Former Romford teacher’s friends flock to funeral of ‘real gentleman’

�A retired teacher from Squirrels Heath Junior School who was laid to rest this week has been described as a “real English gentleman from a bygone era”.

Vernon Hood, who worked at the school in Salisbury Road from the 1970s to the 1990s, died on August 12 following a long illness. He was 73.

His friends packed out South Essex Crematorium in Ockendon Road, Upminster, on Monday to pay their final respects.

His friend and neighbour Dr Shyamal Choudhury said: “He was such a nice person.

“Nothing was ever too much for him, he would always go out of his way to help others.”

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Dr Choudhury and his wife Irene lived next door to Vernon for more than 40 years and over that time, they said, they had become close friends with him.

The couple first met Vernon, who was unmarried, when he was just eight and attending Squirrels Heath Junior School.

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He went on to study geography at Exeter University before returning home to work as a teacher at his former school.

Garden fence

Irene said: “He was such a lovely man. We were friends with his parents when we first moved in and he even built a gate in the garden fence so that his mum could come directly into our house instead of walking around.”

Irene added: “When his parents died in the 90s the friendship continued with him. He would always come over to us every day and we would go over to him.

“He was like a part of the family.”

Vernon’s loves included gardening, reading and going to the theatre. He also donated a lot of money to various charities and enjoyed collecting books.

Three years ago he was forced by declining health to move into a care home.

Dr Choudhury said: “He was a lovely man and he was a great lover of nature.

“He had the best garden in the area and he was so popular. Whenever people met him they just couldn’t help but love him.

“He had so many friends.”

Some of Vernon’s books and theatre programmes are set to be sent to a college in India where they will be used as teaching materials.

Dr Choudhury said: “He loved his books and when he knew that he was sick he started planning for everything. He gave me a lot of the books and I told him that they would be sent to India.”

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