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Hullbridge Village History

Derek Hardy.( 1917-2008)

By Gary Congram 2008

In 2008 a pillar of the Hullbridge Community sadly passed away. Derek Hardy aged 91 was a teacher, headmaster and most importantly a friend to many children who went to Hullbridge Primary School. He was highly respected by parents, children, staff and councilors and even now villagers refer to him with affection and a smile on their faces as "Mr Hardy".

Mr Hardy had three children Christine (60), Graham (56), and Brian (52). In an interview with Nicola Fenn of The Echo after his dad's death, Graham recalled that his father married his mother Irene in 1941 just before WWII, and they spent a month together before he was shipped off to Egypt. The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary but two years later unfortunately Irene died. In 2003 Mr Hardy married again this time to his wife Lily who died in 2006. Graham also said "Everywhere in the village, older people stop and say "your dad taught me at school". Even though he did retire from school when he was 63, he touched the lives of a lot of people. Speak to anyone in the village and they will know him, he led a very active life".

Personally I was only at his school for 6 months, I moved to the village when I was 10 but I remember that he went out of his way to make sure I and my sister had settled. It amazed me that he appeared to know every child's name. I also remember with affection that he lived in the house next door to the old school and sometimes in the mornings as we congregated in the school yard playing football, cricket or if you were a girl, talking or skipping we would keep an eye open for the teacher on playground duty only to be surprised by Mr Hardy coming out the house and blowing his whistle or ringing an old brass bell to get us to come to order and form orderly queues to enter our classes. When it was Mr Hardy the queues formed quickly. Not that he was a strong disciplinarian with the cane, we just wanted to be in his good books.

Mr Hardy's legacy is the Riverside School which with the help of the Parents Teachers Association he has helped transorm from a school of approx., 100 pupils working in 5 classrooms in 1 brick built and 1 wooden framed building to a school of more than 1,000 pupils with its own swimming pool, two large modern buildings housing the infants school and junior school, each with its own playing fields. A remarkable achievement!

Mr Hardy was a very active member of the community and did not need a second invitation to play his instrument in front of villagers. He loved the river and would often be found at the weekends and nights during the summer, in his boat. Not many people knew he was a competant artist, painting in his favourite media of watercolours.

In the words of his son Graham "He was one of life's gentlemen. He never did anyone a wrong turn and everybody liked him. He had a fantastic sense of humour-he loved punds and would always see the funny side of things"

On behalf of many many villagers "Thank You Mr Hardy! for making the most important time of our lives so happy!"