Tributes to respected and loved Burnley headteacher who taught generations of children

A well respected and much loved headteacher who devoted his life to Harle Syke has died at the age of 83.

Tuesday, 1st December 2020, 12:34 pm
Mr Jack Stuttard

Mr Jack Stuttard taught generations of children at St James', Lanehead, CE Primary School where he was a popular figure as a teacher and later headteacher, from his appointment in 1959 until he retired in 1996.

Born in Harle Syke, Mr Stuttard lived and worked in the area his whole life, becoming headteacher at St James' in 1975 following the death of his predecessor Ken Happer.

The son of Fred and Mary Stuttard, both mill workers, he was brought up by his mother and great aunt after his dad died when Jack was just three-years-old.

Jack and Merle

He served as a wireless technician in the RAF during his National Service and underwent teacher training at St John's College, York, specialising in history, where he gained a coveted 'A' grade in practical teaching and education theory.

A regular church-goer, Jack met his future soulmate, Merle, through church and the devoted couple went on to have three daughters, Nicola and twins Clare and Michelle. Married in 1963, the couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in July, 2013, at the Midland Hotel in Manchester.

He also leaves five grandaughters, Rebecca, Emma, Tabitha, Molly and Marsha.

Nicola said: "Dad was devoted to our mum and when she died in 2014 he was devastated. Fortunately dad enjoyed a long retirement and with mum managed to travel to a lot of places. He loved art, history and architecture, and would even write guides on cities he'd visited for friends.

"Mum and dad also enjoyed visiting their local, the Craven Heifer, where people would ask him for advice. Everyone loved him, he was like an agony uncle. He knew so many families from his teaching work, and many commented that he made learning fun.

"A memorable highlight was in 1977 when dad hired a train to take the whole Junior department of St James' sightseeing to London for the Queen's Silver Jubilee! He loved practical learning."

Mr Stuttard oversaw several notable chapters in the history of St James' School, helping to run both sites when the new building was being constructed while Mr Happer was ill.

A keen amateur historian, he wrote two books on Briercliffe, the first of which inspired fellow Briercliffe historian Roger Frost to continue his work.

Mr Frost, who served as a governor at St James' during Mr Stuttard's time there, paid tribute to his friend.

"Jack was a very good teacher, headmaster and local historian. His first book, which was never published but was available in local libraries, inspired me to take it further and finish the job he started and write my own history of Briercliffe.

"His second book, which was published, was a history of St James' School, which he served so loyally for many years. He had taught the top class in his first teaching post. It was a very detailed book which traced the history of the school back to 1834 and its original home in Marsden Road."

Mr Stuttard's funeral will be held on Thursday December 3rd at St James' Church, followed by cremation at Burnley. Mourners are limited to family members but the funeral cortege will pass by St James School ,on its way to Church and the committal at Burnley Crematorium will be live streamed. Details available from Fred Hamer Funeral Service.