The first head teacher to take the helm of a primary school in Winshill when it opened more than 50 years ago has died at the age of 90.

Frank Varney became a well-known face to many people after taking up the post of headmaster at the new Holy Rosary School back in 1965.

With 170 pupils drawn from 17 different schools and the building unfinished with some equipment still to be delivered, there were a few difficulties for Mr Varney. However, all the problems were overcome before the school's official opening in March 1966.

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The school badge was also designed by Mr Varney and is still worn by pupils at the school today. After 18 years as headmaster, Mr Varney, of Brookside Road, Barton under Needwood, moved on to a senior post in the county education department in Stafford.

Mr Varney's love of education started long before his move to Burton. Born in Sheffield, he was educated at De La Salle College.

In 1939 at the age of 12 he began playing the organ in his parish church when the regular organist volunteered for war service and he carried on playing to various congregations for a further 72 years.

Mr Varney was called up in 1945 and served two and a half years in the Royal Navy. After his demob from the Navy he went to the City College in Sheffield for teacher training and subsequently obtained a degree at Nottingham University.

He taught at several schools in Sheffield before taking on the role in Burton.

Holy Rosary Primary School on Alexandra Road in Winshill
The Holy Rosary Primary School, in Alexandra Road, Winshill

On retirement he volunteered for the National Trust as a Victorian schoolmaster at Sudbury Hall. He also became one of the first schools inspectors for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham.

Having completed more than 100 school inspections he decided the time had come to finally leave the world of education. He enjoyed travelling and explored many parts of the world with his wife Chris.

Mrs Varney said: "He was very much a family man, he loved his family. His life was very much about his family and his work in education. He was involved in various organisations and was also county president of the National Association for Head Teachers."

Mr Varney died from dementia on September 7 at Mount Pleasant Care Home, in Winshill. He leaves behind his wife Chris, four children, three step children and 13 grandchildren.

His funeral will be held at Our Lady's Roman Catholic Church, in Wales Lane, Barton under Needwood, at 11am on Friday, September 29.

The family has requested family flowers only with any donations to the British Legion Poppy Fund and Dementia Research.

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