Teaching couple retire from Worksop primary school after almost 70 years and thousands of lives changed

A married couple who taught generations of children at a Worksop primary school are putting their feet up this month after retiring at the end of the autumn term.

By Ed Dingwall
Tuesday, 5th January 2021, 8:36 pm

Claire and Steven Walker had been on the staff at Redlands Primary School, on Crown Street, for a combined total of almost 70 years.

Colleague Jane Pumfrey said: “It is difficult to sum up what the Walkers mean to Redlands and just how much they will be missed.

“The school will continue to flourish, but it will continue to follow the rules set by the Walkers – smile, try your best and believe in yourself.”

Steven and Claire Walker retired from Redlands Primary School last month.

Steven joined the school as a class teacher in 1987, having grown up in Derbyshire and enjoyed a professional football career at Halifax Town which was cut short by injury.

Jane said: “Mr Walker was an outstanding teacher for numerous different year groups as well as being very involved in all areas of sport.

“His humour, dedication and desire to always do his best for all of his Redlands family is incredible.”

From 1998 to 2008, he took on a progression of more senior roles, first as special educational needs coordinator, and later stepping in as acting deputy head then acting headteacher.

He became a permanent deputy and in 2015 headteacher. He had also been a school governor for 13 years.

Sport never stopped being important to Steve, and he enjoyed huge success as a coach for the school cricket and football teams and numerous outstanding table tennis players.

He also won a grant from the National Lottery to help establish the Table Tennis Centre at Redlands, which many more local residents still enjoy today.

Claire, nee Hillam, arrived at Redlands as a 19-year-old teaching assistant in 1985.

She soon found her vocation lay with the youngest children in the school and devoted herself to the nursery.

Eventually she qualified as a higher level teaching assistant and took on a senior role supporting others throughout the school.

Jane said: “Every nervous parent who leaves their precious child in school for the very first time is so lucky to have the wonderful, caring and understanding Mrs Walker to reassure them.

“She clearly loves her job and has nurtured every child that has ever come through the nursery doors.”

Jane added: “As a senior teaching assistant, Claire has been an excellent role model and led by example, but her fun personality was always on show.”

The couple married in 1991 and had two children of their own, Sam and Alice. They will be fondly remembered by many more.

Andrea Kirkwood, whose three children attended the school, said: “From the moment our eldest started nursery to our youngest leaving year six, 17 years later, we really felt that they were part of a big, happy family.

“Mrs Walker laid the foundations at nursery and Mr Walker nurtured their quest for knowledge and their love of reading. It’s in no small part down to them that our children have done so well since.

She added: “Our abiding memory will be the huge amount of fun they both brought to school; everything was accompanied by big smiles, lots of laughter and terrible jokes. We wish them every happiness.”

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