A ‘stalwart’ at Lurgan College

John Bateman. Picture courtesy of Roger Lomas.
John Bateman. Picture courtesy of Roger Lomas.

Tributes have been paid to Lurgan College teaching legend John Bateman, who passed away last week.

John, affectionately known to pupils as ‘Flint’, was laid to rest in Bangor on Monday at a service attended by former pupils and teaching colleagues.

Lurgan College principal Mr Trevor Robinson said: “It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of one of the College’s greatest stalwarts, Mr John Bateman.

“John taught History and Classics for over 34 years at the school after stints in a number of schools including Regent House, Newtownards and Rockport, Craigavad. He has been described by many former pupils as ‘inspirational’ in the classroom.

“John also shared his love of sport, coaching a number of school rugby teams in his time at the school.

“It was, however, his contribution, through quiet and gentle witness, to the spiritual experience, growth and welfare of many young people that John will be most remembered. His tireless work with the Scripture Union, which he founded at the school, impacted on countless numbers of our former pupils.”

After his retirement in 1991, John kept in touch with the school, always enquiring, in particular, about the work of the Scripture Union.

Mr Robinson added: “He attended many Speech Days in the intervening period and I always enjoyed chatting to him over a cup of coffee about how the school continued to build on the foundations which he and other former members of staff had laid down through the years.

“It was my privilege to accompany some current staff and governors to John’s funeral on Monday and I was touched, in particular, by the moving tribute paid to John by his very close friend and former Vice-Principal, Mr Ian Wilson.

“Our thoughts and prayers are very much with his dear sister, Kathleen, at this very sad and difficult time.”

Rev Nigel Parker, rector of Bangor Parish Church, said: “John loved and served the Lord among us for many decades, as a Sunday School Teacher, House Group leader, Crosslinks Prayer Co–ordinator, Pastoral Visitor, member of Select Vestry and General Synod, Parochial Nominator and Diocesan Lay Reader, a role into which he was commissioned in 1975.

“John grew up in Portglenone Parish Rectory, attended Ballymena Academy and Queen’s University, where he read history and classics. His subsequent teaching career brought him to Newtownards, England and Belfast, but it was at Lurgan College that John settled. There, for many years, not least through Scripture Union, this quiet, yet determined and persuasive evangelist, impacted many lives for Christ.”

In 2010, his Bangor Parish family hosted an evening to celebrate his then 35 years as a Diocesan Lay Reader. Many stories were told of how John had led pupils to Christ and continued to write to them regularly for decades. A number of men revealed that even 30 years on from attending Lurgan College, John still prayed for them and sent them their Bible Study notes four times a year.

Rev Parker added: “John was a man of God, a man of prayer, warmth and humour, who lived for Christ and His Cause.”