THE legacy of a much-loved teacher from Malvern will live on after pupils put all hands on deck and built their own boat in his memory.

After months of hard work, the ‘Derek Lang’ was officially launched for its maiden voyage.

Mr Lang, head of business and economics at The Chase School, was aged 48 when he died after suffering a heart attack during February half-term. Students and staff were devastated and, remembering that Mr Lang once served in the Royal Navy, his colleague in the business department Chris Bell suggested a boat would be a fitting tribute.

Sixth formers have been busy under his guidance, hand-crafting the 14-foot vessel while being supported by former pupils and businesses.

The much-anticipated launch took place at Arden Sailing Club, Defford, near Pershore. It was attended by friends, colleagues, students and sponsors as well as members of Mr Lang’s family. After the boat was ‘christened’ with Malvern water supplied by Holywell Water Company, it was slipped into the water and Mr Bell took it for its maiden voyage, under the watchful eye of West Midlands Search and Rescue. Mr Bell said it had been a “great community event” and a perfect end to the project. “It was a very positive day and Derek’s family were immensely proud and thankful that he had been remembered in this way,” he said.

The boat’s design is based on the Grand Banks dory, a traditional fishing boat that was commonplace in parts of the USA in the mid-19th century. This was chosen as Mr Lang spent time teaching in North Carolina.

Mr Bell said the aim of creating a lasting legacy to his colleague had been well and truly met, with the boat expected to provide at least 20 years of service to students.

But before it is handed over to the rowing club at the Chase, Mr Bell plans to use it himself for a fund-raising row along the river Thames in aid of Acorns Children’s Hospice.

l There is a chance to see the boat when the Chase holds its Christmas fair on Friday, December 7.