Harrogate’s Ashville College has paid tribute to a newly retired teacher who has died suddenly.
Leslie Smith – who was Exams Officer and taught Chemistry at the independent school from 1975 until his retirement last September – suffered a heart attack on December 30 whilst carrying out volunteering duties on the North York Moors Railway.
Leading the tributes to Mr Smith, Ashville College Headmaster Mark Lauder, said:
Les was a dedicated teacher who shared his love of science with literally thousands of pupils over the years.
He was popular with both students and teachers alike, and was at his happiest either leading experiments in the Chemistry department or performing with the school choir or orchestra.
For many years, Les had taken charge of overseeing the A Level and GSCE examinations, and he did this with his usual zeal and efficiency.
His death has come as a great shock to all at the school as he had only just retired. Our deepest sympathies are with his widow Margaret.
Just before Christmas, Mr Smith – who in his first years at the school had been a live-in house master in Elmfield House – attended an event at the school organized by the Ashvillian Society, where he spent the evening catching up with former pupils and colleagues.
Roger Pygott, a close friend of Mr Smith’s and a former colleague and head of Elmfield House, said:
Les was my house tutor, I was his best man and he is Godfather to my daughter Nicky. Our relationship goes back a long way!
I remember talking to him when he first came for interview. I didn’t gloss over the commitment required to be a resident master in a boarding school. He accepted the challenge and entered into many aspects of school life and gained the respect of fellow staff and pupils.
Bureaucracy was his forte. He was always willing to fill a niche. He cut his teeth for me on house bank! He progressed to school plays, internal exams and then of course external exams.
His musical contributions to Ashville are well known. Less well known was his support of the AMCC (staff cricket club). For many years he was the scorer.
His interest in the game was purely intellectual but he would also readily volunteer to umpire junior cricket matches and take various teams away.
A service of thanksgiving for Mr Smith is being held at Wesley Chapel, Oxford Street, Harrogate, at 2pm on Saturday (January 14). Somber clothing need not be worn.