Tributes to teacher killed in house fire

Roy Nelson
Roy Nelson
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Tributes have been paid to a widely-respected former headteacher from Newton-le-Willows who was killed in a fatal house fire.

Roy Nelson died after a ferocious fire broke out at his home.

The 75-year-old’s body was found by firefighters who called to the blaze at his Holford Way home.

Former colleagues have paid tributes to Mr Nelson, describing him as a man who “commanded respect”.

Bob Downing, worked with Mr Nelson for many years, said: “Roy became the region’s youngest headteacher when he took the top job in 1974 at the age of just 34. He had previously worked as a science teacher in a neighbouring comprehensive, St Kevin’s - specialising in physics.

“I was a PE teacher at the time and, from the outset, you could see that he was very passionate about his job and wanted the best for the kids. He was a very private man but he commanded respect.”

Mr Nelson, an active member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and a magistrate until the age of 70, remained headteacher Brookfield High in Kirkby until the early 1990s. The school has since merged with Ruffwood School to become part of Kirkby High.

Firefighters believe the blaze was sparked accidentally after combustible materials were left too close to a gas fire. An inquest into the underlying cause of Mr Nelson’s death has been opened and adjourned.

Mr Downing , now the chair of governors at Kirkby High School, added: “Although Roy was very private, and never married or had children, he was quite sociable within his own circle of friends.

“His funeral was very fitting too. Among the mourners was the Chief Fire Officer George Jennings, who had been taught by Roy as a youngster.”

Warrington IAM chairman Andrew Bloomer also paid tribute.

He said: “In many respects Roy was an enigma – on the one hand he was a formidable character who commanded respect and loyalty, but on the other he was soft and sympathetic.

“Roy will be sadly missed. We have lost our father figure.”