Keith Primary School duo leave after a combined 50 years of service
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TWO staff members with a combined 50 years of experience have left Keith Primary School for the final time.
Senior nursery nurse Rhona Henderson (51) worked at the nursery for 30 years, while pupil support assistant Anne Warrender (64) had been at the school for 20 years.
The two ladies, who both stay in Keith, were given a fitting send-off towards the end of September, along with retiring janitors Colin Patterson and Arthur Riddoch.
Rhona started the job at the brand-new nursery as a newly-wed 21-year-old. She also had the honour of leading the nursery up to the new school when it opened.
She said: "I loved my job but changes in the nursery and in personal circumstances meant it was time to take a step back and see what else I fancied doing.
"I'm going to miss them all tremendously, I have so many memories. We were a team that stayed together.
"The send-off was lovely, although I was quite glad it was for more than just me. I found it hard, the minute I walked into the hall and the realisation they were there for me, and everyone else who was leaving, made me very emotional.
"One person I have to thank is Margaret Mackay – she was the head teacher who gave me the opportunity and if she hadn't given me the job I'd never have been here."
Rhona, who was part-time for the last five years of her 30 as she helped out with her grandchildren, has picked up a cleaning job, and will remain on 'relief' at the nursery, in case they are ever short-staffed.
For Anne, who got married and moved to Keith 42 years ago, it's retirement that beckons – as she gets set to look after her father for as long as possible. For her, Keith Primary School was more than just a job.
"I loved working with the kids and the staff and knew them as my second family," she said.
"It was special needs children I worked with the most and it's such a satisfying job. Some of them couldn't speak or walk but getting a smile on their face just made your day.
"The school has been really good and very understanding over the years. I couldn't fault them for anything and only have good things to say about them all.
"We worked as a team, worked for one and other, and that's how it should be. It wasn't like they were teachers and I was just an assistant – you were made to feel on the same level all the time, and that goes for the depute head and head teachers too.
"I'll be keeping in touch and going back to see the staff whenever I can. I've made life-long friends. They are all friends but there are four or five who have been so supportive of me and are extra special."
At the leaving do, the pair were given necklaces, flowers, gift vouchers, alcohol and more.
Keith Primary School depute head teacher Suzanne Ross said: "Rhona was one of the longest-serving members of staff and will be a huge miss for the nursery and the school.
"She has seen people come through who are now parents themselves and that knowledge of the community will be greatly missed.
"Again, Anne will be a big miss. She always went out of her way to do her best for the pupils and was a really hard-working and lovely person.
"We wish them both the best for their next chapter and hope they enjoy it."
Along with the leaving duo, three staff members who retired during lockdown – Wilma McGettrick, Jane Connelly and Carol Sheard – came back to say proper goodbyes to the school.