Family's tribute to 'exceptional' Northampton headteacher who 'well-loved' by many friends

Jack, left, with his identical twin brother Tom when they served in the RAF.
Jack, left, with his identical twin brother Tom when they served in the RAF.

A former Northampton head teacher who was "renowned" for his dedication to school boys' football has died.

Jack Pregnell, who lived in Northampton his whole life, passed away after a short illness in hospital on August 23, aged 95.

Jack Pragnell died earlier this month, aged 95.

Jack Pragnell died earlier this month, aged 95.

His family have paid tribute to Jack as a man who "helped many and made many friends over his very long life".

His daughter, Dr Jackie Hooley, said: "He will be remembered as a lot of things to a lot of different people for his wicked sense of humour."

Jack was born in St Andrews Road in 1921 along with his identical twin brother Tom. They were both well-known in much smaller pre-war town and both left school at age 14 to work in the boot and shoe industry.

When the Second World War broke out, Jack and Tom joined the RAF and served in bomber command. Tragically, Tom was killed when his plane was shot down over Holland.

Jackie said: "Tom's death desperately affected Jack. It would be a source of sadness for him for the rest of his life. Throughout me and my siblings' upbringing, we always heard stories of Tom. He felt very lonely after he died."

Jack flew a full bombing tour before he was demobbed when the war ended. When he came home, he began a teaching career that would last over 30 years.

He started at Kingsthorpe Grove junior school, then as head teacher at St Georges School and finally at Stimpson Avenue Primary. In this time, he devoted hours to promoting, coaching and leading school boys' football in Northampton.

He was also selected as one of the country's first "ordinary" magistrates in the late 1960s, and served as president of the Northampton & District Indoor Bowling Associationtwice.

He had three children with his wife of 66 years, Brenda, and had two grandchildren. He was also a passionate socialist and lifelong Labour party member, and enjoyed writing poetry.

Jackie said: "He was very kind and compassionate man. He was an exceptional person and will be much missed."

Jack will be buried at a private ceremony on September 8, followed by a memorial get-together at Northampton & District Indoor Bowling Association at 2pm.