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Principal will be remembered by many

PUBLISHED: 15:37 18 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:13 03 March 2010

TRIBUTES have been paid to the first principal of Ipswich Civic College following his death at the age of 84.

Frank Metcalfe CBE, who died on Monday following a long illness, was credited with forging the college's excellent reputation during his eight years in charge.

TRIBUTES have been paid to the first principal of Ipswich Civic College following his death at the age of 84.

Frank Metcalfe CBE, who died on Monday following a long illness, was credited with forging the college's excellent reputation during his eight years in charge.

He took over in 1957 and oversaw the move to the current building in Rope Walk, which was opened in 1960 by the Queen.

Under Mr Metcalfe's leadership, the number of students at the college, now known as Suffolk College, grew from 3,700 at its onset to 8,700.

During his spell in Ipswich, the former war bomber became a respected figure in the town, serving on 33 committees, including the Ipswich Education Committee and the Air Training Corps.

He was an engineer by trade and left Ipswich Civic College in 1965 for a top position with the Engineering Industry Training Board.

His former colleague, Beryl Harding, who was head of general studies at Ipswich Civic College, said: "He was an enormously energetic character whose influence was not just on the college, but on the whole town. He made it a community college and encouraged people to come and see it.

"He gave me my position at the college and I worked with him throughout his time as principal. He was an extraordinary man who will be remembered by so many people in Ipswich. I was fortunate to have known such a person."

Mr Metcalfe was born in County Durham in 1917 and trained as a teacher. He also learned to fly on weekends and was called up to the RAF on the day the Second World War broke out.

The 23-year-old was a bomber pilot flying Blenheims, but was shot down over the North Sea in 1940. He survived that and a further disaster when the ship that picked him up was torpedoed.

That led to Mr Metcalfe's first encounter with Ipswich as he was treated for his injuries at the town's hospital.

Following the war, he became a leading industrial training specialist after gaining a first class external London degree in mechanical engineering.

Mr Metcalfe was employed by a number of engineering firms before gaining posts in Shrewsbury and Luton. He wrote a number of books on engineering.

Following his departure from Ipswich Civic College, he took up the newly-created post of chief education and training officer of the Engineering Industry Training Board. He became its director in 1970 and retired in 1978.

Mr Metcalfe also gained the CBE for his work with the training board and an honorary doctorate from Loughborough University.

Mr Metcalfe had been married to Bess for 61 years. He leaves one son Christopher, now aged 57, and two grandchildren, Edward, 21, and Joanna, 19.

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