John Edward Parkes RIP
It with great sadness that I am writing to let you know of the passing of John Edward Parkes, who was the first Director of our London office and who recruited many hundreds of Mountbatten interns for the New York internships in the early days of the program. I am sure that many of you will remember his engaging smile and sharp wit, his attention to detail and his overriding concern for the potential for success in the program, which he promoted in universities and colleges throughout the UK, Ireland and in Europe, for almost a decade.
I first met the Oxford educated John in the early 1970’s when he was the Headmaster of the International School of London, an institution he created to provide a balanced and internationally oriented education to hundreds of foreign and British pupils. He was very active and was highly respected in the International school world and I recollect that, when I originally applied to come to New York as an exchange teacher back in the day, he interviewed me and was the first person to talk to me about the advantages of international education and the importance of student and teacher exchange programs. Being a teacher in a comprehensive school in Milton Keynes, the concept of international education was totally unknown to me. Over the years he was my mentor as I gained a foothold in this ‘new world’ of education. He introduced me to the increasingly popular, and significant, International Baccalaureate curriculum and when I became the Headmaster of the Anglo American International School in New York, he provided expert and valuable guidance to me over many years. I remember his pride of accomplishment when, as a retiring Chairman of the European Council of International Schools, he received a well deserved award from HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. This award was but a small token of the esteem in which he was regarded within the community of international schools worldwide.
A man with his energy and enthusiasm would never surrender to ‘retirement’ and so when he left his school in London he quickly accepted my invitation to take over the UK and international recruitment of the, then, fledgling Mountbatten Internship Program in early 1985. Over many years his savvy judgement about young people, their aspirations and their potential, was put to good use, and the success of our work in New York was largely attributable to his knack of selecting the right candidates for the myriad roles in corporate New York for which they were being considered. Unbeknownst to many, his selection and placement skills were responsible for many former interns entering a trajectory for success and accomplishment. His educational and training expertise were evident in the support he gave me when we decided to develop and experiential educational aspect of the program. We both attended a memorable conference in Birmingham in 1989, when we were introduced to the Workplace Validation process offered through Oxford University. It was there that we met Pauline Harvey, (mother of Jo Harvey) who showed us how this process could enhance the Mountbatten experience. The rest, as they say, is history.
John Parkes was a significant part of the Mountbatten Internship Story and his passing is a matter both of sadness and regret. But also of celebration, celebration of a life well lived, of an educator who was never afraid to move outside his comfort zone and take on new challenges, a friend and college who was both supportive and frank and honest in his approach, who did not take fools easily, and who impressed all of us with his integrity and his true ‘northern’ down to earthiness. With John, what you saw was what you got! And all of us were the better for it.
We all give our condolences to John’s widow, Helen, and to their two children, Andrew (a former Mountbatten himself) and Susie.
If any alumni would like to contribute a message to the Book of Memories being compiled by John’s family, please get in touch with Vicki McCordall (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Dr. Paul Beresford-Hill, CBE