WHEN David Cameron started talking about the big society, those who knew Alan Verity, deputy head of Rhodesway School, Bradford, for 17 years and headmaster for two, recognised that he had been a “big society” man for years.
After retiring from teaching in 1990, Mr Verity joined the committee of the Bradford Mechanics’ Institute Library, becoming president in 2002 and spending the next 10 years in a battle which gave him sleepless nights to keep that historic institution financially afloat.
In 1992, he began two decades of voluntary work for the National Trust at East Riddlesden Hall, Keighley, and taught himself enough about Bradford in the English Civil War to start giving regular historical lectures.
Mr Verity was secretary and chairman of the Heaton Township Association, a member of the Bradford Rotary Club, an energetic fell walker – he could still climb mountains in his 80s – and a member of bridge clubs in Heaton, Cleckheaton and Bingley.
He was also a dedicated fund-raiser for the Marie Curie hospice movement, a cause he took up following the death of his wife Rowan from ovarian cancer aged 66 in 2002, in his words an “unimaginable loss” from which he never fully recovered.
They had met when they were both teaching at Eccleshill School, becoming a couple during a 1959 skiing trip and marrying a year later.
Mr Verity was so smitten that he immediately volunteered to give up the other great love of his life, playing cricket.
A Yorkshire CCC member all his life and a Bradford League umpire during the 1990s, he did not play again until he joined a friendly touring side called West Riding in 1968.
A talented batsman, at 18 he had followed his architect father Harold Verity and grandfather into the East Bierley Bradford League 1st X1, and was a prolific run scorer for the next 11 years.
Born in East Bierley and educated at Batley Grammar and Manchester University, Mr Verity did his National Service in the Royal Army Education Corps at Aldershot.
Teaching was his vocation: his often-repeated phrase “the point of life is helping others” could have been his motto.
He spent 29 years at Rhodesway, during which time it became a comprehensive with 1,350 pupils and in great demand from parents.
He was president of the Bradford Association of the National Union of Teachers in 1970 and 1978.
He was also an examiner who was involved in the setting up of the Yorkshire Regional Examining Board.
Mr Verity, intellectually sharp to the last and astonishingly fit until diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer just before Christmas, is survived by his son Edward, daughter Catherine and three grandchildren. His funeral will be held at St Barnabas Church, Heaton, at 1.30pm on Wednesday, March 13