A FOMER headteacher who was instrumental in setting up a trade union for education professionals has died aged 84.

Ray Bryant served as headteacher of Eastbourne School, in Darlington, for around 14 years from 1972 to 1986.

The grandfather-of-two recently wrote a book entitled Eastbourne School, The Growth, Success and Failure of a Secondary School, documenting the history of the secondary school between 1936 and 2007.

Mr Bryant decided to write the book to chart the changes in education, and wrote it using old school log books kept in the school office during his time as headteacher.

His family said one of his greatest pleasures over the last month was meeting old pupils who contacted him to buy a copy.

He died on Sunday, July 5 and leaves behind his wife of more than 50 years, Kathleen, four children, Gillian, Caroline, Nicholas and Michael, and grandchildren Yasmin and Joshua.

Mrs Bryant described him as a quiet man who loved his family.

“We have had such a lot of tributes from people who have all said how lovely and helpful he was,” she said.

“He was quietly spoken but was dedicated to making sure that teaching was a professional profession. We were all very proud of him.”

Mr Bryant was born and brought up in North London where he lived throughout the Second World War.

After completing National Service he gained a degree in geography from Leicester University – the subject he would later go on to teach – before obtaining a MSc in psychology from the University of London.

His first teaching jobs were in South London, where he met his future wife and the pair married in 1960.

After holding several teaching jobs in Essex, he was appointed head of Eastbourne School and the family relocated to Darlington.

In 1970, after they became concerned with the threat of a teachers’ strike, Mr Bryant and a colleague formed the Professional Association of Teachers – now known as Voice.

The union promised not to strike and went from strength to strength, boasting around 35,000 members at its peak.

After retiring in 1986, Mr Bryant pursued his love of gardening and photography and worked for a photographic agency, supplying landscape photographs of the countryside.

His funeral will be held on Friday, July 17 at Darlington Crematorium.