There has been plenty to celebrate this week: there have been Eid festivities for some; Year 11 and 13 students have celebrated the end of mock assessments (Part 1); Reception pupils celebrated the harvesting of some impressive-looking radishes (full marks to Mrs Hadfield); and many (but not all) will have rejoiced at the news that, from Monday, face-coverings will not be required in classrooms and day-trips can go ahead – I know that there was much rejoicing in Year 11 on Wednesday as news spread that the Thorpe Park trip is most definitely on! After a week of celebrations, could we squeeze in one more?
Oh yes! Of course we could! This afternoon, we welcomed a very special visitor to Brighton Girls, for a very special occasion.
Last summer, I was contacted out of the blue by a Brighton & Hove resident who told me that a former Brighton Girls teacher would be celebrating a significant birthday on 14th May. We put it in the diary straight away, and started making plans. About a month ago, I received an email from an alumna, which was swiftly followed by an email from a former teacher – and then, Johanne, a parent of a pupil in our Prep school, got in touch. They all wanted to tell me about Betty.
Betty is a special person to them all, and she turned 100 today.
Betty taught English at the school from 1949 to 1964. She returned today for the first time in over fifty years. It was a joyous occasion! Despite being initially bewildered by the presence of the science block, Betty’s first words as she stepped out of the car were, “I’m home”.
This was a family affair – and by “family” I mean the Brighton Girls extended family. Invitees to this special event included Betty’s daughter, Mary; Cynthia, a former student who has been visiting Betty for the last 60 years; Carole, an alumna who became a teacher here and told me she was “thrilled” that her English teacher had reached this amazing age, “despite teaching terrors like we used to be”; Johanne, the Brighton Girls parent who helps to care for Betty; and Molly, Ivy and Katja, representing the student body. I marvelled at the team effort on this and, as we handed over cards signed by every student in the school, I felt very proud.
“It was always such a happy place”, said Betty, “and it still feels like home”.
Eid Mubarak! Happy Birthday, Betty! Happy weekend, all!