A FORMER teacher who was the basis for a central character in the book, A Kestrel for a Knave, has died.

Ronnie Hallam, 81, was the inspiration for PE teacher Mr Sugden, famously played by Brian Glover in the film adaptation, Kes.

Ronnie died in hospital last Saturday - after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's.

His son, Ray, 56, said Ronnie was a much-loved character and will be greatly missed.

Ronnie was a very sporty person and was involved in football, cricket and golf and Ray said he had that competitiveness about him and a desire to win, much like the character of Mr Sugden.

His widow Jannice, 77, said: "One of Barry's close friends told us that the character was based on Ronnie and there were plenty of representations in him that showed that."

The family said they were told Ronnie became the inspiration for Mr Sugden after he played football with the author, Barry Hines, as a boy and Ronnie got Barry a job at Kirk Balk, where he saw how passionate Ronnie was about sport.

Throughout his life, Ronnie played semi-professional football for Rotherham United and York City as well as stints at Elsecar and Rockingham cricket clubs. He also taught PE at Kirk Balk School for 35 years.

He took early retirement when PE became more of an academic subject as it would have taken him off of the field and out of the gym.

Jannice said that Ronnie was a true sportsman and had a real passion for anything he played.

"He was playing a cricket match once and the ball hit him on the head and knocked him out. He went to hospital and came back before the end of the game to finish his innings."