SCHOOL MEMORIES: Smoking, piano-playing teacher stole the show at Leyland school

Leyland Methodist Infants School pupils Howard Irving and Sharon Miller present a cheque for �1,000 to Pat Seed in 1978
Leyland Methodist Infants School pupils Howard Irving and Sharon Miller present a cheque for �1,000 to Pat Seed in 1978

Howard Irving had never been chosen for anything while at school.

So he was delighted when, at the age of seven, he and fellow Leyland Methodist 
Infants School class mate Sharon Miller had been 
selected to hand over a cheque to Pat Seed, who raised funds for cancer charities.

Howard Irving, of Leyland

Howard Irving, of Leyland

The pupils had taken part in a sponsored walk.

He says: “The whole school had done various sponsored events for charity.

“Pat Seed was like a local celebrity as she was a well-known cancer fund-raiser.

“I never got chosen for 
anything, so I was so surprised when I got picked. I was so proud. It was such a huge honour.

“But my mum was mad with me because I looked a bit of a mess in the photograph.

“One of my socks was down and my shoes were scuffed.

“She was mortified.”

Now a teacher himself, working in Salford, Howard, 46, can certainly recall the difference in teaching methods.

The father-of-two from Leyland adds: “I had some really weird memories of infant school.

“At wet play time we would all go into the school hall and have singing practice.

“The headteacher Mrs Kellett was a fiery lady.

“She would play the piano and sing along with a cigarette in her mouth like a Blackpool Pier act.

“It was very different back then – teachers were allowed to smoke.

“Teachers were also really scary. I was hit with a ruler on a number of occasions and some pupils were smacked. I remember a year three lad being smacked on the bottom and we all laughed.

“But you find that actually the ones who were classed as bad ones have done all right for themselves.

“One lad was dragged by his hair by one teacher and told he was useless, but now he is a self employed electrician.

“But the boy on the front row, John Procter, has 
always been a good and bright lad. He is now a doctor of chemistry.

“I could never be bothered back then at school – but I worked when I had to and I always had good test scores.

“Teachers were a bit laissez-faire.

“Their teaching styles were very old fashioned.

“Now, there are more demands on teachers to be more accountable, and there are more tests, like SATs.

“I went on to Balshaw’s High School and did well. academically”