FAMILY and friends have been left in shock after the sudden death of popular head teacher and sports enthusiast Stephen Richardson.

Tributes have continued to pour in for the 52-year-old former Supermarine coach, who died suddenly following a heart attack on January 25.

The devoted father of two had spent his life educating children in five schools in the Swindon area, including Northview Primary School in Highworth, Wroughton Infant School, Tregoze Primary School and Shaw Ridge Primary School.

Mr Richardson was well known for making learning fun, but he was a serious teacher too, and his work as head teacher at Ann Edwards CofE Primary School in South Cerney helped the school to progress from a satisfactory Ofsted rating to outstanding in the last inspection.

Mike Timbrell, his brother-in-law, said: “He always wanted to be a teacher, and started straight after university.

“His family provided respite care for children and young adults with learning difficulties.

“I don’t think there was anything else that he ever wanted to do.”

As well as being a committed teacher, he was an active sportsman who until last year not only enjoyed coaching the under 15 Supermarine team but also coached football for Highworth and played squash and tennis.

Mike’s wife, Leigh, said: “He was extremely fit and very competitive.

“Every year we had a Christmas family bake-off and he always had to win.”

He also had a reputation for always being the first to have a go at anything new, and also enjoyed gardening and planting in his allotment and baking when he was not spending time with his teenage sons.

Mike said: “He was always excited and he always wanted everybody around him to have a good time.

“He was always there for people, and always wanted them to be happy.

“He was always the first to do anything – bungee-jumping, mountain climbing. “He did the Three Peaks and helped his sons to get their scuba-diving licences.

“He was a devoted father. I think the last thing they did together was archery.”

Stephen leaves behind wife Julia and sons Jake and Will.

All are welcome in informal dress to a memorial service at St Michael and All Angels Church in Highworth at 2pm on Thursday.

The family have requested no flowers, and those who wish to make a donation can do so to the NSPCC.