We were incredibly saddened to bid farewell to Stephen Phillips today at the staff end of term lunch. Stephen has been associated with Hollygirt his entire life and has been a Trustee at the school since 1984.
Stephen Phillips’ speech given at the staff end of term lunch on Wednesday 12th July 2017:
“Thank you for those kind words and wishes. When I hear the name Hollygirt, I think of it with pride. Although never a pupil, I have been associated with Hollygirt all my life and even before I was born. My mother and her two siblings were weekly boarders in the early 1920s. At that time, there were two young penfriends, one from England and one from France, namely Miss Jessop and Madamoiselle Auricoste, who had student lodgings at Hollygirt and then their teaching careers, and never left. After their retirement, I would still visit them on a regular basis in their flat in the White House to keep them informed of how things were going, right up until their deaths.
In the late 1940s, my sister joined the school. In those days, girls could board at Watnall Hall, which my sister did for the first few years of her time at Hollygirt. My first recollection of the school was during that time, it was of me taking part in a young visitors race on sports day on the front lawn at Watnall Hall and also on another occasion when collecting my sister from a fancy dress party, of being frightened by the sudden appearance of Madamoiselle out of nowhere dressed up in a strange outfit. I remember several attendances at speech days at Regents Hall (now demolished) and school plays. Maybe my original reluctance to sit on the stage at Prize Giving was due to a boyhood memory of my father, who was then a Trustee, nodding off on stage during one of Miss Jessop’s annual reports.
As you all know, I have had a long association with Hollygirt School in my own right. Two years after qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1967, I joined my father’s firm. My father, incidentally, was one of the first instigators of the Rhoda Jessop Education Charity. It was then that I started preparing Hollygirt’s accounts and advising the Headmistress and Trustees. This I did until, John Knight, the then chairman, asked me to be a Trustee. This was in 1984. I worked with all the headmistresses: Mrs Vowles, Mrs Johnson, Mrs Banks, Mrs Connolly and our current Headmistress, Mrs Hutley. All had to face and overcome problems that came up during their tenure of office, the latest being a financial struggle which I am pleased to say is now behind us.
It has always been a privilege and an honour to act as a Trustee, along with so many others, and hopefully we have contributed in some small way to keeping this wonderful school and its ethics as a good choice for an alternative place of education in this community.
Once again, thank you all, I have enjoyed being associated with the school, the Trustees, the Headmistresses and the staff, some no longer with us, but I would especially like to mention Deanne Zinsaz, our bursar for 31 years, whom I worked closely with all that time until her untimely death in 2011 at the young age of 60. My thoughts and prayers also go to our former chairman, Bob Heason, who had to retire suddenly due to ill health. I go and visit him regularly when his fitness allows to keep him up to date with things at the school, which is still very dear to him.
I would like to end by saying that I hope Hollygirt will continue to thrive and go on educating children for another 140 years (and more). Thank you all.”