'School's out' for Suffolk governor after 40 years of serving community

Community Hero: Colin Monk. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Colin Monk has been serving his local school as a governor for 40 years - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The final school bell is ringing for a Suffolk school governor who is stepping down after four decades in the role. 

Colin Monk, from Trimley St Mary, has been a governor at the village's primary school for 40 years and has been its chair for 35 of those.

Now, however, he is preparing to step down having seen five different headteachers lead the school in his time. 

Mr Monk initially got involved with the governors because his four children attended the school. 

"A neighbour of mine saw me and said 'I see there's an election for a parent governor coming up, I'd be prepared to support you', " he said. 

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"It was just that he thought I might make a good governor. 

"The rest is history." 

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Since then, three of Mr Monk's grandchildren have also gone to the school and he remains as passionate about his work as ever. 

"If you have got the right attitude then one sort of becomes hooked on it," said Mr Monk. 

"You continuously, as headteachers do, want the best for your local school."

It's not only as a governor that Mr Monk has helped to serve his community. 

Community Hero: Colin Monk. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Trimley St Mary governor Colin Monk is our latest community hero - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"I worked as a volunteer with the Welcome Hall in Trimley St Mary as a treasurer there at the committee for many years," said Mr Monk. 

"I had a similar role at Stennett's Playing Field. 

"I have done various auditing jobs for various local organisations.

"I found it difficult to say no to a lot of things."

It's been a great balancing act for Mr Monk to manage all of his work alongside his job at BT, from which he is now retired.

"We just managed things," said Mr Monk, who was also previously a scout leader.

"It's strange to look back and think if I was to take that all on again I would probably say 'no thank you'."

Community Hero: Colin Monk. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Colin Monk said he had seen many changes to education in his time - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Mr Monk has seen a lot change at the school in his time in charge of the board of governors. 

"More and more devolvement of responsibilities from government to schools," said Mr Monk.

"Which has increased the workload particularly for headteachers and the admin staff.

"It never ends. Year after year there is always more to do.

"The governor's role has increased as well, there's a lot more upon governors to monitor the quality of teaching and learning at the school.

"But it's all been very enjoyable." 

Now Mr Monk will be leaving the role, but he feels confident in the team behind him taking over. 

"What you want to do is leave it in a good state for someone else to take over," said Mr Monk. 

"I think we have got just the people now to do that.

"There are 10 other people on the governing body, some really good people, and they deserve the chance to shine.

"It's all that thing about taking the school forward with their different attitudes towards how the school develops. 

"It's right that they have their time."

To anyone who is considering taking on the role of a governor, Mr Monk had this to say. 

"It's that old thing about giving something back," said Mr Monk. 

"Wanting the best for the local community as a whole and that's just one way of doing it that is quite interesting and involved.

"You really do feel that you are making a difference."

Christina Ashford, current headteacher at Trimley St Mary Primary School said: "Mr Monk’s 40 years commitment to Trimley St Mary Primary School community is an outstanding achievement.

"Mr Monk has worked with five headteachers in his time as chairman, has always supported the children and staff whole heartedly, taking part in residential visits, numerous trips, performances and celebrations.

"Strategic leadership of a school and co-ordination of a governing body, is a huge commitment and responsibility, Mr Monk has been very giving of his time to carry out this task as a volunteer and it is rightly now time for him to relinquish the reigns and retire from that huge responsibility.

"We thank him and his family unreservedly for all that he has achieved and his dedication to the school."

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