A Tribute To Peter McCarthy RIP

Peter McCarthy (Joes 1954/1960) and later deputy head at Joe's died on 13th February 2013. These are the tributes paid by those who knew him. 

Stephen Tierney
Peter McCarthy was headteacher at St. Mary’s RC High School from 1984 to 2000. He was the 'rock' on which secondary Catholic education in Blackpool was built and still stands today. His leadership provided the firm foundations that brought together Blackpool’s four Catholic high schools onto the current site of the school on St. Walburgas Road. He built the school with a family feeling at its core and developed a strong and vibrant community of pupils, staff and parents. This sense of family and community was reinforced by the close involvement of Berny, his wife of nearly fifty years, who was a continual support to him and a regular at many school events. Berny’s support and commitment to the school was recognised by Peter, in one of his final Sixth Form assemblies, when she was awarded her school colours much to the delight of the watching Sixth Form students.

Peter’s own education started at St. Joseph’s College, Blackpool, one of the schools that formed St. Mary’s in 1977, where he excelled as a sportsman and academically, going onto read Chemistry at UMIST, Manchester from 1960–1963. In his final year at UMIST, Peter was elected the Athletic Union President and represented Lancashire, Northern Counties and British Universities as a hammer thrower. His athletic ability led to him representing Lancashire and North West as hammer thrower, a passion he continued into his forties. His love of sport was reflected in his teaching as he coached many pupils in both rugby and athletics during a long and distinguished teaching career. 

Peter’s career started at Prior Park College, Bath as a teacher of Chemistry. His talents were soon recognised and he was soon promoted to head of department. The call of his native Blackpool led him back to his old school, St. Joseph’s College, where in 1970 he was appointed Head of Science. So began a thirty year commitment to the young people of Blackpool many of whom have left glowing tributes to the great man, coach, teacher and headteacher on the College’s Sixth Form Facebook page – this would have both surprised, embarrassed and delighted Peter. Appointed as deputy headteacher at St. Joseph’s College in 1975 and then at the newly formed St. Mary’s RC High School in 1977, he was promoted to Headteacher following the retirement of Sister Maureen Grimley RIP, his long time mentor and colleague. His strong sense of faith guided his work and life. It became an integral part of the school and its mission and he was an active parishioner of St. Kentigerns, Blackpool. The school went from strength to strength under his leadership and gained a reputation for excellent pastoral care and high academic standards. He became the 'gentle giant' of Catholic Education recognised for his great wisdom both in Blackpool and the Lancaster Diocese. The school and its enriching community stand as the lasting legacy of his work that was recognised nationally when in May 2000, he was invited to Buckingham Palace to receive an Achievement in Schools Award.

Outside of school, he was a member of Fleetwood Choral Society and Marton Operatic Society and enjoyed fell walking, music, reading and watching rugby. After his retirement from St. Mary’s, his work in education continued as his extensive knowledge was put to great effect as Chair of the Lancaster Diocese Schools Building Committee and Chair of Governors at St. Kentigerns Primary School. The latter role he continued until very recently. St. Kentigerns are eternally grateful for his work as a parishioner, chair of governors and as a stand in Father Christmas.

Peter has now gone back to the Father. Please pray for him and his family. He leaves behind but watches over his beloved Berny, two children - Matthew and Helen - and four grandchildren – Ben and Tom in Bolton and Noah and Alfie in Canada.

Peter was more than simply a man involved in Catholic Education in Blackpool: He was an institution in his own right. His work for the glory of the Father and the benefit of young people in Blackpool continues.

Ann Pardon (Ex School Secretary) 
I was very saddened to hear of his passing, especially as I was abroad at the time of his death and have only just heard this sad news and was therefore unable to pay my respects at the time. I had the pleasure of working with Peter at St. Joseph's in the mid 70's and consider him to have been one of the best teachers ever, his enthusiasm, kind caring nature and sense of fair play was certainly of benefit to St. Joseph's College, both to staff and pupils.

He was a great man to work with and made a great job even better!

I am sure that many past pupils both of St. Joseph's and St. Mary's will remember him with respect and affection.

My thoughts are with the family at this time.
Martin Connolly (Joe's 1968-1975; Head Boy 1974-1975)
I was very sad to hear (belatedly) of the death of Pete McCarthy. My earliest memory of him is that he once threw a hammer so far ("No – you do it like this") that he caused serious alarm to the 400 metre runners at the far end of the playing field. He taught me Chemistry in the mid 1970s and got me through my A-levels. He was a great communicator, patient, inspiring and fair. During my sixth form, especially, he became a friend. It was largely as a result of the confidence he inspired in me that I applied for medical school. He was, both academically and in every other way, the best teacher I ever had.

May he rest in peace.

If you would like to add your tribute, please email me at jvward2003@yahoo.com


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