Amanda Willmott (07-17S)
It is with honour that I have been asked to write about Amanda as she retires from West Buckland School after 10 years here. All of us within the department will miss her enormously as she has built a very warm, friendly and focused environment centred on the Potbury.
Turning back the clock, Amanda first joined us as a Learning Support Assistant after a highly successful teaching career in London. After one year with us as an LSA, she glided smoothly into the role of Head of Learning Support where she used her many strengths to get the department where it is today. Her passion for supporting those pupils on the LS register is formidable and she will leave no stone unturned in the search to get the best out of a pupil. Her ability to listen and then to reach the core of a pupil’s problem is amazing and the fact that so many pupils come searching for her and are welcomed with a warm smile, makes them feel at ease and able to easily open up about any educational issues they are facing. Amanda’s ‘open door policy’ has further added to her accessibility that has encouraged us, as staff, to discuss new ideas, initiatives and obstacles that we might be encountering. Her compassion and caring nature for pupils and her staff have made it a pleasure for all of us to work for her. Alongside this Amanda was also appointed Exams Officer for a number of years, a job that was incredibly time consuming, but one she carried out selflessly and with consummate professionalism .
For us, in the Potbury, we will miss the laughs and the ‘giggles’ that have been very much part of the day. A good laugh is so therapeutic and we have had so many. We will greatly miss you but know that you have some great plans on how to spend your newfound time; travelling with Steve being one of them – it sounds so exciting. For me I have found a true friend, one that I will miss seeing daily and ‘chewing over the cud’ with, but it is a friendship that will last. Everyone at WBS will miss you but wish you every happiness and enjoyment of the years ahead.
Charles Dawson (89-17S) and Emma Dawson (05-17S)
Charles Dawson joined West Buckland School in September 1989. He felt he wanted to be nearer to the coast than his previous post in the Midlands. Initially, due to the proximity of his rooms to the house dormitory, he was an assistant Housemaster in Grenville House.
He met Emma through their mutual friend, Yvonne Helicon one evening at The Poltimore Arms when they discovered they had a mutual love of kayaking.
He was, and still is, a great lover of outdoor and adventurous activities and his skills were soon pounced upon by the school Combined Cadet Force. As a consequence of his skill levels at all things military, he was appointed Head of the Army section, and (now) Captain Dawson continued to run the section for 15 years.
He took over the organisation of the West Buckland School Teams for the Ten Tors Challenge and, in those days, it was not uncommon for West Buckland to have up to five teams entered. With the exception of two years (one for heavy snow and one because of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, he led Adventurous Training in Snowdonia every Easter holidays for 23 years. He has also led expeditions to the Pyrenees.
In his time at West Buckland School, he has taught many different and varied outdoor activities such as canoeing, surfing and especially climbing. A keen climber himself, he often took students to specialist climbing walls in the area as well as recognised climbs on Dartmoor and on coastal cliffs. Charles’ enthusiasm for climbing was such that many of his charges went on to gain international honours within the world of climbing including his own sons, Luke and Peter, both of whom have represented Great Britain many times.
But, it is in his main role as a Teacher of Chemistry that he will be remembered by most. Many a student over the years will have asked “What are we doing in today’s lesson, Sir?” and the same students will no doubt recall his is brief and to the point answer, “Moles!”
He was always a great believer in delivering chemistry using a practical, hands on, approach allowing his students to do as much experimental work as lessons would allow. This was particularly true for the material he taught to Years 7 and 8 and, as a result, many A level chemistry students would have found themselves relying upon techniques learnt during their first two years of chemistry in CHDs lessons.
So, after many years of teaching inside (and outside) the laboratory, he is now looking forward to a well-deserved retirement.
Emma has been everything that we could have hoped for in a technician. Organised, efficient, methodical, patient, able to put up with last minute orders from teachers who should know better (!) she has been a crucial and highly valued member of the department. It has been known for her to have our requests ready for us before we have even asked for them! The chemistry teachers who will be coming back in September are going to miss her greatly and hope that she knows how much we have appreciated her work over the years – she will be very hard to replace.
Robert Clarke (78-S) and Tracey Hill (10-S)