Farewell to John Vick 97 – 16 S 1997: Tony Blair swept into Downing Street, the first book in the award winning Harry Potter series was published, Scotland voted to create its own Parliament after 290 years of union with England, and John Vick arrived at West Buckland School, taking over as Headmaster from Michael Downward. The world is quite a different place to that of 19 years ago, and the same can be said for West Buckland School. Of course the history, heritage, values and community remain, but John has led the school into the 21st century with distinction: raising the academic profile, ensuring pastoral care is at the heart of everything we do, and of course, leaving a physical legacy of some truly exceptional buildings providing incredible facilities to both students and staff. John has led the school to an increasing level of achievement, whilst West Buckland has also broadened its horizons; sport has continued to be central to our lives, but the growth of drama, music and outdoor education makes the school a much more stimulating place to learn. The regulatory demands of inspection bodies and the government have grown to make schools much more complicated places to work. Challenges abound for both staff and pupils. John has navigated West Buckland through this minefield, making the difficult decisions where necessary, but showing compassion, forgiveness and human kindness as he does so. A few words here cannot do justice to John’s tenure and his level of commitment and that of his wife, Lynne, to West Buckland. But we would like to say thank you and we wish you the very best as you start a new chapter in your lives. The retirement of a Headmaster at West Buckland is a momentous occasion. John Vick is only the 13th full time Head since 1858. A lot has changed at West Buckland in the intervening years, most notably the buildings. John has however been at pains to remind the governors that buildings do not of themselves make a school. They can help, but it is the ethos, determination, commitment and rigor that mark out a great school. In this regard John has cherished, maintained and developed that which he inherited from his predecessors. At the same time the world around us has changed. On a UK level, education has become a political football and independent education has had to both retrench and adapt. John has steered West Buckland through these changes and challenges to emerge a stronger, better resourced school preparing its pupils for life in a demanding but exciting global community. The governors would like to thank John for all he has done for the school. He has led a talented and dedicated team of academic and support staff and is handing over a school that is well placed to meet the challenges ahead. We wish John and Lynne a long and fulfilling retirement in their new home in South Devon. John Light Chair of Governors Caroline Tibble (98-16S) What can I say about Caroline Tibble? I think it’s fair to say that entering the school as a terrified year 7, the infamous Miss Tibble, head of discipline, was one person that I never wanted to encounter! Gaining a place in the production of West Side Story and meeting Miss Tibble face to face was an entirely different story. I can safely say that she gave every single person in all her productions not only encouragement but absolute faith in themselves to put on an incredible performance. The dedication, time and energy put into all of her musicals despite constant adversity was unparalleled. Her character and spirit to get people out of tricky situations was something I will always aspire to- I still remember her managing to organise 3 separate flights at totally different times from a completely different airport to the one originally intended, when we found ourselves stuck in snow on the school skiing trip. The highlight of my entire school time was performing in We Will Rock You. I knew after that production that if the school could ever find someone as committed as Miss Tibble, someone who would give her heart and soul in everything she was involved in; then they would have found someone truly special. Paddy Treweeke (91-13G) Julia Harvey (08-16S) After 8 years as an LSA at West Buckland School, Julia Harvey is having what she terms “a gap year” and leaving us to pursue other dreams. However, to call her simply, a Learning Support Assistant does not do justice to the impact she has had on the wider school community during her time here. As a committed and active Christian, Julia has been a stalwart supporter of Christian Union working with both Andrew Watkinson-Trim and latterly Elma Rushe in organising activities such as Christmas Boxes for homeless children overseas in the Prep School and in enabling annual visits from the Gideon Society to hand out copies of the New Testament in Year 7. She was also a regular at the Adult Fellowship Meetings in the evenings which brought together governors, parents, parishioners and staff to pray for the school, to study the Bible and to discuss various issues. When Elma Rushe took over the leadership of the Chaplaincy Team in 2015 Julia began leading Christian Union meetings every Thursday in addition to supporting Paul Symons, a youth leader at Grosvenor Church every Wednesday. The staff as a whole however will remember her for her dynamic and proactive role as Social Secretary of the Common Room working alongside Noah Shawcross. With her unique blend of warmth, energy and commitment she has put her own personal touch on everything from buying and arranging flowers for all common room events to delivering cards and flowers to staff who are unwell. She has organised social events such as the champagne and canapés evening and is always willing and keen to support others with organising special days such as the annual St Patrick’s Day celebration with Elma Rushe. Whilst Julia has worked across both Prep and Senior schools it is perhaps in supporting our most vulnerable Prep School children that her strengths of patience, perseverance, flexibility and care come to the fore. Julia is always able to see pupils in the wider sense, never defined just in terms of their learning difficulty but as whole human beings. If children are having an “off day” she always knows why; whether as a result of personal circumstances, illness or fatigue and will alter lessons accordingly. She has an innate understanding and sensitivity for the personal struggles these children have and the challenges they face every day. I am particularly grateful for her meticulous weekly record keeping, ensuring that notes were kept up to date with examples of progress and targets met. If I need to refer to them at a moment’s notice, I know where to find them. I shall also be eternally grateful for her help and support in ensuring that the Potbury, the Learning Support base, is kept clean and tidy. Julia will frequently notice, without being prompted, that chores need to be done, areas tidied and plants watered and she has created some colourful and imaginative wall displays over the years. Julia always has time for everyone and a sympathetic ear for staff and pupils alike. She has, over the years, made herself part of the very fabric of the school, always willing to lend a hand wherever needed and active in so many areas. Her departure will be felt by all. We wish her well with her future plans and particularly with her extended trip to Australia to visit her eldest daughter in October. Bon Voyage! Amanda Willmott
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