Distinguished old boys Hugh Grant and Peter Hendy went back to school last week to bid a fond farewell to a long-serving teacher.

Past and present staff, pupils, and parents of Latymer Upper School gathered to wave goodbye to Chris Hammond, who retired as assistant headteacher after 41 years of service.

Headmaster, Peter Winter, paid tribute to Chris, followed by two former pupils - Peter Hendy, a pupil from 1962 to 1971 and now Commissioner of Transport for London and actor Hugh Grant, who attended the school from 1969 to 1978.

Peter Winter said: "Chris Hammond has served five headmasters and seen the school change from a direct grant boys' school to the thriving, independent, co-educational school of today. He quintessentially represents the spirit of Latymer.

Both the old boys attended Latymer when it was a direct grant school, at a time when more than 60 per cent of the pupils were on free places funded by the Government - a system which allowed many boys the opportunity of a good education.

In his farewell speech, Mr Hammond said how proud he was of the work he had done to build up means tested scholarships at the school, allowing Latymer to carry on educating bright and talented children, regardless of the ability to pay fees.

He joined Latymer in 1966 as a chemistry teacher, and worked his way through the ranks to become assistant headteacher with particular responsibility for community links.

Mr Grant has recently made a generous donation to the school, in memory of his mother, a teacher in the state system in west London for more than 30 years.

The first Fynvola Grant Scholar will take up his place at Latymer in September and will be followed by another one in each subsequent year.

A Chris Hammond scholarship has also been established, with the first scholar joining in September, again to be followed by one in each subsequent year.

Both pupils will benefit from 100 per cent free places.