Man dedicated to education receives MBE from prince

Michael Pipes from Southbourne went to Buckingham Palace to receive his MBE medal
Michael Pipes from Southbourne went to Buckingham Palace to receive his MBE medal

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A former headteacher and school governor who served in schools in Portsmouth for several decades has been made an MBE.

Michael Pipes, 80, of South Lane in Southbourne, was awarded the award in the Queen’s New Years Honours List for Services to Education.

Michael Pipes with his wife June and daughter Debbie Johnson''at Buckingham Palace

Michael Pipes with his wife June and daughter Debbie Johnson''at Buckingham Palace

He travelled to Buckingham Palace in London on March 20 to receive the gong from Prince William.

Richard Starkey – more commonly known as Ringo Starr from The Beatles – was knighted by the Duke of Cambridge on the same day.

After studying physics at St Peter’s Oxford University, Mr Pipes went on to teach physics in secondary schools from 1959 to 1975.

He then moved to Portsmouth in 1975 as founding Head of City of Portsmouth Boys School, successfully running the large comprehensive school of 1,700 teenage boys. He left the post in 1989.

Outside the palace

Outside the palace

In May 1981 he was invited to become a governor of The Portsmouth Grammar School, based in Old Portsmouth. For over three decades, he worked with a number of headteachers at the school to try and raise educational standards in the city.

From 1987 to 1988 Mr Pipes was also president of the National Association of Headteachers, becoming a significant figure within education.

He served on several important national committees, including the Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (Cate) Schools Council, National Foundation for Education Research, Council of the Institute of Physics and as vice-chairman of governors of Portsmouth Polytechnic during its transition to university status.

He has also served as the headmaster of Warminster School, an independent school in Wiltshire. His final job was as a member of the School Improvement Team at Ofsted.

Mr Pipes retired as a governor at PGS in December 2016, with headteacher James Priory saying he had ‘in all likelihood been one of the longest-serving governors in the country’.

Mr Pipes travelled to Buckingham Palace to receive his award with wife June, 82, and daughters Debbie and Sarah.

He said: ‘It came as total surprise. There had been no whispers or hints or anything. Only when they said it said it was for governance in Hampshire that I worked out it had to be the grammar school. When I spoke with the headmaster he agreed he had made the recommendation, but he had no idea if it was successful or not until I phoned.’

Eldest daughter Debbie, 55, said: ‘As a family we are enormously proud of him and all he has contributed to education.’