IT WAS way back in 1992 when a fresh-faced young teacher began his career at Kings’.

So fresh-faced, in fact, that he was often mistaken for one of his own charges. The story goes that he paid half-price when alighting a local bus because the driver mistook him for a pupil.

That young man was Rob Jeckells, and for close on three decades he has been Kings’ School to a ‘T’. Past pupils always ask after him and all recall their lessons with him with a fondness that cannot be manufactured. He is known for the way in which he flings himself into everything he tackles – whether that involves dressing up as a pantomime dame, or lacing up his running shoes to run marathons.

He’s less likely to be mistaken for a pupil these days, although it is fair to say that he retains a boyish charm and enthusiasm for everything he turns his hand to. This year, 2020, has seen him taking on the biggest challenges of his career.

With the departure of Matthew Leeming early in the year, the school governors set about the task of finding his successor. Then Covid-19 reared its head, and life was put on hold.

Mr Jeckells became acting headteacher, a challenge at any time, but especially in the midst of a global pandemic. Yet Mr Jeckells took hold of the tiller and steered Kings’ through the choppiest of waters, ensuring that all on-board remained safe and secure.

The school’s motto, Una Laborantes (Working Together) has never been more apt. Everyone pulled together and despite this being the most trying of times, staff, pupils, parents and governors alike lent their support.

Rob has retained his sense of humour throughout. Always visible, active and engaged all over the school. Somehow he has kept the school afloat, and more than that, we ended last term in a most positive way, grateful for his outstanding leadership.

As Kings’ prepares to welcome its new headteacher in 2021, Mr Jeckells will return to his deputy headteacher role and the classroom.

A spokesman said: “He can take a deep breath and know that he has done us all proud. Not only did he rise to the challenge, he smashed it.”