By Mike Pentelow
Popular All Souls School caretaker Mario Lambri celebrated 30 years’ service recently, on top of the six years he spent there as a pupil. Naturally he has seen a lot of changes over the years.
“Mr Connick was the head teacher when I started as a pupil in 1964,” Mario told Fitzrovia News.
“He was from the old school and very regimental. We all got up when he came into the classroom. But although he was firm he was also fair, and a very good head.”
Mario left the school in 1971 and then came back as a caretaker when Mr Connick employed him in 1980.
“It was nice to come back, maybe a bit weird working where I had been to school but it felt right. Mr Connick was very welcoming and taught me a lot of practical things I needed such as plumbing. He had learned a lot during the war.
“When he left in 1983 he was replaced by Marion Beha. She came at the time of changes to the curriculum. On the one hand she was very old school but, on the other hand, she brought something new, and balanced them both well.
“She also taught me a lot in the 20 years she was in charge. She tolerated a lot from me as a young man, and was very patient, like a mother figure.
“Then there was Tim Hunter-Whitehaw for five years, and now Alix Ascough, who is currently on maternity leave.” She has just given birth to a son,Woody Oscar, weighing 3.13kg. “She is amazing and has done a great job in building a great team that combines perfectly. When you walk in you feel part of the family.
“It is quite scarey because the majority of the teachers were not even born when I started.
“But it has been an exciting 30 years and there have been some huge changes in the educational system over that time.
“The cane was still being used when I was a pupil, and it had just finished when I started working here.
“It is more open now. Teachers are called by their first name now, and there is no standing up for them. It is a more liberal approach.
“The kids are given more responsibility, and given the chance to find themselves.”
Mario was born in the area 50 years ago, and his mother still lives in Carburton Street on the corner of Cleveland Street where she can be seen sitting on the doorstep. She came over from Greece just after the second world war.
“It was a great community in those days,” recalled Mario. “There were not so many cars in those days so we used to play football in the streets, and on building sites when they were knocking down Victorian buildings and building blocks of flats like Holcroft Court.
“Sometimes we would all get together and have 15 a side, or however many there were of us, down New Cavendish Street and Clipstone Street instead of doing our homework, and playing the ball against walls that sometimes annoyed people.
“There was no television in the afternoons then and we amused ourselves.
“But the kids today are also great and it is always sad when they leave in year six. I have seen children leave, and then their children come here and grow up and leave. Sometimes they come back and tell me stories about their school days and remember me from then.”