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This week’s guest blogger is Joan Harrison, a 1957 alumna who studied at Padgate Teacher Training College. As part of our Padgate themed week on social media, Joan shares with us some of her memories and her achievements since leaving College…

Joan giving talk to a Junior School in Huyton 2 years ago about the Ugandan Uphill Jun School

“I studied Physical Education and Rural Science at Padgate Teacher Training College from 1955 to 1957, as Joan Shrigley – my maiden name. My PE tutors were Miss Barker, who was in charge of instructing us in Gymnastics; Netball; Tennis; Rounders and Swimming (at the local swimming baths in Warrington),  and Miss Brandreth, who enlightened us with her Modern Music and Movement in the gym, and weekly evening sessions of Country Dancing in the hall. I was also in the Drama Group run by Miss Peach, and I was in the play, The Hopeful Travellers.

“After College, I taught Gardening in a secondary modern school in Bolton, then Gymnastics, Country Dancing, Swimming and all games and Athletics in a secondary modern girls’ school in St. Helens, after I was married for fifteen years. My pupils won the Town’s Athletic Cup once, no mean feat as I only had the school yard for activities, but I trained them two nights a week at a local Athletic Club. The pupils also won the St. Helens Schools Swimming Cups. When the school changed to mixed comprehension, I stayed for two more years, then was offered a job teaching in a girls community home with education. I started with a class of 14 girls and taught them general subjects. This later changed to teaching the whole school of four classes, Human Biology and Art & Design to CSE level, and later to GCSE level.

“I retired, reluctantly, in 1989 with stress and burnout. During my long recovery period, I did a sponsored half-marathon canoe and raised £7,000 for a Liverpool Children’s Hospital – sponsor money came in from former pupils at the secondary school in St. Helens. I was helped by a friend who had been at Padgate College on the course before me, but we only met up after I retired. The pair of us then opened a charity shop in the town centre to raise money for an orphanage in Romania – and after that I went out on two trips to the orphanage in Arad with aid goods for the children there. My most recent venture is launching a fundraiser for our local hospice, which only has funds to stay open until June this year because all fundraising events have had to be cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic. Both my friend and a colleague were cared for at the hospice and they are amazing, but at the moment they need help to keep going.”

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