Tributes have been paid to a former chaplain and "inspirational" schoolmaster who was "legendary" for his practical jokes.

Garth Ratcliffe joined Royal Grammar School in High Wycombe in 1983 on a temporary contract - but stayed with the Amersham Road school for 16 years.

The school has paid tribute to Mr Ratcliffe, who was a teacher of economics - later becoming head of the department - and an assistant in the RE department.

As a "committed Christian", he was also school chaplain, a role he took "very seriously".

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After his retirement, he was still a weekly visitor to RGS as honorary assistant chaplain.

Headmaster Philip Wayne said he was "very sorry" to share the news of Mr Ratcliffe's death.

The school's heartfelt tribute to him reads: "Garth was legendary for his practical jokes. Disguised in a school blazer, resting his head in his arms, sitting among the disaffected element at the back of a poetry lesson, and his colleague and dear friend of 30 years, Peter Cowburn, realising to his horror, that the lesson had been in progress for ten minutes.

"Perhaps if the content of the lesson had been Garth’s own notorious nonsense verse, Peter might have emerged with his dignity intact!

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"On a serious note, Garth was an inspirational schoolmaster with a passionate knowledge of his subject, taking a keen interest in all his students, encouraging rigorous thinking and questioning but always keeping humour close at hand to lighten up those period eights on dull winter afternoons.

"It was a sad day for Garth when the changes in the National Curriculum dropped the name of ‘Home Economics’ and he therefore could not perpetrate the ‘misunderstanding’ that his Economics syllabus included the making of jelly during the first week of the course!

"Whether in the classroom, on the squash court, or at one of his Chaplain’s Oxford dinners, Garth remained the epitome of the good schoolmaster.

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"Whilst Garth had his own deep sense of the natural place of the Christian Faith in the lives of people, he was aware and sensitive to the fact that many did not share this view.

"The result was intelligent, lively and informed debate about matters worldly and heavenly.

"Garth will be greatly missed by us all; his own strong faith will have assuaged any fear of death."

A memorial service is set to be held at St James Church in Gerrards Cross in due course that will be open to all who knew Mr Ratcliffe.