On Thursday 20th July 2017 Jamie Anderson undertook a top secret mission to attend the Westborough School in Westcliff on Sea to bid farewell to primary school teacher Peter Littman who was retiring from teaching the next day…
Regular readers of the Gerry Anderson website and viewers of FAB Live may already be aware of Peter Littman’s stellar work introducing generations of children at the Westborough School in Westcliff on Sea to the amazing worlds of Gerry Anderson. You can read more about Peter’s story of Teaching Inspired by Gerry Anderson here.
Peter has created thousands of young fans during his career, and so when his school contacted me to ask if I might be able to pop down to see him before his retirement, I jumped at the chance.
I was told to arrive at the school at 8:05am to give the best chance of avoiding seeing Peter before the surprise introduction. In the main school hallway I could see paintings of the Spectrum emblem, and various Thunderbirds vehicles – it was pretty clear that Peter’s influence here was really powerful, and that the kids really were excited by classic Gerry Anderson shows.
Peter almost ruined the surprise as he left his classroom to search for a book, so I was bundled into a side office, where I hid in the corner with a group of very nice, if a little bemused, school staff.
But once the coast was clear, I snuck around the exterior of the school with Peter’s colleague, and entered the classroom – much to Peter’s surprise.
The love for Gerry Anderson’s shows was palpable, with kids in the classroom telling me about their favourite series – “Captain Scarlet!”, “Fireball XL5!”, “Thunderbirds!”, “Stingray!”. It was amazing to see these youngsters so in love with five-decade old television series.
I then got to spend some time chatting to Peter about what he thinks makes Gerry Anderson shows so special, and why the kids love them so much. Of course, I strongly believe that Dad’s shows are absolutely timeless, and regularly see kids (both big and small) who love the old series, but to see such a large group of children so totally in love with the series was really touching – a wonderful sight.
After a great chat with Peter, there was a school assembly, in which Peter talked to the children about why I was there. He is clearly a much-loved member of staff at the school – by kids and colleagues alike. When Peter asked if any of the children had any questions, hands shot up!
Again – it was so wonderful to see so much excitement about Dad’s series – another really touching moment. I then presented Peter with a special award for his contribution to maintaining Gerry Anderson’s legacy.
The award – the first of its kind – is a bronzed bust of Gerry Anderson sculpted by the very talented Antony Halls. We hope to be making more of these awards in the coming months and years – for those who have made extraordinary contributions to maintaining the Gerry Anderson legacy. Peter’s amazing work introducing hundreds (and probably thousands) of children to Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Fireball XL5, Stingray and many more Gerry Anderson series, has made an incredibly positive impact.
As I was leaving the school, I met one of Peter’s old pupils – who now works at the school. She remembered Peter introducing her and her brother to Captain Scarlet many years before – turning them both into life long fans. What an extraordinary legacy to leave, Peter!
Before I left, Peter gathered his year 4 class together for a very special treat for me – a rendition of ‘I wish I was a Spaceman’ – the closing title song from Fireball XL5. What a brilliant moment – and amazing that a TV show from 1962 gets today’s children excited!
I had an absolutely fantastic morning at the Westborough School. Peter Littman has made a huge impact on generation of kids by introducing them to the amazing worlds of Gerry Anderson – something that I will be forever grateful for. I have a feeling the kids will feel the same, too.
Enjoy your retirement Peter – and keep up that amazing enthusiasm for all the Gerry Anderson series!