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Tributes to retired headteacher ‘loved by everyone’ who brought drama to UCS

Ian McGregor has died Ian McGregor has died

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
5:00 PM

A retired headteacher who led a Hampstead independent junior school for 24 years has died of cancer, aged 82.

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Ian McGregor became head of the junior branch at University College School (UCS) in 1967 after teaching history, English and economics at the senior school for 12 years.

But his main passion was for drama and, during his 36 years at the senior and junior schools, he restored the subject to the curriculum, put on school plays and oversaw the formation of a theatre club.

After his retirement in 1991, he moved to Dartmouth in Devon but remained an active member of UCS life and always attended the annual prize-giving ceremony.

John Hubbard, who succeeded Mr McGregor as junior branch headteacher in 1991, said: “He was hugely respected by his pupils and one of his strengths was a fantastic knowledge and memory of the people he had taught.

“The last time I saw him was in December. He was quite frail but still able to recall his pupils and stories covering the whole of his career. He was a sick man but he was still as chatty, lively and sociable as he ever was.”

The dedicated churchgoer, who lived in Mill Hill before moving to Devon, joined the senior school in Frognal in 1955.

He became a deme warden, a house master role, of Black Hawkins house and coached the boat club, which was based in Richmond.

The father-of-two also oversaw the building of the school’s first theatre, which was converted from a crypt in the senior school that had been used as a rifle range.

When he was appointed headteacher of the Holly Hill junior branch, he became part of a longstanding UCS tradition to appoint a leading senior school teacher to the role.

Current junior branch headteacher Kevin Douglas said that Mr McGregor was “loved by everyone”.

“He will be remembered for his kindness. He was a compassionate man and there was a family atmosphere up on Holly Hill. He turned it into a place where boys were happy.

“He broadened the curriculum, giving boys the chance to study other subjects other than English and maths.”

In A Tradition For Freedom: The Story Of University College School, author Nigel Watson writes: “His enthusiasm breathed new life into Holly Hill... He widened opportunities for the junior boys.”

Mr McGregor died on January 9. He leaves his wife Edna,
sons Andrew and Malcolm, who both attended UCS, and two grandchildren.

His funeral was held yesterday in Dartmouth.

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