The dedication and hard work of a Foundation Governor at a Newcastle school was acknowledged with the award of an MBE in the recent King’s Birthday Honours List. Bill Barnes has been a governor at St Cuthbert’s Catholic Primary in Walbottle for over two decades, and also served as Chair of Governors for a 12-year period at the school, which is a member of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust.
“I was in London that day watching a cricket match at Lord’s, and when I came home that night, my wife said there was a letter for me to open from the Cabinet Office,” said Mr Barnes (85). “It was the first I had heard about it – although my wife had known and hadn’t told me. When I heard about all the people who had written in support, I felt very humble.”
The retired insurance broker from West Newcastle was inspired to become a governor at St Cuthbert’s after he saw his children go through the school and benefit from their time there.
“My three children all went to the same school and I saw how it had served them so well and gave them a great grounding for secondary school and then for university,” he added. “I had retired in 1999 and felt I wanted to get involved and give something back.”
The school has profited from his financial knowledge, with Mr Barnes advising on budget issues, as well as supporting the children in mathematics. He is also responsible for safeguarding at St Cuthbert’s, along with another more seasonal role.
“I’ve been Santa Claus for the last 17 or 18 years,” he explained. “Although I think when I’ve seen the children all the way through the school, they know who I am by the time they get to Year 6!”
Headteacher Colette Barrett said: “Bill has remained as a Foundation Governor, and is very committed to his role. He shows a passion for educational excellence for all children at St Cuthbert’s, which is demonstrated by his regular visits and the excellent relationships he has with the staff and children.Everyone at St Cuthbert’s is delighted that Bill’s hard work and dedication to the school and parish community has been recognised. He thoroughly deserves it.”