Pupils I'll never forget

5th March 2004 at 00:00
The self-effacing editor of Alan Combes's school newspaper made her mark with a real scoop

When I started a school newspaper in Scarborough 18 years ago, the idea caught on quickly. It was a real newspaper - not a school magazine - aiming to bridge the gap between community and school. We sold it for 10p in school and on the high street.

Our first editor was a quiet Year 10 girl named Faith Blamires. It was surprising she wanted the job at all because she was so shy. But Faith gave the Pindar Post the biggest story of its 10-year life.

Faith had spent the 1986 Easter holiday working as waitress at the annual conference of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, held in Scarborough's Spa conference centre. While working, she witnessed a speaker with a prosthetic leg fall over. She was appalled that the teachers round him mocked and jeered, instead of helping him to his feet. She expressed her disappointment in an editorial comment in that month's paper.

BBC Radio York picked up the story, then it was splashed across the national newspapers. Scarborough council expressed its concern; the town relies on its conference trade and this was unwelcome publicity. But union-bashing was all the rage and Faith, the 15-year-old schoolgirl, was portrayed as a truth-teller standing up to bullying teachers. The London Evening Standard invited her to become its parliamentary correspondent for a week, and she spent a week at Westminster reviewing events in the House of Commons, all expenses paid.

When she returned to sleepy old Scarborough, she handled herself well, settling down to exams and completing her year-long editorship of the Pindar Post.

Faith lived up to her name, made a splendid job of editing the paper and proved a peacemaker par excellence in the months that followed. Now in her thirties, she flirted briefly with journalism as a career, but in the end her roots proved more important and she made a life close to her family.

Perhaps the madness that followed her exclusive revelations in 1986 was a salutary lesson.

Alan Combes was head of English and a senior teacher at Pindar school, Scarborough, until he took early retirement seven years ago. Now he is a writer and part-time teacher

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