Steve Coogan's heartfelt tribute to old teacher who 'helped set me up for life'
PUBLISHED: 19:30 18 March 2019
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2013
TV star Steve Coogan has paid a heartfelt tribute to the teacher who "helped set me up for life" and was "a beacon of enlightenment".
Coogan, famous for a host of comic characters including Alan Partridge, was taught by David Hennessy in Greater Manchester.
Mr Hennessy was later headmaster of St Joseph’s College in Ipswich from 1987 to 1995. After being ordained in 1998, he became parish priest at St Felix in Felixstowe from 2007 until 2014.
After a long fight with cancer, he died in Felixstowe on March 9.
He had been too poorly for a planned meeting with his famous former pupil, but Coogan sent a message of support: “Please read this to David, if he is well enough to hear:
“David, I want you to know that I am one of the many people you affected so deeply during the formative years of my life.
“You were someone who, as a young man of only 26, treated me with (the) same respect as someone who would be your intellectual (equal). I had just turned 12.
“You taught me to question all kinds of received wisdom but you did so with kindness and a mischievous wit. You were a role model.
“I still have my exercise books from 40 years ago with your comments in the margin. They are still funny. You expanded my mind and helped set me up for life.
“I haven’t seen you for many years but please know the values you imparted to me, to be respectful of others, to believe in a set of moral values but to think for myself, I will carry with me for the rest of my days.
“You did all this with a big laugh which you would let out to the whole of the class.
“I know I am not unique in my experience. I have been speaking with other ex-students who were similarly affected by you. You were a beacon of enlightenment in a damp northern town.
“The example you gave to me, I try to set for others. Speak for the dispossessed, trying to leave this place a little bit better than the way we found it. From my point of view alone, you have certainly done that. I hope and pray I will do the same.
“Thank you David and God bless you.
“With all my love and respect, Stephen x”