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School mourning the death of 'Monty'

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JAMES MONTGOMERIE: known affectionately for his pipe smoking
JAMES MONTGOMERIE: known affectionately for his pipe smoking

RETIRED teacher James Montgomerie, who taught two generations of pupils at what is now Herne Bay High, has died aged 86.

'Monty’, as he was known to family and friends, spanned two decades as a history and geography teacher at the old Greenhill Secondary.

His devotion to the school was such that he continued to work there as a supply teacher into his 70s and long after his official retirement in 1985.

Remembered affectionately as always having a pipe on the go, it was blowing the bagpipes that distinguished him as a child growing up in Scotland.

One of three boys and a girl of farmer parents the family lived in Kilmarnock. He was a major and piper with the Kilmarnock Academy Pipe Band and later played the instrument in the Army.

Monty served during the Second World War in Burma, the so-called “forgotten war”, rising to the rank of Sergeant.

After the war he trained as a PE teacher back in Scotland, a position he fulfilled on moving to Essex.

In the 1950s he married Suzanne and the couple had daughters Janine and Sue.

A broken leg prompted a change of teaching subject and, briefly, a change of career when Monty moved to Whitstable to run the 10 O’Clock shop in Canterbury Road.

But in 1970 the call of the classroom proved too loud, and he accepted the post of history and geography teacher at Greenhill.

It was the role that defined his career and for which he remains fondly remembered the length and breadth of Herne Bay.

As well as the pipe, it was for his run-down “bangers” that Monty was often associated, to the extent that upon officially retiring in 1985 he was presented with a drawing by school art teacher Stan Case. It depicts Monty receiving a cheque to cover the cost of a “decent car”.

But more than his quirks, it was for his kindness and his willingness to help out and do things for anyone that truly garnered respect for Monty among pupils and peers.

Monty lived for almost half his life in Church Street, Whitstable.

It was there he brought up his only grandchild Stuart Montgomerie as his own, and it was in his arms that he died after a battle with cancer on Saturday in Whitstable and Tankerton Hospital.

James 'Monty’ Montgomerie leaves two brothers, one sister, two daughters and one grandson.

The funeral service will be held on Thursday, September 13, at 1.20pm at Barham Crematorium. Earlier that day, a bagpipe procession will set off from the Monument Pub in Church Street, Whitstable, from 11.45am. All are welcome to attend and full details or flower arrangements via CW Lyons Funeral Directors on 01227 272375.

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