A FORMER Oxford deputy headteacher who 'lived to run' and inspired a generation of young people has died at the age of 78.

David John Polgreen, who was known as John, was a familiar face to thousands of pupils at Oxford Boys School, the previous incarnation of Oxford Spires Academy, where he taught for more than two decades.

After retiring he also continued to support young people as chairman of charity Oxfordshire Association of Young People.

Mr Polgreen was born in Romford, then part of Essex, on December 22, 1940, to parents Irene and Charles Polgreen, who was a golf course manager.

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He grew up in the town, which is now part of Greater London, along with his younger sister Joan.

There he attended The Royal Liberty School before moving on to Magdalene College, Cambridge University to study languages.

Following graduation he first became a French and German teacher at Malvern College, a boarding school in Malvern, Worcestershire, in 1964.

His next job brought him to Oxford in 1970 when he took on the role of deputy headteacher of the Glanville Road school, which had been formed four years prior from the merger of Southfield Grammar School and the City of Oxford High School for Boys.

It was a position he would keep for almost 25 years, finally stepping down in 1994.

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Mr Polgreen maintained his link with the school though, serving as financial officer at Oxford Boys until around 1998 when he fully retired.

During his time at Cambridge he met fellow student Eileen McGuire in 1963, the pair marrying two years later in Watford.

Through the years the couple lived in Malvern, then moved to Oxfordshire living first in Stadhampton, then Abingdon and finally settling in Oxford where they lived at Purcell Road. Mr Polgreen and his wife had two children, Kim born in 1965, and David born in 1968.

Outside of the classroom he had a life-long love of athletics running with Cambridge University, for England as a veteran runner and was a stalwart of Oxford distance running.

His son David said his father 'lived to run' and kept up with the hobby until just a couple of years ago.

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He added he was also a dedicated teacher, acting as ‘almost a social worker’ at Oxford Boys, especially caring and helping the more troubled students. He also passed on his love of sport and got students engaged in running and weightlifting.

His family described him as a caring and supportive husband, dad and grandpa, who was a friend to many.

He continued his work with young people as chairman of Oxfordshire Association of Young People in retirement, involved with the charity in various roles until 2011.

Mr Polgreen died on November 4 from Alzheimer's. He is survived by his wife Eileen, children Kim and David, as well as grandson Robbie.

His funeral will be held at Oxford Crematorium, on Monday, November 18 at 1pm, anyone who knew him is welcome. Flowers are welcome, but donations preferred to the Alzheimer’s Society or Oxfam. People can share memories via john-polgreen.muchloved.com.