Having been headteacher at The Hayfield School for 38 years from 1971 to 2008, I took pride in our annual turn-out of 200 plus young peopl to career tracks via college, university or industry and commerce.
The oldest are now in their mid 50s, some with grandchildren. Many work in and around Doncaster but others are scattered nationally and globally. However, most retain a Donny connection and enjoy returning to their home town, keeping in touch with peer group friends.
Given the thousands of students involved, I’m likely to bump into one whenever in Doncaster, usually with a friendly greeting, and surprise that I’m still alive – plus an introduction to their partners, some of whom are the fruits of initial school romance, some same sex.
As head, I stamped down heavily on any homophobia, faith intolerance, bullying or racist attitudes. With a largely white catchment we enjoyed the input of a plethora of young people from Chinese, Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Kosovan backgrounds. Next to RAF Finningley, we had a turbulence of service children, including sons and daughters of German, Canadian and US airmen on secondment.
Hayfield has given rise to a bench of lawyers, a school of teachers, a ward of nurses, a surgery of doctors and consultants, a template of engineers, a board of business managers, a play bill of actors and dancers, a balance sheet of accountants, city financiers and IT specialists, a palette of artists, a college of university lecturers, self-employed tradesfolk and every conceivable position in business, retail and public service.
Of course Hayfield’s pride in its students is replicated by that of other Doncaster secondary schools. Hence, as a Freeman of Doncaster, I’ve taken a role with other Freemen in organising an annual Young People’s Award Ceremony at the Mansion House where the Civic Mayor and Freemen present award certificates to some 35 to 40 young people from the borough. Each of the borough’s 17 secondary schools and Doncaster College are asked to nominate two students from Years 11, 12, 13 who have made a major contribution to school life, community life and as role models to others. Some have overcome disabilities, illness and difficult circumstances. They represent lots of young people who have added value.
This year the Mansion House ceremony is on the morning of September 11, followed by a buffet lunch. The event is sponsored by Pegler Yorkshire, Polypipe and Doncaster Refurnish. Parents and school staff are invited and tours of our fine Mansion House are organised by Coun Yvonne Woodcock.
The borough can take pride in the achievements of large numbers of our young people. They deserve an accolade and our good wishes for continuing career tracks in school and beyond, to apprenticeships, jobs, college and university.
* Tony Storey, Chairman, Doncaster Freeman Group