A POPULAR teacher at a former boarding school in Bellingham has died.

After being ill for a number of years, Jimmy Bell, a teacher at the village’s Brownrigg School, died earlier this month at the age of 78.

Mr Bell lived in Hexham until September 2017 when he was transferred to the town’s Dene Grange Care Home after spells in Hexham General and Haltwhistle War Memorial hospitals.

As well as being known as a teacher, he played a big role in Tynedale Rugby Club as a player, coach, manager and volunteer.

He played for the club’s first XV in the 1960s and then went on to coach and manage youth teams for many years when he hung up his boots.

In addition, he became chairman of the ground committee and oversaw the work of the club’s groundsmen.

For his dedication to the rugby club, he was made an honorary life member.

Mr Bell and his family were raised in Rochester, Kent, but moved to Hexham in 1940 when they were evacuated during the Second World War.

His father died later that year at the Wooley TB Sanatorium near Slaley. The family stayed at first with Dr McKinnell-Dickson in Hexham, before moving to a property elsewhere in the town.

Mr Bell attended school at St Mary’s in Hexham, then went to board at St Joseph’s School, in Dumfries. It was here that he learned to play rugby, going on to represent the South of Scotland at U18 level.

After school, Mr Bell started work for the National Provincial Bank in Newcastle, but, tiring of office work, he went to work for the Forestry Commission after four years.

When this was not going to lead to a degree in forestry, he took a teachers’ course as a mature student. He joined the staff at Brownrigg School, where the emphasis on sport and outdoor activities meant that he was in his element.

Among those activities were rock climbing and orienteering and, one year, he was the the main organiser of the British Orienteering Championships near Hexham.

After 16 years at Bellingham, he moved to Haydon Bridge where he taught until he retired.

Mr Bell’s funeral took place at the West Road Crematorium earlier this month, followed by a reception at Tynedale Rugby Club’s clubhouse, in Corbridge.