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Papal send-off for Bristol's longest serving head

Pope Francis blessed Catherine Hughes, Principal of St. Bede's Catholic College for 22 years, ahead of her retirement next month

Posted by Hannah Vickers | July 05, 2017 | People, policy, politics

The Principal of St. Bede’s Catholic College – Bristol’s longest serving head teacher – received a special gift and blessing from Pope Francis at a service to mark her retirement after 22 years.

The school hosted a special Mass as Catherine Hughes prepares to retire next month. 

The Bishop of Clifton, Rt. Rev. Declan Lang, joined several other local parish priests at the Mass, along with parents, colleagues, ex-colleagues, governors and pupils past and present, including a 100-strong choir.

At the end of the service the Bishop and Fr. Michael McAndrew, Chair of Governors, presented Ms. Hughes with a signed, framed photograph of Pope Francis with a personal message in recognition of her service to Catholic education. 

Catherine Hughes has mentored more than 20 headteachers and was instrumental in the training at St. Bede’s of more than 650 teachers from 75 schools around the region

Educated at a convent school in Ireland, Ms. Hughes has had a career in teaching spanning over 40 years. In 2011 she became the first Bristol National Leader in Secondary Education. She has mentored more than 20 headteachers, has been a trainer for the National College for Teaching and Leadership, and was instrumental in the training at St. Bede’s of more than 650 teachers from 75 schools around the region.

She was appointed Vice Principal at St. Gregory’s in Bath before joining St. Bede’s as Principal in 1995. Since then the school has gone from strength to strength, becoming one of the highest achieving and respected schools in the city, now serving over 1,000 pupils with its own independent Areté sixth form.

Ms. Hughes will be succeeded in September by Garry Maher, who is joining St. Bede’s from a school in South Wales.

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