Waikato's favourite teacher Richard Lloyd inspires shy student to become a life coach video

Dominico Zapata/ Stuff

A teacher reunites with a former student he inspired 16 years ago.

FAVOURITE TEACHER AWARDS: From the Christchurch quake tragedy to Parliament's select committees, we're travelling the country to meet some of New Zealand's best teachers.

Richard Lloyd once challenged his students to a food fight. They hid in trees at an Omokoroa camp with a bucket of custard to throw at unsuspecting parents. 

It wasn't the politically-correct way to do things, but it was fun, nonetheless. 

Richard Lloyd, 43, was a big inspiration to Rebecca Starkey, 27, when he taught her at Southwell School 16 years ago.

Richard Lloyd, 43, was a big inspiration to Rebecca Starkey, 27, when he taught her at Southwell School 16 years ago.

And it was candid moments like these that, today, sees Lloyd named the Waikato winner of the Favourite Teacher Awards, a partnership between Stuff, TVNZ Breakfast and Matilda, the Musical. The overall winner will be named on Sunday.

Regional winners of Favourite Teacher Awards named
Leah McFall: The teacher with a portable cot in the classroom
Jonathan Milne: The teacher who hollered at us – and inspired us
Teachers are the biggest influence on kids; we meet some of NZ's finest
Nadine Higgins' Favourite Teacher Award: My 'surreal' catch-up with Kingo
The schoolyard corner where Roger Tuivasa-Sheck secretly played 'tackle

One of his students went on to become a life coach, a job she says would not be possible if it weren't for "Mr Lloyd". 

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Rebecca Starkey was a painfully-shy 11 year old. At school she would hide at the back of the class and was scared to talk to other children.

But her Year 7 teacher at Southwell School, Richard Lloyd, pulled her out of her shell. 

She nominated him because he pushed her out of her comfort zone and challenged her to do things that were daring, like drenching her mum in custard at school camp. "I remembered I was quite a shy student and I come from a school where I flew under the radar and that's what I was used to doing," Starkey said.

Rebecca said she was a painfully shy child and Richard helped her find her confidence.

Rebecca said she was a painfully shy child and Richard helped her find her confidence.

"At the end of the year, I got a package in the mail and it had a whole lot of motivational quotes and poems in it – that was really inspiring for me.

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"It made me feel like someone had my back and someone wanted me to do really well."

She told him this week: "You pushing me made me not letting myself just slide on by."

Sixteen years later, Starkey, 27, works part-time as a life coach where she helps other women achieve their dreams. She hopes to one day open a women's retreat. 

On hearing why he was nominated, Lloyd's eyes welled up, but he insists it was the dust in the rim of (non-existent) glasses. 

"With encouragement and a friendly face and being real, I felt it was enough for children who are shy," he said. "Not answering is not an option – everyone has something to say.

"It's about providing an environment that was fun and safe and you could say what was on your mind." 

Lloyd said the key to engaging with shy children is to create an environment where children can open up.

"All children want to feel accepted and safe, so the key was creating an environment where children feel safe and happy, and in some ways, cared for and loved and celebrated.

"Everyone had a home in my classroom."

Lloyd is no longer a teacher, but said his current job looking after student accommodation for universities, allows him to work with people and that's why he got into teaching in the first place. 

"I still do have a real passion for people and I always saw everyone I taught as young people, not children.

"Rebecca is clearly a clever woman and to have been part of that is pretty fantastic."


Northland: Jenny Bassett
Auckland: Bex Rose
Bay of Plenty: Scott Feisst
Waikato: Richard Lloyd
Hawkes Bay/East Cape: Janene Maloney​
Taranaki: Sue Gunn
​Manawatu/Whanganui: Heidi Lutz
Wellington: Matt Johnston
Nelson: Trina Wilkinson
Marlborough: Robyn Anderson
Canterbury/West Coast: Carmen Street
​South Canterbury/Otago: Di Anderson
Southland: Elaine Forde

 - Sunday Star Times


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