HUNDREDS of past and present pupils are expected to attend a memorial service in Hartford tomorrow, to celebrate the life of respected headteacher Ray Sharp, who died of leukaemia in September.
Ray was headteacher of Hartford Manor Primary School from when it opened in 1972 until his retirement in 1999, and turned it into one of the best schools in the country, earning numerous accolades from education inspectors and ministers alike.
Three extensions had to be built on to the school while he was there just to satisfy demand for places. From a roll of around 120 in the early years, by the mid-1990s numbers had risen to about 320 pupils plus 52 in a nursery.
The school was singled out for praise in annual Ofsted reports and was also used as an example of excellent teaching in a white paper.
His friend and school governor Dr Jack Loader said: 'These outstanding results were achieved by Ray's total commitment to the school and over 27 years this vastly exceeded what could reasonably be expected of a primary school headteacher.
'He led by example; he was often in school at 7.30am and was usually the last to leave.
'His interest in and teaching of mathematics with a science/engineering linkage was outstanding and he inspired many children who have gone on to study one or more of these subjects at university.'
He was also a keen sportsman and regularly hosted the annual district school sports at the school. His great sporting love was cricket and he captained Northwich Cricket Club during the club's glory years and also encouraged many promising young players.
John Moorhead, who worked with Ray before becoming headteacher at Wincham Primary School, said: 'He was my first mentor and the most outstanding teacher and headteacher I have ever met. His whole life revolved around his family and the school, they meant everything to him.'
The memorial service starts at 7.30pm in Hartford Parish Church.