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Richard Hopkins obituary

From theguardian

My father, Richard Hopkins, who has died of a heart attack aged 68, was a talented music teacher, musical director, pianist and organist. He lived for most of his life in Bangkok, spoke fluent Thai and was respected for his great musicality and warm nature.

He was born in Cardiff, the son of Graham, an Anglican vicar, and Margaret (nee Evans). He went to Aberavon junior school then Dyffryn grammar, in Port Talbot, followed by Bristol University, where he studied mathematics and philosophy. In 1972 he left his course to travel the world, setting off on the Orient Express down through Europe, Turkey, Afghanistan, India, all through south-east Asia and finally reaching Australia.

After a year in Perth, Richard returned to the UK to study music at the Welsh College of Music and Drama, in Cardiff, followed by a teaching diploma at Bath College.

In 1979 he accepted a teaching job in Chiang Mai. In 1980 he moved to Bangkok to be nearer to Nitta Preetiyathorn, whom he had met in the British Council library in Bangkok during his travels; they married in 1982, and my sister and I were born in the next few years. Shortly after marrying, he joined Bangkok Patana, a British international school, where he would remain for 30 years. There he was integral to developing the music department.

Richard’s interest in philosophy led him to freemasonry, which became a large part of his life: in 2001 he was the co-founder of the first English lodge in Thailand, Chula Lodge, where he was twice worshipful master and secretary for the last seven years. He was also formerly assistant grand director of ceremonies for the Eastern Archipelago District (Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore).

Richard was also a pillar of the Bangkok expat and musical communities: he was on the committee of the St David’s Society, being bard on several occasions, and served on the British Club committee for many years. In his retirement, he loved doing the Guardian cryptic crossword by the club’s pool.

Musically, Richard shared his talents as choirmaster and organist at Christ Church Bangkok, and as musical director of the Bangkok Community theatre and the Bangkok Music Society.

He retired from Patana school in 2013 but kept teaching music privately; his passion for inspiring students to reach their full potential prevailed throughout his life.

He is survived by Nitta, my sister Sarah and me, his brothers, Philip and Peter, and three grandchildren.

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