John Reader Blackton MBE co-Founder of Derby Grammar School, former chairman of RB MacMillan Ltd., the Walbrook Housing Association and the fundraising committee to establish the first Nightingale MacMillan Hospice in Derby died recently on 27th December 2018 at the age of 89. He was a former pupil at Derby School at St. Helen’s House in King Street, Derby in 1937 and 1938, prior to moving to Denstone College. He became a member of the Old Derbeian Society.
His experience and expertise in education as a fellow of the Woodward Corporation led him to become the driving force in establishing Derby Grammar School as an independent day school for boys between the ages of 4 and 18 and now girls between the ages of 16 and 18.
With the help of both Old Derbeians, alumni of the original Derby School and others, the buildings and grounds were acquired to establish a new school, primarily for boys which would uphold high academic standards and a strong extra-curricular programme. My Blackton had proven skills which suited him to this new venture. He was the former chairman of RB MacMillan label printers and a past president of the British Printing Industries Federation. He donated the MacMillan Prize for Upper School Mathematics which is awarded each year to a deserving pupil at the school’s speech Day.
He was a person who immersed himself in charitable works and the consideration of the comfort and improvement of others and their living circumstances.
He later became the chairman of the fundraising committee to establish the first Nightingale MacMillan Hospice in Derby. Today, many gain support from the Nightingale MacMillan unit for palliative care now based at the Royal Derby Hospital.
A keen sportsman, Mr Blackton played cricket for Duffield, hockey for Belper and was a life member of Chevin Golf Club and was always keen to use the development of sport at the school.
Mr Blackton’s memory lives on in the form of Blackton House, one of the four houses at Derby Grammar School that compete in a variety of extracurricular activities and sporting competitions. Blackton House is named to honour all that he did in establishing and supporting the development of the School.
Those at the School will be forever grateful and indebted to him for his generosity of spirit, benevolence and vision. He will be remembered fondly by governors, staff, alumni and pupils.
Mr Blackton is survived by wife Joan and their daughters, Sarah and Katie. His funeral took place at St. Helen’s Church in Etwall on January 23rd at which the OD Society was represented. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and our thanks to his widow, Joan, whose support of her husband’s work has been invaluable.
For 15 years, from 1970 to 1985, Mr Blackton was chairman of the Walbrook Housing Association in Derby, a charitable Housing organisation that repurchased properties to provide accommodation for families and individuals who need support with housing. During this time the housing stock increased from 15 to 1,000 properties. In 1964 he was awarded the |MBE for his work.
This link shows an interesting article on John’s work, for which he received his MBE.