Tributes for headmaster who was ‘full of fun’

Keith Coals
Keith Coals

TRIBUTES have been paid to a former headmaster who helped set up a new school in Seaford which is still going today.

Keith Coals was the first headteacher at Cradle Hill School after he took on the challenge of creating a new facility for the town’s children in 1968.

The 86-year-old, who died last month, initially taught PE at secondary level at Heathfield before becoming a headteacher at Glynde, then Chailey, before moving to Seaford in 1968 and focusing on the school at Cradle Hill.

The father-of-two was described as being ‘full of fun’ and ‘great company’ by his family. His daughter Merry Foster added, “He enjoyed being involved in all aspects of trying to help children thrive in their school life, whatever their skills.

“He shared his love of sports and English and his amazing speed at numerical problems but what shone through was his enjoyment of the funny things that small children say and do.

“He believed in an all-round education and helped dig the school swimming pool and was well-known for setting up the school pond and introducing tadpoles each year.”

Keith, who was born in Enfield, was the youngest of a family of six with four brothers and a sister.

The Seaford resident, who also leaves behind wife Beryl, son Stephen and four grandchildren, was keen on team sports from a young age. He joined the RAF as soon as he could and was in Canada training to be a navigator when the war ended.

He went to St Luke’s College in Exeter for his teacher training and also studied English and biology.

Whilst there he met his future wife Beryl Wilson and the couple married in 1951.

After retiring in 1984 he continued to work in his garden and played tennis at Blatchington Tennis Club into his 80s where he was well-known as a skilled player with a great sense of fun. He spent his last few weeks at Blatchington Court care home before passing away on February 23.

Merry added, “He loved being a grandfather and had a special relationship with each of his grandchildren and ensured there was a corner of his garden for them to make dens. He will be greatly missed by all his friends and family.

“His last few weeks were spent in Blatchington Court Care home and we would like everyone to know what splendid care he received there and how they loved his smile.”

His funeral is due to take place at St Peter’s Church in Seaford on Monday March 19, followed by a burial at Seaford Cemetery.