A SUCCESSFUL company boss in South Tyneside has taken a trip down memory lane to help children at the school he went to more than 60 years ago.
John Lightfoot MBE, chairman of specialist roller blind manufacturer Solar Solve Marine, has given Ridgeway Primary School in South Shields a cheque for £1,000.
The 69-year-old was a pupil there from 1948 to 1954 and retains happy memories.
He decided to help with funds after reading in the Gazette how the school in Park Avenue, South Shields, had become an academy.
Mr Lightfoot established his family-run business, which exports to more than 80 countries from its headquarters at Tyne Dock East Side, Port of Tyne, South Shields, in 1975.
But he has never forgotten his time at the school, then known as Cleadon Park.
He said: “Like most people, I remember my schooldays and I look back on them with affection. They were my formative years and they left an impression.
“It had a different name then, but it’s still the same school. I went back about 10 years ago with my daughter, Julie, to speak to pupils and teachers about the company.
“Both Julie and her twin, David, also went to Ridgeway for about eight years in the 1970s, so there’s a strong connection.
“I thought that it would be nice to help the school and decided to make the donation, which I hope will benefit the children, perhaps by helping them go on educational trips.”
Mr Lightfoot has also offered to open the doors of his firm so pupils can see how the successful business works and operates.
He believes such opportunities will give pupils a valuable insight into the world outside of school and home.
Mr Lightfoot added: “There are a variety of ways I would like to help and am keen to support further projects.”
Solar Solve Marine manufactures the world’s leading brand of high performance sunscreens for the marine industry and is a major award winner for export and business excellence.
John’s daughter, Julie, is the firm’s managing director.
Tina Murphy, executive headteacher of Ridgeway, said: “It is always good to hear when a former pupil has happy memories of the school.
“Ridgeway is a great school and it’s no surprise John remembers his time here with affection. I am grateful to him for the donation. The school is continuing to make good progress.
“Hopefully, it will help provide current pupils with a fond memory when they look back at their time here.”
Ridgeway became an academy earlier this month, with South Tyneside College appointed as its sponsor.
Lindsey Whiterod, principal and chief executive of the college said: “I’m delighted to hear John would like an ongoing relationship with the school and is keen to help children attending now. Hopefully, they will go on to do as well in life as he has.”