John Hone obituary

Other lives: Teacher of sailing, rock climbing and caving

My father, John Hone, who has died aged 87, was a teacher of sailing, rock climbing, caving and other activities at the Bewerley Park Centre in Pateley Bridge, which runs residential outdoor pursuits courses for Yorkshire schools. Located in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, Bewerley Park has for decades been the first experience of the countryside for many young people, particularly those living in disadvantaged circumstances in Leeds, Bradford and other urban centres.

John was committed to sharing his love of the outdoors and was a redoubtable opponent during regular periods when local authority cutbacks threatened the facilities Bewerley Park provided. He felt profound fulfilment when he met or heard from former pupils who told him their stay had widened their horizons and, for some, been life-changing.

His journey to becoming an accomplished alpine climber, skier and yachtsman was itself remarkable, as he grew up in Romford, east London, and his own childhood was disadvantaged. His father, John, who worked as a draper’s clerk, died before he was born, and his mother, Ethel, struggling to cope with bringing up John and his older sister, Brenda, sent them both to boarding schools run by the benevolent society for warehousemen, clerks and drapers.

John was excused national service due to deafness in one ear; as a result he was late applying to universities and found himself taking a degree in French at the University of Wales, Bangor (now Bangor University). It was a happy move for him; he recalled spending most of his spare time cycling miles to climb the rocks and mountains nearby.

He qualified as a teacher of French and met Sheila Francis at a choir, another lifelong passion of his, when they were both teaching in Bristol. They married in 1956.

They moved up to North Yorkshire when his application for a teaching post at Bewerley Park was accepted in 1966. Over his 30 years there he helped to introduce thousands of young people to the joys and challenges of outdoor pursuits, and became a mentor to new teachers at the beginning of their own careers. Following his retirement in 1994 he led walks in the Yorkshire Dales, was involved in mapping new rights of way for the Ramblers Association, volunteered tending the grounds for the National Trust at Fountains Abbey, sang in choirs, and was active in the church and in many other community activities.

He is survived by Sheila, by his children, Kathryn, Sarah and me, his grandchildren Tom, Sam, Amy, Jessica, Isobel and Emily, great-grandchildren, Alfie and Poppy, and his sister, Brenda.

Alison Woodhouse

The GuardianTramp

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