AN annual lecture proved a hit when a former pupil made a musical return to his old school.
Internationally renowned folk singer Jez Lowe was guest speaker at English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College’s annual John Bell lecture, which is staged in honour of Canon John Bell who was the first headteacher of the school.
Jez, who has played around the world and even twice for the Queen, is a former student of St Francis Boys Grammar School, which was one of the five schools that were amalgamated to form English Martyrs, and he was also taught by the late Canon Bell.
The 32nd John Bell lecture saw Jez, who was the younger of two children born into a mining family with Irish roots, in Easington Colliery, share an insight into his roots and his life and music.
Jez attended St Francis Boys Grammar School and after qualifying as a teacher at Sunderland Polytechnic, he embarked upon what he described as his “apprenticeship” travelling to Ireland and to Scotland immersing himself in the music and culture.
His songs have been covered by bands like Fairport Convention and the Dubliners.
He has perfomed in some very prestigious venues across the world, recently returning from a tour which took in New Zealand and Australia.
His mother used to wonder when he would get a “proper job,” but after 15 albums, world tours too numerous to mention and two performances before the Queen, the school was delighted that Jez took time out of his busy schedule to return to the town.
He played two songs for the 100-strong audience, The High Part of the Town and his satirical take on the Hartlepool monkey legend The Hartlepool Monkey Song.
School headteacher Michael Lee said: “It was a real delight to be able to welcome Jez back to English Martyrs.
“Like all good entertainers he left us wanting more and we intend to invite him back next year to perform on stage and to share more of his music with us in school.”