Upon arrival, I was captured by the beauty before me; the panoramic view offered as your car drives over the hump on Sledgates, is truly breathtaking. I am sure the school must have a hotline to the local meteorological site to ensure that potential new staff see it at its finest. From that moment, I was captivated by the school’s uniqueness, it felt like somewhere I could grow to love.
I had agreed to be part of the residential team, working alternate weekends and living in, so my first residence was in Ramsdale which, at the time, was a boarding house for the junior boys. I unpacked and was immediately welcomed by the Richardsons who offered me a cup of tea (they also lived near the stables at the time); it is these small moments of kindness that have pervaded my life at Fyling Hall, they are part and parcel of life here. Life in the boys’ house was never dull and it was lovely to see them in a different light. When you are in teacher mode you keep a professional stance but when you live together, you become a family. I remember playing board games and watching films, cooking together on the Aga, helping with prep or listening to one of them practise the piano or simply chatting about siblings and where they lived when they weren’t with us.
After a few years I became Head of Girls, with our illustrious headmaster being my counterpart at the time. He lived in Mulgrave and I had moved to Main House, and the view out to sea was outstanding! I definitely would not be missing the aromas of wet manure on a winter morning, even if the windows did rattle on windy nights! Over the years, the girls have been, at times, delightful and, at others, more challenging but above all, they made me laugh. I remember one evening, checking on a dorm to find one of the girls not in bed. When I asked where she was, there was much denial of any knowledge to her whereabouts from the other girls. As I was about to leave to check the house, I heard a giggle emanating from the wardrobe. Upon opening the door, I found said girl sellotaped to a chair! There was much laughter from all of the girls, and I left telling them they had five minutes to get her out and all be back in bed.
The weekends are often more relaxed and working in close proximity with other weekend staff, gives opportunities to get to know them better. I remember one evening, Miss Anders and I had an impromptu singalong to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. We got the to “Galileo” part (everyone knows what I mean surely?) and Mr Weekes had just walked in; he then seamlessly sang the falsetto “Galileo”, joining in with minimal prompting!
One of the worst winters that I remember (I’m sure there are others who could regale you with stories that were far worse) was when we had had so much snow it wouldn’t melt! Being in a dip means we often have our own microclimate here and we are often told that the sun is shining gloriously in Whitby whilst we have a sea fret hanging over us for two days, or we are enjoying the sun while it’s blowing a gale ‘on the top’! Anyway, this particular year, we had had so much snow that school had been closed for over a week. Even the boarders had become bored of sledging and snowballing! Supplies were getting low and we had even had one evening with no power for a while! The candles and torches came out and, as usual, we carried on. However, the next day a delivery van had managed to reach the slip road that leads to the school gates but could come no further. We needed volunteers to fetch the supplies we so desperately needed, and volunteer they did! I still remember the boarders sledging down the drive on top of sacks of potatoes and carrots! It was a sight to see!
As someone who was new to boarding life all those years ago, it was a revelation to me when I first joined but it has enriched my life in so many ways. I no longer live in Main House and at times, I feel that I am missing out somehow! Bonds have been forged that continue today. I have attended weddings and met children of the children I once cared for. I am proud of the adults that these former pupils have become and hope that their memories are tinged with the same affection. There are a thousand memories that I could mention and probably another thousand that I could not, but the overriding feelings that stay with me through the years are ones of joy and laughter and love.
Deputy Head (Pastoral) and Head of Geography