FRIDAY and Saturday, November 10-11, were important dates in the lives of pupils from Sir Thomas Picton and Tasker Milward schools as the occasion when teams representing past and present 1st XVs played one another for the last time in a series of rugby matches which had extended over almost 40 years.

This festival of rugby ended with a celebratory social evening at the Pavilion on the County Showground to which all present and past 1st XVs played were invited.

I was fortunate to receive an invitation to attend this gathering of former students from both schools and the memory of this reunion will remain with me forever.

For me this meeting of several hundred present and past players and the retired and present staff was a culmination of a journey which began in 1975 when, as area education officer for Pembrokeshire in the fledgling county of Dyfed, I was charged with the duties of establishing two 11-18 comprehensive schools to replace Haverfordwest Grammar School, Taskers Grammar School for Girls and the mixed Haverfordwest Secondary Modern School.

By that time the new schools came into existence on September 1, 1978, I had been appointed as one of the two new headteachers and along with Mr Glyn Worthington we faced up to the challenge of creating a system of secondary education of which the community of mid Pembrokeshire could be proud.

We were free to appoint our own staff from the 117 teachers who had taught at the three pre-1978 schools and where there were still vacancies we could advertise for them from outside Pembrokeshire.

In the 11 years of my headship I never doubted the enormity of the task of ensuring that we had a duty to provide the highest standards of education possible. I was certain that with strong parental support and a team of dedicated teachers the pupils who passed through our hands would perform to the best of their abilities in all aspects of school life.

My attendance at the recent celebration, almost 30 years since my retirement as head, where several hundred former students gathered together (several of them in their late 40s and early 50s at the pinnacle of their careers) mixing and chatting freely with one another for hours about how much they valued their education at Sir Thomas Picton and Tasker Milward reinforced my belief that we had succeeded in providing thousands of pupils with quality education which had served them well.

I have never doubted what a privilege it was for me to serve as head of Sir Thomas Picton school knowing that I worked with talented staff an students who were keen to learn and showed enthusiasm in contributing to all aspects of school life. I am proud of what we set out to do and feel a strong sense of gratitude in the knowledge that what we attempted, we achieved.

May I conclude by wishing the new secondary schools to be established in Haverfordwest every success in the future.

COLIN EVANS OBE (Former Area Education Officer 1974-1978 and headteacher of Sir Thomas Picton School 1978-89)