Berkhamsted Group | 27.09.2016

Physics department icon Sheila Brockett retires after nearly 40 years.

Physics department icon Sheila Brockett retires after nearly 40 years.

Celebrations with Sheila after 40 years of service. 

Friends and colleagues – new and old – gathered at Castle Common Room to celebrate and say farewell to Sheila Brockett on her retirement from the role as Physics Technician after nearly 40 years of service. 

Sheila started her job at the Boys’ School in February 1977 with a background stronger in Chemistry than Physics and among an all-male Science department.

In little time Sheila settled in and developed a close friendship group within the department. With the obvious parallels to the other ‘Fab Four’, Sheila became ‘Ringo’ to the other members of the department – John Hughes, Paul Neeson and George Monk. The Beatles group at Berkhamsted enjoyed what Sheila describes as 10 glorious years working together throughout the late 70s and early 1980s. 

Left to Right: Andrew Webb, Pat Webb, Bob Newport, Sheila Brockett, Paul Neeson, Sue Nicholls, Charles Eaton and Chris Nicholls. 

Outside of the lab and classroom setting, her school adventures included trips to Osmington Bay, Skern Lodge and Whipsnade Zoo.  Versatile and explorative by nature Sheila also supplemented her regular job with various roles at the school including working in the kitchen, the boarding house and cleaning.  

At one point, some 12 years into the job, Sheila actually started working as a technician at another school. It lasted just one term, before she returned to Berkhamsted School. The history books should perhaps document this exchange as merely a short term loan! 

How the labs would have looked during the time of the ‘Fab Four’ . 

In Sheila’s time in the department, the number of classes has risen from 19 to 31 and there are now double the amount of laboratories than there were in 1977.  Now, with practical lessons taking place in at least 50% of all Science lessons at Berkhamsted School, the team of technicians work tirelessly to prepare the equipment and resources for hundreds of students every week. 

Sheila said on the day of her retirement gathering: “First and foremost I will miss the people. The people make the school. I have made many friends not just from the science department but widely throughout the community of the school. These are friends that I will always stay in touch with.
”I can certainly say I went out on a high this year when I was given the honour of meeting Her Majesty The Queen on the day of our 475 anniversary celebrations. It was just phenomenal, something I’ve also wanted to do, and something that couldn’t be topped however long I’d have worked here!’

In her time at Berkhamsted School Sheila outlasted four department leaders, John Hughes, David Metcalfe, Mike Metcalfe and Karen Best, but the surviving Head of Physics Dr Steve Redman has been left in the unique position of running the department without Sheila and her 40 years of experience. 

Dr Redman said “Sheila has been invaluable to our department in so many ways.  Whenever we’ve had new teachers join I’d always make sure they were placed in the room next to Sheila.  She was simply always there to help people.
“Overall, thousands of students have been able to benefit from her commitment to the job, which is not only physically demanding but requires a good degree of scientific and technical knowledge.”

Michaelmas is a busy and exciting term in 2016 for the Physics department, which welcomes two new members of staff including the new technician. 

Highlights include a trip to Geneva for 22 Sixth Form students to visit the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), home to the Large Hadron Collider – the world’s largest and most complex experimental facility.

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