July 15, 2021
A maths teacher has called time on a remarkable 50 years of service at the same Hartlepool secondary school, describing his pride after reaching the incredible milestone. Manchester City fan Keith Ridley, 72, has been presented with a framed thank you message to commemorate his fantastic loyalty to Northern Education Trust Dyke House Academy, having started there in 1971 when he moved to the hometown of his wife, Olwyn. He has also received other gifts, including commemorative commentary notes from Clive Tyldsley from when his beloved City won the Premier League with Sergio Aguero’s dramatic winner on the final day of the season in 2012.
“I feel, in a word, proud,” said Keith, with a tear in his eye. “It is quite emotional whenever I think about it. I retired from full-time teaching in 2006 mainly because being a teacher sometimes means working long hours and the head at the time invited me to continue on a part-time basis. People said ‘you don’t have to do it’, but I just love teaching. I would go back tomorrow as well. I love watching pupils suddenly understand a concept, it’s as if a light goes on. If you get one of those a day it’s worth it.”
Keith has calculated that he has taught approximately 29,250 students since starting life at Dyke House in a mobile classroom in the corner of a field. When he retired from teaching full-time 15 years ago, he estimated he had overseen 36,075 lessons. In 50 years, Keith has worked at Dyke House Academy with 7 different principals, including most recently, Adam Palmer.
Mr Ridley – who has two grown-up children, Elaine and Christopher, and six grandchildren who keep him busy – was President of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Women Teachers at one point and sat on the Hartlepool Council’s education council. He joined Dyke House’s Maths department after studying at Doncaster’s Melton College and during the early years he also taught history, geography, PE, RE and pastoral studies. Now “officially” retired he will be spending more time at the family holiday home in Ripley, North Yorkshire, and walking along the promenade where he often bumps into Mr Palmer jogging from Seaton Carew and back.
Mr Ridley, who was born in Moss Side, Manchester in 1949, loves living in Hartlepool and knew the time was right to call it a day at the half century mark. It could have been sooner. He explained: “When we had evenings of celebration, late 90s and early 2000s, I used to invite parents to put their hands up if I taught them. One time I said ‘if there was ever a time when grandparents put their hands up then that might be the time to retire’. I lasted even longer than I thought after that!”
As well as once raising money to help save Hartlepool United when Len Ashurst was in charge, Mr Ridley has taught around 20 students who have gone on to become members of staff at Dyke House, including Mr Palmer, who said: “Keith is a remarkable man. He has had such a positive influence on the community here at Dyke House and has been such an inspiration to so many young people over the years. I couldn’t even begin to describe the impact he has had. He fully deserves to finally enjoy his retirement and, although he will be sorely missed, he will always be welcomed back.”
Mr Ridley, tearful as he recalled the moment Mr Palmer described him as one of his most inspirational figures during a school assembly, said: “I have no doubt the future of Dyke House is in safe hands with Adam. He has the respect of the pupils, the staff and, most importantly, the local community. It feels like an appropriate time to sign off.”