Tributes to community stalwart and headteacher

Pip Appleby
Pip Appleby

A man who was a former headteacher at Ponteland High School and very much part of the local community in which he lived has died at the age of 85.

Pip Appleby was involved in a number of local organisations in Morpeth along with wife Joan – both were members of the St George’s Community Players and he took part in many of its productions.

Tributes were paid to him during a service to celebrate his life at Blyth Crematorium.

He died on September 11 after a short illness.

Pip was born and grew up in South Shields and he was 12-years-old when he met his future wife Joan Smith on a tennis court.

After school, he had a short spell in the civil service before doing his National Service in the army.

When Pip was due to leave the army in 1952 he applied for, and secured, a place at Exeter College, Oxford, to read English.

In his second year there, Joan got her first job as a teacher, also in Oxford, and she returned to the North East with him when, after his Oxford degree, Pip went to Durham University to train as a teacher.

They married shortly afterwards and their first child, Simon, was born in 1961, by which time Pip was working as Head of English at Durham School. Daughters Jane and Kate followed.

The family moved to Morpeth when Pip became deputy head at Cramlington High School in 1969 and in 1972 he became the very first headmaster of Ponteland High School when it opened as a new comprehensive school.

He remained there until he retired in 1991.

They also both delighted in their seven grandchildren.

The couple were also heavily involved in establishing and running the Morpeth Talking Newspaper, Pip was part of the Morpeth Arts Trust and Joan in the Morpeth Business and Professional Women’s Club – she was its President on a number of occasions.

A member of the family said: “We are very grateful to all those who attended the funeral and for all the kind messages of sympathy and support that we have received.”

Joan, who died in 2001, taught at Morpeth Girls Grammar School and Chantry Middle School. Pip went on to become chairman of St George’s Community Players and produce a number of its plays.