STAFF: A fond farewell to two long-serving RGS employees

Staff and students bade a fond farewell to two long-serving RGS employees who, between them, have served the school for more than 34 years. BEV SOUTHWELL and HELEN PICKARD tell us more about themselves while reflecting on their years at RGS

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people

BS: I enjoy doing cross stitch. I am a Geordie but I don’t have any accent.

HP: I completed the National Three Peaks challenge in 22¾ hours (24 hours being the aim) to mark my 50th birthday. For my 60th challenge I ran the Liverpool Marathon.

What roles have you enjoyed at RGS?

HP: I became the biology department’s technical laboratory assistant in 1998. In addition to this role, I have gone on many school trips, including the second year French trip for 11 years running and three World Challenge trips, as well as classics, biology and geography trips. I also worked in boys’ boarding from 2003-2014 and girls’ boarding from 2014-2018. I used to organise the staff Christmas do and the summer BBQ, as well as putting up the Christmas tree every year and helping with invigilating.

BS: I came to RGS as business and economics teacher in 2006 after 16 years at King James’s, soon adding work experience and enterprise co-ordinator to the mix. I later also took on PSHCE before returning to my special educational needs coordinator role in 2013.

What has been the best part of your job?

BS: Firstly, the students I have taught and worked with. No two lessons are the same and it has been great to see young people develop from nervous first formers to confident sixth formers. Also, my colleagues – there is something really special about the people you work with.

HP: What I enjoyed most was the variety of the job and my colleagues.

And the worst bit?

HP: My worst day was when someone switched off the laboratory electricity over half-term, so a freezer full of hearts and salmon heads defrosted. You can imagine this was not a pretty sight or smell!

BS: Marking and report writing. At times it seems endless as there is always something to be marked. Also, when terms starts in September and you know that 16-plus long weeks of ‘full on’ teaching await you, often driving to work in the dark and then home again in the dark.

What did you do before you came to RGS?

HP: Born in Ripon, I was a student at RGS and went on to work as an analyst for the Milk Marketing Board at Kirkby Malzeard. I left in 1984 to have my first son and worked in Kirkby Malzeard Post Office with my mum. After having my second son in 1987, I went on to work in a number of part-time jobs, including being a youth worker and working for Ladbrokes bookmakers. Once the boys were at school, I became a dinner lady at RGS and worked for a friend in a children’s nursery in the mornings.

BS: Although born in South Shields, I lived in Hampshire, then moved to York to study economic history at university before taking my post graduate certificate in education. I’ve always been a teacher and worked in a variety of schools, mostly in North Yorkshire, including teaching economics, sociology and history in both grammar and comprehensive schools in York. After teaching at a sixth form college in Lincolnshire, I returned to North Yorkshire to teach a mixture of business, economics and humanities at King James’s school in Knaresborough, where I also became the special educational needs coordinator.

What do you plan to do next?

BS: Nothing! I am looking forward to being a little more fluid in my plans after 35-plus years of having my year divided into terms and my days divided into lessons. I do want to pick up on some interests I have dropped over the years such as researching local history, gardening, travelling and have more time to spend with family and friends.

HP: Update our house, more walking, spending time with my husband (who is also retiring) and enjoying more quality time with my four grandchildren.

What are the main changes you have seen during your time at RGS?

HP: Staff changes and also the refurbishment of the science block and removal of all the outside huts, which were replaced by the sixth form block and humanities & languages block. We also saw the addition of the sports hall and music block.

BS: The new buildings. The site has been transformed by the removal of the old ‘temporary’ classrooms and the various new blocks. The sixth form centre is a fantastic place to teach. The school has grown but you can still get to know everyone.

What will you miss most about the school?

BS: The students and staff.

HP: The people, lots of whom have become firm friends. I will still see them.

What are your main interests outside RGS?

HP: Running, walking, nature, grandchildren and cooking.

BS: Politics, reading, following cricket, travel and going to the theatre.

Reflecting on your time at RGS, what do you feel most proud of?

BS: Building on the work of previous special educational needs co-ordinators in offering support to students who need that little bit of extra help to achieve their potential.

HP: I have enjoyed being the go-to person.