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‘True gent’ teacher loses cancer battle

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: March 26, 2013

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A TEACHER who served Derbyshire’s biggest school for almost three decades died of oesophageal cancer just a year after complaining of a persistent sore throat and cough, his wife has revealed.

Linda Eley said her husband Chris, a former head of maths at John Port School, in Etwall, passed away at their home in Vere Close, Willington, less than three months after his condition was diagnosed.

The 66-year-old underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy but died with Mrs Eley, 64, and their three daughters - Jane Ashton, 41, Alison Hulland, 39, and Caroline Bland, 35 - at his bedside after telling his wife: “I love you”.

Mrs Eley, a retired former medical secretary at the Royal Derby Hospital, said: “He was a true gentleman – honest, loving, kind and always thought of other people before himself.

“I feel lost without him but I know he’s gone to a better place and I will meet him one day.”

Born on January 13, 1947, at the Nightingale Maternity Home in London Road, Derby, Mr Eley was the second of three children of Oliver Eley, a surveyor, and his wife, Joyce, a housewife.

Educated in his home city, he read maths and further maths at Hull University from 1965-68 before completing a one-year teaching diploma at the Henry Cavendish School in Breadsall.

Mr Eley taught there for two years and served a similar stint at Ashby Grammar School before moving to John Port School, where he taught for 28 years, retiring aged 55.

A non-smoker who drank little, Mr Eley enjoyed keeping fit, completing the Great North Run five times and two similar events in Manchester, walking in the Lake District, completing jigsaws and DIY.

Mr Eley met his wife at Willington Baptist Church and married her at the village’s St Michael’s Church five years later. Following his retirement, he and his wife, who were married for 43 years and had seven grandchildren, enjoyed holidays in New Zealand, China and South Africa.

Mr Eley’s funeral was held on Friday, March 8, at Bretby Crematorium, a fortnight after his death on Thursday, February 21.

More than 170 people attended the service, which was led by Pastor Alan Gordon, of Willington Baptist Church.

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