Pupils’ guard of honour for former Kitwood Boys headmaster Derrick Sykes

Pupils lined the path outside the crematorium and applauded in tribute as Derrick Sykes' hearse passed.
Pupils lined the path outside the crematorium and applauded in tribute as Derrick Sykes' hearse passed.

Former pupils, colleagues and friends of Kitwood Boys School headmaster Derrick Sykes have paid tribute to him with a guard of honour and applause.

A number of pupils lined the path on Marian Road today (Friday) as a sign of respect for Mr Sykes, who has been described as a ‘one off’ who ‘gave pupils the footings to build our lives on’.

Pupils lined the path outside the crematorium and applauded in tribute as Derrick Sykes' hearse passed.

Pupils lined the path outside the crematorium and applauded in tribute as Derrick Sykes' hearse passed.

They applauded as his hearse and family passed on the way to a private ceremony at Boston Crematorium.

Yorkshire-born Mr Sykes joined Kitwood Boys from Batley High School as deputy head in September 1970.

Having initially trained as a PE teacher, he showed great interest in the Kitwood sports teams, in particular the football teams.

The ‘Swiss Trip’ was soon introduced under his auspices as he saw it as a lifetime opportunity for many pupils in an era when foreign travel was relatively rare.

Pupils lined the path outside the crematorium and applauded in tribute as Derrick Sykes' hearse passed.

Pupils lined the path outside the crematorium and applauded in tribute as Derrick Sykes' hearse passed.

When then head Harry Ellison retired to Australia in 1979, the Board of Governors unanimously moved to appoint Mr Sykes as the third and what would eventually prove to be the last headmaster of Kitwood Boys. The school would close and amalgamate with Kitwood Girls in September 1992, with Mr Sykes taking early retirement.

On retirement, he went on to become a founder member of The Mayflower Probus Club of Boston in 1992 and was president in 1998-99. He also spent a lot of time helping out at The Centenary Methodist Church in Red Lion Street as well as being a season ticket holder at Boston United.

Among the past pupils paying tribute have been current assistant head at Haven High Academy Alan Thompson.

“Mr Sykes was definitely a one off and education will never see his likes again. When I speak with any of his ex-students, his name is always the first to be fondly mentioned.”

Boston United director Chris Cook added: “Did he rule by fear? No, he ruled by respect. He had respect from almost all of his pupils and I still respect him 40 years later. I was proud to think that he followed my career at Boston United and I would still call him ‘Sir’ whenever I saw him. A true legend in the eyes of every Kitwood boy.”

Aidie Daubney attended Kitwood Boys from 1978-83. He said: “It wasn’t until you actually left school and started out working in the big wide world that you realised why he ran his school as he did. It gave pupils the footings to build our lives on.

“He was strong on discipline and hard work, he knew every lads character, every lads personality and background. In return, they gave him respect.”

The private funeral was followed by a thanksgiving service at Centenary Methodist Church, Red Lion Street, Boston.