The Past Scholars and Friends of St Gabriel’s School honoured a matriarch of their institution last Saturday, as they held a tea party at Radisson Aquatica to celebrate her approaching 90th birthday.
Dame Maizie Barker-Welch, a former teacher, not only instructed the school’s students in Spanish and Music, but taught them life lessons and important values they still cherish today. And she was hailed for imparting those on the students of the 70-year-old school.
During the event, she was serenaded by Kenneth Armstrong who performed some of her favourite hymns; while her two daughters, Sonja Welch and Yolande Phillips, read her a poem that left her in tears.
In a brief address, Dame Maizie spoke about her time teaching at St Gabriel’s.
“I don’t even remember the year, as it was so long ago. All these children were little tots growing up and I was very happy to be at St Gabriel’s School. A whole lot of things that they remember, some of them I don’t remember, but they remember all the little things – singing and so on,” she said, adding that she had many fond memories of the school.
“I think those were good days, very happy days at that time . . . . I am very happy to be here as they are not many of us around – just a few of us, you know. I am very happy and cheerful and I feel like singing.”
Dame Maizie made the entire gathering erupt in laughter when she recounted an egregious error she made when she signed her first reports at St Gabriel’s School in the term leading up to the Christmas break.
“I wrote ‘Xmas’ and the nuns were horrified. And I had to take out all the Xs and write ‘Christmas’!” she recalled.
Dame Maizie considers herself blessed from the day she was born, as she reflects on the things she has been able to do in her lifetime, while having four children, 11 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
She thanked the Past Scholars and Friends of St Gabriel’s School for the tributes in song, noting that they had hit the right spot.
“How did you guys know the type of songs that I like? I remember playing some of those songs. I didn’t know the last one but I knew the others. I used to play at home and at school. I would like to thank you very much,” the retired teacher said.
The Past Scholars and Friends of St Gabriel’s School also presented her with a gift of a Samsung Galaxy Tablet and case – something her daughter said she had wanted for a long time.
When asked what she would be doing for her 90th birthday, on September 17, Dame Maizie said she would be fulfilling a lifelong dream of travelling on the Orient Express and she would meet her son, grandchildren and great grandchildren.