Hundreds attend funeral of inspirational Hartlepool headteacher Alan Chapman

Moving tributes were paid to an inspirational Hartlepool headteacher who touched the lives of so many people and was ‘universally loved’.

Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 6:00 am
Priest in charge at St Hild's Church Verity Brown leads the way as mourners follow Alan Chapman's coffin for his Funeral Service. Picture by FRANK REID

Hundreds of mourners helped give Catcote Academy head Alan Chapman the send off he deserved for his funeral at St Hilda’s Church on the Headland.

Alongside his family, colleagues past and present, fellow headteachers, friends and councillors, all paid their respects.

Alan’s wife Geraldine said the amount of people there was testament to just how loved and respected he was.

Catcote Academy headteacher Alan Chapman who died after a short illness.

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Alan sadly passed away last month after a short illness aged 67.

Flamboyant, unique, funny, generous and caring were all words used to describe him during the service’s numerous and moving tributes.

Alan was recognised nationally for his tireless commitment to teaching and improving the opportunities for children and young people with special educational needs.

But Reverend Verity Brown said he was also devoted to his family including his wife, children Beth and Carla, and grandchildren Sam, Jack and Kate.

Mourners arrive at St. Hilda's Church, to attend Alan Chapman's Funeral Service. Picture by FRANK REID

Rev Brown said: “His family meant the world to him.”

She added: “He touched the lives of so many people, not only in Hartlepool but throughout the country.”

Rev Brown said he was a wonderful teacher and leader saying: “Everything he did, everything he achieved was for the benefit of ‘the bairns’ as he called them.

“He had a natural way with children and young people.

A message on flowers in memory of Alan Chapman. Picture by FRANK REID

“He had a charisma and gift for making people feel welcome and included and part of what was going on.”

Alan had a ‘wicked sense of humour’, a flamboyant dress sense – including polka dot shirts – but also fought tirelessly for justice for anyone who needed it.

Geraldine said: “He accepted people had faults but they didn’t have to be led by them.

“He was fearless in the development of his SEND (special educational needs and disability) agenda.”

Priest in charge at St. Hild's Church Verity Brown waits take Alan Chapman's Funeral Service. Picture by FRANK REID

She said Alan, also brother to Margaret, Joan and Carole, was inspired by the friends and colleagues around him adding: “Thank you so much for making his life as fulfilled as it was.”

Margaret told how as a young man, Alan studied art at college and Sheffield University before finding his true calling in teaching children with special needs.

He also had a lust for travel and once hitch hiked across Europe.

Alan made Catcote Academy what it is today during a 25-year career.

Deputy head Lisa Greig said: “Alan made us feel like family as well. He truly was universally loved.

“Catcote is the house that Alan built.”

Stephen Hammond headteacher at English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College (left) and Mark Tilling headteacher at High Tunstall College of Science arrive at St Hilda's Church, to attend Alan Chapman's funeral service. Picture by FRANK REID

She promised the academy would continue Alan’s legacy.

A collection was held for Catcote Academy which is raising money for a new outdoor learning and fitness zone.