Tributes have been paid to a popular former head teacher who devoted almost 30 years of his life to helping children at one of Swindon’s special schools.
Laurie Griffin, who passed away on 27 November after a long illness, was the head teacher of Stratton Education Centre (SEC) for 29 years between 1981 and 2010, and was well known to many colleagues, families and children through his work.
His funeral was held in his home village of Acton Turville, South Gloucestershire, on Saturday (9 December) and alongside family and friends, many colleagues from Swindon attended to pay their respects.
Born in Swindon, Laurie also spent some time in Lincolnshire with wife Christine before returning to the area and working in Malmesbury.
He was then appointed as head teacher of SEC, which currently comprises of four education centres in Swindon: Stratton, The Riverside Centre, The Hospital Education Service and Marlborough House.
He helped many children and young people to overcome challenging times in their lives and move forward, by either returning to a new school or moving into further education or employment.
His core belief was to work within the ethos of unconditional positive regard, an outlook which permeated his approach to all children and young people across his career, and something which was expected of all of his team.
Cllr Fionuala Foley, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and School Attainment, said, “Laurie touched the lives of many children and families in Swindon over the years and I know he will be sorely missed.
“He made a real difference and his passing is marked with great sadness but also with deep gratitude from everyone involved in education in Swindon.”
John Gilbert, Swindon Borough Council’s Chief Executive, said: “Laurie was a much admired colleague, held in high affection by those who were fortunate to work with him and learn from him.
“He was held in high regard and became a trusted friend of the families of the many pupils that have attended the centres over the years.
“His positive approach and sense of fun was infectious. Laurie was never far away from a smile.”
Laurie was married to Christine Griffin who is the retired head teacher of Ferndale Infant School.
His own father was a craftsman and Laurie became skilled in areas such as building and design. He and family completely renovated a cow-shed in Wales to become a special family holiday home. During this time, he made many friends in the local area, some of whom attended the funeral.
He was also a skilled and talented willow-basket maker and toward the later years of his life, he enjoyed baking for friends and family.