End of an era at West Suffolk schools as long serving teachers retire

Mr O'Hare is retiring after 40 years at Thurston Community College.

Mr O'Hare is retiring after 40 years at Thurston Community College.

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It was the end of an era for schools across West Suffolk which bid farewell to a host of retiring headteachers and teachers.

Maths teacher and secondary strategy co-ordinator Kevin O’Hare is stepping down from the classroom after 40 years at Thurston Community College.

Staff at Westley Middle School in Bury don ginger wigs to say goodbye to redheaded teacher Linda Crawford.

Staff at Westley Middle School in Bury don ginger wigs to say goodbye to redheaded teacher Linda Crawford.

The 61-year-old began his career as a PE and geography teacher when the college opened in 1973 as Thurston Upper School following the raising of the school leaving age.

In 1989, he was granted a year’s secondment to retrain as a maths teacher in Cambridge.

His various roles have included head of house and head of Key Stage 3 and 4.

Through his job he met his wife Daniele, who was part of a group from Compiegne on a twinning visit to Thurston and later worked as an assistant at the college. They have two children.

Stowmarket Middle School Headteacher Sally Holmes and Head of Geography David Etchells-Butler are retiring.

Stowmarket Middle School Headteacher Sally Holmes and Head of Geography David Etchells-Butler are retiring.

Mr O’Hare said: “It has always been a pleasure to say I have worked at Thurston Community College with its superb staff and brilliant children.”

Notching up 25 years at Westgate Primary, in Bury St Edmunds - half of that time as deputy headteacher and the other as headteacher - Howard Lee is retiring to help train new teachers for the faculty of education at Cambridge University.

The 58-year-old, who started his teaching career in 1979, also wants to write children’s books.

He said: “I’ve obviously enjoyed the children but also the very strong community spirit and ethos here.”

Retiring teachers Howard Lee and Jill Gregory from Westgate Primary School in Bury.

Retiring teachers Howard Lee and Jill Gregory from Westgate Primary School in Bury.

He will be succeeded by Jim Cleaver, who will serve as acting head.

Meanwhile, Year 2 teacher Jill Gregory is also leaving after more than 19 years at Westgate and a 38 year teaching career.

The 59-year-old said: “It’s a lovely school where the staff and parents work together as a team.”

She joins colleague and Year 3 teacher Rosalind Round, who has taught at the school for half of her 40 year teaching career.

The 61-year-old said: “I still get a buzz from the classroom and really have loved my job.”

Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator Linda Crawford has left after 25 years at Westley Middle, in Bury.

She started her career 38 years ago in ‘some very challenging’ London comprehensives before moving to Suffolk where she first served at Newmarket and Mildenhall Upper Schools.

At Westley she was head of Year 5 for a number of years and won a national teaching award in 2008.

She said: “I’ve been privileged to work with an amazing group of people which is why I stayed so long.”

Sally Holmes is departing as headteacher of Stowmarket Middle after nine years.

Her teaching career began in Hertfordshire before moving to Inner and North London followed by Suffolk, where she took Castle Hill Middle, in Haverhill, out of special measures.

She said: “We’ve had a good Ofsted here and I feel it’s time for me to do something different.”

For Head of Geography David Etchells-Butler, who is retiring after 37 years teaching with seven at Stowmarket Middle, the best part of the job is seeing pupils ‘go on to do really good things’.

He will venture to Everest Base Camp in October 2014 and will continue his role as a Judo coach.