Obituary: Former headteacher of Gospel Oak Primary School took school to ‘glorious’ heights

Ron Lendon in 1972

Ron Lendon in 1972 - Credit: Archant

A “charismatic” former headmaster of Gospel Oak Primary School has died aged 96.

Ron Lendon, who earned an MBE for services to education, was head of the Mansfield Road school for two decades from 1961 until his retirement in 1981.

The school enjoyed an exceptional reputation during this time, later described by journalist and former Gospel Oak governor Fiona Millar as a “glorious period”.

Writing in 2010, she described Mr Lendon as a “charismatic head”, under whose leadership Gospel Oak became “the school of choice of many affluent, influential local parents”, including two members of Harold Wilson’s cabinet.

Born in Islington in July 1918, Mr Lendon had been unable to attend grammar school as his parents could not afford the uniform.

He left school at 14 and became a printer, before later winning a scholarship to Oxford University where he studied philosophy, politics and economics. He joined the teaching profession after graduating, working first in Islington before being offered the post at Gospel Oak.

He was much-liked by staff and pupils and was said to be an excellent mentor who helped others to flourish. He was fondly remembered for instilling a love of learning into his pupils while fostering a happy school atmosphere.

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Having succeeded a more orthodox head, he sought to marry traditional learning with creativity. His innovations included introducing an orchestra, a choir and drama to the school. After retiring, he volunteered at the Whittington Hospital, where he helped to recruit hundreds of volunteers. He also served as a Labour councillor in Islington, a Methodist preacher for more than 60 years – until only a few months ago – and a magistrate at Highbury Corner court.

Mr Lendon died on Friday. His life will be celebrated at Archway Methodist Church on November 17, at 11am, followed by a service at Golders Green Crematorium in Hoop Lane.