Mr ‘P’ of Bilton Grange School has died

28 March 2013

Stef Puchalka, the former Headteacher of Bilton Grange School in Harrogate has passed away.

Mr Puchalka had fought a long battle against cancer and died yesterday afternoon (27 March 2013), surrounded by his family.

The current Headteacher of Bilton Grange, Mrs Judith Ratcliffe, paid tribute to him in a letter to parents today.

Mrs Ratcliffe said:

As a Headteacher, Stef was a charismatic figure who approached life with tremendous humour and  warmth.

He loved his school and everybody in it, as we loved him.

Stef was not just a colleague, he was a very dear friend and the school as it is today is very much Stef’s legacy.

To the children he was Mr P who always enjoyed a joke and yet was highly respected.

Our thoughts, sympathy and love are with his family.

I hope they will take some comfort from the many people who held him in such high regard and share their loss.

He will be sorely missed.


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A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire County Council said:

Stef Puchalka was loved and respected by children, parents, staff and governors at Bilton Grange as well colleagues in the local authority.

He was a gentle man who was unfailingly warm and welcoming and gave of his best to help children and their families and to support staff.

Although he fought a long battle with his illness he was never heard to complain and always had the welfare of others as his priority.



  1. Really sad news.

    He was the head for much of my time at Bilton Grange – after Mr Devine left.

    Even though it was a few years ago now, every memory of him was a good one. A really great guy and he will no doubt be missed by many people.

    Thoughts are with his friends and family.

  2. So sorry to hear this, thoughts are with the family and friends.

    He was the head when i went to the school and there would be no other way to describe the man than as a legend, he made everything fun and was always there to help and made time for everyone no matter what it was.

  3. He was Head when my daughter went to Bilton Grange, and she’s now in year 12, but still remember him. I always admired him, great guy. He knew all the pupils names and was very approachable. Sad news, so sorry for your loss.

  4. My thoughts go out to friends and family at this sad time but they can be reassured that he had a positive impact on many students who will also remember him fondly.

  5. Such sad news, Mr. P was a lovely man, he always had time for me even though I was painfully shy at school. He just knew how to bring the best out of every child.
    He was also so lovely when my mum, Janet passed away from cancer. She was one of his colleagues and he was so understanding about it all.
    I can say he was the best teacher I ever had and he inspired me to take up teaching myself. When I passed my teaching course last year, I wanted to send him a note to say thank you for all he did for me but never got round to it but I really wish I had now.
    Condolences to his family, I am sure they are confident in the fact that he was much loved by everyone who met him and that he really did help every child he taught.
    You will be sadly missed, Mr. P xxx

  6. i remember mr p.i moved from one primary school to bilton grange after a bad time and he made me feel so welcome that i loved to go to school everday.he was such a lovely thoughts go out to his family and friends at this sad time.x

  7. Mr P you were the Best!!!I only chooose Bilton Grange because Mr P spent an hour with me mainly talking about the Atkins diet that he was on and some child walked past said hello Mr P, he stopped talking to me and he said hello and he knew that childs name!!very Sad news today, but we were lucky to know him. My thoughts are with all those close to him.xx

  8. Mr P was a outstanding teacher and as said above he was more than a teacher he was a friend.

    He would light up a room when he came in, he will be sadly missed!he was a great guy. He helped me and my class friends when friend Tolly died. Great listener and good to learn from.

    My wishes go out to his family.

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