the pattern of sixth form education provision and the National Curriculum was looming on the horizon. Bill Podmore was able to guide the Headmaster and staff through this time with considerable success.
Away from the class room Bill’s sporting interests were wide, playing tennis, badminton and squash, and later golf. Bill had a keen interest in cricket, often a reserve umpire. It was however in badminton, at a time when there was a strong Middlesex Schools’ League, that he made a real mark, with only a small pool of boys and one court, John Lyon dominated the league for many years. With a record of only 70 matches lost out of 586 played during 1971-1987, Bill coached a myriad of high quality badminton players during his sixteen seasons in charge. Every year from 1972 the School players dominated the county championships taking all four Middlesex Championships twice and all four titles in the Harrow Youth Tournament. Their overall record was overwhelming: in the Harrow Schools Championships, John Lyon boys won twenty-two out of thirty senior titles and twenty-eight of the thirty Under-16 titles and twenty-two boys had been selected to play for Middlesex. An impressive record never repeated.
On retiring from teaching here at the School Bill became the School archivist and much of the material he obtained forms the basis of the archive collection today and provided assistance to Michael Burrell when writing “John Lyon’s Dream”.
Sources:The Lyonian Magazine 1993 & John Lyon’s Dream
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