A RETIRING headmaster, who is leaving his school in pole position, celebrated his departure with a former student who spends his life in the Formula One pit-lane.

Ripon Grammar School headmaster Martin Pearman officiated over his final prize-giving after 13 years at the helm of one of the North’s most accomplished centres of learning.

Joining him on stage at the annual lower school prize-giving ceremony was Old Riponian Nick Chester, who is technical director of Renault F1, a key position in the most prestigious motor racing class in the world.

A packed hall of students, families, staff and civic dignitaries heard that under the stewardship of Mr Pearman, Ripon Grammar School was now considered outstanding for learning and boarding by Ofsted.

It was over-subscribed and the top school in North Yorkshire and the North East for results for the fourth successive year, with current and past students achieving at the highest levels academically, in sport, culture and careers, on a local, national and international stage.

“This has been another remarkable year of endeavour and achievement and it has been a privilege and an honour to work in what is a truly special place, which I will miss,” said Mr Pearman.

“In 35 years of teaching I have seen students achieve incredible things. But it is not always the most talented who succeed. Provided you are prepared to make the most of what you have you may surprise yourself with what you can achieve. You need to be adaptable, resilient, robust and curious and for me to have the opportunity to help shape the lives of young people has been humbling.”

Mr Chester was a student at Ripon Grammar School from 1980-87 before studying engineering at Cambridge University and breaking into motorsport in 1991, joining Renault in 2000.

“I hugely enjoyed my time at RGS,” said Mr Chester, whose father owned a garage in the city’s Dallamires Lane. “I was fascinated by cars and engineering from an early age and got my first taste of racing at club level with my father.

“If ever I did drift off in lessons I would find myself sketching car layouts, but now I work for a French team I realise I should have worked harder in languages. It shows you need to work hard in everything as you never know when that knowledge may come in useful.”

He urged students to consider the huge array of possibilities available to them, to find something they felt passionate about and to work hard to achieve their goals.

Mr Chester presented a host of prizes to students for achievements in academic subjects, sport and contributions to school life.

Musical interludes were provided by students Jessica Parnell and Amy Goodwin, and Canon Paul Greenwell delivered the prayer.

Chairman of governors Dr Peter Mason said: “Mr Pearman, with the unstinting support of his wife Fiona, has been an outstanding headmaster and under his leadership RGS has become an outstanding school.”

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