I wrote a few years ago about the 25th anniversary of the Larne Grammar School Conservation Society, which was formed in response to the Blue Peter Christmas Appeal that year. The society started with a recycling campaign but grew very quickly to include clean ups, tree planting, education, and all sorts of other activities.
Nearly three decades later the society is still going strong and is still under the stewardship of Mr Christie, part of the teaching staff and a keen environmentalist. Mr Christie was one of those inspirational teachers who lived in the memories of pupils long after they finished school. His enthusiasm and support for the society and those running it was apparent to everyone, and the encouragement to go out and do whatever you are passionate about is a lesson I have taken with me in life.
This summer marks Mr Christie’s retirement from the school, and it seemed fitting to mark the occasion in a way in keeping with the founding of the society. I was delighted that Blue Peter awarded Mr Christie a cloth emblem – he and I are both somewhat beyond the age for a Blue Peter badge these days – and I was lucky enough to be asked to go along to the school to present it. It was a great opportunity to relive some memories, and remarkable to see how many teachers were still there from my time as a pupil, a quarter of a century ago.
Teaching is at least partly about leadership. People often mistakenly believe that leaders are people who develop followers. Real leaders are those who encourage others to take the lead themselves, and encourage them to go further than they ever thought they could. I am just one of no doubt thousands of pupils who have been inspired by this wonderfully motivational man in his time at the school, and as well as marking his retirement, I, like I am sure many others, would like to say, “Mr Christie, thank you”.