Tributes to former Kettering headteacher

Kettering man Claude Oglethorpe died on November 29
Kettering man Claude Oglethorpe died on November 29

A former headteacher of three Kettering primary schools who trod the boards alongside Dame Judie Dench as an amateur actor has died at the age of 91.

Claude Oglethorpe passed away at the Elm Bank Care Home in Kettering on November 29 after spending the last few years of his life there.

Mr Oglethorpe moved to Kettering in 1957, leaving behind a promising acting career which had seen him perform in BBC radio plays and alongside a then 16-year-old Judi Dench in York, to take up a new career in teaching.

Over the next few decades Mr Oglethorpe was the headteacher at St Andrew’s, Avondale and Millbrook primary schools.

Apart from his time in teaching, Mr Oglethorpe was a well-known personality on the Kettering amateur dramatics scene, performing on stage for a number of groups including the Regent Players, the Cytringan Players, the Operatic Society and the Hygram Players, among others.

He was married twice. His first wife Meg, a former teacher herself, died in 1979 and she and Mr Oglethorpe had two children, Penny and Tim.

Mr Oglethorpe re-married in 1983 to Sheila and became step-dad to her two daughters, Debbie and Jo.

Mr Oglethorpe’s son Tim said: “Dad played a huge range of roles as an actor and was happy both acting and singing.

“I was on stage with him on a few occasions, once in Robinson Crusoe in 1971. I think his most memorable roles were as Jack Point, in The Omen of the Guard, the Major-General in the Pirates of Penzance and as Geppetto in Pinocchio.”

Mr Oglethorpe served in the RAF in the Second World War, flying missions across Europe, and was latterly based in Sri Lanka.

His son Tim added: “As a family we miss him terribly. We all admired and respected him so much.”

Apart from his wife and children, Mr Oglethorpe is survived by 11 grandchildren.