Death of respected Great Yarmouth art teacher

A WELL-known and respected art teacher working at Great Yarmouth's creative heart during what many consider to be the town's most stimulating and productive period has died aged 78.

Barry Drake died suddenly in hospital on Friday, one of a group of significant figures including Bruer Tidman and Sam Chilvers who helped elevate the town to national and often award-winning standing in the world of art.

Born in Great Yarmouth he grew up in Gorleston his obvious talent leading to his acceleration to the town's College of Art in Trafalgar Road, aged just 14. It was while at college that he met his wife Christine, the sister of a fellow student Kevin. The couple married in St Nicholas Church in 1963.

He went on to study art and print-making at Leicester University.

Having excelled there he displayed equally impressive abilities in the army during his national service, earning him the honour of Champion Recruit.

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Although to his disappointment he was posted no further than Wrentham in Suffolk, he discovered a life-long passion for cars and could reportedly get behind the wheel of anything, however large, and drive it.

Returning to Great Yarmouth he took a teaching job at the town's Hospital School in the Market Place, then a secondary modern, working with his great childhood and college friend Sam Chilvers.

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Over the next ten years the school gained a national reputation for its art, winning a string of accolades and leaving many 'better' schools trailing in its wake.

Riding on that success he was offered a job at the art college where he was once a student as head of print making.

Later when the Yarmouth and Norwich colleges merged he became head of foundation studies for both. He retired in 1994 at the age of 60 as a senior lecturer.

However he soon had itchy feet and took up lecturing on a part time basis at Great Yarmouth College, inspiring a new generation.

As well as teaching he was also an accomplished artist in his own right exhibiting at Snape, Holkham and the Theatre Royal in Norwich and still producing work until recently.

As a young man he supplemented his income working with seaside photographer Edgar Barker and was recently interviewed for a forthcoming book about snappers who plied their trade on the English prom.

Mr Drake enjoyed a drink and a story, and was fascinated by technology and how it worked. He also had a passion for jazz, rubbing shoulders with many of the greats including George Melly in his home village of Ormesby St Margaret whose Royal Oak pub was once at the hub of many musical evenings attracting top names.

He leaves his wife Christine, two daughters Sophie and Fiona and four grandchildren Griffin, Tuesday, Cicely and Foxe. His funeral is on Friday December 7 at Gorleston Crematorium at 11.20am.

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