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Ashford Hill Primary School deputy head retires after three decades at school

A deputy headteacher who has been at the same school for 30 years is bidding a fond farewell to her “family” at the school.

Sue Yockney, who joined Ashford Hill Primary School in 1992, will be retiring this summer.

The 65-year-old paid tribute to her colleagues at the school, saying: “When I lost my husband [Mark] 10 years ago, this was my family that kept me going.

Sue Yockney with her year 2/3 class
Sue Yockney with her year 2/3 class

“I shall miss them terribly.”

Mrs Yockney first joined the school as a supply teacher after her daughter moved to the school, before then joining full time as a teacher.

She progressed to deputy headteacher in March 2005, but never stopped teaching – and currently teaches the year 2/3 class.

After being persuaded last summer by her two daughters to do one more year to make it a round number, last Thursday marked Mrs Yockney’s final day at the school.

Sue Yockney has been at the school for 30 years
Sue Yockney has been at the school for 30 years

She said: “I didn’t want to be one of those teachers who kept going and got to the point where I couldn’t be bothered – the children deserve their teacher to be up with it and ready to go.

“They joke with me saying I’ll still be coming with my Zimmer Frame, but there comes a point where you have to say ‘no’.”

She will now fill her retirement years by spending more time with 16-month old grandson Hugo, being “a lady that lunches occasionally”, more walking with her dog, completing projects on the house and taking up badminton again.

Mrs Yockney, a mother-of-two to daughters Clare and Katie, said she would miss “that lightbulb moment with the children – when you’re teaching them something and they suddenly get it”.

She continued: “I just love being with children and it was something I always wanted to do, even as a child.”

So what are her emotions on leaving the school?

She said: “It’s bittersweet.

“I’ll be very sad to leave, but that’s the next phase of my life.

“It’s a bit surreal at the moment, but come the end of August that will be the killer.

“When that time comes, I’ll be thinking, ‘I’ve got to get things ready for the classroom,’ but it’ll be...oh.”

Mrs Yockney’s colleagues paid tribute to her.

The school’s finance officer Sue Saunders, who has worked with Mrs Yockney for 21 years, said: “For such a little person she’s leaving a massive hole.”

Lisette Yeo, a fellow teacher, added: “She’s been the backbone of the school for a very long time and always goes the extra mile.

“She’s always cheerful and the children adore her.”

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