The end of an era 15.07.16

Two long-serving members of staff at Loughborough Grammar School have retired from the school after 38 and 41 years’ service respectively.

John Weitzel joined the school in 1978 as an Assistant Master teaching Mathematics and Games, after attending King Henry VIII School Coventry and obtaining a First Class BSc in Mathematics and Economics from Nottingham University and a PGCE from Loughborough University.

During the past 38 years Mr Weitzel has served the school in an astonishing variety of roles including that of chairing the Quincentenary Committee when the school celebrated its 500th Anniversary in 1995 which culminated in his being in charge of the visit of Her Majesty the Queen in 1996.  More recently he has served as Deputy Headmaster and Acting Headmaster on two occasions but, as many Old Loughburians will attest, he has been involved in a huge range of activities throughout his career including producing plays, musicals and staff pantomimes; singing in the school choir and managing its tours to the USA and its “gala” concerts at various major venues; assisting with expeditions for the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme and the Adventurous Training elements of the Combined Cadet Force; and serving as the Director of Cricket for 12 years and coaching junior rugby sides, from U11 to U15, with an especial claim to fame in that he undertook the first junior tour abroad having previously toured the North West of England with the U14XV for 11 consecutive years.

Given his considerable engagement in school activities it is also astonishing that Mr Weitzel has held prestigious positions in the cricketing world too, being a member of the English Schools’ Cricket Association’s National Executive since 1990 and the ESCA (Midlands) Regional Secretary since 1989.  He has also served as the England U15 and U16 Manager, was the England U15 coach for five years and chaired the Leicestershire Schools’ Cricket Association on three occasions to date.

It is no surprise, given the extensive commitment that he has shown towards the school, that Mr Weitzel is held in considerable regard by generations of boys who have passed through the school but what is particularly remarkable is his ability to recall the names of virtually every one of them many years after making their first acquaintance, not to mention his capacity for attending almost every function which has taken place on the school campus in the past 38 years.  He will put these aspects of his character to excellent use in retirement as he takes on the task of developing links the school’s alumni through the Loughburians and the School Archive.

Peter Sergeant began his career at the school in 1975 after completing his teacher training at Westminster College of Education, Oxford, and achieving a Distinction in English in his Bachelor of Education degree.  With Drama as a subsidiary subject it was no surprise to find him heavily involved in school productions from the very start and during his first ten years he was responsible for the production or direction of some 30 major plays and musicals.

In 1981 he joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (Training) to serve in the school’s Combined Cadet Force and has just retired as the Contingent Commander with the rank of Wing Commander some 35 years later.  In this role he has been a familiar figure for many years as the guiding hand behind the school’s cadets taking part in Loughborough’s Remembrance Day Parade, directing them along the A6, in Queen’s Park and in the Market Place where they form a substantial element of the town’s commemorative march past.

While engaged in the many activities of the school in which he has played a significant part, he also found time to complete an MPhil thesis on the Booker Prize-winning novelist, J.G. Farrell for which he was awarded the degree by Nottingham University in 1995 and his enduring singer-song writing and performing partnership with Stephen Smith (OL) continues to this day, even down to entertaining at the End-of-An-Era staff party on Thursday 14th July with, amongst other delights, a duet about retiring with Mr Weitzel which brought the house down.

Like Mr Weitzel, Mr Sergeant has served the school in many capacities since being appointed but has also taught a variety of subjects besides his principal ones of English and Drama, Classical Civilisation, Design & Technology and Biology being amongst them.  He has served as the school’s Press Officer, been Head of General Studies and been in charge of Entrance Examinations while Head of Year 7.  He is also distinguished by having served as the Examination Officer as a result of which he was seconded to the Qualifications and Curriculum Agency between 2003 and 2010 as the principal presenter of the government’s training programme during the modernisation of the public examination system.  This led to him travelling the length and breadth of the country delivering entertaining diversions on complex aspects of timetables, awarding bodies and results’ administration.

Latterly, having served as Assistant Headmaster for 7 years, Mr Sergeant has been Director of Admissions at all levels of entry and has overseen not just the current Examination officer’s role but also that of the DofE Award Scheme manager and managed the deployment of the school’s minibus fleet!  In retirement he is hoping to spend some time restoring his favourite form of transport – the bicycle, of which he has a variety of vintage types in various states of disrepair.  His reputation amongst the boys is inextricably linked with his regular appearances on his RSW 16 riding around the campus between lessons!

Loughborough Grammar School is indebted to both men for their contribution to the academic and co-curricular education of hundreds of pupils in the past 41 years and wishes them well in their retirement.