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Jackie Charlton, teacher who inspired young people to take up sport

New Journal sports editor Steve Barnett pays tribute to former PE teacher at Parliament Hill

29 November, 2018 — By Steve Barnett

JACKIE Charlton, a true champion of sport and supporting, encouraging and inspiring young people, has died aged 68.

The former PE teacher at Parliament Hill School in Highgate was a whirlwind of energy and passion.

I can still recall the first time I took a call from her – dare I say some 15 years ago or more – this industrious voice on the other end of the phone telling me she had “a picture or two” that she really wanted to get into the paper.

Such was her enthusiasm for encouraging youngsters and giving them credit for all the good things they were doing within the community, that what I actually received was an email packed with countless match reports and loaded with eight or more pictures of netball and basketball teams.

In fact, I still use one of those images now as the yardstick when talking to someone offering to take a photo for us.

It was one of a girls’ basketball team huddled in a circle. Jackie had clearly crawled on her back, on the court, and got into the centre of the huddle to take it.  Looking back now I don’t know why I was so surprised.

She was a bundle of creativity.  She arrived in London from Yorkshire in the 1970s, and soon took a position at Mount Carmel School in Islington, where she went on to head their PE department. She brought with her a love of dance and choreographing musicals.

It was a love that was so strong that before arriving at Parliament Hill School Jackie, who lived in West Hampstead, took a sabbatical and studied dance in New York, one of three places, along with Yorkshire and Camden, that she called home.  Teaching also supported Jackie’s love of travelling.

But anyone who knew her will tell you she wasn’t the tour guide kinda girl. She was too independent for all of that.

From the TransSiberian Express to China, walking in the Andes, or back again to New York, she would find her own way.  Her greatest love, however, was mentoring young people. Helping them, and supporting them in any way that she could. Be it working as a school sport partnership manager with Camden Council, or with the Camden Schools Sports Association. I think Jackie’s favourite place of all was being around young people.

That’s why I wasn’t surprised to learn that she left a generous bequest to the Camden Sports Council.  Jackie died on November 9 after losing a very short battle against leukemia.

While she never married or had any children, I suspect the true magnitude of her family will be realised when she’s laid to rest on Monday at Golders Green Crematorium.

The service will start at 2pm.


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