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Nigel Cooper is retiring from The Vyne Community School
A POPULAR history teacher was given a fabulous farewell when he retired from a secondary school after an incredible 41 years.
Hundreds of former pupils of The Vyne Community School from the last four decades turned out in force to say goodbye to Nigel Cooper, who is retiring at the end of the school year.
Remembered for his wacky ties, fun lessons and jokes, pupils shared stories of their favourite memories of Mr Cooper and admired his collection of novelty ties, which were hung up at the school for his leaving party. The 63-year-old said he never intended to stay at the school, in Vyne Road, Basingstoke for so long.
He told The Gazette : “When I applied for a job, I wanted to be by the sea. Geography wasn’t my strong point and I thought Basingstoke and Bournemouth were the same place. When I arrived, I asked the caretaker where the sea was, and he laughed. “I wasn’t intending to stay more than a term. There were 1,900 pupils and 100 staff and it was a bit big for me, but I never did get out!”
The father-of-two, from Four Marks, has taught more than 3,000 pupils, worked for 12 different headteachers and seen the school change in size from 1,900 pupils at its largest, to just 450 at its smallest.
He said: “I had to have a laugh in all my lessons. I enjoyed making pupils think and enabling them to express themselves. All the ties were given to me by girls at the end of each year – it became a bit of a tradition.”
Mr Cooper said he was “amazed” by the number of people who had turned up to the party, which was organised on Facebook. Linda Cannon, 51, from Roman Road, Winklebury, was taught by Mr Cooper in 1972, the year after he started.
The mother-of-two, who works as a licensing manager for the borough council, said: “He always made history fun. It was a dry subject at times but we always looked forward to going to his lessons. “He was fair and firm. I remember him with a long beard and long hair in the 1970s. He has an incredible memory of people.”
Hayley Dunbar, a 29-year-old recruitment director, from Kempshott, said: “I remember how everyone had to stand up when he came in the class. He was a lot of fun and we always knew if he was in a good mood if his football team had won.
“I remember he wanted us to do well in exams. He invited some of us to come in on bank holiday Monday and we all sat on the grass and he put in extra work to help us. I have never forgotten that. “He wanted us to do well and was very dedicated. He was the most respected teacher in the whole school and was popular for the right reasons.”
Georgia Clifforth, a 19-year-old Winchester University student, from Oakridge Road, said: “He always told jokes – they were a bit cheesy. He could turn really boring history stories into something legendary. Everyone loved him, and he taught my mum and dad too.”