SIR Ken Gibson will always be ‘a knight to remember’ for the future king of England.
That’s because the South Tyneside academic yesterday became the first man to be knighted by Prince William.
The headteacher of Harton Technology College was awarded the honour for his services to education – having transformed two failing secondary schools in recent years.
Sir Ken received his title from the Duke of Cambridge at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London.
The 55-year-old said: “I’m just on top of the world. It was quite overwhelming.
“I was already quite nervous about it, but then when I got the tip-off I was going to be Prince William’s first knight, that just added to it.
“I know there had been some speculation in the press that he was practising with his sword, and it was just such an incredible honour to be his first knight.”
The father-of-four has been dubbed a “superhead” for the way he brings struggling schools back to their former glory.
In 2010, while head of Harton, Sir Ken was drafted in as executive head of Jarrow School, after Government inspectors said teaching at the secondary school was inadequate.
Last year, he also took Academy 360 in Pennywell, Sunderland, under his wing – after the school was also told to improve by Ofsted.
He said: “I was hoping to meet the Queen, but then I heard it was the Duke of Cambridge, and the Palace press office rang the night before to tell me I was going to be his first knight.
“A dame went first, and I was second. He was very at ease and calm.
“He asked me how I first got into education and I mentioned that my late mother, Helen, had the Helen Gibson Nursery, in East Boldon, named after her, and that my brother Alan also teaches, and that my wife Lisa does as well – between us we’ve done 110 years in South Tyneside.”
Talking about his time at the Palace, he added: “The Palace was stunning.
“We were ushered into this special room, where we had to practise kneeling on the stool.
“My wife and daughters were there, and I think they shed a few tears watching me being knighted – it was very special.
“Being given this honour is just amazing, and overwhelming.
“Prince William was a natural and very charming. He also asked if I was going to remain in education for much longer, and I told him there’s still a few years in me yet!
“I’m very flattered to have been given this honour, but of course it’s a result of the fabulous people I’ve worked with over the last 35 years – colleagues, students, parents and governors.
“I’m just the guy who was lucky enough to be the frontman.”
The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Ernest Gibson, said: “We congratulate Sir Ken on this tremendous and well-deserved accolade.
“His passion and commitment to education has made a huge difference, not only to youngsters in his own school, but across South Tyneside and beyond.
“We owe him a debt of gratitude and are delighted to celebrate with him this wonderful success.
“South Tyneside has a proud tradition of learning, stretching back to the Venerable Bede, and this latest accolade keeps that good practice alive.”