Liz Eaton has retired after more than 26 years as matron to the boys of Repton Boarding House, Rathkeale College. PHOTO/ELI HILL

ELI HILL
Eli.hill@age.co.nz

Liz Eaton has stepped down from her role as a matron, friend and occasional prankster.

Eaton estimates she had about 1500 boys pass through her care over her 26 years as matron of Rathkeale College for Boys’ Repton Boarding House.

Her main role was to look after their well-being – she took them to their dentist and doctors’ appointments and looked after them when they were sick.

“I spent so much time in Masterton Hospital that I became friends with some of the staff in there,” Eaton said.

One of Eaton’s favourite memories comes from just after she started.

“Some boys were down in the art building and that night they came running back and said there was a ghost in the dark room.

“They’d been doing some paintings and they’d taken them out of the printer and there was a skull and cross bones over them.”

The next night Eaton went down to the art room with a white sheet over her head and waited for them to come down.

“I’ve never seen the boys run so fast.”

Eaton said she began the job in 1992 when the last of her three children was finishing high school.

“It looked like quite a good job, the principal at the time told me I’d got it and hoped I’d be here for the long haul.

“I saw him not that long ago and reminded him about that.”

In her time at the school, Eaton had five principals and five housemasters and said she was lucky to have such a good group of them.

She enjoyed talking with the British tutors who stayed at her boarding house and became friends with several of them.

Above all her favourite part of the job was chatting with the boys she looked after.

“The farming boys are usually the most trouble, they’re plenty of fun and they’re always honest.

“I’ve become friends with quite a few of the boys. Not long ago I had a couple visit me. They just drove up to school and came to say hello.”

Her relationship with the boys she looked after meant she was able to support them when they went through hard times.

“We had two brothers die in a car crash while one of them was still at school and all the boys helped me to make a memorial garden for them.

“You get so close to them that you really become involved in their lives. When they faced a tragedy you’ve got to be there for them.”

Although her matron duties are finished the 72-year-old isn’t planning on slowing down.

Eaton said she has plenty of gardening to do and is planning on a few overseas trips next year.

“There won’t be enough time in the day.”