The long-serving headteacher of an Ilkley preparatory school has died suddenly at the age of 53.

Westville House School, on Carters Lane, Middleton, issued a statement on Thursday (January 24) announcing Charles Holloway tragically died tragically and unexpectedly on Wednesday (January 23).

Mr Holloway had been headmaster at the school for more than 17 years, following his appointment in the summer of 1995.

Chairman of the school governors, Neil Brown, paid tribute to Mr Holloway.

He said: “The news is hard for us to take in. Charles’s handiwork is imprinted on so many of the best things about Westville today, and he was rightly proud of the tremendous achievements and progress of the school over the years of his headship.

“There will be time and opportunity in the days ahead for all of us to pay our respects and to give our tributes to his career achievements.

“And our heart goes out to Charles’s wife Katharine, children Joe and Lydia, and wider family.”

Westville House is an independent school for boys and girls aged between two-and-a-half and 11.

The school is set in leafy grounds in the rural landscape of Middleton, close to the former Middleton Hospital site, north of the River Wharfe, Ilkley.

Late last year, Westville House was ranked 35th in the Sunday Times national Top Preparatory Schools list.

Mr Holloway previously taught in both the state sector and a number of preparatory schools around the country.

He was only the fourth head in the history of the school, which was founded in 1960.

His wife, Katharine, a teacher, takes a full part in the life of the school. The couple’s children both attended Westville House.

During his term as headteacher, Mr Holloway has overseen new developments at the school.

A multi-purpose hall was added to the school in 2003, followed by the opening of a newly-refurbished nursery.

Two adventure playgrounds, for both older and younger pupils, were also built in the school’s grounds.