Do you remember Mr Kandalaft?

Desmond Anderson School has been part of Crawley since 1958 and has seen many teachers and even more children pass through its doors.

No doubt every child had a favourite teacher, one who made school fun and learning exciting. Our pictures this week feature one teacher in particular – Basil Kandalaft.

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Mr Kandalaft moved to Crawley with his wife, Barbara, in 1963. The couple met in Jerusalem, where Basil was teaching at St George’s School – following in the footsteps of the Rev W Awdry, creator of Thomas the Tank Engine, who taught there in the 1930s.

Basil and Barbara moved to Crawley specifically so he could take up his post at Desmond Anderson.

His love of teaching was so strong he carried on working even after retirement, serving as a supply teacher at Ifield, Pound Hill and Our Lady Queen of Heaven schools until he was 70.

His popularity was such that, when he left Desmond Anderson, a number of children wrote letters and sent him cards.

In a letter still cherished by Barbara, Sharon Thompson wrote: “You’re kind and gentle in every way, your laughter is so real. Your heart is in the proper place, not the field, the den or pen, but in the classroom where it counts. Yes, you’re a teacher top marks of ten.”

Outside of the classroom, Basil was a strong tennis player, and played for Crawley Lawn Tennis Club, as did the couple’s children.

Basil died in 2010. Barbara still lives in Northgate.

Do you recognise any of the people in these pictures?

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