TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular Solihull head teacher who died last week following a brave battle against cancer.
John Gray, aged 59, joined Alcott Hall School in 1984 and became head five years later until taking early retirement in 2007.
John realised one of his dreams shortly after retiring from teaching, as he embarked on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to circle the globe in the Clipper Yacht Race, a challenge closely followed by his school, friends and family.
John was a stalwart of Edwardian Rugby Club, where he played from 1972. A “skilful and intelligent player”, he “commanded the greatest respect from teammates and opposition alike”, said close friend Brian Chappelhow.
“John was admired by many and instrumental in helping to bring out the best in players’ abilities,” added Brian.
In 2001, at the age of 51, John fulfilled another ambition of his, by playing first team rugby in the same side as his son David, bringing together two great passions - rugby and his family.
John was a loving husband to Kate, father to Elizabeth and David and grandfather to Lucy-Alice and Poppy.
“He was immensely proud of them all and his love, guidance, support and sense of humour will be hugely missed,” said Brian.
“He was a true inspiration to both colleagues and pupils, always encouraging everyone to realise their dreams and ambitions.
“John was a very popular man who never had a bad word for anybody and everyone with whom he worked, played or sailed, or had the pleasure of meeting him were enriched by the privilege.”
John’s funeral takes place at St Alphege Church, Solihull at 12 noon on Monday, March 1. Flowers or donations (payable to Padstow Lifeboat) should be sent to funeral directors Thomas Bragg & Sons, 562 Stratford Road, Shirley, Solihull B90 4AY.