A HEADMASTER who “enriched the lives of so many children” died suddenly after suffering a heart attack whilst on holiday with his wife.

Simon Vaughan Spencer, who was headmaster and proprietor of Daneshill Prep School, in Stratfield Turgis, died on July 31 with his wife of 39 years, Sarah.

The father-of-three, from Hartley Wintney, has run the co-educational school for 28 years since 1988, becoming proprietor four years later in 1992. He was due to retire in the next academic year and plans were in place to find a replacement.

Paying tribute to her husband, Mrs Spencer described him as “charismatic, quick witted, humorous and gentle”.

The 64-year-old said Mr Spencer was the reason Daneshill was such a happy place, adding: “He was an inspiring headmaster. He was a very special man. He enriched the lives of so many children, it’s extraordinary.”

Mr Spencer taught English and sport at various schools, including St Edmond’s Prep School, in Hindhead before becoming headmaster at Daneshill.

The Spencer family is one of just three families to own Daneshill since it opened in 1950, and Mrs Spencer has vowed to continue her husband’s legacy.

She said: “His legacy is all those incredible children. He never thought it was about him, but certainly it was. He was a traditional headmaster who delighted in the development of his pupils. They were self confident. His success was due to his unique vision and belief. It was a happy place, not just for the children but for the parents.”

She added: “It was a happy, stimulating school and it will continue to be so. It is our family, myself and his children, who will endeavour to continue his legacy.”

Mr Spencer achieved his ambition to make Daneshill for children aged up to 13, and a group of six girls became the first to stay at the school beyond the age of 11 seven-years ago.

Now, the majority of pupils remain at Daneshill until the age of 13.

The school has 270 children on its roll, aged between three to 13, and Mrs Spencer said: “He was proud of every pupil. He was always talking to them about their achievements. He knew every pupil. He was just inspirational. He touched so many lives in the community because of his passion for this school.”

She added: “He was passionate about education and had his own principles and beliefs. The achievement of every pupil was so important to him.”

Mr Spencer had three children - Adam, 37, Hannah, 34 and Bethany, 31, along with three grandchildren - Lara, who is nearly three, and twins Jacob and Theo, who are two-and-a-half-years-old.

Mrs Spencer said: “I ran the school with him for 22 years so I was very much part of the school. We were a team. He was a family man and Daneshill was an extension of our own family.”

Outside of school, Mr Spencer enjoyed sport and was a supporter of the Harlequins rugby team. He also enjoyed playing golf and was a member of Berkshire Golf Club.

Mrs Spencer said since her husband’s death she had received hundreds of “amazing” letters paying tribute, and added: “They all say the same thing – he will be greatly missed.”