TRIBUTES have been paid to a “kind and gentle” Gwent teacher who died suddenly over Christmas at the age of 71.

Andrew James taught English at the all-boys Lewis School Pengam, near Blackwood, before serving as assistant headteacher.

Dr Chris Howard, a previous headteacher at the school, said: “Like me, all friends and former colleagues have been shocked by the tragic and sudden death of Andrew James.

South Wales Argus:

Talented musician Andrew James plays guitar in the old chapel at Lewis School Pengam

“He dedicated his life to the pupils of Lewis School Pengam for almost 40 years.


“For most of my time there he was a rock and bastion of pastoral care in the middle school.

He was witty, sharp, kind and so supportive

“A passionate advocate for Wales and its language, his own first language, he was an expert teacher and exponent of English.

“A strong disciplinary code informed his professional practice but his was also a gentle and artistic soul which was capable of great acts of kindness to pupils, colleagues and friends.

“He was a very great help to many of those around him.”

A talented guitarist, Mr James’ destiny could so easily have taken a different path.

Dr Howard added: “He might of course have enjoyed another life altogether as a professional musician but if fate had allowed that to come about I know he would have missed Pengam, with its many eccentricities, its long traditions and its unparalleled companionship for he valued those qualities and friendships more than he would ever admit.”

More than 100 former pupils and teachers left their own personal tributes to him on the Lewis School Pengam Facebook page.

An ex-student, Dai Edwards, wrote: “Going into school one day with my Walkman on, Mr James pulls my earphone out (I’m expecting a b********) “Who you listening to Edwards?

“Me-Err Supergrass Sir.

“Mr James: 3 noisy boys from Oxford.

“Me: Err yes sir.

“Mr James : Fantastic aren’t they. . . Now get to class quick.

“Rip Mr James. Legend.”

One of Mr James’ former fellow teachers Alison Stone said: “I’m so saddened by this news.

“Andrew was a colleague and a friend for 18 great years in LSP.

“He was witty, sharp, kind and so supportive when I arrived as a slightly shell shocked 23 year old to teach in the English department.

“So many happy memories. Bye bye Andrew. X”

His son Arwel James told the Argus: “I would like to thank those who have paid their respects and shared some stories.”