TRIBUTES have been paid to an "amazing and inspirational" former headmaster who died earlier this month.

Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Kenneth Lapsley was appointed as headmaster at Lugwardine's St Mary's RC High School in 1972, the year Hereford United upset all the odds to beat the Magpies in the FA Cup.

It could have been an uneasy welcome to the city - he remembered in the first few days of his new job walking past city shop, in whose window sat a football and a sign which read "The ball which beat Newcastle United!"

But, undaunted, Mr Lapsley remained in position at St Mary's for 21 years until his retirement in 1993 at the age of 58.

He is fondly remembered by former pupils, colleagues and successors as "an incredibly supportive and wise man," who always had time for his young charges.

St Mary's headmaster Stuart Wetson said: “All associated with St Mary’s RC High School were saddened to learn that Ken Lapsley had passed away following his battle with illness.

"He was so well thought of by all connected to the school and remained passionate about education and the successes of St Mary’s until the very end of his life. Indeed, when he found out I had taken over as the Headteacher last year, he made a visit to the school to wish me luck.

"He was very well respected by the pupils and colleagues he led for over 20 years and his contribution to Catholicism in Herefordshire should not be underestimated. Our thoughts, prayers and best wishes are with his family at this sad time.”

A strong proponent of the arts, which he insisted must not be abandoned in favour of technology, Mr Lapsley was also a man of strong faith, keen to ensure the spiritual welfare of his pupils.

Mr Lapsley was a member of the Catenian Association for more than 40 years, starting in Luton and transferring to Hereford when he took up position at St Mary's, holding several positions over the years, including Circle President and Secretary.

His funeral was held at Our Lady's RC Church on March 15.