A MUCH-RESPECTED school ambassador and retired headteacher who “sprinkled stardust” on his pupils has died.
Hartlepool man Ken Watson, who earned the title of Life President at Manor College of Technology for his work as chair of governors at the school, passed away in hospital aged 88.
Today tributes were paid to the dad-of-two, who dedicated more than 65 years service to education in the town, describing him as “bright, funny and always full of encouragement”.
Alan White, headteacher at Manor College of Technology, told the Mail he first met Ken 16 years ago when he was 72-years-old and chair of governors at the school.
“I first met him in 1995 and it is extraordinary that 16 years later he was still massively involved with Manor as Life President of the Foundation Governing Body,” he said.
“His very last duty was to take part in the selection of the college’s new head boy and head girl on May 20.
“He was at his best on these occasions and loved being with the children. He was bright, funny and as always full of encouragement for each of the 20 children presented before him. It seems inconceivable that he will never see them perform their new duties.”
He added: “I have seen him effortlessly engage children during school assemblies and have witnessed beautifully delivered and often achingly hilarious presentations.
“He had a special gift for story-telling and he remains the only guest speaker at Manor who routinely received spontaneous applause from our children.
“Quite simply, he sprinkled stardust on them and we adored him for it.”
Former RAF veteran Ken, who was also a former headteacher at Jesmond Road Primary School and an Elwick Parish Councillor, won a distinction in the National Teaching Awards’ Governor of the Year category in 2005.
On the back of that, he was invited to Buckingham Palace to attend a formal garden party with the Queen the following year, which he attended with his late second wife Enid.
In 2003, Ken who served in the RAF and also participated in the Battle of the Bulge, wrote his war memoirs in a book called Radar Reminiscence and Romance about his life between 1941 and 1947.
Mr White added: “Above all, our Life President adored the children and he loved seeing them perform during concerts or theatre productions.
“Manor is much diminished by his passing and we shall celebrate his service to the college during our annual summer concert on June 27.”
The hearse carrying Ken’s body will drive past the school on the way to his funeral on Friday to be greeted by hundreds of pupils who are to line either side of the road.
His funeral will be held at St George’s United Reformed Church, in Park Road, on Friday at midday, prior to interment at Stranton Grange Cemetery.