TRIBUTES have been paid to a long-serving Worcester headteacher, who has died aged 74.

Malcolm Richards served as headteacher at St Georges Church of England Primary school for more than 20 years until his retirement in 1997.

He was born in Rudry, South Wales in 1939 and moved to Cheltenham in 1961 to study teacher training before taking a job at the Worcester school, where he became deputy headteacher and later headteacher.

Son Gareth said Mr Richards - also father to Sian and grandfather to Ben, Molly, Evie, Laurie, Ruby and Ted - thoroughly enjoyed his time at the school and was particularly proud of the diverse mix of pupils from different backgrounds he was responsible for throughout the years.

"He always spoke about the challenge of having so many children who didn't speak English as a first language," he said.

"He said he would often have to teach them English before he taught them maths."

Well known among his pupils as a very firm authority figure, naughty children lived in fear of his withering cry of “you boy!” or being sent to his corridor to await a stern talking-to.

School administrator Linda Hemstock remembered him as an extremely devoted headteacher who made sure to fill out the school logbook with details of pupil and staff activity every single day.

“He was really lovely and a great man to work for," she said.

"And he was very firm but fair. When he told a story in assembly you could hear a pin drop."

Gareth said his father was very proud of his Welsh roots but was also very mindful of how much he had achieved during his time in England.

"A lot of Welsh people would support France if they played England in the rugby, but he would always support England," he said.

"On his coffin he had a Welsh dragon as well as the cross of St George."

A keen rugby fan, he was proud to see Gareth captain Malvern Rugby Club as well as grandsons Ben and Lori also play for the squad in his later years.

Gareth said his father had spent his much of final years in France and Cyprus - where he lived for about nine months a year - and when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the start of this year made sure to visit the country one last time to spend time with the friends he had made there before returning to his home in Malvern, where he died on Wednesday, March 26 surrounded by his family.

More than than 200 people packed into St George's Church in Barbourne for his funeral on Monday, April 4, where his coffin was carried by two friends from Cyprus, two members of Malvern Rugby Club and two of his neighbours.

A collection was also made in aid of Pancreatic Cancer UK.