Remembering a special teacher from Diamond Hall School in Sunderland

Smiling faces in this Diamond Hall classroom line-up.
Smiling faces in this Diamond Hall classroom line-up.

Patricia Winston Hall had a real affinity with children – and with a huge section of Sunderland community life.

Any former pupils of Diamond Hall School might remember the woman who taught reading, writing and arithmetic – and yet made just as much an impression with her wartime songs on the piano.

Children in the playground at Diamond Hall.

Children in the playground at Diamond Hall.

Pupils galore would be spotted in the playground singing along to the tunes they’d just learned from the First and Second World Wars.

Sadly, Pat - who became Hutchinson when she married – lost a five-year battle with cancer in 2008.

But proud husband Alan, now 80, wanted to look back after spotting other reflections on Diamond Hall School in Wearside Echoes recently.

Pat, he said, began teaching in 1959 and went to Valley Road in Hendon in her early days.

Pat at Diamond Hall School.

Pat at Diamond Hall School.

But it was at Diamond Hall where she made her biggest impact and stayed for around 30 years.

Alan told us: “She played piano at every school she went to. They did First World War and Second World War songs and all the teachers helped.

“I used to say to her ‘do the kids get on with these songs with the difference in years?’

“She would say ‘if you go in the schoolyard they are whistling and singing them’.”

Pat always had a reputation among her colleagues for excellence, and Alan still occasionally gets to hear about it.

“I once went for a walk along the cliffs at Whitburn and a lady said ‘I knew Pat Hutchinson. She was an excellent teacher’.”

Pat retired in the 1990s after specialising in the education of infants.

But her effect on Sunderland life went so much further.

She was “a keen Guider from when she first went into the Guides and she came out as a Patrol Leader,” said Alan.

She eventually became President of the Guide Association Movement in Sunderland. “She always had an interest in that.”

Pat also took over a luncheon club at Burn Park Church and also worked for the Womens Royal Voluntary Service.

“She also helped me to run a youth club,” said Alan. I had a tuck shop and she helped at different times.”

She loved music and travel and the couple vowed to get away on holiday at least once a year when they married. They lived up to their word for most of their married life.

As if all that was not enough, Pat also sang in a church choir.

She was so well respected, 350 people came to her funeral. She was much loved.

Alan himself has enjoyed just as varied and interesting a life.

He began work as an eight-year-old when he became a butcher’s boy – and stayed there for ten years.

At 16, he turned his attentions to becoming an engineer and joined Doxfords Engineering.

And then he went to sea and travelled five times round the world while he was in the Merchant Navy.

His working life also included periods with an electrical company, Bristol Siddley, Pyrex and once rose to the position of maintenance superintendent with one employer.

He also served as a magistrate for 18 years and ran a youth club.

Wew are indebted to Alan for sharing some great memories and hope even more people will get in touch about their Diamond Hall days.

Lesley-Anne Green did - to tell us she was in the photo we published recently.

“I’m the bright blonde haired girl in the picture,” said Lesley-Anne. “I’m 30 years old and these pictures brought back so many good memories ... I really miss that school.”

Thanks also to Carol Jones who helpfully told us: “I think the little boy with auburn hair on the right in the photograph may have been called Keith Atkinson.”

The photo we shared was actually of the new Diamond Hall School when it first opened in 1993.

ers certainly did when we shared one of Sunderland’s new Diamond Hall School and some of its pupils in 1993.

We posted it on social media and it reached around 25,000 people.

If you remember either the new school or the original, we would love to hear from you.

Get in touch and tell us more.

Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk and share all of those memories.