charters part two
1970-1989 PAGE 3
This all required huge
investment, not only in capital, but
in manpower and facilities also. This had to be passed on in fees and significant increases were seen during the early '70s. But, we now experience a boost in staff numbers to teach the increasing number of subjects - up to fifteen at 'O' Level and seven at 'A' Level when they were introduced into a new Sixth Form, in 1973.
In these early, extremely productive and creative years, Paul was aided by the remarkable Penny George who had been promoted from the teaching ranks to Headmistress. It was she who 'worked all hours' doing the spadework for the immediate future. She was joined, again from the ranks and later succeeded by, Hilda Gaskell, a no less rare and dedicated individual and much-admired teacher. She was to remain with the school to the end, only taking a 'back seat' role when ill-health forced her semi-retirement. During this twenty-year period further continuity was again provided from the ranks with Ann Gac before the husband and wife team, Colin and Patricia Prime were recruited.
Patricia had been an outstanding student at Bush Davies, Romford. She trained at the same time as Betty Laine, Pat Ellis, Doreen Wells, Teddy Green, Doreen Hermitage and Pat Goh. Many will remember seeing her photograph in the hall, "those beautiful legs and feet." She remembers visiting Charters in the 50s to have Solo Seal coaching with Noreen and other students including Cynthia Boyd and Heather Mann. Following the school's closure she went on to be Chair of the Theatre Faculty, Classical Ballet Faculty and Vice-Chair of Council for the ISTD. Colin had brought his considerable expertise and knowledge as Vice Principal of a large comprehensive school in Essex and soon put his 'stamp' on Bush Davies with his warm personality and intimate understanding, gleaned from his wife, of the school's special needs. Who can recall his long, tortuous and heroic walk from his home in Lingfield to Charters after the 'Great Storm' of 1987! Indeed, who can forget that moment when, through failing utilities, the school was evacuated and temporarily closed. Paul recalls: "Being isolated up in my bunker, St Paul's, with candles, storm-lamps, calor gas fires and baked beans, for seventeen days - it was a very lonely time, especially without the children."
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