TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Portishead school teacher.

Tony Sutton, a former housemaster at Gordano School, died on December 24 aged 86. He had suffered ill health for the past two of years.

Mr Sutton worked at Gordano between 1957 and 1985 where he was head of English for some years, head of Sutton House from 1964 and for the final seven years, head of middle school, before taking early retirement in 1985.

He was a firm believer of an all round education and made no secret of how he detested the exam factory mentality.

For 25 years he was also a Bristol Samaritan.

In a moving tribute, his eldest son Mark said: “He will be sadly missed, a great dad and grandfather and a true and loyal friend to a lot of people.

“He always loved teaching and some of his best school memories were all the trips he would accompany pupils on.”

Current headteacher at Gordano School, Gary Lewis, said Mr Sutton was one of the few people whose memories extended back to the very first days of Gordano and when he started at the school two years ago, Mr Sutton wrote a welcoming letter to him and visited him on a number of occasions. He said: “Mr Sutton visited me a number of times to tell me tales of my predecessors and life at Gordano in the 1950s and 1960s.

“He was full of humour and very sharp, I could see he must have been a great teacher but I suspect he would have been a tough disciplinarian too.

“I am very saddened by the passing of one of our old guard but there is consolation that his life of public service was followed by a long and active retirement.”

Messages and memories from former pupils have been posted on a number of social networking sites and online announcement pages. Mr Sutton leaves two sons, a daughter, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Family, friends, ex-pupils and colleagues are welcome to attend an act of thanksgiving at Canford Crematorium at 11am tomorrow (Thurs) and for refreshments afterwards in the Gordano Suite, Clarence House in Portishead High Street.

Anyone who would like to make a small donation to the work of Bristol Samaritans can do so by contacting F H Halliday & Son, Funeral Directors, 115 High Street, Portishead on 01275 842120.