Obituary: Francis Pearson, 77

AN esteemed educator who excelled in a range of sporting endeavours and was a mentor to pupils in some of the UK’s top private schools has died aged 77.

Francis Pearson led a fulfilling life which saw him complete national service as an officer in Korea, teach at the exclusive Harrow School and spend a brief spell at the Scottish Bar.

Educated at Fettes College, his abilities were rewarded by being crowned head of house, and captain of the athletics, boxing, rugby, debating and choral societies.

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On leaving school he became an officer in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, serving in Korea. His sense of direction was tested when he took a platoon of Highlanders on a route march.

After an hour, his Company Commander drove up in a state of alarm to tell him he was marching straight into the demilitarised zone having misread his compass bearing by 180 degrees.

Mr Pearson read at Oxford for four years, before teaching Latin, Greek, history, English and economics at Harrow.

A colleague wrote of him: “It almost seemed he taught in his spare time.”

As well as academia, Mr Pearson coached rugby, athletics and rowing at Harrow.

Soon after joining Harrow’s teaching staff, he returned to Edinburgh to make a brief sortie into law. He began by winning the gold medal in Roman Law, but he found the life and activities of the Scots Bar pedestrian and went back to Harrow.

After six years there, he was appointed headmaster of Truro Cathedral School. His impact on what was then a failing school was immediate and dramatic. He threw himself into every aspect of school life to raise standards. As head, he coached rugby, promoted the arts and took a personal interest in every boy’s future.

Boys who were finding life difficult were driven at weekends to swim on the north coast or to visit local historic houses, depending on their interests. All in his Triumph Herald, with top down, his dog on his lap and bagpipe music playing on his cassette player.

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A great admirer of literature and art, Mr Peason’s primary love was nature – above all, the open spaces of the Scottish Borders.

He loved to walk up the green valley that leads from Drumelzier to the heights of Pykestone Hill.

From there, he had a wide view – west and south to Broad Law and the pure mountains – north and east to the sheltered places and green silent pastures of the Tweed.

Having left Truro School, he took up painting and received many commissions from friends and exhibited in galleries. One of his paintings of Hopetoun House was presented to The Prince of Wales, to be hung in Holyrood Palace.