MORE than 250 people crammed into a church in Old Portsmouth to say goodbye to a well-known teacher described as a ‘living legend’.
Tears were shed and laughs were shared as people celebrated the life of Gerry Oldfield, who died unexpectedly at home before Christmas at the age of 66.
Gerry, of Elm Grove, Southsea, was a teacher at Mayfield School in North End for 36 years and several generations remember his fun and imaginative classes.
The mourners at John Pounds Memorial Church included a wide spectrum of people, including schoolchildren past and present, fellow teachers and governors, relatives and Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt.
Some wore colourful ties as Gerry enjoyed wearing ‘loud’ ties to school.
His coffin, which had white roses and a cross on top of it, was carried in to Nimrod, by Sir Edward Elgar.
The Very Reverend Paul Miles-Knight, parish priest of the community parish of the Holy Angels of Portsmouth, said the congregation had come together to celebrate the life of a ‘special and remarkable’ man who had touched the lives of countless people ‘just by being himself’.
He said: ‘He would have wanted us to smile because that is the kind of person that he was.’
He said Gerry taught religious education, history and PE and aimed to inspire pupils with his teaching.
Gerry had always felt that imagination and creativity had somewhat been lost amid the need for children to hit targets.
‘To Gerry, it was not just a job,’ he said.
‘It was a vocation and duty he carried out with incredible distinction.’
The service heard how Gerry retired in 2006 and learned to drive at the age of 60.
He continued to help with the education of children, becoming an active governor for Cottage Grove, Somers Park and Newbridge junior schools and an archivist for Mayfield’s 80th anniversary.
Gerry loved classical music and he had a collection of between 5,000 and 6,000 discs.
Rev Miles-Knight said he would be remembered for his ‘wonderful sense of humour’, adding: ‘How many thousands of people can say “thank God for Gerry Oldfield”.’
The coffin was carried out to Land of Hope and Glory. There was a private cremation after the service.