I shall personally be very sad to say goodbye to Julie Downing, our amazing Head Teacher at Bollington Cross School, who will be retiring at the end of August this year. Julie was already well established in her post by the time I arrived as Vicar of Bollington (my fifth parish) in the Spring of 2007. Like my predecessor, I was immediately welcomed by Julie into her school community at Bollington Cross, the closest neighbours to St Oswald’s Parish Church. She and I quickly formed a professional bond of friendship and support, as we shared from time to time the comparable burdens as well as the joys of our respective roles. We have offered one another a listening ear and welcomed the different perspective on particular problems or opportunities, each respectfully offered by a colleague who shares a Christian concern for the wellbeing and flourishing of all people of our community, young and old.
For about 14 years Julie has been the highly skilled and experienced Head here at our local Voluntary Controlled Church of England Primary School, herself a committed woman of faith, and a discerning mentor to many others taking on responsibilities and challenges within the realms of education. She has latterly also served as a wise, stringent but empathetic Ofsted Inspector. In our everyday lives, both Julie and I are required to be visionary leaders and encouragers of others, and to work co-operatively with people of all backgrounds across our community. From the outset I have admired Julie’s constant drive for achieving excellence, encouraging others also to climb to greater heights and to reach their potential, this combined with her willingness to tackle (with persistent good grace) the ever-changing educational landscape dictated by successive Government Ministers. Julie has always kept at the forefront of her mind the needs and welfare of the children in her care, and successive “generations” of staff, parents and pupils have so many reasons to be grateful for Julie’s heartfelt dedication, her obvious delight in all her pupils’ achievements and her good-humoured and painstaking approach to the multifarious tasks set before her day by day, week by week and year by year.
She will be a hard act to follow – principally because it is never an “act” with Julie! She is one of the most sincere and genuinely kind people I have had the pleasure of working alongside, and I will miss her calming and cajoling presence in times of stress! However I do now look forward very much to welcoming Julie’s successor as our newly appointed Head Teacher from September, Mr Yenson Donbavand, whose aptitudes, skill, enthusiasm and energy for the tasks ahead certainly shone through during the intensive interview process carried out by the BX School Governors in April. I’m glad to know that Julie will be leaving Bollington Cross School in excellent hands, and we thank her very much for her enduring legacy of commitment to enabling holistic and truly aspirational education for all our children.