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09 June 2017

Students surprise stalwart volunteer to say thank you for GCSE support

Students past and present from Wiltshire College Devizes came together to say farewell to a stalwart volunteer who has retired after more than two decades.

Bernard Fox said it was a ‘lovely surprise’ catching up with some of the countless GCSE maths students he has supported over the past 23 years as he arrived for his final class, where he worked alongside lecturer Stella Jales.

The 78-year-old was presented with a voucher and card to mark his retirement and his wife Dot, once the centre manager in Devizes, was given a bouquet of flowers as a thank you for letting him out once a week!

Bernard said: “It was such a lovely surprise for my final class especially when some past students also turned up.

“I have really enjoyed working with the students and still see lots of them whilst shopping in Devizes, where I get to catch up on what they are doing now.”

Bernard said it was his wife, who encouraged him to volunteer when she was herself working at the college.

“Dot worked at the college for 24 years, first part time in the office and then later for 11 years as the centre manager,” he said.

“I first volunteered doing basic skills working with two tutors and then finally with Stella supporting GCSE maths students.

“Volunteering was my way of giving back something to the education system that I had benefitted from.

“I have also done some invigilating but have been finding it more difficult getting to college, particularly in the winter months so have decided it was the right time to finish.”

Bernard went to Devizes Grammar School and then became an apprentice engineer in the town, before moving on to continue his career at Westinghouse Brake and Signal Company in Chippenham.

Stella Jales, lecturer in Essential Skills at the Devizes Centre, said: “Bernard was a tremendous support to the students and myself.

“He has the skill to notice when a student needs help and is then able to calmly and clearly explain the processes so they are encouraged and gain confidence to overcome their difficulty.

“Students have often remarked how his patience to repeatedly explain tasks has helped them succeed.

“He will very much be missed.”