Saturday, 10 January 2015

Stewart Connolly - A Headmaster.

The 1970's brought very dramatic changes to Foyle College. Some might say that the amalgamation with the Londonderry High School was the biggest change, bringing as it did females into the dear old Alma Mater. Thankfully I did not have to experience that upheaval to my education. I was however exposed to the other trauma of the decade, the transfer of the headmaster's baton from James. Stewart Connolly, (Stewartie) to one Hugh W. Gillespie in 1973.


Stewart Connolly came to Foyle as an English master in 1934 and took on the role of Headmaster in 1960. Foyle was his life, his passion. He not only was the headmaster he looked like a headmaster, (my view.) Some pupils might not have liked him, but they all respected him.


Hugh W. Gillespie took on the mantle of headmastership in September 1973. He was a very different individual to Stewartie so of course he could not replicate his predecessor and he did not attempt to. I suppose the general changes in society prompted a different style of leadership. Maybe this was the start of soft touch governance. It may well be that those who experienced the next transition of headmaster think of him, (Hugh Gillespie), with fond remembrance. I suppose that we can all be accused of viewing matters through rose tinted glasses. Most of us do not want change, nor react well to it.


The Old Boys Magazine of January 1974 tells us that at his previous school Hugh Gillespie had taken "a special interest in the organisation of pastoral care and in ways of improving communications within the school as well as in the cultivation of links between school and home and in the development of the school as part of the community." As I said a different style of leadership.



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