Tributes to Peter Stone - Meridian School founding headteacher, artist and writer

Former Meridian headteacher Peter Stone with his art at Maycroft care home. 

Former Meridian headteacher Peter Stone with his art at Maycroft care home. - Credit: Maycroft / Lynn Ward

The founding headteacher of The Meridian School - who was also an accomplished artist, writer and dog breeder - has died aged 95. 

Peter Stone loved Meridian School and "would've told you about each individual nut and bolt at the site if you had the patience".

Founding headteacher of Meridian School Peter Stone has died at the age of 95

Founding headteacher of Meridian School Peter Stone has died at the age of 95 - Credit: Phil Cunningham

He was born in 1926 in Ipswich - living above his greengrocer father's shop.

His friend and former colleague Phil Cunningham said: "The entrance to the flat was a side door down an alley, and Peter always referred to the fact that he had an ambition that one day he would have a front door."

In a Brighton hospital after being discharged from a very brief stint in the Navy due to illness, he met a nurse, Margaret, who became his wife. 

He studied at Cambridge and did a post graduate course at Kings in London. After a stint teaching in Hounslow, he moved to teach in Sussex and bought his first bungalow - he had his front door.

Applying for headships brought him to Royston Secondary School which became The Meridian School - now King James Academy Royston's senior site. 

Peter Stone with his family as a child

Peter Stone with his family as a child - Credit: Supplied

Phil  - who was employed by Peter and became Meridian's head of art -  said: "Meridian became Peter's pride and joy - he was involved with the architect at all stages and he would have told you about each individual nut and bolt if you had the patience.

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"He wanted to create a very good school, so he tried to attract quality teachers he believed would achieve this. Meridian had an atmosphere that students and staff enjoyed.

"Visitors to the school commented on the general good vibe that was evident - Peter was really pleased and felt this was a major achievement.

"All his adult life, Peter suffered from heart trouble, and in 1984 he decided that he would have a heart bypass and retire to enjoy his life with Margaret. They continued to breed dogs - including Newfoundlands - a passion for both of them. "

As an artist, Peter used Scotland - where he and Margaret would take regular trips - as inspiration for his work. He loved the landscape, and his reason for moving to Royston was the backdrop of Therfield Heath and the land between Royston and Barkway. 

Alongside his painting Peter was a writer. He wrote and produced pantomimes while teaching. And later in life his writing became a major hobby - he loved the research, and the connection it gave him with his readers. 

When Margaret died in 2014, and Phil said Peter "was lost for a while". 

"Over time he developed health problems and began to have serious falls that took away his self confidence," he said. 

"He had people supporting him - Keith, Alison, Brenda and George and others - who would always step up and help."

Peter moved into Maycroft care home in Meldreth in December 2020 - and Phil would talk with him on the phone twice a day, often challenging each other with dictionary games.

Maycroft manager Lynn Ward encouraged Peter to hold practical art sessions for other residents and they even took up a project to create a gallery and teaching space for Maycroft and the wider community. 

 Lynn told the Crow: "When I visited Peter in his bungalow in Meldreth, I admired his work in his art studio and suggested that while he was at Maycroft he taught other residents  - which he did, opening ‘art room one‘ in February 2021, teaching on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"Peter then planned and directed the Meridian Maycroft Art and Resource Centre project which he witnessed nearing completion before his death.

"The art centre is housed in our listed building within the care home grounds and will be followed through to completion by the team here.

"It is hoped it will open in February 2022 when the final pieces have been placed as Peter wished so that future generations could enjoy his work and love of art.

"Peter was a very unique individual - and we look forward to opening The Meridian Maycroft Art Centre on Peter's behalf.

"Not everyone starts a new project later in life but he did and had great success with it."

Peter's funeral takes place tomorrow at Cam Valley Crematorium.  Donations can be made via Peter's In Memory Page at www.newlingsofroyston.co.uk/donate-in-memory