Gordon always took very good care of his school

Growing up, Paul Gregson had great inside knowledge of TWO primary schools, despite only attending one.

Friday, 22nd September 2017, 1:40 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd September 2017, 2:45 pm
St James's C of E School in Leyland in 1975/6. Gordon Gregson is stood at the back second from the left

Gordon worked within the old building of St James’s C E School, in Leyland, which was a village hall, before it relocated to a new site.

He had even helped to make the new sign, which was reported in local press in 1975.

Paul, now 55, says: “My dad would collect me from my school – Leyland Methodist – and I would go to St James’ while he worked there. I would just play around.

Newspaper cutting of the new sign for St James's C of E School, in 1975/6

“The old school was a village hall. It was a busy place.

“The heating was a coke boiler, so my dad had to stoke it up to get it running in the morning. He repeated this at lunchtime and then again for evening meetings for staff.”

Paul’s more prominent memories of St James’s include sports days and It’s A Knockout-style events, which were held for three years in the summer.

He adds: “It was such good fun. Competitors had to smash a piano into small pieces and then shove it through a letter box.

Newspaper cutting of the new sign for St James's C of E School, in 1975/6

“The school also held jumble sales to raise funds.

“The church helped raise funds for the new building and the council raised the other half.

“The headteacher, Jack Hirst, the vicar, Rev Ronald Hollinghurst, and my dad would pick out items of bigger worth and would sell them at auction to raise more money for the school.

“The old school was falling down, so it was brilliant when they were able to build a new one. It was still used as a village hall, but it felt different. It had more character.”

Gordon, who joined St James’s in 1968, left in the late 1970s, as the family moved to the Lake District. Paul adds: “My dad was so happy at St James’s. The children loved him. He recalled a time one of the boys swore at him. My dad said he would wash his mouth with soap and water and put a soap to his mouth.

“He was called into the headmaster’s office and his parents shook my dad’s hand, thanking him, as the boy never did it again.

“When he left, the children and staff organised a big collection for him and bought him a pewter tankard which was engraved.

Paul, who now lives in Hawkshead, is now following in his dad’s footsteps as he too is a caretaker. Gordon died four years ago, aged 78.