A former deputy headteacher nicknamed “The Miracle Man”, who later went on to be honoured by the Queen for services to children has died, aged 97.
Eurof Lloyd Osmend – known as ELO – worked for 39 years at King Edward VI Five Ways School and was a highly accomplished athlete and PE teacher – despite doctors saying that due to polio he would never walk.
Five Ways is planning a special memorial service to honour his contribution to the school, and in July opened the Osmend Languages Centre named in his honour.
As a baby doctors told Mr Osmend’s mother Elizabeth that her son would never walk due to being born with polio with one leg bigger than the other.
But she refused to listen and encouraged her son to walk, calling for him to come to her time and time again until his legs started to work.
Remarkably he managed to start walking and in his adult professional life became a PE teacher and an accomplished cricketer, rugby player and walker.
He later went on to be honoured by the Queen for services to young people after he set up a cadet force at the school’s rifle range.
His daughter Elizabeth Spear said: “He was a wonderful father. I remember he would make up stories for us as young children and sing to us.
“He also had an excellent sense of humour and would have us in stitches. He knew how to keep discipline just through a look but he wasn’t a harsh disciplinarian.
“He was just a wonderful, caring father. He had a passion for sport especially cricket and rugby and was proud of his Welsh heritage.
“I remember going to Buckingham Palace in 1964 with my mother when he received his MBE.
“I remember we all had a laugh when the taxi driver asked us where he was going to take us and he thought we were joking. He was so proud and delighted to have been honoured for doing what he loved – working with and helping children.”
He was a Geography and PE teacher from 1940 to 1970 and deputy headmaster from 1970 to 1979.
From 1979 to 1993 he was the Honorary Secretary of the Five Ways Old Edwardians which he breathed new life into.
Maurice Claridge, member of FWOE, said: “He was known as the Miracle Man. Having been told he would never walk due to being born with polio he went on to excel in sport teaching PE. He had a massive impact on the school and his huge legacy was his work with the cadet force which he set up. He was just a remarkable man – a larger than life character – everyone loved him.”
A spokesman for King Edward VI Five Ways School said: “Mr Osmend, or ELO will be remembered with great fondness by those who knew him. He first arrived at Five Ways as a teacher in 1940 and played a full role in the wartime evacuation of the school to Monmouth. Rising through the ranks, he eventually became deputy head, before retiring in 1979.
“ELO was very proud of his Welsh heritage. Despite a boyhood illness which left him partially disabled, he played a very full role in the sporting life of the school, managing many successful rugby teams, and even keeping wicket for the staff cricket XI.
“He was the guiding force behind the cadet force based in the school’s rifle range, which became the Osmend block in 1991 and then the magnificent new language block earlier this year. It was this work which earned him his MBE.
“A larger than life character, he continued to contribute to the life of the school for more than fifty years.”
His funeral took place last week in Fremington, near Barnstaple, Devon, where he retired with his late Carol, who died in 1999. He had been residing at a nursing home prior to his death.