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Tributes paid to former Wymondham College headmaster who had an “indelible” impact

Ronald Wolsey when he retired from Wymondham College in 1992.

Ronald Wolsey when he retired from Wymondham College in 1992.

Archant

Tributes have been paid to a former principal whose actions secured a well regarded college its future.

A picture of Ronald Wolsey in 1983.A picture of Ronald Wolsey in 1983.

Family, friends and former pupils gathered at St Andrews Methodist Church in Sheringham for the funeral of Ronald Wolsey, who died aged 89 on January 31.

The grandfather-of-six, who was from Barnsley, began a 21-year stint at the head of Wymondham College in 1971, when the former Second World War military hospital was the largest state boarding school in Europe.

While he weathered various challenges, his greatest arguably came in 1984, when the school was faced with closure.

Norfolk County Council had warned the cost of upgrading the school’s Nissen huts - in which its lessons were still taught - was too high.

But a parents action group vowed to raise the £400,000 needed, launching a campaign which culminated in a sponsored 15-mile walk along Peddars Way, led by physics teacher Mr Wolsey, which raised £19,000 alone.

Adrian Hoare, former head of history at the college and local historian, said: “Ron Wolsey was a great headmaster who made an indelible impact on a unique school, laying the foundations which have enabled the five principals who succeeded him, to continue to develop Wymondham College into the outstanding school it is today.”

Jonathan Taylor, current principal of Wymondham College, added: “Whenever I have heard or had conversations about Ron in the past I have been humbled by his achievements. The college was under threat of closure and Ron Wolsey managed to rally the support of not only the parents but staff and local businesses.

“He could have had a successful career in any walk of life but Ron chose a teaching career because he wanted to give back to others. He will be sadly missed.”

When he first took over, Mr Wolsey amalgamated the formerly separate boarding and day schools into one with 1,300 students.

Over the next three years, he down-sized the 12 single-sex boarding houses into six mixed boarding houses, while he later created two sixth form houses.

By 1984, the college offered 125 extra-curricular activities and 25 sports.

The service took place on Friday.

Would you like to pay tribute to Mr Wolsey? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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