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Tributes to Tony Batchelor who campaigned for better schools on Sheppey and Cheyney Middle School teacher Graham Redman


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A leading campaigner for better education in Kent has died.

Tony Batchelor, 72, was secretary of the Sheppey Parents Action Group (SPAG) which he helped launch in 2004 to fight Kent County Council plans to abandon the Island's three-tier system of primary, middle and secondary schools.

Mike Brown, former chairman of Danley Middle School governors, chats to Alison and Tony Batchelor during a school reunion in 2009. Picture: Andy Payton
Mike Brown, former chairman of Danley Middle School governors, chats to Alison and Tony Batchelor during a school reunion in 2009. Picture: Andy Payton

It also strenuously fought a scheme to have one secondary academy for the Island, demanding parents deserved a choice of at least two, preferably three, schools.

Despite much publicity, the group failed and Dulwich College (later Oasis) was given the task of creating one school over two sites at Sheerness and Minster.

Tony always believed the scheme would fail Islanders and predicted parents would end up sending children to rival schools on the mainland. He was proved right. Now, more than 1,200 pupils travel to Sittingbourne every day.

Even as late as October last year he was still writing to the Sheerness Times Guardian with advice on what should happen.

Tony and Alison Batchelor with their children and grandchildren
Tony and Alison Batchelor with their children and grandchildren

Tony was born in Eltham, south London, the only son of a shopkeeper, on May 25, 1949. The family moved to Whitstable in 1963 and Tony went on to take his A-levels at Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Canterbury.

He joined the civil service in 1967 and worked his way up the ranks at the Treasury until finishing his career at the Cabinet Office in 2002 when he took early retirement.

He met his wife Alison at a Hampton Pier Yacht Club disco. They married in 1984, set up home in Herne Bay and had three children, Tina, David and Michael.

Tony's brother-in-law Adrian Thear recalled: "My first impression of him at the yacht club was as a friendly, social, jovial, gentle fellow but with an awful dress sense. He was wearing shorts, black socks and open-toed sandals."

Adrian added: "He was kind, tolerant, generous, patient and great fun and at his happiest when making a fool of himself playing with his children and later his grandchildren."

Theresa Langworthy and Tony Batchelor with the consultation document being sent to each Sheppey household for the Island's proposed academy in 2006. Picture: Andy Payton
Theresa Langworthy and Tony Batchelor with the consultation document being sent to each Sheppey household for the Island's proposed academy in 2006. Picture: Andy Payton
Launch of the SPAG website at Tony Batchelor's house in Halfway in 2004. Picture shows, from the left, Dave Butler (Minster Primary), Kevin Hofman (Danley and Halfway), Mary Wood (St George's), Chris Botting and Tony Batchelor (Danley and Minster College). Picture by Andy Payton
Launch of the SPAG website at Tony Batchelor's house in Halfway in 2004. Picture shows, from the left, Dave Butler (Minster Primary), Kevin Hofman (Danley and Halfway), Mary Wood (St George's), Chris Botting and Tony Batchelor (Danley and Minster College). Picture by Andy Payton

When his wife Alison took a job teaching at Danley Middle School, the family moved to Sheppey and Tony joined her at the school as a classroom assistant from 2004 to 2009.

He also joined the school governors and became involved in the fight for better education alongside SPAG chairman Theresa Langworthy, setting up campaign headquarters in the study of his home in Halfway.

Tony, who was also an active Freemason and a supporter of the British Heart Foundation, later moved to Devizes with Alison to be near her parents and soon became a member of his local parish council.

He was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in June, 2015 and spent more than five years undergoing a variety of treatment including 22 rounds of chemotherapy and two clinical trials.

He died at his home surrounded by his family on April 8. He also leaves two grandsons, Samuel and Nicholas. His funeral was at North Wiltshire Crematorium, Wootton Bassett, on Tuesday.

Tributes have also been paid to Cheyney Middle School teacher Graham Redman

A well-loved school teacher who taught at the same school for more than 30 years has died.

Graham Redman taught maths, IT and looked after Year 6 at the former Cheyne Middle School in Sheerness alongside Keith Lewis and Paul Murray.

Retired teacher Graham Redman promoting the Get Kent Reading campaign in Sittingbourne. Picture: Darren Small
Retired teacher Graham Redman promoting the Get Kent Reading campaign in Sittingbourne. Picture: Darren Small

Mr Lewis said: “He was very respected and popular. There are hundreds of ex-pupils on the Island who were taught by him.”

Mr Redman died aged 72 on Sunday at his home in Teynham. He had been diagnosed with liver cancer in December.

He had also played a big part in many school drama productions either by acting or helping with the lighting and ran an after-school computer club.

Mr Redman joined the school in 1979 after a spell teaching in Essex before retiring in 2009 when the school in Jefferson Road closed to make way for a new secondary academy, now run by Oasis.

He went on to volunteer to promote the Get Kent Reading campaign in Swale to encourage more pupils to turn to books.

Graham Redman, back right, who organised a computer club, with other teachers who ran after-school activities at Cheyney Middle School, Sheerness. Also in the picture: Paul Murray (Quad group and youth action); Mark Kline (short tennis); Dave Crompton ( pop stars); Catherine "CJ" Jones (pop stars and percussion); Linda Groom (trampolining); Vida Montrimaite (handycrafts); Paul Evans (choir and orchestra) and Judy Foggo (art). Picture: Andy Payton
Graham Redman, back right, who organised a computer club, with other teachers who ran after-school activities at Cheyney Middle School, Sheerness. Also in the picture: Paul Murray (Quad group and youth action); Mark Kline (short tennis); Dave Crompton ( pop stars); Catherine "CJ" Jones (pop stars and percussion); Linda Groom (trampolining); Vida Montrimaite (handycrafts); Paul Evans (choir and orchestra) and Judy Foggo (art). Picture: Andy Payton

Mr Redman was born in Pembury Hospital, Tunbridge Wells, and taught at Moulsham High School in Chelmsford, Essex, up to 1979 when he moved to Sheppey to join Sir Thomas Cheyne at Sheerness which later became Cheyne Middle School.

Mr Lewis said: “Graham was a much loved and highly regarded member of staff. He was very caring towards his students and would still mention many of their names right up until his death.”

After retiring, Mr Redman joined two other ex-members of staff to create a walking group. He was also a keen quizzer and had published his own quiz book.

He leaves a widow Janet, children Catherine and Michael and granddaughter Zanthe-Rose.

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