Tributes paid to Hackney educator who devoted life to helping young people

Portrait photograph of John Larter MBE

John Larter MBE passed away on December 16. - Credit: David Lefevre

A born-and-bred Hackney man, who devoted his life to teaching and school sport has passed away.

John Larter MBE died on December 14. His friends told the Gazette about the much-loved educator's long legacy in the borough.

“He had lived a life to the full, I don’t think he died with any regrets,” said teacher David LeFevre who works at Urswick School on Paragon Road and knew John since the 1980s.

John spent almost all his life in Hackney.

He was “immensely proud” of attending Northwold Primary School and then Hackney Downs Grammar School, once located at the site of Mossbourne Academy.

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He was head boy at the school and began his teaching career earlier than most, by becoming a pupil teacher there in the early 1960s.

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John would later train as a teacher in Kent and return to Hackney, landing his first job at Sir Thomas Abney School where he taught for many years.

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He joined the Hackney Schools Athletic Association in 1968 and was awarded an MBE in 2010 for his work in the organisation and efforts managing the Hackney district under 11s football teams.

John continued managing the girls and boys' teams for over 40 years, helping countless young players hone their skills over the decades.

John Larter stood in the middle of a football pitch

John Larter MBE helped countless young football players reach their potential. - Credit: David Lefevre

John's friend of 20 years Steve Herbert, who is the current acting manager of the teams which represent the entire borough, made a list and counted 40 players coached by John, who went on to become professional footballers, the most famous being the late Ugo Ehiogu, former England and Aston Villa defender.

Steve said running the teams was John's "passion".

"The amount of professional footballers that he started," he said. "He got their careers going just by getting them involved in the district from 10 and 11-years-old.

"The exposure that it gave those kids, some of them came from difficult situations but it didn't matter to John. 

"It was all about helping young people and, if he saw potential in you he’d push you on."

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Steve continued: "There will probably be other young people – not just from the football aspect but through his teaching that he inspired - and you don’t know what they have gone on to achieve, but probably his influence was quite an important part for them too."

John Larter speaking with England football manager Gareth Southgate

Hackney's John Larter MBE meeting England manager Gareth Southgate OBE. - Credit: Steve Herbert

John worked at Lauriston School and Daubeney Primary School and had his final teaching job as headteacher of Holmleigh Primary School. 

Though he almost retired in 2000 the educator returned to work in 2002 for the Hackney School Sport Partnership and, in 2008 won a Lifetime Achievement Award at The Learning Trust Educators’ Awards, for his service to education in the borough.

Fellow teacher David likened John to the character Mr Chips in the novella Goodbye, Mr Chips. 

He said: “It was a book from the 1930s about a man who grew up in a little town and did all his education there and then became a teacher and stayed through the First World War, helping all the young people and then retiring -  and the outpouring that came from that and that was John, so it seemed to me.”

David added how proud his friend was a couple of years ago after a reunion was organised for the first class he ever taught.

“I think of the 30 children something like 24 of them turned up - including a couple from America,” David told the Gazette.

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Friend Steve also notes the immense impact John had on the borough and how he will be remembered for the work he achieved and countless lives he positively influenced. 

Steve added: "I’d be walking with John through Hackney and sometimes it would take us an hour to get to a place that should have taken 10 minutes because he was constantly stopping.

"There would be people saying: 'Hello John, how are you?'

"He was the person that people knew, what he had done, what he believed in , he was a teacher and he had that credibility – he was just an amazing man to know really." 

Two people stand in a football field with a young person stood in the background.

John Larter MBE leaves behind a long legacy in education and school sport. - Credit: David Lefevre

Steve said there has been an outpouring of tributes to John from many of people he taught.  

"They don’t say, John Larter, they say, Mr Larter," he said.

"They say he gave me values , he gave me morals, he made me understand that, you know what, to do well in life you have got to conduct yourself in a certain way and now, they are adults they say those are things that are instilled in them.

Steve continued: "To hear all the tributes to him, it brings it all home really. How much impact he had on people's lives." 

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