Tributes to Welwyn Garden City school’s first headmaster

TRIBUTES have been paid to the first-ever headmaster of a successful WGC school, who has died at the age of 86.

Reg Gwilliam, the inaugural headteacher of Monk’s Walk School, died on Saturday, April 30.

This week was described as “an extremely loving, compassionate, and considerate man”, by his daughter Ghislaine.

“He did nothing but enrich the lives of other people,” she said. “He was loved by everybody, and especially by his extensive family.”

Born in Burton, Pembrokeshire, in 1925, Mr Gwilliam grew up in Chester.

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He served in the Royal Marines during World War Two, as a signalman aboard a landing craft operating in the Pacific for the Burma Campaign.

For his services, he was awarded the Burma Star.

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He attended Liverpool University, and was a lifelong fan of Liverpool FC.

Graham Gibbs, a friend of Mr Gwilliam’s since their days together at university, said: “Reg was an old and most steadfast friend, and a man of so many parts that it would need a multi-volume lexicon to enumerate them.

“He led an exceptionally full and rewarding life, full of substance, vigour, warmth, neighbourliness and good works, that enriched the lives of all those privileged to have known him.”

In 1948, Mr Gwilliam married his childhood sweetheart, Margaret, whom he met at primary school, and who would later teach English at Monk’s Walk alongside her headteacher husband.

Mr Gwilliam was Monk’s Walk’s first headteacher when the Knightsfield school opened in 1964, a position he held until he retired in 1981.

After retiring, Mr Gwilliam returned to south-east Asia, this time with Margaret, to teach English in Singapore.

After two years, they came home to Rosedale, WGC, and in 2008 celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, with an article appearing in the WHT.

As well as being a history scholar and a member of the WGC Rotary Club, Mr Gwilliam last year made his debut as an amateur stage actor, playing the Rev Eli Jenkins in the Barn Theatre’s production of Under Milk Wood.

Margaret died in 2009. Mr Gwilliam is survived by three of his four children, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Mr Gwilliam’s funeral will take place on Friday, May 20, at Harwood Park Crematorium, in Knebworth, at 1.15pm.

A celebration of Mr Gwilliam’s life will be held at Monk’s Walk School on July 9 at 2pm. All are welcome.

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