AARON Buckland was given a bit of advice by his head teacher when he was at school, advice he has kept with him throughout his life.

Gary Smith, headteacher of Market Field School, told him to reach for the moon.

He might not get there, but he might get the stars instead.

Aaron suffered from dyslexia and attended the school which educates children with special needs in Elmstead Market.

Seventeen years have now passed since he left the school but Aaron hasn’t forgotten what he was taught, nor the man who taught it to him.

He returned to surprise Gary, to reminisce and catch up. Such as the time Aaron became head for a day at the school - memorable for them both.

Aaron, who is now 34, left the school in 2001, toying with the idea of getting into teaching or music production. Now a dad-of-three, he has passed his basic training to be a fire fighter and visited Gary to tell him.

Aaron said: “Some years ago I went through a difficult divorce and Gary really helped me pick myself back up.

“We hadn’t spoken for the best part of five years so I decided to swing by the school and tell him about my life.

“I had quite bad dyslexia and Gary helped turn things around for me.

“He’d tell me if I reach for the moon, I might not reach the moon but get the stars instead.

“I carried that mindset into the fire service and have managed to get through.”

Aaron now lives in Gloucestershire and hasn’t visited the new school which was built thanks to hard-fought funding from Essex County Council.

The old school, which was built for 60 children but had three times that on the role, has been replaced with a new £10 million building.

It is already over capacity, such is its popularity.

“The last time I was here it was all on one level,” Aaron said.


After the grand tour, he had a chance to tell Gary just how much his acts of kindness had impacted him.

He said: “When we were leaving school I remember Gary stopped us individually and said, ‘My door is always open and you know my number, if ever you need me, call’.

“I was a bit taken aback. But the thing about Market Field is they’ve always gone above and beyond. And with me struggling with dyslexia, I think if I’d have gone to a mainstream school, I would’ve just got lost.

“I’ve always said this about mainstream schools that you seem to be a number, but in Market Field the teachers turn a weakness into a strength and find other ways of going around it.

“They encouraged me to look at my other strong points and I’ve always been so incredibly good at maths so I went on and did drama and managed to get GCSEs in maths and science.”

In just a few weeks’ time, Aaron will have his pager from the fire service meaning he will be ready to respond to life-threatening fires, crashes and emergency rescues.

After facing struggles during his life, it is a new opportunity and one he relishes.

He added: “I said to Gary it was just something I could say I’d given my best shot at and if I’m honest, I never dreamed I would do it but I actually have, and it feels incredible.

“He got quite emotional in the office when I was telling him. He welled up quite a bit.”

Mr Smith agreed. The headteacher of 29 years said: “One of the things we’re working on is to ensure our kids have somewhere to turn to, and when they make it in life, it’s phenomenal.

“I tell people Market Field is one big family and for some of them to keep in touch even once they’ve left, makes my job all the more worthwhile.”