Chichester school pupils spring 90th birthday surprise on former headmaster who saved the much-loved school from closure in 1961.
Pupils from Westbourne House School in Chichester visited Colin Sharman and his wife Jen today to wish him a very happy 90th birthday.
The children designed a card for him that every child in the school then signed and it was presented to him while the school's Chapel Choir sang 'Happy Birthday' outside his front door.
Mr Sharman saved the much-loved school from closure in 1961 starting with 58 full-boarding boys aged 7 to 13 and the school has continued to go from strength to strength with over 350 boys and girls, day and boarding, from 2 and a half to 13 in 2019.
Mr Sharman's ethos was to prioritise teachers as he believed that was the most important way to secure the best achievements for each pupil at his school. He hired the best teachers he could, provided good accommodation and professional development. The loyalty of both his teaching and non-teaching staff was remarkable with many staff members staying on for over 20 years.
The Sharmans played a parental and educational role in the lives of hundreds of children over the years from 1961 to 2005. He handed over to his Deputy Head in 1986, staying on as Governor, so he could support all the staff as well as ensuring the school continued to thrive whilst retaining its traditional values.
Colin’s background in Estate Management, and his wife Jen’s finance and administrative capabilities, enabled Colin to make a series of forward-thinking, smart decisions that ensured the school could invest for the future and ensured that it ran very smoothly, enabling the teachers and matrons to focus on the development of the children in their care. After only six years, the Sharmans selflessly gifted the school in 1967, which ensured huge growth in the following decades.
Ex-pupils frequently visit Mr and Mrs Sharman, recalling fond memories and paying tribute to the role they played in their lives. Mr Sharman also visits the school regularly and is welcomed warmly by the children and their parents.
Mr Barker said: "We are very grateful to Colin Sharman and and his wife for their amazing service to our school. They set up an oasis of learning which gave every pupil at the school the opportunity to be the best that they can be and the legacy of this special approach and nurturing environment is still felt every day at Westbourne House."