Our plan was to use speech day as a farewell to Val Cusworth as she steps down from her role as Chair of Governors. For obvious reasons, speech day didn't happen so we wanted to use this space to pay tribute to the legacy of the Cusworth family...
Two great and at times underrated qualities which we hope to instill at Hill House are resilience and loyalty. There can be no better example of these than the Cusworth family. Jack, teacher for decades and then transformational Headmaster; Val, initially mother of pupils and wife of Headmaster, more recently Governor and then Chair of Governors. The Cusworth family’s impact on the Hill House community has been immense and hugely appreciated.
Mrs Val Cusworth steps down as Chair of Governors this summer, but the Cusworth name will still resound in the hallways of Hill House School for years to come. It was Val and her husband Jack, then Headmaster of Hill House School, who one cold winter’s night in 2007, ignored the lone “I Protect this Property” guard dog sign at the abandoned RAF Officer’s Quarters in Auckley, shone torches through the windows and excitedly realised that they had found the perfect location for Hill House’s new location.
It was the logistical nightmare of running shuttle buses between the two former campuses of Hill House St Mary's School born in 2002 but operated on two different sites - primary age children being taught at the Rutland Street site, overlooking Doncaster's Town Fields, and secondary age children taught at the St.Mary's site on Bawtry Road – that eventually precipitated Jack Cusworth to seek a site where both schools could finally merge.
Fast forward to 2012 when Mrs Cusworth, who from 1990 until her retirement in 2009 had been Head of Sixth Form at Danum School, was identified by Mr Holland, as the perfect fit as a Governor to guide Hill House with their newly introduced Sixth Form. Val took on her role with much enthusiasm and has spent the last 8 years guiding, supporting and finally Chairing our Board of Governors, as Elizabeth Paver’s successor, with gracious aplomb.
Her passion and commitment to Hill House School not only as a member of the Board of Governors but as Headmaster’s wife too, has earned her great respect amongst the school community. The legacy of the Cusworth family goes beyond just Jack and Val as their two children attended the school too and while Val was extremely proactive in Hill House life, she proudly shared that she is, as far as she knows, the only Headmaster’s wife who has not worked at Hill House School and believes this was key in the balance in their family life at home as they were able to bounce daily experiences and challenges off each other without it becoming contentious.
Mr Holland is thoughtful in his stories of Val and one can detect the fondness in the way he describes her dedication to the school he has so proudly steered to success since taking of the helm from Jack Cusworth.
‘Val’s dedication to and energy for Hill House has always been clear, from day one when she kindly stored Mrs Holland’s sports car in her garage as we began the move to Doncaster, to quite often arriving at governors’ meetings having only just returned from climbing mountains!’
He continued ‘The Cusworths are synonymous with Hill House, and I have been hugely grateful for Jack and Val’s support, guidance and friendship over the previous decade. It is not an easy thing to hand your school to a successor, and Jack managed that with great skill. Although the school has developed much since that time, the continued involvement of Val as a hugely committed and successful Governor, and Jack as a constant friend, have helped the school remain rooted in the Hill House traditions which we all know and love. Thousands of children, parents and staff owe so much to the Cusworths.’
What now for this amazing lady who has finally called it time as Chair of the Board of Governors?
“I am going to be able to enjoy long walks, dedicate more time to my Rotary Club Inner Wheel function and spend more time with my grandchildren,” shared Val with as much energy as she exercised in her role at Hill House School through the years.
Somehow, it seems that the only way to bid farewell to Val Cusworth is to say “Au Revoir and merci beaucoup” as something makes us feel that there is no doubt “We Shall Meet Again.”