TRIBUTES have been paid to a 'truly inspirational leader' and founder of the TEACH Trust, who has died aged 75.

Described as a 'kind and gracious' person, Christopher Youlden worked for the BBC for more than 30 years until he retired and set up The Educational Alliance of Canford Heath in 2015.

Chris lived in Canford Heath and was married to his wife, Carol, for almost half a century. He had three children, eight grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

His family explained that he worked tirelessly all his life. In 1992, he was promoted to manage the outside broadcast unit for BBC South Today.

Chris's wife Carol said that the crowning moment of his career at the BBC was when he spent six weeks setting up the cameras for the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Diana.

Carol Youlden said: "He was a wonderful person, and he really loved his job."

"Chris was a very humble man; he was calm and very intelligent."

She added: "He loved steam trains, which I hated, but I'd go just to be with him."

He was a member of the Swanage Railway Trust, the charity behind the heritage steam railway in Dorset.

Chris was a governor at the Canford Heath schools for several years, eventually taking over as the Chair of Governors.

He supported school leaders in the journey to help Canford Heath Middle School (as it was then) out of Special Measures.

Ten years ago, when the four schools started discussing forming a multi-academy Trust, Chris was one of the driving forces for this development and became one of the founding fathers of TEACH.

He took on the difficult task of Chair of Trustees for the new Trust-wide governing board and led it 'diligently, passionately and fairly.'

The chief executive officer for TEACH said: "There are times in your life when you meet someone who truly makes such a difference to yours and so many others' lives. Chris was one of those men.

"We owe a huge amount of where we are today to the kindness and selflessness of this wonderful man. Kind, passionate, dedicated and socially conscious - he was one in a million."