Little was it known in 1990 when David Powell was appointed to the headship of Burton Bradstock School that a long involvement with the community was starting. David moved with his family, Barbara his wife, their daughters and in laws into Burton Bradstock with the purpose of drawing the village community into the school as well as to open the school to the village. The children performed plays, and concerts for the villagers who regularly helped out. David held and played at barn dances in the village, often with children from the school in the band. In 2003 David took on his final Headship at St Mary’s Middle School, Puddletown, a much bigger school. He then moved into Dorset Children’s Services to advise school leaders on school improvement and leadership development. Here he started working with UNICEF to help design the Rights-Respecting School programme that promoted the opportunities for all children and adults to better understand children’s rights, a passion he continued in retirement.
David “retired” in 2015 and then devoted his time to volunteering, mainly with a youth and musical focus. He was chair of Home Start West Dorset where Barbara his wife was a volunteer. He became involved in Bridport’s Minerva Trust in the early days and was asked to Chair the group of Headteachers and Governors keen to explore the idea of becoming a Multi Academy Trust. He served on the Board of Trustees following the conversion of the four local schools into the Minerva Trust. David also served as a governor at Bridport Primary School and Chaired the Board and then joined the Governors at the Sir John Colfox Academy. At Colfox he undertook the roles of Safeguarding governor and was instrumental in assisting with governor development. His passion in the UNICEF Rights Respecting Schools and Town programmes continued. He worked with Bridport Town Council in their Rights Respecting Town programme and oversaw many children from the local schools meeting with the Town Council over the years discussing the importance of all citizens gaining an understanding of the rights they hold, and the consequent responsibility to behave kindly to all other people and respect their rights. As a result, he was asked to Chair the town’s drive to declare itself the first Rights-Respecting town in England, and this the Town Council did in 2018. At Colfox David was the Rights Respecting Governor, a role he fulfilled with dedication. Colfox initially achieved the Bronze award, then Silver and in December 2020 the prestigious GOLD Rights Respecting Award, a highly satisfying end to his time as governor at Colfox. His leadership, motivational skills and passion came to the fore and all the staff and students played their part with him to gain this amazing award.
Involvement with the young people of Bridport was not solely within the school sphere, but in the world of music. Here he encouraged children to get involved both with playing instruments and singing. He gave them opportunities to develop and undertake solo performances at local events such as the Charter Fair as well as developing the Minerva Learning Trust Choir. He composed songs and music with the children and the Choir gave many fine performances. Above all the participants in the Choir and his musical groups all greatly enjoyed themselves. The musical scene in Bridport will notice the loss of David. David was also on the Charter Fair committee and he has performed with various bands at this event and others over the past few years. He also Chaired the Dorset Music Hub, seeking to promote youth music of all genres across the county and has promoted visual arts with young people in schools. Two students who
have known David both when they were in primary and secondary school said, “David has been a massive part of my life within Bridport and it’s almost unbelievable he’s moving. I will carry on song writing and performing as much as I can, and I hope he will be there for some too. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with someone as incredible and inspirational as David, I’ve enjoyed every second of it. I hope to perform with him again as soon as it’s possible.” The other student wrote “I’ve known David Powell since primary school, and it feels as if we’ve worked on countless projects together. He is a true community figure, one of the kindest and most determined people I know – always helping to coordinate a project or improve the school and town. His passion for music, young people, human rights and community was evident in everything he organised – from concerts and workshops to the Rights Respecting Town initiative he led (the first in the country!) He has helped me develop invaluable skills; I’ve had so many opportunities and enjoyed everyone. On top of this, he is a great performer and songwriter. At one concert, he picked up a different instrument for each song and played them all fantastically! He truly put his heart and soul into Colfox and Bridport and will be greatly missed.”
As can be seen David’s passion of music and young people has enriched the lives of many here in Bridport. We will miss him at Colfox and I am sure many will miss him in Bridport. He and Barbara leave us to start a new phase of their lives in the Cotswolds where they will be nearer to their children and grandchildren. I cannot imagine David stopping performing music or being interested the young people, so our loss is the Cotswolds gain. We have not heard the last of David as he is developing a blog based on his thirty years in the Bride Valley, linked to songs he has written and performed. The link will be on the village and town museum websites.