HEARTFELT tributes have flooded in for a former Taunton headteacher who passed away after a short illness.

Elliott Furneaux, former headteacher of Heathfield School and deputy head of Holyrood School in Chard, passed away on July 5.

Mr Furneaux, 65, leaves behind four sons, and wife Janet.

Elliott’s family said: “The only sad thing about the tributes is that he isn’t around to read them.

“He would have been so proud and happy to read about all the young lives he touched.

“He loved Heathfield and he loved young people. He just wanted everyone to do their best.”

Mr Furneaux worked at the Taunton secondary school from 1997 until 2012.

Current headteacher of Heathfield, Peter Hoare, said: “It is with great sadness and huge shock that I heard that my predecessor, Elliott Furneaux, has died.

“I spoke with his son Bill who said that it was very sudden after a short illness.

“We will all have our memories of him, particularly as a larger than life character.

“Heathfield and its community owe so much to his dedication and hard work.

“Elliott was relentless in securing the best for everyone - he particularly championed the disadvantaged and constantly challenged inequality.

“He was a gifted leader who inspired those around him to be the best they could be.

“On a personal note, not only have I lost a great mentor, but also a great friend.

“The school is already looking at ways to recognise the huge impact he made. Our thoughts are with his family.”

Hundreds of people on social media have expressed their sadness of the inspirational teacher’s passing.

Jasmin Rankin, a former student, said that Mr Furneaux made her school life in a wheelchair easier.

She said: “I started Heathfield in 2005 and it had barely any access for wheelchair users.

“Mr Furneaux fought for me to get into Heathfield and fought for getting the school adapted for not only me, but others too.

“Thanks to him the school is now fully equipped and those with disabilities can attend mainstream school if they’d like to.

“He was a wonderful man with great passion for his pupils and will be sadly missed.”

James-Paul Frost McAllister, another former student, said Mr Furneaux made him feel more comfortable with who he was.

“I was very sad to hear the news of the passing of Elliott Furneaux, the wonderful, caring, compassionate headteacher who helped a 15-year-old boy to feel comfortable to come out to his friends and family and who fully supported him when he explained that studying dance, drama and music was going to help his career more than history, geography and sport.

“Thank you for everything, you will be greatly missed in the community. God bless you sir.”

For the past five years, Elliott and wife Janet had been enjoying retirement. They spent their time road-tripping around the USA on three different adventures.

The family would like to invite anyone who wishes to attend to the funeral, which takes place at 2.30pm on Thursday, July 27, at the East Devon Crematorium.