TRIBUTES have been paid to “a gentleman of the old school” who served as a Darlington headmaster for almost two decades.

John Fay will be remembered by thousands of Darlington residents as headmaster of Carmel School from 1976 up to his retirement in 1993.

He was born in Stainforth near Doncaster and became the first of his family to attend university.

Mr Fay studied Classics at Manchester and passed his teaching qualifications in Oxford before embarking on a life-long career in education which took him to schools in Worcestershire, Doncaster and Wearside, among others.

He moved to Carmel School from St Thomas Aquinas in Sunderland which he had joined in 1969 in his first role as a headmaster.

Maura Regan, the current principal of Carmel College, was first appointed to school’s history department by Mr Fay 30-years-ago and described her former boss as a kind and gentle man.

“He was a gentleman of the old school; he was very mild-mannered and I don’t think I ever heard him raise his voice.

“I would also have to say that he was a devoted husband; he loved his wife Peggy dearly, they had one of those special relationships.”

Mr Fay died on December 17, aged 86, at Ventress Hall care home in Darlington after his health deteriorated following a fall.

He had lived at the home since May 2012 following the death of his wife Peggy the previous November and their daughter Helen said that people were remembering her father as a principled man.

She said: “I think the thing that always stuck out with my dad was his sense of fairness.

“He would always listen to people, never make hasty judgements or anything like that.

“He was very kind and very interested in where his pupils came from, what their backgrounds were and how what was going on at home might affect or trouble them at school.”

Ms Fay added: “He had a very strong sense of justice and although he was very quiet and humane, he would firmly stick to his guns if he felt strongly about something.

“They are kind of old fashioned virtues now, they are still the sort of thing that are hugely important but perhaps not valued as much as they should be.”

Mr Fay leaves behind daughters Helen and Diana, a son John, and grandchildren Christopher, Matthew, Emma and Joanna.

His funeral was held on Wednesday (December 31) at St Augustine’s Church in Darlington.