TRIBUTES poured in this week following the sudden death of well-known Keighley teacher, photographer and amateur actor David Brett.

Hundreds of people who knew David through his various activities took to social media to sing the praises of the “true gent”.

The former head of Calversyke Middle School in Braithwaite was described by many as a lovely man who always had time to help anyone in both his professional and personal life.

David was found at home last week after work colleagues raised concerns on being unable to contact him. He is believed to have died of natural causes.

Many people knew David as a performer on stage with groups such as Keighley Musical Theatre Company, Keighley Playhouse and Harden Players.

Others met him through the thousands of photographs he took for local theatre groups, rock bands, schools, sports clubs and private functions, including his time as a freelance photographer for the Keighley News.

And a generation of schoolchildren remember him from his time as a teacher at various schools in Keighley and the district.

Maureen Brett, David’s sister-in-law, this week described him as, intelligent, quiet and private, adding: “He cared about his family. If you needed anything he would be there. He was a lovely man, very kind.”

David, 62, was born in Crossflatts, one of nine children, and lived most of his life in the Bingley area. He attended the town’s teacher training college then started his career at Heaton School.

He was deputy head of Parkside Middle School then spent several years in the 1990s as head of Calversyke School in Braithwaite, later becoming head of struggling Bradford Cathedral Community College and spearheading its improvement.

For the past 10 years, David had been a human resources specialist with Manchester-based support organisation Working With Schools.

Managing director Graham Jones said: “We’ve been inundated with condolences and messages of true warmth since Friday morning. David was a true gentleman in every respect and we will miss him immensely.”

David had a long-term interest in the theatre, staging productions at his schools and later performing with several local groups, including Keighley Musical Theatre Company where he also worked on the committee and took the cast pictures.

Louise Hindle, the chairman, this week said: “David was a loyal and caring friend. He will be sadly missed by us all at KMTC where his contribution was invaluable. A true gentleman who will be missed by all who knew him.”

David was inspired to take up photography as a teenager by one of his brothers, and this interest eventually turned into a second career. In the weeks before lockdown he photographed the casts of productions of Cinderella in Keighley, Ilkley and Harden.

Silsden AFC, where he photographed soccer matches for 20 years, this week said David had “captured some brilliant memories with his lens” and that members were devastated to hear of David’s death.

Club president Barry Thomas said: “He was a genuinely nice, kind-hearted man. He freely gave of his photography skills, not only to us, but to others too. Nothing was ever too much trouble for him.

“David produced superb photos which not only told a tale but also captured the drama and expression in players and fans alike.”

David’s earliest photos of the club included the three West Riding County Cup finals in which Silsden went on to win, in 2002 against Campion, 2003 against Barnoldswick and 2004 against Bay Athletic.

The following season saw the Cobbydalers, then playing at Cougar Park, move up the league, winning promotion in their first season along with Cammell Laird. 

John Lohan, the club’s vice-chairman, said David’s photographs still stirred the memory of those heady days.

He added: “I am shocked and gutted about David’s death. He was part of the Silsden AFC family. His amazing photos always captured the action and told the story. The quality was always first class and quickly up on the website.”

Once the club is able to become active again, its committee plans to honour David’s “phenomenal” contribution to the Cobbydalers.

Also paying tribute this week was Jym Harris, who organised rock gigs in Keighley when David was starting out taking pictures of bands, a role that brought him acclaim from young musicians across the area.

Jym said: “David was one of the nicest blokes on the Keighley music scene, always a smiling face whenever we saw each other. I think he took promo photos for most bands of that era.”

Many former pupils of David have posted their memories on his Facebook page over the past few days.