A long serving Bury St Edmunds PE teacher who helped a number of Suffolk sports stars on the road to success has celebrated his retirement.
Paul Nightingale inspired generations of pupils to take up sport during his 38 year career at King Edward VI School, coached many county teams and co-founded clubs in Bury.
Some of the county’s most celebrated sportsmen and women, joined by colleagues past and present as well as former students, gathered at Suffolk Golf and Spa Hotel, in Fornham St Genevieve, to pay tribute to him.
The 60-year-old, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award at King Edward VI’s recent sports awards evening, said: “It’s been an emotional time. Teaching enabled me to be involved in sport every working day of my life - that’s my passion.”
Among those who attended the celebration were former colleague turned Olympic hockey medallist Sandie Lister and former pupil Steve McGavin, who played for Ipswich Town and Colchester United.
Mr Nightingale was a local sporting star in his own right with a prominent role in a successful Bury Town team, playing for Bury Rugby Club and as a sprinter for West Suffolk Athletics Club. He also co-founded the local basketball and volleyball clubs.
Those who he helped to succeed include Millwall football player Ed Upson as well as discus athlete Sam Milner and triple jumper Montana Jackson.
Geoff Barton, head at King Edward VI, said: “He reminds us of the way great teachers touch the lives of so many - students and colleagues. We owe him a great deal.”