Ken Maynard: Tributes after death of ‘truly inspirational’ Stevenage teacher

Ken Maynard, right, with former pupil Ian Payne in 2011. Picture: Ian Payne

Ken Maynard, right, with former pupil Ian Payne in 2011. Picture: Ian Payne - Credit: Archant

Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a “truly inspirational” teacher who devoted most of his working life to one of Stevenage’s schools.

Ken Maynard in 1977. Picture: Nobel School

Ken Maynard in 1977. Picture: Nobel School - Credit: Archant

Ken Maynard was one of the original staff at the Nobel School when it was founded in 1961, and was later deputy head during more than three decades there.

Following his death at the age of 83, after a two-year battle with prostate cancer, he has been recalled as a driving force behind Nobel’s success.

Ian Payne, one of Nobel’s original 43 pupils, summed up Ken as “a truly inspirational teacher, who devoted almost all of his working life to Nobel and enriched the lives of countless young people”.

Ken was only 26 when he was tasked with planning the establishment of Nobel – which truly broke the mould when it was founded as one of only two co-educational technically-focused grammar schools in the UK. Ken even recruited the first headmaster Leslie Rose. In the early days, the average age of staff at Nobel was under 30.

Ken Maynard, second from right, on the first Nobel School visit to Cuffley Camp in 1962 with his wif

Ken Maynard, second from right, on the first Nobel School visit to Cuffley Camp in 1962 with his wife, the school's headmaster Leslie Rose and teacher Margaret Boosey (later Mrs Peach). Picture: Ian Payne - Credit: Archant

Stevenage councillor Robin Parker, who was taught by Ken in the 1960s, recalled his lessons as free-flowing affairs that went far beyond mere ticking of boxes.

“He introduced us to binary and to the fact that one day computers would be everywhere – although I think we imagined that they would fill a room,” said Robin.

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“He was a dab hand on his hand-cranked mechanical calculator, which was bolted to the side bench and one of which was ‘soon’ to be supplied to each pair of us to use.

“It is clear Ken was held in high respect by many of his ex-students. Both I, and they, have a great deal to thank Ken for.”

Ken was, for many years, the person who put together the Nobel School timetable – with his “coloured stickers covering big charts on his wall” fondly recalled by ex-colleague Ron Freeman.

In addition to his teaching ability, Ken was a fine sportsman who could reputedly net a basketball from the halfway line. He also had a great passion for walking – often taking parties of staff and senior pupils on hiking trips in different parts of the country during the Easter break.

Ken retired in the mid-1990s. He latterly suffered from vascular dementia, which led him and his wife Sheila to leave Stevenage for a sheltered neighbourhood in Milton Keynes in 2016.

Ken died on March 23, and his funeral was in Milton Keynes on April 6. He is survived by Sheila, their two sons Colin and Steve, and two grandsons.

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