In 2009, CHE initiated the Derek Oyston Film Awards and the Derek Oyston Achievement Awards,in memory of the late Derek Oyston of Gateshead, a member of Tyneside CHE and a most generous supporter of CHE.
Derek Oyston was born on the 9th of February 1930, in Low Fell, Gateshead, the son of a teacher. He worked for many years at Hookergate Grammar School in Rowland’s Gill, County Durham.
He was well liked by the pupils, and was involved in many activities, including the annual sports day where he was the official time-keeper. He always helped out with school plays, but he oversaw the stage make-up, rather than, say, lighting which one might have expected of the science teacher.
One of his pupils relates: “Far from thinking Derek was gay, we really thought that Derek and the school secretary, Joan Porter, were an item. They certainly got on very well together and we often saw them talking and laughing together. In retrospect, they both had some involvement in out-of-school amateur dramatics, so that probably accounted for their friendship.”
At some time during his teaching career, Derek was the subject of homophobic abuse from some of the pupils, which probably led to his leaving Hookergate in 1971; he’d already had an extended absence of almost two terms in 1966. In his later years he was dogged by mental illness.
Derek died in a Gateshead care home on Monday the 7th of February 2005, two days before his 75th birthday. In his will he bequeathed to CHE the bulk of his estate, mainly the proceeds from the sale of 21 Cromer Avenue, Low Gill, where he had lived most of his life.