THE FAMILY of a well-loved and widely respected head teacher have paid tribute to him, describing him as "inspirational".

Mike Conway died aged 64 on June 13 at the Grange University Hospital.

Mr Conway was well known to pupils across the Gwent region, having been a familiar face at Bedwellty, Bedwas and Abersychan schools.

His daughter, Nerys Rees, said: "Wherever he went, he was really well liked and respected.

"He was very inspirational, was passionate about education, and wanted the best for everyone. He really believed that everyone deserved the right to a good education no matter where they were from.

"He always had this ability that if you felt you weren’t good enough, he could turn that around. His passion was unbelievable. He just wanted all of his pupils to get the best out of life.

Free Press Series: Mike Conway with his wife Kerry. Picture: Family photo.Mike Conway with his wife Kerry. Picture: Family photo.

"His consultant who looked after him in the days before he died was actually a old pupil of his – from St Ivo in Cambridge, which was his first school.

"It’s unbelievable that in the last few weeks of his life, he had so many people look after him that he taught. It was like life had gone all the way full circle."

Mr Conway was born in Taunton to parents of Irish heritage. He studied history at university in Bristol, and complete his teacher training at Warwick - where he met his wife Kerry.

Mr Conway was head of history at Bedwellty School, and then went on to be deputy head at Bedwas school before becoming head teacher at Abersychan School.

As well as being a dedicated educator, Mr Conway was very much a family man.

He and Kerry had two daughters, Nerys and Ami, and three grandchildren - with another on the way.

"When we were growing up, we were always together – the four of us – whether we were going away to Florida or just going to the cinema," said Mrs Rees. "He really had this philosophy about the family unit and togetherness.

"We had so many trips away. He wanted us to explore the world.

"He was proud of his family. I think I always knew it, but I didn’t quite know to what extent until people started to mention it to me.

"He was quite mischievous. He had a huge personality - very much a life was for living character.

"There was always laughter, but he was also sincere and supporting. Me and my sister both went to medical school, which was tough, but he supported us all the way through. He was fun.

Free Press Series: Mike Conway with his wife Kerry and daughters Nerys and Ami. Picture: Family photo.Mike Conway with his wife Kerry and daughters Nerys and Ami. Picture: Family photo.

"Even in the lockdown when he and mum were stuck inside, he decorated the whole house and did his entire family tree. He was never one for staying still.

"He did a lot for the swimming club where me and my sister were a part of – Pontypool Dolphins (now Torfaen Dolphins).

"He did everything there: swimming teacher, time-keeper, and he was the treasurer."

Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds also paid tribute to the former Abersychan School head teacher.

"I am so saddened to hear of the death of Mike Conway," he said. "Mike was a lovely man and a deeply committed educationalist whose leadership inspired a generation of young people in Torfaen. My thoughts are with his friends and family."