A man who was at heart of community

Mr Michael Newton, of Hebden Bridge, who has passed away.
Mr Michael Newton, of Hebden Bridge, who has passed away.

A former teacher who contributed so much to his community, Mr John Michael Newton has died aged 72.

Michael, of Hebden Bridge, was born in Mytholmroyd and after leaving Calder High School studied physics at Durham University.

He began his career teaching physics in a five-year spell at Grange Boys School, Bradford, before taking a temporary post as acting head of physics at Calder High, where he met his wife Joyce. The couple married at Todmorden Unitarian Church in 1973.

Michael then become head of physics and joint head of science at Heath Grammar School, teaching there through merger with Crossley and Porter School and retiring from Crossley Heath School in 2003.

A keen photographer, he was a member of Hebden Bridge Camera Club and after becoming one of the youngest Yorkshire Photographic Union judges continued in that role for more than 40 years.

A born and bred Yorkshireman with a keen interest in nature from childhood, he helped test out and produce the first published edition of the Calderdale Way, and invented the World Dock Pudding Championship in 1971 along

with fellow Mytholmroyd friend Robert Helliwell.

Michael was instrumental in the fight to protect Hardcastle Crags from being flooded as a reservoir, helping preserve its beauty for all to enjoy. As a member of Calder Civic Trust he used his skills with images to produce slideshows promoting the regeneration of the Hebden Royd area from the late 1960s, often working with David Fletcher.

Enthusiasm for learning and teaching ranged from being part of a team of scienti擁sts who developed the prototype in Southampton University for what would eventually become Lego Technics, to being a member of the Nuffield Board and from designing the first new A‐Level Physics Nati擁onal Curriculum, to taking 30 pupils on month‐long safari trips to Kenya.

Michael and Joyce were both founder members of Hebden Bridge Twinning Society and friends from both French twin town St Pol Sur Ternoise and German twin town Warstein visited Michael before he passed away.

A lover of music and a long-standing member of Hebden Bridge Trades Club, he was also a member of Hebden Bridge International Group, Hebden Bridge Little Theatre and Hebden Bridge Wine Circle. A keen walker, he often walked with friends in the Ossett Walking Group.

Michael died of cancer with complications from Parkinson’s disase and passed away at home. His funeral service will take place on Tuesday, June 13, at St James’ Church, Hebden Bridge, at 11.15am.

He leaves his wife Joyce, and daughters Kirsty, Heather and Stacey and their families.