AMONG all the changing currents of educational theory and practice, one good old British bastion stands firm — the school caretaker. Headmasters may come, assistant masters may go, prefects may leave and grow beards, but school caretakers seem to carry on for ever.
It was never very clear to us what position Mr Gillman officially held. He was at once caretaker, janitor, porter, postman, circulator and friend. In his journeys about the school he must have climbed more stairs than Jacob ever dreamed of, walked along more corridors than did Chaplin, and carried enough lists to delight the heart of Koko. A fine military figure in his neat uniform, shoes brightly polished and hair neatly brushed, it was not surprising that, as an ex-soldier, he had strong views on discipline, dress and deportment. His retirement at Easter seems to mark the end of an era in the history of the school.
He will be remembered chiefly for his cheerfulness, amounting at times to a boyish exuberance. One never met him on the corridors without a cheery greeting or a little burst of song to accompany the sympathetic query “Are you happy in your work?” or the triumphant cryptic command “When available!” Even when most exasperated—and what school caretaker never gets exasperated—he never lost his temper; the strongest adjective ever heard from him was “flipping”. He was firm to the boys, courteous to the staff, courtly to the ladies, and never presumed.
He had been with us for 21 years and—difficult to realise—he will be 70 in August. To him and to Mrs. Gillman, a lady of quiet gentleness and gracious manner, we wish a long and happy retirement. They have moved to 14 Scawby Mills Road, Scarborough, and will he delighted to see any old friends who visit them.
E.L.V. (KES MAGAZINE, May 1959 Edition)