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Much loved St Pauls head Derek killed at Robertsbridge

Derek Morcross at Shades Theatre Company in 2005.

Derek Norcross at Shades Theatre Company in 2005.





Derek Norcross was killed last week in a car accident. Reports vary, but according to one,  he was in Robertsbridge, on Friday 10 November, walking to pick up his grandson from school when he was knocked down by a vehicle which had mounted the pavement. It is believed the driver had suffered a heart attack. Derek was, without doubt, an extremely well-known and well-loved individual. Tributes are led by our local MP, Michael Foster:
“This past week as local folk have learned of the tragic passing of Derek Norcross there has been not a dry eye.  “Mr Hastings” as he was sometimes affectionately known was a man of whom I never heard a critical word.  He was respected indeed loved across the community.  Living close to Bohemia and for it seemed a lifetime the Head of the local St Paul’s School his friendly presence around the district will be sorely missed.  I know as I would often cross the Bohemia crossing there was Derek coming out of Newgate Road waving and smiling. Although well in to his eighth decade Derek was youthful, involved, committed in everything he did – and what a lot he did. Educationalist, musician, “politician” (albeit without the politics), charity worker and above all family man.  It was perhaps unsurprising that at the time of his tragic death he was performing his grandfather tasks which, despite his many facets, was a task he loved. Hastings and particularly Bohemia will be a lesser place without Derek’s presence.  Many will have much to thank him for.  He is someone who brightened the lives of everyone he came in contact with.  Our thoughts and prayers will be with Audrey and the family at this time.’ – Michael Foster, DL, MP.
‘He was charismatic, had boundless energy and enthusiasm for so many things. He was a Rotarian and set up the local Rotaract, a junior version of the Rotary Club, for 18 to 28 year olds. He persuaded me to go along, and that’s where I met my husband. I remember how Derek used to hold the children spellbound in his hands during assembly at school. Every Christmas he’d tell this wonderful story about how the school had acquired its Christmas tree. The children just sat there, totally enraptured. I was a teacher at St Paul’s for nine years and Derek was the head during the entire period. After I left, he didn’t forget me: he turned up to see me in the maternity hospital  after he’d heard I was having complications with my pregnancy’ – Jacky Scales, ex-teacher at St Paul’s.
‘Tragic – a dreadful loss to the community. There’s been nothing in the news, despite his importance to the town.’ – Anne, former pupil and fellow churchgoer.
‘A splendid man. I last saw him two weeks ago at the 8am service at St Peter’s Church. I noticed that he knew by heart all the ‘responses’ without once having to refer to the ‘Old English Prayer Book’. He was a churchgoer all his life and patronised several local churches. He did so much for all the local churches and of course, St Paul’s School. He was an OBE and deservedly so. A wonderful man.’ – Stewart Buchan, fellow churchgoer.
‘A dear friend, and a colleague for many, many, years. He was always a good friend. Derek had acted as master of ceremonies at our production of The Last Bombshell, a cabaret about the end of the second world war. He was a great lover of music, and a great conductor.’ – David Henty, Shades Theatre Company.
‘A great guy – a really great headmaster.’ – John, former pupil.
‘I feel so sorry for his wife Audrey.’ – Pam – ex-dinner lady at St Paul’s.
‘He knew the names of all the children and was much loved by all. Apparently, if he entered the playground all the kids would rush up to him wanting to hold his hand and he could subdue a rowdy crowd simply by lifting a finger. All in all the most popular headmaster ever.’ – Local parent whose daughter went to St Paul’s.

1 Comment

  1. I had the pleasure of being a child at St Pauls when Mr Norcross was head. He was such a great guy and was liked by everyone. He wanted to reach out and help the world and would frequently run campaigns to send food and aid abroad.

    Christmas was always a delight with his story about the christmas tree that wanted to be picked – I’d give anything to hear him tell that story one last time. He had endless enthusiasm for everything but he also knew how to maintain discipline – none of us wanted to see his finger pointed at us but if it happened, you knew that Mr Norcross was a fair and forgiving man.

    I was lucky, his retirement was announced the year before I left and he stayed on until the end of my last year. I left four days early due to a house move but I was privileged to have been in Mr Norcross’s final year and it meant a lot to me at the time that he stayed.

    RIP Mr Norcross, I still miss you 24 years after leaving your school.


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