He has presided as Chairman over the Governing Body during a period in which the School has become one of the top-performing schools in the country: it has now gained five successive ‘outstanding’ ratings from Ofsted and, for example, took first place in the 2013 Sunday Times Parent Power academic results league table of the top 500 State Secondary Schools. He has met several Education Secretaries as the School has won various awards over the years.
'Education is vital' - school governor receives MBE
- The Barnet Times, Thursday 2 January 2014
Headmaster Neil Enright said: “I am delighted that Barrie has been awarded an MBE and congratulate him on behalf of the whole School community for an honour richly deserved. He is an asset to QE in so many ways, combining a tireless work ethic with tremendous focus and an utterly reliable good nature. Moreover, he has a remarkable ability to generate support from others and, notwithstanding a demanding career and his many voluntary commitments, makes himself constantly available.”
Mr Martin said he was “extremely flattered” by the award, which had come as a complete surprise.
Until last spring, he worked full-time in his own chartered surveyor’s practice, Martin Russell Jones, in Edgware. Having sold the firm, which looks after accommodation including almshouses and social housing for the visually handicapped, he now works there as a consultant.
Mr Martin has risen from humble beginnings. His father was a part-time jobbing builder who also worked as a policeman during World War II, a bus driver and a chauffeur, while his mother was a countrywoman from Dorset who remembered meeting Thomas Hardy in her youth.
“Between the ages of 10 and 14, I spent a lot of time in hospital, which obviously had a very detrimental effect on my education,” he recalls. Leaving school at 16, he went to work in an estate agent’s and chartered surveyor’s office and began studying at night school. His perseverance earned its reward when he qualified as a chartered surveyor at the age of 24.
As his sons, Piers and Giles, grew up, he supported their schools, firstly becoming a governor at St Paul’s C of E Primary in Mill Hill, where he continues to serve both as a governor and PTA committee member, and then at QE. He has thus served alongside three QE Headmasters - Eamonn Harris, John Marincowitz and Mr Enright.
When Mr Harris was appointed in 1984, the School was “under-subscribed, seriously flawed and failing,” Mr Martin says. “I believe that the School has been saved and then transformed by three successful Headmasters. You cannot do anything unless you have strong leadership from the Head, but with strong leadership, you can attract and retain good teachers and support staff. We are also blessed by having very supportive parents, some of whom have become very good friends.”
In 1999, Mr Martin became Chairman of Governors and also Chairman of the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s (FQE) – the same year in which Dr Marincowitz succeeded Mr Harris as Headmaster.
Although a start had been made on replacing the School’s long-neglected buildings under Mr Harris, it was during Dr Marincowitz’s tenure that FQE successfully raised millions of pounds to enable a succession of new facilities to be opened through parental giving, all without recourse to the taxpayer.
These facilities included the Shearly Hall and the new complex comprising the recently opened Food Technology Suite, Dining Hall and Café 1573, as well as the new Queen’s Library due to open during 2014. “The Headmaster’s baton has been taken up with vigour by Neil Enright since his appointment in 2011,” said Mr Martin.
One of his proudest moments came in 2006 when the Olympic-standard Martin Swimming Pool opened. Named in tribute to him, it has subsequently revived swimming and water polo at the School. Both his sons were among a group of boys in the early 1990s who gained national honours in the latter sport while at QE. Piers has gone on to a career as a sports administrator and consultant; he was Chief Executive of British Fencing from shortly before the Beijing Olympics in 2008 until after London 2012. Younger brother Giles, who came to QE in 1992, is an academic – a physicist and mathematician – and is currently Academic Staff Developer at Bath University.
“Barrie’s guidance and leadership have been fundamental in securing our site’s development over the years – not least in terms of his professional expertise as a chartered surveyor – and his support continues to be important as we implement our long-term Estates Strategy,” said Mr Enright. “He has galvanised the activities of FQE to the point where almost all parents are actively involved in the support of the School.”
“We are also deeply appreciative of the way that his wife, Perin, strongly supports the School, as indeed do Barrie’s brother and sister.”
In addition to his work at QE and St Paul’s C of E Primary School, Mr Martin has been involved with Hendon Baptist Church in north London for 30 years, where he leads Junior Church. Every Sunday morning, the group of children aged three to 11 listen to Morning Worship and then meet to study and learn from the Bible.
His other voluntary service has also centred on his home locality of Edgware and Mill Hill. He has been an active member of Mill Hill Rotary Club, engaging in a variety of charitable activities, such as driving for elderly people.