It’s not every day that you get a chance to write your own obituary, or at least that’s what it feels like.
I write to introduce myself as the new Head of Abbotsholme School: your school. I was educated at Arnold School, Blackpool where I attended as a boarder from 1966-1977 before going on to study a Joint Honours degree in Physical Education and Sports Science and History at Loughborough University. It was here that I also successfully completed my PGCE before taking up a post at the Royal Grammar School, Colchester, as a boarder master and PE teacher. Eight years later, I moved to Devon with my wife and two boys to the place where I had been appointed as Head of PE and Games. Something of a ‘Mr Chips’ career followed, and from 1989 to 2013, I experienced life at Shebbear College as a member of the SMT, Head of Boarding, Timetabler, Examinations Officer, Deputy Head and then Headteacher. All of this was in addition to being a PE, Psychology and History teacher.
I retired, as planned, at 55 with the intention of travelling, playing more golf and actively enjoying ‘me’ time: it was a slightly unrealistic plan! Within the year I started to help with the recruitment of overseas pupils, and shortly afterwards was asked by the Methodist Schools to help mentor a young Head at a local prep school. More recently, I have acted as Programme Director for Oxford Royale, running three two-week residential courses for 185 students aged 13-15 who were housed in the halls of residence at Oxford University. Then, in late October, I received a phone call………..and the rest, as they say, is history.
Lots and lots of past pupils, staff, parents and governors gathered at school on Sunday 2nd of July to bid a fond farewell to Steve Fairclough, Tom Palmer and Gordon Selwyn. After fourteen years at the helm, Steve Fairclough is leaving school to enjoy a well-earned retirement in the Isle of Wight and the Abbotsholmians’ Club and the Abbotsholme Parents’ Association came together to organise a celebration to say goodbye and good luck.
Steve had requested a fete with traditional games, so in true Abbotsholme style we hung a tarpaulin between a tractor and a JCB and set up a coconut shy. We were incredibly lucky to have a glorious day and we enjoyed a delicious hog roast, strawberries and cream and imbibed lots of alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments whilst trying our hands at ‘mini golf’ and ‘catch the rat’. It was lovely to be able to catch up with old friends and see familiar faces from the past. A good showing of current parents and staff meant we were able to give a rousing send off to our long term staff departees.
As you know, Steve Fairclough is retiring at the end of this term, and the Abbotsholme Parents' Association is organising an afternoon of entertainment and fun for him and Heather at school on Sunday 2nd July. This date had already been chosen for the OAs versus School cricket match, and the APA would love as many OAs as possible - particularly those who had been here with Steve - to come to school that afternoon to watch the cricket, to join in with some mixed rounders and to be a part of the festivities which will take place in and around the marquee on the lawn in front of school. The final event of the afternoon will be a licensed bar and hog roast (or vegetarian alternative!) for everyone.