BIRTHDAY BOY: Harley Stokes, 96, was treated to a cake and party by a band of his former students at Hampden Street School. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Special celebration for favourite teacher

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It might be 62 years after they were students of Harley Stokes but that did not stop a group of Hampden Street School alumni getting together to celebrate their former teacher’s birthday.

Harley, who turned 96 yesterday, seemed a bit bemused as to why the students would want to give him such an honour.

“It’s because you were the most wonderful teacher,” said Ruth Bagnall, who tracked Harley down as part of next year’s 150th anniversary of Hampden Street School.

Ruth was part of Harley’s 1955, Standard 1 class, which brought together the collection of old friends.

“He was the softest teacher in Hampden St School,” said Nicky Borras. “He was just the loveliest man. He was super.”

Harley went into teacher’s college in 1949 before starting at the school and staying for 17 years.

“I liked the idea of teaching children,” he said. “I wasn’t cut out for anything else.”

Sally Win said, after they figured out when Harley’s birthday was they wanted to put on a small party to say thank you. She said, even though some of the students had gone their separate ways, many had come back to Nelson and ended up living quite close.

“And this year we are all 70 so that is quite a milestone.”

Former students or teachers wanting to know more about the 150th anniversary can email michelle.nicholson@hss.school.nz or call her on 548 1825.