John Russell Fisher


John Fisher The following obituary appeared in slightly modified form in The Guardian in November 2008. It was written by one of John's daughters, Susan Lyons.

The development of comprehensive education in the Borough of Haringey owes much to the imaginative leadership of John Fisher, Headmaster of Downhills Central School and the William Forster School, who died in August 2008 at the age of 91.

The younger of two sons, he was born in Barrow-in-Furness in 1917, where his father was employed by the Furness Railway Company. Amalgamation with the LMS forced relocation, but John proved himself an able pupil in his Boxmoor school. Subsequently, his education took him to Watford Central School with the opportunity to become a Teacher Pupil. This inspired him to continue his education at University College, London, with a scholarship to read History, and subsequently to pursue education as a career. At Watford, he was also able to cement his friendship with Marjorie Hutchings, whom he married in 1941.

John FisherJohn's first teaching post was at Wisbech Grammar School; then in 1942, his growing commitment to equal educational opportunities for all, took him to London and Glendale Grammar School. In 1954, whilst teaching by day, he was appointed as Head of Wood Green Evening Institute. Here, he felt, was the opportunity for those, like himself, who might so easily have missed the experience of broader education.

In 1956 John was appointed Headmaster of Downhills Central School, Tottenham. Under his leadership, between 1957 and 1963, Downhills was reorganised as a Secondary Modern establishment.

However, his opportunity to enforce his beliefs concerning equal educational opportunities for all arose with his appointment as Headmaster to the new Haringey Comprehensive School in 1970, named the William Forster School, recognising the centenary of the champion of universal elementary education.

John FisherJohn deeply regretted his premature retirement in 1976 for health reasons. However, he continued to live an active retirement with Marjorie in Brockenhurst, Hampshire. He was a founder member of Brockenhurst Probus, later chairman and subsequently an honorary life member. His love of travel led him to pursue caravanning activities, including explorations to locations such as South Africa and America for the International Caravanning Club.

John Fisher was very much a family man; married to Marjorie for sixty seven years and loved by his family. He was a man of integrity and principles, deeply understanding and compassionate, sound in judgement and delightful company. He touched the lives of so many and will be greatly missed by his wife Marjorie, daughters, Susan, Myra and Jennifer, and the extended family.

John Fisher