AN “inspirational” retired art teacher who taught thousands of children across Hartlepool throughout his career has died.
Keith Dormand, the former head of art at English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College, in Catcote Road, Hartlepool, passed away at the age of 67 at home following a short illness.
His funeral service was being held today at the town’s Stranton Grange Crematorium Chapel.
The death of the born-and-bred Hartlepool man, who “had a smile that lit up the room”, has left his beloved wife of 40 years June heartbroken, and his former colleagues and pupils devastated.
Today June described Keith as an “inspirational” teacher and told the Hartlepool Mail how he made their life together “wonderful”.
She said: “As a teacher he was an inspiration to students and colleagues alike, as a friend he was generous, thoughtful and fun to be with, and as a husband he was all of these things and more.
“He made life wonderful.”
Tributes have also poured in from former colleagues, with Mike Brogan, head of art at English Martyrs, where Keith taught from 1989 until 2001, saying: “Everybody liked Keith, he was full of enthusiasm for life and he made it fun to come to work.
“He had great personality and charisma, and treated everybody the same, whether he was talking to kids or senior members of staff. He had an infectious smile and personality and the students worked for him and respected him.”
He added: “He made a massive contribution and will never ever be forgotten.”
Artist Bob Watson, who went to college with Keith and worked with him at Brinkburn Comprehensive School, said: “Keith had a rare combination of larger-than-life character and outstanding professionalism.
“His sense of humour, confidence and relaxed manner were the hallmarks of his work in the classroom and life in general.”
And former colleague Jim Nicholson, who worked with Keith at Brierton Comprehensive and Manor Comprehensive schools, said: “He was such a gifted and special teacher.
“Hundreds, if not thousands, of Mail readers who were former pupils and students will recall him with affection.
“Keith Dormand was a teacher who was small in stature, but enormous in talent and achievement.”
Keith was born in Hartlepool in December 1944, grew up in West Hartlepool and attended the West Hartlepool Technical Day School for Boys, where his flair for art was noted from an early age.
June, 62, who Keith met in 1968 and married at Stranton Church in 1972, says as a youngster he even turned his parents’ attic into a studio and would give drawing classes to his sister and friends.
She added: “He would take them on sketching trips and sit them in front of a local landmark and explain what they should take note of.
“I have an image of this band of ragamuffins sitting round the war memorial statue on the Headland with their pads and pencils!”
Aside from teaching, Keith loved music, playing squash, photography, cycling, reading, travelling and his cars.
“People may remember him driving around town in sports cars with the top down even in winter,” said June.
“He was someone who touched so many people’s lives.”