Many know of him now as Horncastle’s answer to Andrew Lloyd Webber: having taken part in, or watched, one of his fantastic annual school productions.
But few may be aware of the experiences behind Dave Thomas; experiences which shaped him into the great influence he is as Horncastle Primary School teacher today.
Dave credits his mother as the motivation from whom he inherited his love of drama: she had been extremely passionate about it too; she was a teacher, and Dave stated she inspired him, in part, to eventually attend Bishop Grosseteste Teacher Training College.
Dave was also interested in attending Bishop Grosseteste because he had heard it owned an excellent drama department – and fantastic it was too: his countless opportunities at acting and directing there fuelled his love for drama more and more; and in his final year, it led him to acquiring an extraordinary chance at working behind the scenes for bands because, as a student, he had access to the lighting box.
The majority of the groups Dave and his fellow scholars ran the lights for were up-and-coming: bands like Starry Eyed and Laughing, who once sent a complimentary note to the lighting operators, stating it was the best stage lighting they had ever had.
On one occasion, the already famous Roy Wood’s Wizzard came to play at Bishop Grosseteste, and although Dave and his friends tried their best with the lighting, they received a message halfway through the concert from the group, saying “Can whoever is swooping the spotlight around stop doing it?”
Despite this, the job had been exciting: Dave said he felt almost as if he was a part of the band playing; a bonus was that he was able to attend the concerts for free.
Despite having no initial intentions of becoming a teacher, Dave decided to go into education after he had qualified from Bishop Grosseteste; a friend had attended teacher training at Horncastle Primary, and so when a job became available at the school in 1975, Dave was heartily recommended to take it.
He said this September will be the 40th anniversary of his placement as a teacher there.
Dave also played an active role in encouraging sport in Horncastle, running teams from Horncastle Football Club, and establishing a Netball Club, the Horncastle Belles.
In 2007, these exploits were rewarded when a letter fell through his door asking him if he would be happy to accept an MBE for services to education and to sport.
However, Dave said he viewed this event as “out of the blue”. But it was not entirely a surprise: earlier in the year, he had attended a reception with the then Prime Minister Tony Blair at Lancaster House; an event to “thank frontline workers for their role in delivering excellence in our public services”.
However, he felt very confused as to why he was in attendance: everybody else at the function either already owned an accolade, or had done something spectacular.
Dave collected his MBE later that year; he said he had hoped some famous people would be at the Palace too, but the only person he recognised was Ryan Giggs.
After he had received his award, he nearly turned away from the Queen in order to walk back to his seat, a forbidden act during the ceremony; luckily, he remembered just in time that he had to walk backwards.
Dave recollected vividly the “awe-inspiring” nature of the event; he particularly recalled the “gold taps” in the washroom.
Despite his sporting achievements, Dave asserted his true passion lay in drama, which also fuelled his love of music: he found he was able to direct plays and write music for them, which he still does today; the school performance this year being The Wind in the Willows.