TRIBUTES have been pouring in for a “legendary” and “one off” former secondary school teacher, who has died at the age of 68.

Ross Allan, who taught business studies at St Columba's High School, in Dunfermline, for 35 years, has been remembered by former colleagues and pupils, who recalled his unique learning style that combined both humour and respect, after he passed away unexpectedly.

A lifelong Dunfermline Athletic fan, Ross grew up in Lochgelly, on Paul Street, and went on to attend Beath High School.

It was at Beath where he met his future wife, Yvonne, whom he married on September 27 1975, and lived in Kelty, and they went on to have two children, Fraser and Laura, before becoming grandparents to Ryan, Mitchell, Emma and Autumn, to whom Ross was their ‘Di’.

After studying for a business degree at Heriot-Watt University, and completing his teacher training in Dundee, he began working at St Columba’s in 1976, where he would remain for more than three decades until his retirement in 2011.

Known to his many friends as Zeke, Ross would go on to become head of the business studies department, and was immensely popular with both staff and pupils alike.

Pamela Staff, a current teacher at the school, said: “I worked with Ross for 12 years and he was a great colleague and a friend that I will miss very much. He really was a one-off.

“I still use some lessons and materials that he created for the department in my teaching now and, although another department is now based in his former classroom, it will still always be Ross’ room to me.

“I remember how he created positive relationships with the pupils in his classes, partly through humour and making them feel that he was interested in them, and encouraged the pupils to do well.

“That is something I still strive to do now myself in teaching.”

Well-known for giving pupils and staff teasing nicknames, using the likes of Monty Python sketches as teaching aids, and jokingly vandalise work books, his sense of humour made the pupils “feel included because they knew he was just like them at heart”.

Physics teacher, Claire Ryan, said: “Ross was obviously a diamond geezer with many talents.

“He was relentless with both staff and pupils in his pelters but what I really liked was the way he made the pupils feel they were all of equal standing. Through his teasing and fun, because he himself was a Lochgelly then Kelty boy, he could wind the kids up in a way that made them feel included because they knew he was just like them at heart.”

Since his passing, swathes of people who knew Ross have shared their stories, including a tale of when he and a colleague went out running during the school lunch hour and, on one particularly occasion, ran into an elephant’s backside, through the underpass on Halbeath Road, while the circus was in town!

His daughter, Laura, also recalled his love for getting involved in school shows and pantomimes, which memorably included taking on the role as ‘Miss Nelly’ in Frankenstein, as well as taking pupils, along with Yvonne, and pupils from the school she worked at, Hill of Beath Primary, on hill walks.

Running a close second to his family was Ross’ passion for the Pars.

A season ticket holder in the North West Stand, he watched them lift the Scottish Cup both in 1961 and 1968, with the team on the latter occasion led by his all-time hero, Roy Barry.

Laura, recalling a story told by one of his friends, said: “After a game when they were younger, it was tuppence to make a phone call from a phone box, and they used to start in the phone book at the first J Stein, work their way down and phone them all.

“Knowing fine well it wasn’t actually Jock Stein, he would say ‘I want to tell you the mistakes you made in this week’s game, Jock’. He would go through them and they’d eventually say ‘I think you’ve got the wrong Mr Stein’!

“Every memory was taken back to something to do with the Pars, which was always quite funny.”

She added: “He was a brilliant dad, but he was equally as brilliant a Di. He was always looking after you; generous as well as everything else.

“He was a one off. I know you think that about a lot of folk, but he truly was.”

Gennaro Giudice, who taught alongside Ross at St Columba’s, said that he was “born to teach” and “had that wonderful knack of being able to entertain his pupils by learning fun”, whilst revealing that, on the day they both retired, he “marched gleefully into the staff room, in full Highland attire, right arm aloft, clutching a bottle of buckfast!”

A post on the St Columba’s alumni page prompted a number of responses, including from Eileen Smart, who said: “(He) had us buckled with laughter with his dry wit (in the) early 80s. If even half the teachers were like him what a great place school would be for youngsters. Just the right balance of teacher and friend.”

Ross’ funeral will take place at East End Park, his “church”, on Tuesday, February 28, and a collection will be taken for ward 42 at the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, with the family wishing to express their thanks to the “amazing staff” for the care they gave both Ross and his family.