Allan Michael Deacon, Battisborough School 1967 Kurt Hahn Prize Winner

By Allan Michael Deacon on 03/05/2016

Allan was a student at Battisborough School in South Devon; he attended the school from 1959 until 1966. In the summer of 1966 unfortunately he was involved in serious car crash that resulted in a hairline skull fracture and a scalp wound that needed twenty-eight stitches. Whilst for many this would put a dampener on the long holiday season this was not the case for Allan. By good fortune his mother was a medical doctor so Allan was allowed to join his family for their summer vacation to Cornwall even though the stitches were not ready to be removed. A few days from the end of the holiday he was able to visit the local hospital and have his stitches removed.

This meant he was finally allowed to swim and surf properly in the sea. One memory that sticks firmly in his mind is the fact that he had to wear a swimming cap to protect his wound- not the most comfortable nor attractive but it was worth it to be able to swim without restriction. 

Whilst Allan was swimming beyond the surf break it became apparent that a number of people had got into difficulties by being caught in one of the notorious ‘rip’ currents along that coast. Both lifeguards were already committed to supporting individuals when Allan noticed another swimmer face down in the water. Allan’s quick thinking and initiative was able to bring the man ashore with the support of a lifeguard and an abandoned surfboard. It was at that point that Allan was then providing the individual with mouth to mouth resuscitation while the lifeguard was supporting with the completion of CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) until the ambulance arrived. At this point Allan could do no more but to wait to hear what happened to the man following their best efforts.

When the police came round to the campsite to take a statement Allan learned that unfortunately the man had died. The inquest revealed that he had actually suffered from a massive heart attack when he had first got into difficulties and that was why their resuscitation efforts proved to be in vain. Following the inquest Allan learnt that the coroner had recommended that he was to receive a Royal Humane Society testimonial for his efforts that day.

Whilst this was an act of human instinct to rescue this individual, it was not just the coroner who wanted to reward Allan for his efforts. David Byatt the Headmaster at Battisborough at the time had recommended Allan be put forward as a recipient for the newly established award of the Kurt Hahn Prize. Allan was delighted to be invited to Schulz Schloss Salem on the 14th May 1967 to be awarded a bronze medal and scroll as one of the first three ‘Hahn School’ pupils. Allan was also privileged to be invited to meet Kurt Hahn in private for tea. What an achievement this had become despite recovering from a serious incident himself.

Allan was able to continue his studies beyond Battisborough School, going on to college and university and from there trained to become a teacher in the state sector. In 1994 Allan became the Headteacher of a large secondary school in Kent and was able to support many students throughout their time at the school. Due to ill health Allan later had to take an early retirement from teaching. However he did not stop supporting others and become a case worker for one of the major teaching unions. He retired in 2014 as the Senior Regional Officer for London and the South East, having managed a team of 10 or more Regional Officers.

Throughout Allan’s career one of the main things that has always been on his desk is a 3 inch heavy bronze medal, with the inscription ‘Kurt Hahn Preis’. You can see Allan has kindly pictured the medal and accompanying certificate that reminds him of all those events now over half a century ago. 

Allan would like to pay credit to David Byatt and his wife Mary for their inspiration and teaching. It was their example that decided his future career as a teacher.