Long-serving Wickwar education volunteer retires after 33 years

Gazette Series: Wickwar Educational Foundation trustee Linda Banister, Heather Pearce, Alexander Hosea Primary School head teacher Valerie Quest and trustee Sue Roberts Wickwar Educational Foundation trustee Linda Banister, Heather Pearce, Alexander Hosea Primary School head teacher Valerie Quest and trustee Sue Roberts

A WOMAN who joined a village school’s PTA when her son started school is retiring after more than 30 years of voluntary work.

Heather Pearce was elected onto Wickwar School’s PTA in 1980 when there were just 75 pupils and the school was still based in the Endowed School building on High Street.

Having organised fetes, fairs and the school’s week-long tricentennial celebrations in 1984, Mrs Pearce became clerk to the governors of the newly-created Alexander Hosea Primary School in 1993, not long after it was built in 1991 and clerks to the trustees of Wickwar Educational Foundation.

She retired as clerk to the governors in 2003 but continued as clerk to the trustees until this year, when the 69-year-old decided to make some time for herself.

“I first got involved with the school when my son Stephen started,” said Mrs Pearce. “He is now 38 and I have two grandchildren.

“I have many happy, funny and sad memories and I have made some good friends and colleagues.”

One of her main roles as clerk to the trustees of the educational foundation, set up in 1686 to perpetuate merchant Alexander Hosea’s wishes after donating funding for a village school, was to facilitate approved grants to students in further or higher education.

“Since the year 2000 I have written cheques for over £93,000 and sent out over 500 letters,” said Mrs Pearce. “I hand-delivered most of the grant cheques to save on postage.”

She said her voluntary work had given her many memories.

“The tricentennial celebrations stand out in my memory because it really was a week of events and it was brilliant,” she said. “The sad times were when we lost two long-serving trustees, Olive Pollard and Marjorie Jowett.

“The happy times were when the thank you letters and cards arrived or students wrote that they had obtained their degree.

“It has given me an outside interest and I have enjoyed the contact with young people and watching them grow and move on through their careers.”

Mrs Pearce, who has also acted as secretary to the Wickwar Village Fair until last year, said since retiring she has taken off her watch and intended to try and relax.

“I no longer wear a watch and sleep as long as I want to,” she said. “I have just slowed down completely and we have our second bedroom back after years of being used to store boxes of files and minutes.”

Alexander Hosea Primary School head teacher, Valerie Quest, said Mrs Pearce’s contribution to young people in Wickwar had been huge and was greatly appreciated.

The eight trustees of the foundation have now each taken on a role to compensate for Mrs Pearce.

Grants are allocated to students from Wickwar who are at college or university to assist them with their study.

The foundation also provides financial assistance to families struggling to pay for school trips or other extra-curricular activities and previously the organisation has helped with wider education provision including donations to Wickwar Youth Club, the Playing Fields Association and local Scout and Guide visits abroad.

To download an application form visit www.wickwar.org The deadline for this year’s grants is December 31.


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