TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Blackburn teacher who died after his boat capsized off the Irish coast.
Douglas Perrin, who taught at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, drowned when his 19ft Drascombe Lugger was caught up in strong winds near Schull, County Cork.
Past pupils of the West Park Road school described the retired politics teacher as ‘one of the good guys’.
Mr Perrin, 66, taught at QEGS from 1988 until 1992, before taking up a post at Bloxham School in Banbury, Oxfordshire.
Irish naval officers and coastguards braved the elements to rescue Mr Perrin’s friends and fellow sailors – Marion Browne and Patrick Anwyl – from uninhabited Castle Island.
QEGS said it heard of Mr Perrin’s death ‘with great sadness’.
In a statement, the school said: “After retirement he volunteered to teach in Zanzibar and later helped with the Ionian [Isle of Iona] community in Scotland. Our sympathies and condolences go to his widow Judith and his family and friends.”
Mr Perrin, originally from Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, trained at Trinity College Dublin and was popular with pupils during his time in East Lancashire.
Ex-QEGS student Colin Thomas said: “It’s terrible news. Douglas was a really good man. My thoughts are with his family.”
Jack Launer, who was taught by Mr Perrin, added: “Sorry to hear this. I enjoyed his lessons immensely and went on to study politics at university. Best wishes to his family.”
Fellow QEGS alumni Matt Williams said: “RIP. Really good teacher and a good man. Thoughts with his family.”
Mr Perrin’s wife, Judith, 60, was at the couple’s home in Dunmanus Bay when the drama unfolded. The trio had left Schull Harbour in a boat called The Zillah at approximately 4pm on August 13, rescuers said.
The body of Mr Perrin, who was wearing a life jacket, was discovered north of Sherkin Island, some 200 metres from the shore, at around 8.10am the following morning.
Irish police confirmed that details of Mr Perrin’s death had been passed to Cork West coroner’s office.
A spokesman for Schull Community Inshore Rescue Service said it believed Mr Perrin’s co-sailors had saved themselves by swimming to land.
The service added: “A crew from Schull CRBI raised the alarm at approximately 8.30pm on Wednesday, August 13, having been notified that a small sailing craft, with three people on board, had failed to return to Schull.
“The crew notified Valentia Coast Guard who then tasked Baltimore RNLI and Goleen Coast Guard, along with the Rescue 115 helicopter, to the scene. Toe Head Coast Guard was later tasked.
“The search was stood down overnight and on Thursday morning Schull CRBI resumed the search at 5.30am. The crew located the two survivors on Castle Island at approximately 6am.
“Unable to reach them at the western end of Castle Island, the crew brought their RIB to the pier on the northern side of the island and got to their aid by foot.
“Notifying the services, the coastguard helicopter Rescue 115 was able to land on the island and airlifted the casualties to Baltimore, from where an ambulance took them to Bantry Hospital. They were discharged later in the day.
“The LE Niamh took over command of the search and the upturned boat was discovered adjacent to the rocks at Carthy’s Island. The third missing crew member’s body was later discovered in the vicinity of the north side of Sherkin Island by Baltimore RNLI.
“It is believed the 19ft craft may have overturned in a swell and was taken ashore yesterday, by Navy divers, showing signs of damage.
“The two survivors are believed to have swam ashore, as their upturned craft drifted past the south western end of Castle Island.
“Members of the local Civil Defence also assisted with the search.”
One of Mr Perrin’s colleagues at Bloxham School, Father Michael Price, said he was ‘devastated’ by the news.
Father Price added: “I remember Douglas as a wonderful gentleman; kind, courteous and considerate at all times, with a bright and engaging sense of humour.
“He was a quietly spiritual man who lived out his faith through care of others. At school he cared for all, but especially for students from abroad whom he taught and looked after with great kindness.
“All his friends here are devastated by the news of his death, and we are remembering his wife Judith in our thoughts and prayers.”
Shortly after retiring, Mr Perrin volunteered to teach English in the town of Jambiani, Zanzibar, with charity Zanzibar Action Project.
Co-founder Janie Preece said: “He was an extremely good teacher, everybody who met him liked him.”