A POPULAR former teacher with a thirst for knowledge and the ability to inspire his students with his enthusiasm for learning has been laid to rest.

Ian Strachan Hughes, 69, died peacefully at home on June 3 surrounded by friends, after a long illness.

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral at Richmond Methodist Church yesterday, which Reverend Les Nevin said was testament to how many lives he had touched during his time as a teacher at Richmond School, as well as within his community in the town.

Mr Hughes was a member of Richmond Methodist Church, as well as Low Row United Reform Church, and was a regular speaker for groups on numerous topics.

Rev Nevin said: “He would be humbled by how many people are here today. He lived his life with his belief in God, and we can give thanks for his life.

“He was not a solemn chap. Ian did not fear death as he was assured of the peaceful crossing from this life to the next.”

Mr Hughes was born in Cheshire in March 1949 to the Reverend John and Maisie Hughes, and grew up in Little Sutton before settling in Houghton-le-Spring. He went to Hexham Grammar School and Newcastle University where he trained to be a teacher.

His first job was at Richmond School in 1993 and he immediately became a firm favourite with pupils and staff thanks to his humour, enthusiasm and skill as a teacher.

Rev Nevin said: “To say he was well known in the town would be an understatement.

“He brought lessons to life, teaching history, English and classics with great clarity and enthusiasm. Even the most boring subjects were interesting when he got hold of them.”

Mr Hughes retired in 2005 at 56 in order to care for his mother, which he did “with great love” until her death three years ago.

Rev Nevin said: “Ian and his mum were members of his congregation and it was inspiring to see the wonderful way he loved and cared for her.

“Sadly Ian got his cancer diagnosis not long after her death, and he underwent massive surgery and radiotherapy, which stopped him from seeing as much of the world as he would have liked.

“However, he did manage a trip to Scotland to find out more about his roots, and a trip to Venice before he died.”

A Facebook group for past students of Richmond School has been inundated with hundreds of comments and memories of Mr Hughes.