John Patterson

JOHN Stuart Patterson, a former headteacher of Bingley Grammar School, has died in Kent, aged 56.

John was head from 1997 for eight years before leaving the school, and his home in Ilkley, to become principal of Folkestone Academy.

Although he had felt very much at home at Bingley, and had been reluctant to leave, appreciating the pupils, the staff, the supportive parents and the governing body, he had always felt another challenge was within him.

His "dream challenge" had come at Easter 2006. It had taken the form of becoming principal of the proposed academy, overseeing design and construction, recruiting staff and pupils, and the proud opening of the flagship school supported by a private sponsor in September 2007.

Many within Bingley Grammar School, and in wider Bradford education circles, have fond memories of John's distinctive style of energetic management, his cool humour, sharp intellect and immaculate appearance.

He believed that every child, regardless of background, should have the opportunity of high educational standards, and was proud of the achievements of the school under his direction. His many initiatives included the increase in pupil numbers to 1,750, an academic board, a study hall and a high ratio of tutors to students. He was highly regarded by his governing body, and remained in touch on a personal level.

John Patterson was a family man who was proud of his two young daughters and interested in the family lives of others. He jogged regularly, and often started his working day at 3am, being a "morning person".

He was a graduate of the Royal School of Music, and played the flute, taking a particular interest in the achievements of the school's music department. The son of a headteacher himself, he had a considerable gift as a public speaker.

John had been unwell since Easter, but his cancer had been only recently diagnosed. His untimely death comes as a great shock to all those who knew him.

Dr Jean Holdgate, chair of governors, said: "John held a well deserved place as a distinguished headteacher at Bingley Grammar School, and it was typical of him to take on his challenge in Kent.

"The accolades which inevitably awaited him there will now sadly never be, and I, along with the governing body, staff and pupils who knew him, am struggling to come to terms with the tragic loss of such a distinguished and wonderful man.

"Those whose lives he touched are the richer for knowing him. Our thoughts are with John's wife Alex, their two young daughters, and his mother Pat."

A service will take place in Sandwich, Kent, on Tuesday , followed by burial in Somerset on Friday.