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Paul Nickell (1969 - 1970)

I can't emphasis enough, how much joy I got from reading through the articles on the website. I was busy last night but I will endeavour to contact my brother, still in Belfast to tell him all about the website. My sister is still there along with my mother and youngest brother. All 4 of us went to Elmgrove through the 70's. I have one older brother who had already started Orangefield when we moved to Grove St East.
So there was me, Heather, Mark & David who all went to Elmgrove.
I showed my 4 children the photos of the fire and they thought was brilliant and even brought in some of their friends to see as they'd told them all about how uncle Mark burned the school down. Even in recent weeks I was talking to some year 10 students here and told them "I hated school and didn't do very well. But I didn't hate it as much as brother; he burned it down." So this story has been over the 2 secondary schools that I have worked at.
I came to your website through Friends re-united. I was searching for old Orangefield pals and then did search for my 3 primary schools. I started off at Mersey Street primary, then ay year 5 we moved to Knocknagony, then back to east Belfast for my last year at primary.
Your networking experience is akin to mine. I have worked in the computer field for 12 years now but only touch my first network when I came here just over 2 years ago. But you don't need training courses when you get so much "hands on". I now have 3 technicians working for me; one part time. The school had about 100-networked PC's when I came. Now we have close on 300. I have installed 5 LCD projectors with interactive white boards. I applied for and was successful with the BECTA digital video scheme. Canon and Apple supplied us with an IMac and a Canon digital video camera to participate in the scheme to produce a digital video to been shown and shown at the Education show a few weeks ago. Wolverhampton LEA put their money where their mouth used to be and all schools in the borough will soon be connected to the Wolverhampton Grid for Learning, which is Broadband project. We were the fist school on the pilot as we had the technical know how to get the equipment installed and set-up before any other school. We got very excited about this and now do a lot more learning online. And even more to come. I supply out local feeder primary schools with technical backup and training 3 afternoons a week. I also teach some year 10,11 and 6th Key skills lessons. I am also the NOF trainer and Intel "Teach to the Future" trainer. So I do 3 after school sessions per week. I designed our website when I first came. I had 6 weeks off after knee surgery. It's not yet hosted on a broadband site, so it's slow. But high hopes after Easter.
I was in Belfast 2 years ago; one half term and took my children to see all my old schools. I'm glad to have noted in one of your sections that Elmgrove is a listed building. It still is a lovely building. I suppose my memories are greater of it, as I practically lived beside the school, not just attended for one year. I can't believe Miss McBride retired only 2 years ago. But one of the most bizarre things that happened to me was when I first taught in a school, it was my wife's ex-secondary school, and I used to teach with staff who taught her, 25 years earlier. 
The really weird thing is that I can only remember Miss McBride. She cried the day we all left. She probably did that every year. 
I have no recollection of any other staff. One of my best memories of Elmgrove was playing cricket out the back and getting my only ever hat trick. 3 balls and 3 wickets. It was only when I looked through the web site that I saw the head was Dr John Hunter. My own family doctor was Dr John Hunter, obviously can't have been the same. Our doctor's surgery was on the Newtownards Road. The photos you have of the fire are very accurate and well scanned. But I can't remember seeing the damage at the time and I'm sure my brother still doesn't realise the damage that was caused. Maybe I should arrange for him to visit you to formally apologize. (26 years later.)
I'll keep checking the your site for any updates. But thank you for all your hard work in bring our memories together. It does show what influence we, as teachers have on pupils. Will my year 10 kids come back in 25 years time and say, "Thanks for a great time sir and thanks for the story about your brother burning down the school."
Paul Nickell
Network Manager
Aldersley High School