Tributes have been paid to a deputy headteacher described as the "absolute heartbeat" of a Wiltshire school.

Peter Sheppard, who taught in various roles at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy during his 50 years at the school, died on October 18.

Tributes have flooded in for Mr Sheppard from his former colleagues and students.

“I was privileged to be both a pupil of his and later a colleague when I came back to Royal Wootton Bassett Academy as a visiting piano teacher. He was a real gentleman and a credit to the teaching profession,” said Robin Foulkes.

“Sad news indeed, I had the pleasure of working with him for 36 years. He was always so supportive to both staff and students alike, and I feel very privileged to have known him,” added Anne Tuffin.

Peter Sheppard held several roles throughout his years at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy, including full-time classroom teacher, deputy headteacher, member of the leadership team, invigilator, volunteer and governor.

In 2013, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement trophy at the annual TES Schools Award, as judges said that “Peter has given his whole life to his school and the community it serves”.

“He is a superb role model for the thousands of teenagers lucky enough to have attended Wootton Bassett, where he worked his magic for more than half a century.”

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Peter Sheppard in 2013, accepting his award for 'lifetime achievement'.Peter Sheppard in 2013, accepting his award for 'lifetime achievement'. (Image: Royal Wootton Bassett Academy)

“Pete (or as he was known PSh) was the absolute heartbeat of Wootton Bassett School and Royal Wootton Bassett Academy for a significant amount of its lifetime as a school,” said Anita Ellis, current headteacher at the school.

Sharing her first memories of Peter, she added: “My first encounter with Pete was as a Deputy Headteacher when he recruited me in the Spring of 2002. He referred to me as ‘cheeky’ because I had dared to ask for an increased salary beyond the basic Newly Qualified Teacher one, which he gave me with a chuckle.

“He was straight-talking and certainly someone who would ensure the highest standards. Even in my early days with him at Bassett, it was clear he was very much behind the running of the place.”

Ms Ellis told The Adver that Pete had the most exceptional storytelling ability and “he found humour and light in most things”.

“He was an intelligent man who as a classroom teacher captured students’ interest and curiosity with his narrative style. The Sixth Form students loved how he brought so much more than learning content out of them.

“He believed in developing the whole person and he suited Bassett so well. 

“The start of our teacher training days were always full of humour as Pete would tell a story about his own summer holidays and the travel challenges that he and Mrs Sheppard had."

Commenting on the legacy that her former colleague has left behind, Ms Ellis said: “I remember his leaving speech when he left Bassett with the memories of the same kind of professional and man that he always was: intelligent, full of lightheartedness, supportive and committed to the community of Royal Wootton Bassett. 

“We say our final goodbyes now to Pete, and though we are saddened by this news, he was a stalwart of ‘the Comp’, and he will forever be fondly remembered. We send our love to his family at this time. “