Generations of St Helens students are paying tribute to one of the town’s best-known and highly regarded teachers after learning of his death.
Will McCooey, 58, died in the early hours of Wednesday February 12 at Whiston Hospital following a period of illness with heart failure. His wife Sharon was at his bedside.
Known for his unique approach to teaching and his caring attitude to his students, Will’s mark on St Helens will be visible for a long time.
Former student Laura Railton said: “It’s such sad news, a wonderful man who helped me through countless amounts of things, (he was) the only one who bothered to listen, and still there years after me leaving - a friend more than a teacher - such a legend.”
Friend Dave Melia said Will would be sorely missed and echoed the sentiment shared by countless others: “I am shocked and saddened to hear the news.”
“Will is an amazing man with a genuine interest in everyone. I always received a hug whenever we bumped into each other around town and it was such a privilege and an honour to have known him - truly one of the last gentlemen.”
Will’s influence on St Helens education spanned across five decades and saw him teach at Cowley Girls’, Hurst Special School, St Cuthbert’s, St Edmund Campion, St Alban’s and Sherdley House before moving on to the Launchpad special education unit.
Although once he married Sharon he lived the rest of his life in Billinge, Will continued to work in St Helens and remained a recognised face around town, where his approachable nature enabled people to stop him for anything from a chat to advice even when he was out shopping (an activity he protested to dislike) with his family.
Known as much for his love of classic cars as his influence on generations of students, Will was also committed to his family and leaves his wife and children James, Tom, Kat and Joe, as well as son-in-law Andrew and father Jim.
He never tired of sharing his pride in his children, and walked his daughter Kat, 23, down the aisle in July last year in what he described as one of his happiest days.
He deeply believed in the importance of showing his family he loved them.
Will’s funeral will he held at St Thomas of Canterbury, Windleshaw on Friday February 21 at 1pm. Anyone who wishes to attend is welcome. Donations to Mend a Broken Heart Appeal (heart failure research) and the Cats Protection League.