TRIBUTES have flooded in for a highly respected former school teacher who dedicated his entire life to helping others.
David Hardy died on January 7 at the age of 74 after suffering from a bout of Norovirus.
A memorial service was later held at the Christadelphian church where crowds packed in to remember their cherished teacher, colleague and friend.
And the memory of the “inspirational stalwart” of the town has since rung out with hundreds coming out to share treasured memories and sad goodbyes.
Born in Mansfield in 1938, David came to Kenilworth over 50 years ago. He went on to teach English at Kenilworth Grammar School until he took early retirement in 1989 and dedicated the next 25 years to full time volunteer work with charities in Kenilworth and Leamington.
He remained devoted to literature, setting up and running the book sections for Oxfam, Acorns, Myton Hospice and most recently Headway where he worked right up to his final days.
His brother Mike Hardy said David - nicknamed Jim Hardie after the Western television character - was sorely missed but would never be forgotten.
Recalling his brother’s love for literature, he said: “David always loved books and organising the books for charities, he devoted all his time to it.
“Other than his books he did not have much in life. He wasn’t interested in material things, he was only interested in people.
“Once his home was burgled and when the police came they said he was lucky he didn’t really have anything worth stealing.
“He lived very simply and just wanted to be with people and help others. It is a legacy of his life how many people have contacted me to speak so highly of him. He affected a lot of people’s lives and it is very touching.
“He never failed to make me laugh, I miss him enormously.”
David also has a sister, Margaret and the three siblings grew up in Nottinghamshire before the aspiring teacher left to study at university in Exeter and Birmingham.
He then found his way to Kenilworth where he settled and became well known and loved.
Malcolm Boote, manager of Headway charity shop where David volunteered for the past two years, said he simply cannot imagine the town without him.
Describing his friend and colleague as the true “gentleman’s gentleman”, Malcolm said: “You couldn’t have met a more friendly and welcoming person. David was very kind and thoughtful, he was simply a gentle giant.
“He put so much effort and time into the shop and into the books and people here, he couldn’t do enough. He even set up a wish list when customers were looking for a particular book. He would go searching for it all over Leamington for them.
“The lengths he went to for others was incredible and he just had so much time for everyone.”
David’s renowned book section is alphabetised, fully sectioned and includes a children’s area with chair and cuddly toy.
As a mark of thanks, respect and honour, shop volunteers will unveil a plaque dedicating the area to his memory to ensure his hard work lives on.
Also taking pride of place in the shop is a collection of tributes made by over 30 former pupils and colleagues who wrote to express their sadness and share fond memories.
Andrew Pearson from the Christadelphian church where David was an elder and lay preacher for over five decades, said the number of his pupils who joined the memorial service was only testament to his impact.
“David was an elder here for a long time and what is exceptional was his involvement and commitment,” he said.
“Nothing was too much for him, he took students that came to us under his wing and could always empathise with them. He always went the extra mile and embraced everything in life.
“We all miss him.”
Former pupil Julie Reid, now a sub editor at the Guardian newspaper, said she will never forget her inspirational teacher.
“His lessons were the highlights of my week at Kenilworth School,” she said.
“He gave me a love of language that I have carried through into my job. He was always kind and had a natural ease with children He will live on through so many of his pupils who were inspired by him.”