Former musician David Bateman dies at 87

Representing the over 75s, Ioan and Alice Thomas, David Bateman and Tony Hodgson (who died in 2016) were photographed by the Oundle Chronicle in 2012.

Representing the over 75s, Ioan and Alice Thomas, David Bateman and Tony Hodgson (who died in 2016) were photographed by the Oundle Chronicle in 2012.

The musician and teacher, David Bateman died at Polebrook Nursing Home in December, aged 87, after a long illness.

Mr Bateman came to Oundle in 1981 as Head of Strings at Oundle School, a position that he held for ten years. One colleague said: “David embodied the axiom that a teacher teaches not only his subject but himself.”

Mr Bateman was a free thinker at a school with a conventional outlook, and his search for truth led him in many directions. At Oundle School he was well known for planning to be in many places at the same time. That he was dubbed ‘disorganised’ was a fact that he took with good humour.

His spontaneity frequently inspired pupils to achieve the quasi-impossible, with the Chamber Orchestra reaching unprecedented levels.

Helen Smith, a former student, maintained a lifelong friendship. She described him as a very inspirational man. He was “non-judgemental. He took people as they were and taught the whole person”.

His warmth and empathy made new students instantly feel at home in a strange environment. “Vulnerable pupils often found comfort and strength through his friendship and understanding.”

At home, he was a keen gardener, with a garden so diverse that it was compared to the Amazonian rainforest.

After he retired from Oundle School, he played in chamber music ensembles, particularly with Jenny Firth, and was elected twice as a Conservative to the East Northamptonshire Council in 2007 and 2011, where he worked hard to represent Oundle’s interests. High on his list of priorities were environmental issues and transport.

When he left Oundle, the valete in the school magazine read, in tribute to him: “People who knew David will look on him, as truly life-enhancing: wherever he goes, with our warmest wishes, he will remain close to our hearts.”

Joseph Meisner
May 2019