Belmont teacher retires after 49 years

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The longest-serving teacher at Harrogate independent prep school Belmont Grosvenor has retired after almost half a century in the role.

John McDonald taught his last lesson at the Birstwith-based school after 49 years.

Decimalisation was still 12 months away when a young Mr McDonald, earning the princely sum of £5 per week, joined the staff of all-boys prep school Grosvenor House, which later merged with all-girls Belmont Birklands to form Belmont Grosvenor School.

During the move to its current location at Swarcliffe Hall in 1974, Mr McDonald was an instrumental part of the relocation and redevelopment team – helping turn the semi-derelict building into a school, and later, co-ordinated the merger of the two Harrogate town centre schools to create Belmont Grosvenor School.

Often spending his holidays with a paintbrush in hand, Mr McDonald, who was on the BGS senior management team for many years, started up the school trip programme with pupil holidays to the Norfolk Broads, and was involved in the development of several of Belmont Grosvenor’s current facilities – including the indoor swimming pool, science lab and DT room and the school hall and stage.

Head of Maths and DT, Mr McDonald has witnessed – and been involved – in many changes at Belmont Grosvenor during his almost five decades on the staff, and will miss both the pupils and teachers.

Mr McDonald said: “There is a real camaraderie amongst the staff at BGS – we are a small, close-knit group of teachers and everyone has always been willing to help the other out.

“But I feel that after almost 50 years of teaching, enjoying both senior management roles and teaching, it is time for me to step aside – time for the younger generation with new ideas and new enthusiasm to take over. I will especially miss the teaching, but it’s the right time to retire.”

Mr McDonald won’t have much time on his hands – at least during the first couple of months of his retirement.

He is marrying long-term partner Tracey Collins in Harrogate in September and after that, the couple hope to spend part of his retirement at their holiday home in southern Spain.

Sophia Ashworth Jones, Headmistress at Belmont Grosvenor School, said Mr McDonald had made a vital contribution to school life at BGS over the past 49 years.