He inspired a generation of Helston students but now a former teacher and amateur radio enthusiast has made his last transmission.

Former Helston School physics teacher and secretary of Poldhu Amateur Radio Club, Keith Matthew, had been ill for a little while but recently went down with pneumonia and died last week aged 77.

His wife Vicki, a former town councillor and a director of the South Kerrier Alliance, said she was thankful she was allowed into the hospital to be with Keith at the end, as she had feared the strict rules during the current Covid-19 crisis would prevent her from seeing him.

"I was the only visitor at the hospital," she said. "They were really wonderful.

"He kept going until he could tell me everything that should be done. I'm just so glad that when he accepted help it was very, very quick. What more could I ask for?"

Vicki said she had been "overwhelmed" by the support of friends locally and was in constant contact with her family, adding: "I have a wonderful family around me all the time; so many people don't have that.

"I am just so blessed. It shows how much people thought of him."

The couple were together for 55 years, having met at the University of Liverpool - where Keith was studying physics and mathematics with subsidiaries in geology, oceanography and metallurgy - and married for 53 of them. They marked their last wedding anniversary on March 11.

Keith grew up at Pemboa and attended Boskenwyn Primary School and Helston Grammar School as a child before going on to teach in the town, at Helston School.

In between he led an exciting life that took him around the world with Vicki, to Vienna and Paris training to become an oil well surveyor, then onto New Zealand for his first posting.

However, with his next posting taking him to an Australian off shore rig, he decided to resign and found a job at Auckland Grammar School covering the absence of the physics teacher for six months.

He was subsequently offered a permanent job at Papatoetoe High school as a physics teacher and the couple lived there for two years, with their daughter Tamzin born during this time.

Something always drew him home, however, and they returned to England via Sydney in Australia, where he worked in two schools.

Unable to find a job in Cornwall, he joined the physics department of a grammar school in Bristol, got further qualifications and helped develop the CSE Technology course at Bristol School Science and Technology Centre.

In 1976 Keith and the family returned to Helston and he was appointed to Hayle County Secondary School to set up a a new physics classroom, to his own specification.

Keith managed to complete his teaching career at Helston School, overlapping with his son Kieran who was able to point his father in the right direction of classrooms.

Although he took the occasional class in biology and chemistry, his strengths in physics were recognised and he became the link teacher with the technology department.

After his retirement he was given a badge so he could return to the school and pick up science equipment to mend it, or turn parts of several broken items into one working one.

His passion for electronics began as a child, when he was introduced to the world of amateur radio by his piano teacher while they were mean to be practising scales.

Keith’s family often stayed in London and his father would take him to the various museums and the observatory at Greenwich, which gave him a love of the history of all things scientific - something he carried with him all through his life, and gave him his "obsession", according to Vicki, with Guglielmo Marconi, the Italian inventor who pioneered long-distance radio transmission and the radio telegraph system.

Keith became secretary of the Poldhu Amateur Radio Club, based out of the Marconi Centre, the site of Poldhu Wireless Station, Marconi's transmitter for the first transatlantic radio signal.

Club chairman Cliff Malcolm said: "He was probably the leading authority on the history of Guglielmo Marconi and will be irreplaceable in that role. His enthusiasm was great enough to enlist the support of many members from different disciplines in the field of electronics and communications.

"He taught and mentored many beginners in the hobby of amateur radio and coached them through the three exams to the full licence.

"As a physicist with a hands-on approach to teaching, Keith built many items of gear for the class and club. Keith, callsign G0WYS, will be remembered at each of the special Marconi radio events when we contact radio amateurs around the world, even though he is now a 'silent key'."

Vicki and Keith have two children, Tamzin and Kieran, and four grandchildren.

With the close family unable to travel to Cornwall during lockdown, and the strict rules relating to funerals at this time, there will be a simple crematorium service attended by just Vicki and two local family members on April 14, with a large celebration of Keith's life being planned for later in the year.