Local lad makes good Emeritus Professor Tony Heathcote A view of Earnshaw Hall.
Career highlights • WARDEN OF EARNSHAW HALL 1973–97 • HUGHES PROFESSOR OF SPANISH 1980–94 • PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS, Joint Matriculation Board 1984–88 • PRESIDENT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF HISPANISTS OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND 1991
A LARGER-THAN-LIFE FIGURE IN THE DEPARTMENT OF Hispanic Studies for almost 40 years, Emeritus Professor Tony Heathcote, who died on 25 November 2012 at the age of 81, was a Sheffielder by birth and devoted his career to the University, bar one year spent at McGill University, Montreal. He was educated at Firth Park Grammar School, where he developed his love of languages, and the University of Manchester. National Service followed, which he spent in the RAF’s education section, teaching the history of flight and keeping just ahead of his students, one lecture at a time. He joined Hispanic Studies in 1958; ‘Local lad makes good’ is the title of a newspaper article announcing his appointment as the Hughes Professor of Spanish in 1980. His main research interest was the Golden Age of Spanish theatre, and the legacy of his enthusiasm for performance is still seen in the annual departmental play, performed in Spanish. A former colleague, Dr John England, said, “The department was always full of laughter. Tony was a pantomime dame in the early years of the Drama Studio, and master of ceremonies at the annual music hall re-enactment. He was an outstanding teacher and super head of department – a very good administrator with a human face. He was also a leading light in the development of the then 26
School of Modern Languages, as well as a national figure in Hispanic studies.” A great supporter of outreach work in schools and Erasmus, the European student exchange programme, Tony Heathcote developed relationships between Sheffield and universities across Europe, especially Oviedo in Spain. His keenness to foster the whole student experience was evident in his role as hall warden – he was initially Head Tutor at Sorby, followed by Deputy Warden at Ranmoor and, finally, Warden at Earnshaw. His son, Simon, who remembers growing up surrounded by students, said, “Together with my mother, June, my father provided pastoral care, and they were also a lively and positive force in the halls’ social life. Hundreds of students must have spent time in our kitchen over the years, drinking coffee with my mother. It was all part of my father’s ability to nurture and connect with people, bringing them out socially. The tributes we have received from people far and wide are testament to his influence and popularity.”
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