Nearly 300 attended the special service in All Saints’ church in Hollingbourne this afternoon to mark the retirement of Mr Ralph Baldock (74) who retires tomorrow after 28 years as Head Teacher of Hollingbourne County Primary School during which time the number of pupils has almost doubled to 104 with a regular waiting list for places.
The service was led by Canon John Corbyn, Team Rector of the North Downs Benefice, and the congregation included the all the present pupils and staff plus former pupils, Governors and former Governors, parents and former parents as well as representatives of village organisations including the WI, All Saints’ Parochial Church Council, and Hollingbourne Parish Council. The singing of hymns was led by the school choir which was conducted by Mrs Beccy Stroud.
Tributes were paid by Mrs Zara Rout, Chairman of the Governors, Miss Tammie Allen, Deputy Headteacher, and by former Governor Mr John Holley who made a presentation on behalf of the All Saints’ Parochial Church Council who expressed the wish that the close ties between the school and church will continue. Georgia Chattenton and Amelie Parker read a poem.
In the congregation was a former and long serving Chair of Governors, Mrs Yvonne Evans, as well as one of the then Governors who interviewed Mr Baldock for the post on a hot summer’s day in 1989 when the school with the backdrop of the North Downs looked like a picture postcard. There were five keen candidates including Mr Baldock who had originally trained as a bookbinder and who had decided to become a teacher in his late 30’s. At the time the KCC adviser who attended the interviews predicted that Mr Baldock would make a difference to the school which proved correct in a successful way.
During his tenure the school gained a reputation for extra mural activities including trips and dressing up to recreate stories including historical events including WW2 and this was mentioned by the speakers. Mr Baldock was well known for knowing the names of all of the children at the school and many of their siblings as well as hardly ever closing the school because of the weather in the winter. He could be seen most mornings in term time by commuters striding down Station Lane at about 7am towards the school.
Mr Baldock lives in Maidstone and has been involved with the Scouts for many years and is a keen walker.
Following the service there was a picnic on the school field with more presentations and a reception for staff and governors. The presentations included a book of memories of Mr Baldock contributed by past and present pupils and staff.
The new Headteacher is Mrs Helen Bradley-Wyatt who starts in September.
Pictured below is Mr Baldock at the door of All Saints’ Church where he shook hands with all of the congregation. Many of those present remarked that he was not wearing his trademark Hollingbourne CP blue jumper.