A FORMER Harrogate teacher who retired last September has died.
Leslie Smith, who taught chemistry at Ashville College from 1975 until his retirement, suffered a heart attack on December 30 while carrying out volunteering duties at the North York Moors Railway.
As well as teaching, Mr Smith had been an exams officer at the school.
Paying tribute to him, headteacher 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.”
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’s life will be held at the Wesley Chapel in Oxford Street, Harrogate, tomorrow, Saturday, January 14, at 2pm. Sombre clothing need not be worn.