Tim Pocock, 58, from Ripon, was named in the New Year’s Honour’s list for 2018 for his dedication to education, which hasn’t been restricted to the classroom, as he has established sports groups, fund-raising initiatives and similar efforts at the school.
However one of his proudest moments followed his return after battling testicular cancer in 1994, a disease he was previously unfamiliar with.
He began to lead assemblies focused on raising awareness of the cancer, highlighting how important screening can be to save a life.
Mr Pocock said: “Not long after I had finished my treatments, my doctor approached me and asked if I would be okay with being featured in a BBC documentary that was being produced to encourage public awareness on men’s health.
“I was so pleased to be alive I agreed, but I did this embarrassed about only one thing, that I hadn’t known it (testicular cancer) existed.”
He added: “I held an assembly talking about it and after I was called by someone who told me that one lad in the assembly had found a lump.
“It turned out to be aggressive and he was put through for treatment right away.
“He later wrote a testimonial saying that I saved his life, I can say a lot of rubbish sometimes but that lesson was the best I ever taught.”
Originally starting as a journalist at 18, Mr Pocock worked for three years at the Kentish Gazette before pursuing a career in education.
Studying at Lancaster University and St Martin’s College he also worked at a secure teaching unit, at Acliffe School in Newton Aycliffe.
After marrying his wife, Diane in August 1985 he was offered a post at St Aidan’s just in time for the start of term.
It was the beginning of a long career dedicated to getting pupils interested in literature.
By introducing a competition system to his classes pupils would select passages from books to read aloud. The class would then select their favourites from all of the recommendations.
The system was aimed at getting whole classes of pupils to recommend books to one another.
Mr Pocock said: “It is like a squash ladder system , in groups of four they would have to pick an extract to read to everyone.
“It got the kids to hear each other reading and opened them up to what others had recommended.”
When one pupil was diagnosed with leukaemia it was Mr Pocock who co-ordinated their course work and additional support to help them complete their GCSE in English.
Helping foster sport at the school he also set up the school’s staff football team in 1987, along with a girls team.
Mr Pocock said: “I was really pleased with what we were able to do for extra curricular activities at the school.
“I still remember that when we were having football practice in the small gym that some of the girls asked if they could do this. I am so proud of how far it has come.”
Along with the £1 that staff paid for each game, half going to a nominated charity, he raised nearly £1 million over 20 years as Charities Co-coordinator for the school.
Now working part-time at the school since September, and looking back over his years, Mr Pocock says he has seen changes for both teachers and students.
Mr Pocock said: “There just is always pressure on teachers with how things are, and the same goes for students. For kids now with social media there just isn’t an opportunity to switch off.
“I am able to spend my days at work worrying about teaching, but many have to think about stats and data as well.”
News of his honour has left him humbled, calling the nomination by his friends and colleagues as the ‘nicest thing anyone has done for him’.
He said: “For once in my life I can say I feel very humble, I think my friends and colleagues on the staff football team will agree.
“My dad was in the army for 40 years, serving the Empire, and never received something like this, yet I have been nominated.”
He added “My peers and friends from the school did this for me, and I think it is the nicest thing I have ever had done for me.
“It’s really nice to receive this award, all the more that it is a labour of love. I love teaching and this is a good place to do it at, that is why I never left. I am truly delighted that I got this doing something that I love.”