Past pupils join popular teacher on his 100th birthday

Former teacher Bernard Griffin has celebrated his 100th birthday with five generations of his family.

Bernard Griffin with his 100th birthday cake, an acknowledgement of his years of mainly vegetable gardening
Bernard Griffin with his 100th birthday cake, an acknowledgement of his years of mainly vegetable gardening

Parishioners, past pupils and colleagues were also at the party, held at the Holy Family RC Church hall in Lancing on his birthday, last Saturday.

He has been a loyal and respected member of the parish since he moved to Lancing in 1946.

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Mr Griffin spent most of his working life teaching in two Worthing schools - St Mary’s Catholic Primary School and Downsbrook Middle School.

Monica Stephens, one of his five children, said: “His dedication to his work, particularly with teaching reading, endeared him to many of his previous pupils, who still acknowledge him to this day.

“Dad’s memory is still pretty good and his sense of humour as sharp as ever.”

She was unable to go to his birthday party as ill health prevents her travelling but her son flew over from their home in Ireland.

There were five generations represented at Mr Griffin’s party, including two great-great-grandchildren.

His birthday cake acknowledged his years of mainly vegetable gardening.

Monica explained: “Dad still gets up to the allotment of my sister and her husband, and I’m sure offers them good advice from all his years of experience. My mother was more interested in the flower gardening.

“As children, we loved the fact that Dad was a teacher because we were able to spend more time with him than most children would and I suspect that he was more fun than most people’s dads in those days.

“Although we could never afford family holidays, we spent a lot of time on Lancing beach but generally seemed to get there as everyone was leaving.

“It was like army manoeuvres getting our family of five children and often neighbours’ children, too, ready with all the swimming gear and a picnic.

“Once down there, we would suffer the humiliation, if there was anyone who hadn’t left to go home for tea, of Dad wearing his very old-fashioned swimming costume.

“I think he was probably one of the last men to move out of a swimming costume and into trunks. His rationale was that there was still wear left in the costume, so why replace it. I applaud that attitude now but at the time we did kind of feel that he was a bit of a dinosaur. Fashion was certainly never a priority for him.”

The family is encouraging past pupils and fellow teachers to share their memories of Mr Griffin.

Monica said: “I would be delighted to collect them and pass them on to dad. He would get enormous pleasure from that and he has a remarkable memory of pupils he taught, though in some cases so long ago.”

Email [email protected] with memories.

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