Michael Burrell (1937-2014)

On Wednesday 9th July 2014 the funeral of OL Michael Burrell was held at All Saints Church, Huntingdon


Date: Thu 10 Jul 2014   Author: Michelle Gascoine   Category: Notices   Share: Share on facebookShare on TwitterShare on PinterestShare by Email


On Saturday 28th June Michael Burrell (OL 1949-1956) in Peterborough City Hospital following a short illness.

Michael was born in Pinner attending Canon Lane Primary School.  He joined The Lower School of John Lyon in 1949.  During his time at the school he restarted drama, which had ceased before WW2, founding and becoming Secretary of the Drama Group.  He staged and played in two revues then directed and appeared in a composite version of Shakespeare’s Henry IV plays, finally playing in The Proposal by Chekhov.  Michael was Head Boy 1955-1956.

Michael was awarded shooting colours in 1955 and House Colours in 1954.  He was the first Head Boy to give an address in the Speech Room on Speech Day and in 2008 the School named their new drama studio after him something he was very proud of.

After National Service in Counter Intelligence Michael read English at Peterhouse, Cambridge.  In 2013 Michael became Chairman of The Peterhouse Society.

Michael enjoyed a long and distinguished career as actor, director and playwright and was an active member of the Liberal Democrats where he was Chairman of the Huntingdon branch of the party and Chairman of the National Liberal Club.  He also worked for a number of years with High Experience Limited, a charity working with and for disadvantaged young people in Cambridgeshire.

In recent years, whenever time allowed Michael attended every play and musical staged by the School.

Over the last 4 years Michael spent many hours researching the history of The John Lyon School to produce the first authorised history of the School which was published in 2013, John Lyon’s Dream.  During his research Michael spoke to many Old Lyonians and past teachers.  His love for the school was clear in a recent interview when asked:

What did you take away with you from your time at The Lower School of John Lyon which will forever be with you?

He answered: A sense of well-being; a confidence that I can interact with anyone from any area of society; gratitude for the start in life it gave me and, of course, several long-lasting friendships.

Those friendships were further strengthened when after a 60 year gap he established an annual reunion of the 49ers’ those who joined with Michael to the Lower School of John Lyon.

In 2013 Michael came to Leavers Day to meet the boys and had addressed the school on several occasions including Speeches 2012.  He wanted to come and wish this year’s leavers good luck in their future but it coincided with the count for the local elections where he stood for the Liberal Democrats, but he sent this message:

To plan where you want to go, it always helps to understand where you have come from.  As you set out on the new chapter of your life, this comes with congratulations and every good wish from your School for your future fulfilment and success.

I hope you have happy memories of your own time on the Hill when you bring to mind those “great days in the distance enchanted”.

A memorial service to celebrate Michael’s life will be held at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden in the autumn of this year.