It was an emotional final day for Eastfield Infants and Nursery headteacher Mrs Sarah Akhurst as she said goodbye to her school after 15 years at the helm - and almost four decades in teaching.
Mrs Akhurst’s final day was spent - like so many of the previous ones - surrounded by the children, staff and community she has done so much to nurture over the years.
At a special retirement assembly, held outside in the sunshine last Friday morning (July 19), heartfelt tributes were made by pupils past and present, in addition to those that have flooded in from parents, governors, and staff since Mrs Akhurst announced her decision to retire.
Mrs Akhurst told the Leader: “This school has absolutely been my life, and I’ve loved every minute of it.
“The children are amazing, the parents have been wonderful supporters for the whole time I’ve been here.
“She added: “There are a lot of children at the school that I have taught the parents of!”
She added: “I am really sad to be leaving. My husband retired last year, so this is about having time with him.”
Mrs Akhurst will also spend time with her parents, Anne and Gwyn Law, who are now in their mid-80s and have had a lot to do with the school, volunteering and helping children over the years.
The Director of Learning at the Wellspring Academy Trust, which sponsors Eastfield Infants and Nursery, said: “It has been a privilege to work with Sarah and see the incredibly high regard with which she is held in the education and wider community.
“Her legacy is a flourishing school where children feel safe, are nurtured and educated in a real family environment.
“We all wish her the very best in the next stage of life’s adventure and pay tribute to her many years of dedicated service.”
Another member of staff, Miss Knowles - who has been assistant head teacher for 15 years and has worked at the school for 29 years - also formally retired on Friday.
However, she will be returning for a final 10 weeks at the start of the autumn term to cover another teacher who is on maternity leave.
Ms Knowles said: “This is the only school I’ve ever worked in. I’ve had an amazing career, I’ve absolutely loved it.
“It’s a hard and demanding job, but it’s very rewarding.”
• Do you have fond memories of Mrs Akhurst and Miss Knowles? Leave your comments below or on our Facebook or Twitter pages.