Tony Wingate obituary

Other lives: Inspirational teacher of English

My friend Tony Wingate, who has died aged 86, was an inspirational teacher and the founder of Wingate Scholarships. He was a quiet man committed to doing good.

Born in London to Harry Wingate, a property developer, and his wife, Minnie (nee Goff), Tony spent most of his childhood in the capital, apart from being evacuated to Bermuda in the early years of the second world war. He returned to prep school in Hampstead, then Harrow school (which he hated), and in 1951, after national service, to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, to study law. There he blossomed, not only intellectually, but also as a member of a remarkable circle of friends who sustained one another throughout their lives.

The world of law and commerce did not appeal to Tony, and at a friend’s suggestion he started teaching at Tower Bridge school – and found his vocation. He took a postgraduate diploma at the Institute of Education (IOE) and went on to a successful career as a teacher of English in London comprehensive schools. Former pupils described him as a dynamic and brilliant teacher who had the rare ability to change lives.

He was deputy head of Wood Green school in the early 1970s and later head of Rutherford school in Paddington until its amalgamation with two other schools in 1981. After a dispiriting year as head of a closing school, and various advisory positions, he decided to retire.

Education and the arts, especially music, were Tony’s lifelong passion, and his next move, in 1988, was to harness some of the funds from his family’s trust, the Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, to found and direct Wingate Scholarships – which I administered – making awards across a vast range of subjects to enable people of any age to carry out projects they could not otherwise have done. In 2008 the IOE awarded Tony an honorary doctorate primarily in recognition of this work. He was also busy as a magistrate in both adult and juvenile courts during these years.

Tony never stopped giving – as an individual, through his own trust, Fidelio, and through the foundation. But there was still time for friends, travel and, above all, music. Combining these interests we went together to many music events, especially every summer the Verbier music festival, in the Swiss Alps, which was his greatest delight.

He is survived by his brothers, David and Roger, and his nephews and nieces. His sister, Nina, predeceased him.

Jane Reid

The GuardianTramp

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