The family of a former Instow School headteacher, D-Day veteran and community champion have been paying tribute to a life well lived.

Len Husband (left) with fellow D-Day veterans Clifford Coates, Dennis Small and George Laity at the Legion dHonneur medal ceremony at RBM Chivenor in 2016. Picture: Andy KeebleLen Husband (left) with fellow D-Day veterans Clifford Coates, Dennis Small and George Laity at the Legion dHonneur medal ceremony at RBM Chivenor in 2016. Picture: Andy Keeble

Len Husband, from Bideford, died on April 2 aged 95 following an incredibly full life and his family were keen to ensure he is remembered.

He leaves his children Elizabeth (Liza) and Stephen, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

His daughter Liza Junkison contacted the Gazette to pay tribute to her dad on behalf of the family.

Born in Bideford, he was named an England schoolboy rugby player aged 15, served in the Royal Navy and commanded a landing craft during D-Day on June 6, 1944.

Len Husband married his wife of 53 years Peggy Miller in 1944. Picture: Courtesy of the Husband familyLen Husband married his wife of 53 years Peggy Miller in 1944. Picture: Courtesy of the Husband family

In 2016 along with other North Devon veterans he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur by a grateful French government for his part in the liberation of Europe.

A lifetime of teaching in North Devon including Geneva School and West Croft School saw him end his career as headteacher at Instow School for 20 years until 1984.

Liza said: “He loved his work and was loved by children, parents and staff alike.

“We received messages and cards at his passing from former, children, parents, staff and even children of staff. Even though he had been retired for more than 30 years.”

Len Husband was selected as an England schoolboy rugby player in 1939.Len Husband was selected as an England schoolboy rugby player in 1939.

Mr Husband was born on November 28, 1924 at 21 Torrington Street Shamwickshire, Bideford to Mabel and Tom Husband.

He won a scholarship to Bideford Grammar School but when his family moved to Barnstaple he had to win a second scholarship to the town grammar school as the two were not transferable.

There he met Peggy Miller who became his wife in 1944. They moved to Barnstaple in 1955 and were married for almost 53 years, until her death in 1997.

At school he enjoyed swimming, athletics, boxing cricket and rugby, being selected as an England schoolboy in 1939.

D-Day veteran Len Husband with his two children, four of his five grandchildren and two of his five great grandchildren during the Legion d'Honneur medal ceremony at RMB Chivenor. Picture: Liza JunkisonD-Day veteran Len Husband with his two children, four of his five grandchildren and two of his five great grandchildren during the Legion d'Honneur medal ceremony at RMB Chivenor. Picture: Liza Junkison

Always with a keen interest in the sea, when war broke out he volunteered for the navy, started as a gunner on an MTB (motor torpedo boat) and rose to the rank of lieutenant, commanding a landing craft at Omaha Beach on D-Day.

Of his receiving the Legion d’Honneur, Liza said it was ‘a very proud moment for the family’. She added: “Though he himself was quite modest. Never talking about his exploits during the war until he wrote his memoirs for his grandchildren after his wife died in 1997.”

Towards the end of his service his knee was badly injured, putting an end to active sport and when he returned home he went into community work, as secretary of Bideford Carnival for 20 years and then on the Regatta committee.

His funeral, due to Covid-19 restrictions, was only attended by immediate family and Sheila Parker, who also shared the last years of his life

The family described his loss as ‘an impossible hole to fill’.