The teacher who inspired Kim Wilde

Until I was eight, I was a true south-east London child – streetwise and tough, but probably not particularly happy. But then we moved to the village of Tewin in Hertfordshire and, suddenly, I was living in an idyllic cottage down a lane – it even had a thatched roof. It was a culture shock, but one person helped me settle in. That was Mr Furlong, the head of the local primary school. He was a white-haired, smiley figure, not unlike how I had imagined Father Christmas.
Although both my parents were famous, they were big on sending me to the local school, which could have caused problems with the other children, but Bill Furlong kept an eye on me. He became almost like a father figure, and he and his wife Ann became close friends of our family. He was a real hands-on headmaster – I remember him teaching us about the birds and bees. He did it in a sweet, gentle way, although I certainly got the point.
As a family, we were a bit all over the place at first and he had a calming influence on us. My mother [Joyce Baker] would turn up in her hot-pants and heels looking incredibly foxy, and he must have thought he’d got a right lot here. But, to his credit, he didn’t bat an eyelid and didn’t treat her any differently from the other mothers at the gate.
My parents ended up getting really involved in the school. My dad [Marty Wilde] even wrote them a musical about a space man and I remember being really jealous because my brother was in it. I was too old to get a part – and Mr Furlong certainly wouldn’t have approved of breaking the rules just so the writer’s daughter could be in it. Music was a big part of the school; I remember a wonderful musical about Jonah that I did get a part in. I’ve noticed how different it is now with my children, who are four and six. There’s not enough emphasis on the creative aspects of education – schools don’t have the time.
Mr Furlong died 20 years ago and there were hundreds at his funeral – including my parents. He is still sadly missed.