The death has occurred of Michael Forrest, who was educated at two Penrith schools and went on to have a positive influence on the lives of many people.
The son of Dennis and Margaret Forrest, he was born in Barnard Castle in 1955. He had a younger brother, Richard.
The family moved to Penrith in 1965, following which Michael attended the County Boys’ School for two years before going on to the town’s grammar school, where he achieved top grade A-levels in maths and sciences.
He was a keen member of the school band, with the encouragement of the music master, the late John Dowell.
He became a proficient clarinet player, and performed with the Cumbria Youth Orchestra and the Northern Youth Orchestra.
He was also an accomplished piano player.
Out of school, he developed an appreciation of the Lake District and was for some time a cadet voluntary warden under the guidance of the
late Gordon Collinson.
He later became a seasonal warden during holidays. After leaving school, he studied chemistry at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, gaining his degree in 1977. He then stayed on for a further year to obtain a postgraduate certificate in education.
During his time in Cambridge he was appreciated by fellow students for his skill at tuning guitars and his ability as a caller at student ceilidhs.
After leaving Cambridge he obtained a post at St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury, Berkshire, where he taught mainly chemistry and other science subjects.
During his time in Newbury he met his future wife Carol, and the couple were married there. In 1985 he obtained a position at Wisbech Grammar School, Cambridgeshire, an independent day school, where he taught chemistry.
He also had the knack of mastering the school teaching timetable to everyone’s satisfaction, and was known as a man who was always willing to go an extra mile to help his students and colleagues.
He retired as deputy head academic in 2017 after 32 years of service. During and after his teaching career, he showed great dedication to social causes in the area, including tackling homelessness.
For eight years he served as chairman of the Ferry Project, which provides emergency accommodation and longer term help to homeless people in the Fenland area.
Close friend Keith Smith, the founder of the Ferry Project, said: “There’s a huge swathe of the Wisbech population that probably doesn’t realise Mike’s involvement would have seriously influenced or benefited them.
“Without his support the Ferry Project would have struggled, and he has helped 30,000 tenants across the East of England with housing through Chorus Homes.”
He was chairman of social housing provider Chorus Homes, active within King’s Church, Wisbech, a governor at Peckover School, and part of the Wisbech High Street consultative committee.
He is survived by his wife Carol, Wisbech; daughters Rebecca, Leicestershire, and Esther, Wisbech; son Mark, Bedford; parents Dennis and Margaret, Penrith; brother Richard, Buckinghamshire; and five grandchildren.