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Chris Says Farewell

One of Hethersett’s best known and best loved teachers has retired. 

Chris Watt (pictured above with Head Teacher Andy Whittle) has taught in the village since 1975 apart from a one year secondment to the Robert Kett School in Wymondham. 

During that time he estimates that he has directly taught over 1,000 pupils. 

“I have taught sons and daughters of previous pupils and when that happens you feel you know them already,” Chris said. 

He was born in Earlham and educated at the Hewett School in Norwich. Initially he joined a supermarket group as a trainee manager but soon realised he had a calling to become a teacher. 

After gaining a certificate in education from the University of London he joined the staff of Honington School in Suffolk. 

Wanting to return to his home county, he applied and was appointed to a teaching post at Hethersett where he has seen the school go from a primary to middle and finally to a junior school. Chris moved into Hethersett where he soon renewed links with the village where he was confirmed as a teenager at St Remigius Parish Church. 

Over his marathon career in the profession, Chris has taught all ages from five to 12 and also worked alongside wife Marion who is also a teacher at Hethersett Junior School. 

“Going into teaching was very much a vocation. It has certainly proved a challenge and has never been dull. I have had some memorable days and it has certainly kept me young. There is always humour in a school and it is very satisfying to see young people reaching their full potential,” Chris added. 

There are some aspects of school life that he has found less satisfying: 

“The expectation on teachers has changed over the years and today the curriculum is more prescribed with little room for creative subjects. Everything is now set down and there seems to be an obsession with assessment and the paperwork that goes with it,” he said. 

Chris has also been involved with numerous out of school activities and been a key member of the parent-teacher association for many years. He has also written drama scripts, coached football teams and led discos at the school – something recognised by Head Teacher Andy Whittle at the final assembly of the summer term. 

“Chris has made a huge contribution to the school for over 30 years and especially in areas that parents aren’t necessarily aware of such as helping to organise school performances, writing scripts, organising Stars in Their Eyes competitions and running school discos.” 

Outside school Chris is also well known as a DJ, running the Trax Disco for 33 years until he was forced into retirement a few months ago with the theft of most of his equipment from outside his Hethersett home. 

He will certainly be keeping himself busy, however, with a number of new challenges. Already a qualified Toastmaster, he is looking to spend time kayaking and even skydiving along with “a few odd jobs” in the village and surrounding area. 

“This is certainly not the end of anything. I am excited about the challenges ahead and having the chance and time to try new things,” he added. 

Chris won’t be entirely lost to education as he is chair of the Caroline Lindley Trust which gives grants to help local youngsters in further education. 

A special farewell party was held at Park Farm Hotel for colleagues and friends when Chris was presented with his long service medal from Norfolk County Council for teaching for over 30 years. Presentations were also made to him at the final school assembly by pupils past and present, the PTA and the school. 

Hethersett Junior School also said goodbye to teacher Liz Davies (pictured above), who is moving to London. Head Andy Whittle paid tribute to her work on environmental issues that had seen the setting up of an eco club and the issuing of eco friendly bags following an award from the National College for School Leadership. 

Teaching assistant Vickie Youngs has also left the school and teacher Rowan Pim has gone on maternity leave. Emily Riddett will be joining the teaching staff in September from Cliff Park Middle School in Gorleston.