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News > College News > Pauline Ockenden retires after 27 years as Shield Matron

Pauline Ockenden retires after 27 years as Shield Matron

Pauline shares her memories of her time spent caring for the girls in Shield
Pauline in fron of her Tree of Life
Pauline in fron of her Tree of Life

Pauline joined Hurst 27 years ago from St Mary's Hall, one of England's oldest schools for girls, to become Matron of the second girls' House - Shield. 

Pauline's niece was already at the school and finding it to her liking, so when the post was advertised Pauline decided to apply. She had also come across various Hurst boys who had been invited to come over to attend dances at St Mary's and was impressed by their behaviour - much better than the boys from Brighton College apparently! 

When she arrived there were 15 Upper Sixth girls in single rooms and a Shell group, who were housed in a dormitory. All were full boarders instead of the mix of flexi and weekly boarders that we have today. 

Despite working with a number of different Housemistresses over the years, she has been the only Matron in Shield. For 25 years she lived in, but a couple of years ago decided it would be a good thing to live away from Hurst, in preparation for her retirement. Pauline says the time has gone very quickly and she has never had a moment of boredom. She speaks warmly of all the girls she has had in her care and says the most important qualities for a Matron to possess is love of children and consistency. She enjoys talking with them, finds them 'amazing and hard-working' and says it is a wonderful job, with laughter a part of every day. When asked about any drawbacks to the role, her only response was that it was a little tricky when girls ask for their CCF uniform to be cleaned the night before they require it. 

The photo shows Pauline with the Tree of Life she has made for the Shield girls, which incorporates in its design the words she attributes to them: supportive, helpful, inclusive, engaged, loyal and determined. Needlework has always been a large part of Pauline's life. At 10 she was making her own clothes and at 15 she was planning to train with the Royal Court of Dressmakers. However, she decided to go to Italy for a year, to look after children, though ended up staying for 8 years, combining child care with training as a dental hygienist. At Hurst, she has produced the Dance Showcase costumes for many years, for the Pre-Prep onwards, and will continue to assist in this respect. She has found this work fascinating and has learnt a good deal about the type of fabric to use, free flowing material for ballet for example.

Looking to the future, Pauline plans to spend her time between her home in Sussex and Italy, but has some extensive travel plans to Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand for New Year. She took part in the Tall Ships Race in 2000 and would has plans to get back into this again. She will also be making crocheted animals and jointed teddy bears for charity. 


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