After a long and distinguished service over 36 years, Sister Felicity, Head Teacher of St Winefride’s RC Independent School has retired.
Sr. Felicity, who is a native of Cork City, came to Shrewsbury in 1984, having been appointed Head of the School by her Congregation, the Sisters of Mercy. She qualified as a teacher in 1964 and taught in Swansea, Princethorpe in Bath and Kenilworth, before coming to Shrewsbury. The Sisters of Mercy have been involved in Education since 1864 and celebrations to mark the 150 years in Shrewsbury were held in 2018.
A farewell gathering in the School to mark her retirement was attended by pupils, teachers, trustees and a parent representative.
Commenting on her achievements Patrick Strong, Chair of the Board of Trustees said:
“Sister worked tirelessly to promote the interest of the school and the wellbeing of the pupils. She succeeded in putting the school on a sound educational and financial footing and preventing its possible closure. This was achieved through hard work, a single-minded dedication to the education of the young and a vibrant prayer life. A measure of her success is evident in St Winefride’s been rated 30th place out of 100 in the Sunday Times survey of Independent Schools in 2019. The School has also achieved notable success in sports as well as academic achievements with notable success in sporting events not only in Shropshire but also in the West Midlands”
Sir Edward Tate, a Trustee and past pupil of the school paid tribute to Sisters hard work and dedication to the school. He said
“Sister Felicity committed herself whole heartedly to the school and created an outstanding learning environment. She built up a strong and dedicated team of teachers, classroom assistants and support staff. Addressing year six pupils who were present he reminded them of the great traditions of the school, drawing on his own experience as a young boy arriving at the school with no command of English and how he was welcomed and felt secure there. He said that although many changes have taken place since then, the values underpinning the school were unchanged; supporting each other and those less privileged than themselves”
Mrs Andrea Brown also a Trustee and former teacher at the School and close colleague of Sister said:
“Sister facilitated an ethos of openness, kindliness and friendship built on the school motto and the teachings of the Venerable Catherine McAuley, the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy. This ethos was fundamental to the success of the school and is a wonderful legacy to hand over to the next Headteacher. Sister was modest when receiving praise about the school, insisting that success was the result of working collaboratively with all the staff, who were encourage to work autonomously in the classroom using their personal creativity and talents.”
Mrs. Keri Negron-Jennings thanked Sister on behalf of the parents for the values she promoted and her single-minded commitment to the values of education and the wellbeing of the children under her care; “She built up a constructive working relationship with parents who felt their children were in safe hands.”
The Head Boy and Head Girl, Alexander and Jemima representing all the pupils, also spoke warmly of their experience of the school and the confidence engendered in them by a team of committed and dedicated teachers. They presented Sister with a framed photograph of the entire School, staff and pupils and a bouquet of flowers.
Sister was presented with a travel voucher to enable her to travel by train throughout England, Wales and Scotland at a time of her choosing. This was funded by the parents and Trustees. Mr Strong commented that this was a most appropriate gift, because Sister enjoys train journeys and rarely took holidays.
In reply Sr. Felicity thanked those present for their kind words and gestures. She said that her life as a Sister of Mercy and Headmistress had been a happy and fulfilling one. She felt privileged to have shaped the values of the school and follow in the tradition of the Foundress of the Sisters of Mercy the Venerable Catherine McAuley. She emphasised the importance of education of the whole person; physical, psychological, moral and spiritual. At times of difficulty and challenge she had been strengthened by faith and trust in the Lord. She wished year six pupils a successful transition to their new schools and success in their studies and their progress through life. Above all, to remember the importance of service in their careers, in their communities and to look out for those less fortunate than themselves.
Mr Strong in thanking those who attended the presentation, regretted that it had not been possible to open this up to wider audience but they were restricted by the requirements to main social distancing during the pandemic.
A new Head Teacher has been appointed; Mrs. Elizabeth Devey, currently the Deputy Head at St John’s School, Bridgnorth. She is due to take up post in September.