'Children loved and respected him': Former Sumner School principal remembered

Peter Vesty.
Peter Vesty.
Former Sumner School teacher Nancy Meherne writes about Peter Vesty, a former principal at the school, who died on Christmas Eve.

Peter was headmaster at the school for 16 years from 1976 to 1992.

The teachers, parents and children attending the school during these years will be upset with death, but will have strong feelings for his ability in all respects.

The response from children, parents and teachers to his energetic and highly responsive personality, and his ability to develop good humour, meant laughter was most evident in this school.

Children loved and respected him, and if a message had to be taken to the office, everyone put their hands up to volunteer.

I know, I had a list of all names on the blackboard and as they were chosen their name was rubbed out.

One time in weekly assembly, juniors were told a very important man from the Royal Family was coming to walk along the Esplanade in the weekend. Who would that be?

So many children’s hands went up, the children saying: “Mr Vesty.” The answer was: “No.”

They all looked puzzled and disappointed until one small boy put his hand up, then down and up again, saying loudly: “Is it, (pause) God?”

The answer was: “No. It is Prince Charles”.

“Oh,” everyone sighed, and their heads were shaking with disbelief.

One boy in my classroom was so impressed by the head, he always had an eye on the door ready to open it and salute Peter, and close it when he left.

We teachers knew that we could discuss our ideas and desires with Peter. He trusted us to work hard.

One idea he supported was a music scheme involving the whole school which developed into 230 children playing together for concerts, and groups visiting aged people homes and other schools.

As well as good relationships, other aspects of the school received attention and real improvement occurred.

The Education Department planned to pull two old classrooms down, but Peter knew we needed a school hall for all our assemblies, concerts, break-ups, and fundraising for school improvement.

At that time we had to use the village hall.

He succeeded in producing a good sized hall and later a big swimming pool.

This resulted in a high standard of swimming ability, necessary for safe swimming in a seashore zone.

Mr Vesty’s hard work, energy and determination to achieve a fully functional school has never been forgotten; so highly appreciated and valued, which has perpetuated the high standard of Sumner School today.

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