John Arkell came to Gresham’s in 1991 from Shropshire where he was headmaster of Wrekin College.
An experienced play producer and director himself, in his presentation for the job John outlined the educational advantages of a purpose-built theatre. A huge fund- raising campaign followed, culminating in the opening of the Auden Theatre in 1998. It was not just the arts that received his encouragement, though, improved sports facilities, and a major building programme including Britten House also featured on his agenda.
In recognition of his outstanding achievement and contribution to the development of the School, the governors extended John’s contract for three years. Ironically, at the beginning of the twentieth century there had been fears that Gresham’s was no longer a Norfolk school. By its end, things had turned full circle with Arkell’s increasing of scholarships and the opening of the Junior and Pre-Prep departments, bringing more local children back into the fold.