It is with great sadness that we announce the death of David Raeburn, Headmaster of Whitgift School from 1970-1991.

David was held in very high esteem by very many of his former pupils and colleagues, of whom a small number are still here at Whitgift: many others followed him into teaching and indeed Headship.

In his time, David expanded the school, overseeing the building of the science and design buildings; his close concern for and regard for pupils was evident throughout his life and retirement. During his last illness, many past students had written to Mr Ramsey to share their personal gratitude to him.

In 2018, at a Class of 78 reunion where David was guest of honour, one OW said of him, “Whitgift in the 1970s had an ethos that espoused the best values of Western civilisation, such as tolerance and mutual respect, and that came, I think, from David Raeburn.” That observation was met with universal approval by all those in attendance. Francis Charig OW (1970-1978) wrote of the same event “The level of affection for him [David] was a remarkable endorsement of the respect with which he is held and recognition of the rounded, liberal and ethical education that he sought for his students.”

David had a distinguished career beyond Whitgift: after retirement he spent almost as many years tutoring Classics at New College, Oxford. Last summer, he recorded this piece from Ovid’s Metamorphoses reflecting that ‘sad times may be followed by happier days…’

We will pay proper tribute to David’s long and successful Headship of Whitgift in due course. For now, as a community, we send our condolences to his family and our humble gratitude for the legacy he has left.