Goodbye to Leigh Park headteacher who helped to change lives

Ruby Mills (11), meets ninety-one year old Beryl Dunkerley who was a pupil at the school in 1935 
Picture Ian Hargreaves  (170925-1)

WATCH: School celebrates a century of memories

  • Around 1,000 people turn up to retirement party at Warren Park
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FOR 21 years he’s stood up for the rights of all children to believe and achieve.

And his dedication to the community was celebrated in style yesterday as around 1,000 people turned out to the retirement party of Colin Harris.

8/7/2016 (JT)

Headteacher Colin Harris from Warren Park School in Havant, is retiring after 21 years. 

Pictured is: Headteacher Colin Harris with Stanley Crockford (8) and Jessie Green (5). 

Picture: Sarah Standing (160942-6463)

8/7/2016 (JT) Headteacher Colin Harris from Warren Park School in Havant, is retiring after 21 years. Pictured is: Headteacher Colin Harris with Stanley Crockford (8) and Jessie Green (5). Picture: Sarah Standing (160942-6463)

There was more than just cake, though.

The playground came alive with magic shows, a huge inflatable slide and games as young and old enjoyed the fun.

Colin has been the headteacher of Warren Park Primary School in Havant for two decades and before that was the headteacher of Charles Dickens Junior School in Portsmouth.

He has never been one to mince his words, talking candidly earlier this year about the impact of government cuts.

The 58-year-old, who lives in Havant, said: ‘I have loved every day – not many people can say they have loved going to work.

‘I am one of these people who perhaps believes teachers are given a rough deal.

‘I see how hard they work. The bit of being able to make a difference with children and see them grow and the staff grow – it’s the greatest job in the world.’

He said the highlight of his career was the school gaining two ‘outstanding’ Ofsted reports – first in 2010 and again in 2013.

It is an amazing accomplishment for the community, which has traditionally been one of the most deprived in the Portsmouth area.

Colin added: ‘The thing I am most proud of is our changing of Warren Park and certainly Leigh Park for the better.

‘There are positive stories coming from Leigh Park now.

‘They are great, great people. I am very proud.’

He now wants to spend some time playing golf and boating.

But his urge to help the community never fades and becoming a councillor or local MP might be on the horizon.

Leanna Stratford, 43, travelled from Bedhampton to say goodbye.

‘He brought both mine up,’ she said.

‘He’s brilliant with kids. No kid is a challenge for him.’

Parent Keeley Bower, 30, of Sunnyside Walk, said: ‘He makes the school.

‘Everyone will be lost without him. He’s amazing for the community and he stands up for the rights of children.’