School History - 1970

The official opening ceremony of Ridgemede County Junior School took place on Wednesday, 20th May, 1970 at 2:15 pm.  The school was opened by The Right Honourable Lord Ashburton, K.C., K.C.V.O. (The Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire).  Also in attendance were the Rev C. Biddle (Chairman of the School Managers & Rector of Bishop Waltham), J.W.M. Steele (County Councillor), the Right Rev L. H. Woolmer (the Assistant Bishop of Portsmouth) and John Watts, Ridgemede's first headmaster.


Click here to see the order of service for the opening ceremony.


As part of the ceremony, John Watts gave a speech that is reproduced here (including his written revisions):

"On behalf of those who work here, I should like to welcome you here this afternoon, especially to Mr March and his colleagues from the Castle who we know by signature but seldom see.  This afternoon provides a pleasant opportunity for you to join us for the dedication of our school and to see it first hand.  How some of the large sum allocated to education is spent.  We are also providing an opportunity tomorrow from 4 – 8 for anybody else to have a look at this new school.  Within a short space of time last year, these modern buildings opened in Bishop’s Waltham, one for the old and one for the young.


This building and its surroundings are very different in character from the one used previously.  No doubt also very different from the ones used by the parents here today.  This is surely necessary as we must remember that we are educating children today to live a full life in the future.  With the present pace of change, it is important that we anticipate their needs both for work and leisure.  The environment that this building and its surroundings provide no doubt has must surely have its effect upon the children.  They respond to its standards and facilities and all that the staff can do for and with them.  We are fortunate here in being able to build upon a fine tradition and foundation built by some of our colleagues here today for which we are very grateful.  This school has in the future to establish its own place and tradition.  To achieve this, and for the children to fully benefit from all that is provided for them here, it is necessary that a strong partnership and sense of real co-operation should develop between parents, children and school.  It is a vital part of education for life that parents should take a lively and active interest as education is a process that continues all the time, not only in the classroom.


I should like to close by thanking the parents for their co-operation in the past and by paying tribute to all my staff, not only teachers without but to everyone without whose help, loyalty and dedication to the job we should not have achieved the present degree of stability as we look forward with confidence to the future.  You can be assured that we shall make every effort to continue to further the close co-operation between parents, children and school, always conscious that they are your children."

The speech was accompanied by the following notes, presumeably reminders for notices which needed to be given:

Leave to prepare for rush.


Smoke in hall, but not in classroom, etc.

A number of guests were invited to the opening ceremony using invitations such as the one below.


Many people sent official replies to their invitation, such as this one from Lord Ashburton.


Ridgemede Staff , 1970


John Watts (Head Teacher)
Mr D. J. Hearn (Deputy Head)
Mrs M. True
Mrs M. N. Picano
Mrs T. M. Kennedy
Mrs S. F. N. Palmer
Mrs R. C. Cross
Mr W. B. Ettie
Mr G. S. Hall

Mrs R. V. Skinner (secretary)
Mrs P. M. Turner (Cook supervisor)
Mr E. G. Nicholson (caretaker)
Mr J. Holbrook (groundsman)
Mrs P. D. Dugmore (domestic staff)
Mrs W. Crossley (domestic staff)
Mrs P. O. Thorn (domestic staff)
Mrs J. S. Gamblin (domestic staff)
Mrs M. P. Behegan (domestic staff)
Mrs N. Pond (domestic staff)
Mrs A. Mile (domestic staff)
Mrs S. M. Blandford (domestic staff)
Mrs S. J. Randall (domestic staff)
Mrs J. Beckinsale (domestic staff)
Mrs A. Clarke (domestic staff)