‘Inspiring’ teacher retires after 50 years at same Hartlepool school and more than 36,000 lessons

A teacher has called time on a remarkable 50 years at the same Hartlepool secondary school.

By Pamela Bilalova
Friday, 16th July 2021, 11:48 am
Mr Ridley with students in 1974.
Mr Ridley with students in 1974.

Keith Ridley, 72, started teaching at Dyke House Academy from a mobile classroom in the corner of a field when he moved to the hometown of his wife, Olwyn, back in 1971.

Mr Ridley, a maths teacher, has calculated he has taught approximately 29,250 pupils since then.

When he retired from teaching full-time 15 years ago, he estimated he had overseen 36,075 lessons.

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Mr Ridley, who is a Manchester City fan, received a number of thank you presents, including commemorative commentary notes from Clive Tyldsley when Manchester City won the Premier League in 2012.

Tearful Mr Ridley, who was born in Moss Side, Manchester, said: “It is quite emotional whenever I think about it.

“I retired from full-time teaching in 2006 mainly because I found myself working six days a week, it was too much for me and the head at the time, Bill Jordon, soon invited me back on a part-time basis.

“People have said ‘you don’t have to do it’, but I just love teaching.

"I would go back in 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.”

Mr Ridley – who has two grown-up children, Elaine and Christopher, and six grandchildren - was president of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Women Teachers at one point and a member of the Hartlepool Borough Council’s education council.

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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 current principal Adam Palmer.

Mr Palmer 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.”

Now “officially” retired, Mr Ridley 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 to and from Seaton Carew.

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