Memorial tree planted in memory of much-loved West Tanfield headteacher

Family, friends and teaching colleagues gathered at the school for the tree planting.
Family, friends and teaching colleagues gathered at the school for the tree planting.

A memorial tree has been planted to pay tribute to a deeply-missed community stalwart of West Tanfield and Ripon.

Allan Bailey inspired hundreds of young people under his 26 years of leadership as headteacher of St Nicholas C of E Primary School, and now this tree stands proudly next to his old classroom as a permanent celebration of his inspirational contribution and legacy.

Family, friends, current pupils and teaching colleagues were among those who attended the moving tree planting ceremony - a moment that Mr Bailey's daughter Claire said felt very special and fitting.

She said: "I feel that it's helped our family with our grief - this is a lasting reminder of dad. Seeing an oak tree grow in our dad’s memory brings us comfort and a sense of pride. Dad would be so pleased and honoured."

Mr Bailey spent his life immersing himself in the community - and the lasting impression he made on those he helped was always obvious even in just his weekly shopping trips to Morrisons.

Claire said: "He was basically living out his Christian faith. Dad was enthusiastic about anything he took on, and his enthusiasm was infectious. He didn’t push his faith but lived it. His sense of fun shone out and he loved being with kids in the classroom and loved being part of a wonderful team of great teachers at West Tanfield School - always supported by my mum who was also his school secretary for the same length of time.

"Dad just immersed himself in the community as I guess he loved people - he was a ‘people person' - mum and dad’s weekly shopping trip to Morrisons in Ripon always took twice as long as everyone else's because he would bump into ex-pupils and parents and delight in their news.

"I guess that people thought a lot of dad because he was approachable, hard-working, honest and kind."

As well as being headteacher, Mr Bailey was a stage manager for the Masham Players, and a parish councillor for many years. He also led Masham in Bloom and Masham's Neighbourhood Watch, and was an active member of Masham Methodist Church,

Mr Bailey died aged 81 in October last year, and his family will always be grateful to those who have supported them throughout this difficult time.

Claire said: "Our family, including my mum Joy and brother Mark, are so grateful to North Yorkshire County Council (Denis Gregson in particular) for kindly organising the planting and helping us at such a difficult time. We'd also like to say thank you to West Tanfield School’s head and chair of governors, and dad's wonderful team of teachers who helped us remember.

"The tree planting seemed especially fitting as my dad was also passionate about wildlife and encouraging children to have a deep respect for their surroundings; he built a pond, with the help of parents, in the school grounds, and a nature reserve on the old railway line behind the school."