Former Eastbourne headteacher passes away

A ‘popular and pioneering’ former Eastbourne headmaster has passed away following a long battle with cancer, writes Peter Austin.

Peter Pyemont SUS-201002-125120001
Peter Pyemont SUS-201002-125120001

Peter Pyemont was the head at St Bede’s Pre School for more than 30 years.

Former pupils say he was a pioneering teacher who left a lasting impression on his pupils.

Mr Pyemont was born in 1939 and was himself a pupil at St Bede’s Prep School before going on to Marlborough College.

After his National Service, Mr Pyemont joined Chelmsford Hall Prep School in Eastbourne to teach and to take a diploma in education.

In 1964 he successfully applied to St Bede’s for a teaching role and was soon appointed headmaster, a role he held for 35 years.

Under his leadership St Bede’s – now known as Bedes – became a charitable trust and numbers grew from 40 to around 400 pupils.

Plays and musicals produced by Mr Pyemont were, say former pupils, a highlight of the year and left a lasting impression on many pupils, not least Eddie Izzard who has mentioned him in the credits in his film Six Minutes to Midnight.

When he retired as headmaster, Mr Pyemont continued at the school as head of history and in 1979 he founded St Bede’s Senior School at Upper Dicker with 25 pupils.

Forty years on it has more than 750 pupils.

His experience in education was put to further use when he became a founder governor of Gildredge House Free School.

In 1989 Mr Pyemont won the Ecclesiastical Insurance Frank Fisher Memorial Prize and spent three months travelling the Far East, visiting in schools and meeting leaders in education.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall he travelled to East Germany and established a scheme enabling parties of children and teachers to experience life in an English boarding school.

He also started a public speaking company, Talking Heads, with his brother Christopher.

In recent years he was involved, as a trustee, in the Eastbourne Civilian War Memorial project and came up with the idea of designating the Wish Tower moat as a Peace Garden.

He leaves a widow, Elspeth, a son, daughter and five grandchildren.