The photograph/ painting of Matt with colleague Peter Sharpe

Matt after the presentation from the school

Matt with Principal Elizabeth Huddleson

Friends and colleagues from all areas of school life gathered in the Atrium last Friday afternoon (7 September) to bid a heartfelt farewell to Matt McClements, one of the most familiar, most popular and indeed some might say most important members of the combined teaching / non-teaching staff at Bangor Grammar School.
Matt’s commanding presence as a member of the maintenance / caretaking team at both College Avenue and Gransha Road dated back to June 1985. All at BGS are agreed that they, and the school, will miss him very much.
Matt’s retirement was marked at a special presentation function hosted by Principal Elizabeth Huddleson and involving a total of four staff farewells, the others being Geography and PE teacher Philip Cartmill (six years at BGS, now at Larne Grammar School), Classroom Assistant/ nurse support Sally Anderson (10 years-plus, resuming her nursing career) and catering staff member Pamela Crothers (20 years).
As well as the current population at Bangor Grammar School, generations of pupils going back more than three decades – some already hitting their half-centuries – will have fallen under Matt’s watchful eye at the school. In recognition of such long and faithful service, Terence Bowman, chairman of Bangor Grammarians, presented him with a Grammarians plaque, making special mention of the help he had given the association at its assorted events down the years. Terence also read out a special tribute penned by retired music teacher Ian Hunter, who had reminisced about maintenance staff members down the years in the 2017 Grammarian magazine.
Paul Blair, chairman of the Board of Governors, attended the function and made presentations on behalf of the governors to all the departing staff members.
The main presentation from colleagues to Matt was a photograph that resembled a portrait of him with long-serving colleague Peter Sharpe. The work of teacher Daire Cunningham, it was greatly admired by all who attended the function. Thanks also went to the catering staff for organising the food and refreshments served prior to the presentations.
Ian Hunter’s tribute:
Two important lessons which BGS pupils learn don’t appear in any curriculum or on any timetable. One is that the school isn’t the building or any of its fabric, it is its people. People of varying talents, skills, determination and work.
The second lesson is that people get out of life in BGS in proportion to what they contribute to the school’s life. Matt, for whom my respect, and to whom my gratitude, continue to this day, now long after we worked together in BGS, you are a fine living example of these two life lessons which are caught but not taught.
Your relationships with BGS people, sometimes slightly unorthodox, humorous, friendly, helpful and so often beyond “the call of duty” were great examples of how to live in a diverse community. No-one can even estimate the extent of your contribution to BGS, its life and well-being, but surely everyone would agree that it has been immense.
I hope that in retirement you will have good health and happiness plus the satisfaction and contentment of knowing that yours has been a job well done. I hope that you have got out of your BGS life a fraction of what you’ve put into it and that your memories of these things will please you when your mind isn’t full of bells ringing, organising and problem-solving for other people.

Grammarians chairman Terence Bowman (right) presents the plaque to Matt McClements