Peter PJ Sharp

Pupil : 1960 - 1967

House : Chigwell     Found : Yes      

For those of us fortunate to be teenagers in the 1960's, recollections of BHCHS are inextricably linked with those of that halcyon decade :- the music, fashion, popular culture, sport (especially football), politics, technology (notably the space race) etc. These are the things which dominated our thoughts and our conversations. Among a host of poignant memories of the school are:- kickabouts in the playground at lunch break; the infamous cross-country runs; impromptu political discussions over sandwich lunches; GCE examinations in the Hall; compulsory early morning plunges into the unheated, outdoor pool; final assemblies (especially at Christmas); bus journeys on the 167 route; geographical field trips; and the 1966 sixth-form cruise aboard Nevasa. Being a bit of a smarty I was always A streamed and consequently had the privilege of being taught by some of BHCH's all-time greats :- Messrs Leek, Franklin, Sillis, Samways, Scott, and of course Taylor. I also remember with respect and affection, among others :- Messrs Smethurst, Ray, Dutton, Irving, Johnson, North, Parker, Orrowe, Beryl Blomfield, and Kate Coulson. The zenith of my school academic career was lifting the A-level Geography prize (with due acknowledgment to the teaching talents of Tom Leek), of my sporting career playing for the House at football, and of my artistic career having a small speaking part in Strife (1966).

After graduating in economics at Southampton University in 1970 I joined the Ford Motor Company as a management trainee. After 35 years service, and having reached the dizzy height of Financial Controller in the Purchasing Division, Ford made me an early retirement offer in 2005 that I neither could nor wanted to refuse. I married Lynden in 1978 and have lived in Billericay since 1983. Over the years I have continued to support West Ham United and the Conservative Party, and to drive Fords, of course - my first being the "sit up and beg" style Mark 1 Popular that I used to sometimes bring to school illicitly.

It has been levied at OBA that it tends to view the school through rose-tinted spectacles. I would not own up to that myself, since I can recall and acknowledge the faults just as much as the merits, and the bad times as much as the good. The school was a bit set in its ways, facilities were adequate but modest, there were some poor teachers, and a few politically biased ones, and some boring and lacklustre lessons. Discipline could be inconsistent, favouritism was not unknown, and there were elements of bullying and intimidation among the pupils. Academic and career advice was sketchy and there was perhaps too much emphasis on getting people into university. But what secondary school of any era could claim to be innocent of all those things ? Make no mistake, overall this was a very good school, which would only be matched today by a significantly above average state grammar or independent. I am happy to acknowledge a lifelong debt of gratitude to BHCHS for an excellent education and grounding, which has stood me in good stead ever since.


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Buckhurst Hill County High School