As she said ‘farewell’ to the school she has headed for the past 18 years and two terms, Louise Jones said she was taking away many “superb memories.”
The community of Whitechapel Primary School, including current and former pupils, staff and governors, village residents and members of Mrs Jones’ family, gathered en masse for a surprise presentation.
Overwhelmed by the occasion, Mrs Jones said: “It was all a big surprise to me. I never thought that was going to happen and I was really surprised and delighted how many people came, also my family, my mum and dad and my two daughters and their partners.”
Although she had known husband Kev would be there, another surprise guest was her seven-month-old grand daughter Martha Louise, who Mrs Jones is looking forward to looking after in what she calls her “new career”, rather than retirement, during which she also plans to rekindle her passion for sewing, as well as travel, do yoga and birdwatch.
A primary school teacher for more than 38 years, Mrs Jones, who hails from Warrington, spent 20 years teaching in Cheshire, starting out in large urban primary schools before moving into small, rural schools.
She was appointed head of Whitechapel in 1997 and lived at School House, until moving to Garstang in 2010, and where she now intends to stay.
Describing her time in Whitechapel as the “most wonderful teaching and learning experience” of her career, she said: “I have loved and learned alongside the most amazing children, colleagues, friends, adults, parents and community people.
“I am proud of the privilege I have had to lead the most fantastic learning institution, within the beautiful environment of Whitechapel. By far the most valuable assets here are the people. The children, of course, produced by these people and all of that shaped by us and the superb environment which contains us all.
“I hope I have managed to enhance most of that in some way.
“It has always been my aim to make the most of everything and everybody here. I have worked my hardest ever in my career to achieve that.
“From school extension, to creating the school as the hub of the community, to developing the grounds, the curriculum, excitement and happiness abounding all along the way.
“Now, as I move on to my ‘next career’, I have superb memories to take with me.
“I will never forget the close relationships I have made.
“I will never forget the happy faces of the many, many children that have passed before me. My heart is filled with wonder at all that my team and I have achieved over the years.”
Mrs Jones also wishes to say a very big thank you to everyone for all the numerous gifts, cards and flowers she has been inundated with, besides the beautiful framed picture of the school’s symbol of an oak tree, its leaves made up of the thumbprints of all pupils and staff; a large donation of money and a sewing box.