Tribute to Sussex musician and Rok Skool founder Hereward Kaye: Flying Pickets star and composer ‘did something special with his life’

The family of late Mid Sussex musician Hereward Kaye have paid tribute to a ‘truly beautiful man’ who ‘did something special with his life, whatever the cards he was dealt’.
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Hereward, 70, who lived in Lindfield with his wife Pat, passed away peacefully on October 14.

He was well known for running Rok Skool in Haywards Heath with his son Leon and for his successful musical career. Hereward toured the world with The Flying Pickets for 14 years and wrote the West End musical Moby Dick, produced by Sir Cameron Mackintosh.

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Leon said: “Hereward Dad, Joe and Rory’s Dad. Pat’s husband and life-partner. Musician, writer, author, composer, poet, creative, creator, family man: optimist.”

Hereward Kaye at Rok School in Haywards Heath in 2021. Photo: Steve Robards, SR2109062Hereward Kaye at Rok School in Haywards Heath in 2021. Photo: Steve Robards, SR2109062
Hereward Kaye at Rok School in Haywards Heath in 2021. Photo: Steve Robards, SR2109062

He said: “It’s common to see tributes to those departed depicting them in the best of lights. Well, that may be, but I’m telling you that my Dad, Herry, was majestic and these brief words can’t truly describe the kind of guy he was.”

Hereward founded Rok Skool in 2006 when he returned to England after living in Spain for five years.

Leon said: “He single-handedly created an inspirational musical community, initially allowing children to develop their individual musicality at their own pace, then working with their parents too, who rediscovered lost instruments in their loft they suddenly wanted to play again.”

Hereward Kaye in 2014. Photo: Steve RobardsHereward Kaye in 2014. Photo: Steve Robards
Hereward Kaye in 2014. Photo: Steve Robards
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He continued: “Herry was an inspirer, a man who saw possibility and opportunity wherever he looked: in each person in front of him. He had the talent, the wisdom and a grace to offer nurturing development to each, to provide vision and opportunities, both practically and spiritually in a connected, brilliant way.”

Hereward was born in 1953 and his creative life started on November 22, 1963 when he saw The Beatles at Stockton-on-Tees. He was a member of Café Society in the 1970s with lifelong friend Tom Robinson and became the lead singer for Rick Wakeman. He published his autobiography, The Ship Hits The Fans, in 2021 and completed his first novel, Tartarus, two weeks before his death. It will be published in January.

Leon said: “Living in Lindfield, a place he loved and connected with, Dad came back to community. Through Rok Skool he taught, formed bands, ran choirs, arranged and put on shows throughout the local community. He mentored and he counselled. He was a fulcrum to so many. Rok Skool, which will continue bearing his name, is his legacy.”

He also said Hereward was a resilient man who ‘found a way around life’s obstacles’. Hereward died after ‘an intense five-month battle’ with the degenerative lung condition Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, which he had been diagnosed with 18 months earlier.

Hereward Kaye in his younger daysHereward Kaye in his younger days
Hereward Kaye in his younger days
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Leon said: “As part of Herry’s legacy, we want to start an awareness campaign about Pulmonary Fibrosis and would welcome any stories and testimonies from anyone reading this that could help create a new community, alongside the musical community Dad brought into being, so that families and people that are affected by IPF have access to better resources and information at a very difficult moment in their lives.”

Hereward’s family thanked everyone who supported Rok Skool. Leon said: “Rok Skool was Dad’s passion. You were his passion. Dad loved life. Indeed he said at the beginning of this year that he had never been happier. We’re so glad for that.”