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Former Newmarket head David Pugh, who led Scaltback Middle School, to be remembered tomorrow at West Suffolk Crematorium

The funeral service for a former Newmarket headmaster will take place at West Suffolk Crematorium tomorrow.

David Pugh took over the headship of Scaltback Middle School in 1990, taking early retirement due to ill health 10 years later in 2000 after suffering a heart attack.

Mr Pugh died in Risby Hall Nursing Home on September 13 at the age of 79.

David Pugh, former headteacher at Scaltback Middle School, Newmarket, has died aged 79
David Pugh, former headteacher at Scaltback Middle School, Newmarket, has died aged 79

He leaves his wife Maggie, with whom he celebrated their golden wedding last year, children Dan, Nick and Judith and grandchildren Henrietta, Natalie, Shaista, Harun and Sami.

The service, in the St Edmunds Chapel, will be at 1pm tomorrow.

Mr Pugh was born in Stockport, in Cheshire. He attended local schools before going on to Bretton Hall teacher training college, now part of the University of Leeds, to study music and drama and later completed a Masters degree at Exeter University.

His love of music began at an early age when he paid for his own piano lessons and went on to become organist at the church where his father was the minister.

After college, he went to teach in Zambia for four years, returning to England and marrying Maggie in 1972.

The couple lived in Slough for a while before moving to Northamptonshire where Mr Pugh taught at Bugbrooke Middle School and then down to Devon when he was appointed head of Heathcote Middle School in Tiverton.

In 1990 the family moved to Gazeley when Mr Pugh became headmaster at Scaltback, one of Newmarket’s two middle schools, and remained in the village where he served on the parish council and as its chairman.

Throughout his life he was passionate about bringing music to young people, which led to him becoming involved in the Music Builds Communities group and he composed many of his own arrangements for school and church which he published through his website at www.allonsong.com

For many years he was also organist at St Philip & St Etheldreda’s Church, formerly Newmarket Hospital Chapel, including for weddings and other events.

When he retired, Mr Pugh said he would miss the children and the staff but not ‘the pressures put on education by external agencies’.

Tim Young, head of St Felix, Newmarket’s other middle school when Mr Pugh was at Scaltback, said it was a time of change when central government had taken financial management of schools away from local authorities and handed it to the schools themselves.

“This had the result of putting the two middle schools in competition with each other for pupils,” said Mr Young. “Fortunately David and I managed to do it with a broad smile on our faces”.

“We also dealt with the national curriculum and its compulsory daily literacy and numeracy hours, each of which lasted for 50 minutes. David and I were always amused at the irony of this lack of basic numeracy,” he added.

The pair also shared a love of music with the then head of Newmarket Upper School Stephen Dart. “David was a pianist, I played the drums and Stephen the double bass,” said Mr Young. “I always hoped we might form a jazz trio called the Three Heads but sadly it never happened.”