Loving tributes for former Burnley art teacher credited with changing the lives of thousands of pupils

Art teacher Mr Ian Alveston, who has died at the age of 72,  with one of his beloved guitars.
Art teacher Mr Ian Alveston, who has died at the age of 72, with one of his beloved guitars.

A former art teacher and gifted musician, who taught at two of Burnley's leading high schools, has died at the age of 72.

Ian Alveston began his teaching career at the former St Theodore's RC High School later moving to the former St Hilda's RC Girls' High School where his modern style of teaching made him a hit with a couple of generations of students.

Many people will be remember Mr Alveston for his trademark white hair and handlebar moustache.

Many people will be remember Mr Alveston for his trademark white hair and handlebar moustache.

Although quite strict and disciplined he would encourage pupils to express themselves creatively and was hailed a hero for allowing them to listen to music in class.

In the numerous tributes paid to him this week on social media several former students described Mr Alveston as the best teacher they had ever had.

And many credited him for helping them to achieve their full potential in both at art and life in general as he was such a positive influence who could recognise his pupil's strengths and also their limitations. Others described how he helped them to develop a lifetime's appreciation of art and music.

One former pupil said that Mr Alveston brought a 'totally refreshing approach to a stifled school.'

A gifted guitarist who styled himself on his musical hero Eric Clapton, Mr Alveston played in bands all his life and began performing in working men's clubs and dance halls at the age of 14.

His brother Tony said: "We started out together but Ian continued with his musical career. He had a real talent, he loved his music and he would have loved to have made it his career.

"He was a fantastic guitarist and he also wrote songs and recorded many CDs. He performed with a variety of bands of all musical genres, particularly rhythm and blues, jazz and folk.

"But he could turn his hand to any style of music."

Both brothers played with the Accrington band, The Warriors ,which later became famous as fellow musician Jon Anderson, who went on to find worldwide fame with the rock band Yes, joined.

Playing in a variety of bands, Mr Alveston and his blues band played the Colne Blues Festival on several occasions.

A former pupil of St Mary's RC Primary School in Oswaldtwistle and St Mary's College in Blackburn, Mr Alveston worked in administration before he found his calling as a teacher. He retired at the age of 60 after spending a short time as a supply teacher at a primary school in Ramsbottom.

Describing his brother as 'eccentric' Tony said the family had been overwhelmed by the numerous tributes and messages of sympathy they had received from past pupils and fellow musicians.

Every musician he had ever worked with had been to visit him in the last few weeks of his life.

He said: "Ian had such an impact on so many lives. I don't think we realised how many lives he had touched in such a positive way until now.

"He was a real character, quite bohemian and he did his own thing but he was a very generous, kind and caring man."

Mr Alveston died in the White Ash Nursing Home in Oswaldwistle and staff said he has received more visitors in the last few weeks than anyone they had ever known there.

His funeral will be held on Thursday, February 13th, at St Mary's Church in Oswaldtwistle at noon followed by burial at Dill Hall Cemetery in Church.

And, at Mr Alveston's own final request, a piper will play at his graveside. The ceremony will be followed by a 'jam session' at Oswaldtwistle Social Club.