Obituary - Matt Upsher, 1978-2010

15th October 2010 at 01:00

Matthew Upsher was one of those teachers children liked. The head of PE at Hayle Community School in Cornwall, he was the kind every pupil remembers when they have long gone and grown up.

He was always ready to listen to their problems and the ups and downs that were affecting their daily lives.

Mr Upsher began his teaching career in 2001 when he joined the school as a newly qualified PE teacher. Three years later, the keen sportsman became head of department.

He was as popular with staff and parents as he was with children at the 700-pupil school and was instrumental in raising the profile of PE. He was also involved in setting up after-school activities, helped create the school's fitness studio and put together the series of sports teams that would represent the school across the region.

Mr Upsher became involved with the school's link charity, Sporting Chance International, and in 2005 travelled to Kenya to visit a series of projects that the charity - which uses sport to improve the lives of children - was staging there. Helping charity events, such as Sport Relief, was something he did often.

He was also a gifted musician and would perform at school concerts, singing and playing the guitar. On one occasion this included performing a duet with a pupil at a school fashion show.

His guitar-playing prowess, fostered by his love of The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen, led him to form a band earlier this year called Grey Dog. The group, in which he was lead singer and shared songwriting duties, performed alongside more established acts such as Doves and Paulo Nutini at this summer's Eden Sessions series of concerts in Cornwall.

Grey Dog had just finished recording Maps, their first album, and were preparing to embark on a promotional tour, when Mr Upsher died.

Outside of his school commitments, his great passion was surfing. He would spend hours out on his board and was known to surf on seas so flat that no one else was around. It was his love for the sport that drew him to Cornwall, initially to Newquay. It also led him to meet his wife, Kate, while the pair worked together at a local surfing company.

He would often be spotted out on the waves at Perranporth along the stretch of Atlantic coastline considered by many to be the finest surfing area in the country. It was on Perranporth's Droskyn beach that he died last month.

In 2006, Mr Upsher began to suffer from epilepsy, the cause of which was never discovered by medical specialists, and he experienced daily seizures.

While out surfing one evening to celebrate the birthday of his younger brother, Tom, the pair became separated. The elder brother was later found unconscious in a nearby cove. He was attended to by RNLI lifeguards and was rushed to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Treliske but was pronounced dead later that evening.

His family plans to set up a foundation in his name which they hope will benefit a number of causes, including musicians and people with epilepsy.

He married Kate in 2005. They had one son and were expecting another child, a girl, at the time of his death.

Matt Upsher died on September 13. He was 31.

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