We are saddened to have heard the news that David Richards, a former Headmaster of The Portsmouth Grammar School, has passed away peacefully on Friday 6 January, aged 85 years.

The Portsmouth Grammar School owes an enormous debt to David’s leadership between 1975 and 1983 for helping to create the thriving independent and co-educational school that we are today.

David moved to Portsmouth in 1975 with his wife, Margaret, and three young children at a time when the school’s Direct Grant status was under threat. He led the school towards full independence the following year at the same time as admitting the first girls into the Sixth Form, thus launching the school’s move towards full co-education.

David was an individual of many talents. A former Bishop’s Chorister at Salisbury Cathedral and later Captain of Wiltshire Cricket Club in the Minor Counties competition, David had a lifelong love of both music and sport. After National Service, he read English and Theology at Magdalene College, Cambridge, teaching both subjects at Haileybury where he became a Housemaster. David joined PGS having been Headmaster of Hereford Cathedral School for seven years.

During his time here, David fostered the reorganisation and improvement of music. He led a major appeal to fund the development of the school’s sporting facilities at Hilsea Playing Fields. Electronics and computing were introduced to the curriculum, along with careers conventions and links with local industry. The opening of the Pre-Preparatory department paved the way towards the creation of our Junior School today. A local JP and Lay Canon of Portsmouth Cathedral, David also ensured that the school enjoyed strong connections throughout the city community.

Having overseen a period of considerable change, David left PGS in 1983 to become Principal of Brathay Hall Trust – an organisation that supported management education training, a field studies centre and an exploration group – in the Lake District, seeking a very different educational challenge and setting.

In a long and happy retirement, David remained a valued friend of PGS. He visited the school most recently in March 2015 and was delighted to see not only the crocuses blooming in the quad, but co-education, about which he was passionate, also continuing to flourish. He would regularly support the PGS Chamber Choir when they sang at Christchurch, Oxford, always enjoying the tradition of choral evensong.

A Thanksgiving Service will be held on Saturday 28 January 2017 at 1200 noon at St Mary’s Church, Church Street, Bloxham, Oxfordshire OX15 4PY. All are invited to join family and friends afterwards at Banbury Cricket Club, The Pavilion, OX15 4BN.

Our thoughts and prayers are with David’s family and his partner Laura at this time.