THERE is a surprise in store for teacher James Thomas from The Woodroffe Comprehensive School today.

He has scooped the Ted Wragg Award for Lifetime Achievement in the South West in the 2012 Pearson Teaching Awards, and will hear the good news when he gets to work.

The winners of this prestigious award are being announced today, Wednesday, June 20.

Mr Thomas, who was shortlisted from a record number of nominations, will join the other winning teachers from across England, Wales and Northern Ireland at a national ceremony in the autumn.

Mr Thomas was nominated by a former student who praised him for his understanding and helpfulness, as well as his sense of humour.

Ariana Derrett said: “He always goes out of his way to accommodate individual needs and requirements.

“He pretty much ensured I, and the rest of my year, got places at university.

“He is quite simply brilliant and definitely deserves a teaching award.”

Head Dr Richard Steward paid tribute to Mr Thomas.

He said: “He thoroughly deserves it. He is a tremendous asset to the school.”

Teaching awards judges were impressed with Mr Thomas’ zest for life.

They said: “It is clear that his combination of support, his approach to teaching and learning and his high aspirations have created extremely positive outcomes for students.”

Mr Thomas, 58, is assistant head teacher and head of the sixth form.

He has been at Woodroffe for 37 years and says he is still as passionate as when he started.

He turned up in Lyme Regis in 1975 on a one-year temporary contract.

He said he stayed because he loved everything about his job and enjoyed everything about Lyme, where he met his wife.

Geography teacher Mr Thomas said he couldn’t wish for a better place to inspire his students with the subject.

He said: “I love the subject. I want to share my love and enthusiasm with others and you could not wish to teach geography in a better place than on the Jurassic Coast.”

The teacher served on the lifeboat in Lyme for 21 years and has been a coastguard for the past decade.