TRIBUTES have been paid to a teacher who taught hundreds of Basingstoke pupils.

Peter May-Miller has been described as a “gracious and friendly character who will be sadly missed” after he died at the age of 89 at St Thomas’ Care Home, in St Thomas’ Close, on December 12.

Peter moved to Old Basing in 1968 and became a fixture of the village of which he was a resident for almost 50 years.

He taught at the newly-established Cranbourne Bilateral School, taking oversight of pastoral care and teaching French.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Peter organised and led Anglo-French summer camps in the UK and France - often with his entire family in tow. When Basingstoke was twinned with Alencon in the early 1970s, he became involved with pupil exchanges, visiting the town and building friendships which have lasted over 40 years.

Born in 1928, Peter grew up in Thornton Cleveleys on the Lancashire coast before he moved to Leeds aged 15.

Peter’s national service in the early 1950s was with the Royal Navy, where due to his degree from Leeds University in modern languages, he was selected to learn Russian at the elite Joint Services School for Linguists in London. Following this training, his role was to eavesdrop on Russian naval radio traffic.

It was in Leeds that he met his wife of almost 64 years Hilary and the couple moved to the Isle of Wight in the 1950s for his first teaching job. It was here they had their five children.

He retired from teaching in his late 50s - never having moved away from Cranbourne- and he took a job as a handyman at Scott Wilson Kirkpatrick before taking full retirement in 1992.

He retained a full part in the community as he sung in the choir at St Mary’s Church, in The Street, while he and Hilary took a variety of roles in services and administration within the church.

Peter was a keen participant in the Old Basing Village Show, winning prizes for home-grown vegetables, home-brewed wine, cakes and jam while he also performed in local theatre and sang with the Basing Singers.

He was also a keen cyclist cyclist, even into his 70s he enjoyed cycling in the Hampshire countryside and provided club reports for The Gazette.

Peter leaves behind wife Hilary, five children, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A Service of Thanksgiving will be held at St Mary’s Church, Old Basing at 11.30am on Saturday, 20 January. The family request no flowers but donations to the church are welcome.