John Rathbone was born in the village in 1904 and, via scholarships that he won, gained a Degree in Chemistry at Manchester University, rose to be Deputy Director of Education in Manchester and was awarded an OBE. Quite an achievement for the times!
John Henry Rathbone OBE, BSc Outstanding Achievements of Norton-in-Hales Lad
Born June 2nd 1904, the eldest of three children of the local butcher and his wife, Jesse and Agnes Rathbone, who lived by their butchery and shop on the terrace at Norton-in-Hales.
Known locally as Jack, he was educated at the village school; won a scholarship to Market Drayton Grammar School and from there gained a place at Manchester University where he obtained a First Class Honours Degree in Chemistry. On hearing the news, the then Headmaster of the village school, Charles Chadwick, raised the school flag in recognition of his success. He then entered the Manchester Teaching Service, and in 1928 married a Market Drayton girl, Martha Helm (Pat) and they made their home at Heaton Mersey, Stockport, Cheshire. He later entered the Administrative Service of the Education Committee, where he worked until retiring through ill health, and was awarded the O.B.E for his services to education. The following footage is a tribute from the Manchester Education Committee of the City Council in appreciation for his long and distinguished service;
At a meeting of the Education Committee of the City Council Held on Monday, 20th July, 1964
John H. Rathbone. B.Sc. The Education Committee wish to record their deep appreciation of the long and distinguished service to education in Manchester of Mr. John H. Rathbone. It was in recognition of his outstanding contribution to education that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 has this year been graciously pleased to appoint him an officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. After obtaining a first class Honours degree in chemistry at Manchester University Mr. Rathbone entered the Manchester teaching service in 1926. His first appointment was as an assistant master for three years at Ducie Avenue Central School. Subsequently for eleven years he taught chemistry up to university scholarship standard at North Manchester High School for Boys. He was one of a group of very able masters who laid the foundations of the high academic reputation enjoyed by the school. In 1940 Mr. Rathbone entered the administrative service of the Committee. At first he was engaged upon inter-authority arrangements in further education, which later developed under the auspices of the Manchester and District Advisory Council for Further Education. He was then called upon to take charge of the local authority’s wartime functions concerning the Rest Centre and the Emergency Feeding services, including British Restaurants and Mobile Canteens, which ‘had been assigned to the education department. Mr. Rathbone performed these duties with conspicuous success.
When, following the 1944 Education Act, a separate Further Education Department was formed in the Education Offices, he became Assistant Education Officer in charge of the department. In this post he prepared the Authority’s Development Plan for Further Education and undertook great responsibilities in the vast expansion of further education in the post-war years.
In 1955 Mr. Rathbone was appointed Deputy Education Officer, in which post his broad humanity, profound grasp of educational principles, extraordinary thoroughness in considering every aspect of the many problems presented to him, and his unremitting attention to detail have made him a tower of strength. More than this, his calmness and courtesy, ready accessibility for help and advice whenever needed, and great personal kindness have won the affection of all with whom he has come in contact in the Education Offices and throughout the service.
His experience and knowledge have always been available to the individual members of the Committee who have been grateful for his valuable advice.
As Deputy Education Officer, Mr. Rathbone’s duties have been so multifarious that it would be impossible to attempt to catalogue them. But no record would be complete without reference to the valued work he has done in negotiations with diocesan authorities concerning the development and planning of voluntary schools.
In all his work no task has been so large as to daunt him and no detail, if important, too small to engage his attention.
On two occasions, for substantial periods, Mr. Rathbone has been called upon to assume prime responsibility for the work of the education department and this he has done to the complete satisfaction of the Committee.
The Education Committee accord their warmest thanks to Mr. Rathbone and offer to him and to Mrs. Rathbone their best wishes for happiness in retirement.
He died, 3rd November 1970 aged 66 years and is buried with his wife in Norton-in-Hales Cemetery.
We record with pride our Uncle Jack’s outstanding achievements.
Bert and Roger Rathbone (Nephews)
Jack Rathbone, having received his OBE, is pictured with his sister Eve, on the left and wife Pat on the right
Bert and Roger are proud possessors of a bound handwritten citation from Manchester Education Committee and which is signed at the back by all the members of that Committee on the occasion of his retirement. The back page is reproduced here along with a list of the members.