It’s been a tough year for staff and students at Riders Junior School after their deputy headteacher lost his battle with cancer.
And now everyone has bid farewell to John Dean who stepped down as headteacher at the end of last term.
He had been headteacher of the Havant school for 12 years but decided, at the age of 59, he wanted to retire from teaching.
It comes a few months after deputy head Simon Harrold died aged 51 after suffering from colon cancer.
Mr Dean said: ‘I’m ready to retire but it’s with a tinge of sadness. I’m really proud of what we have achieved at Riders in the last 12 years.
‘I have worked with some absolutely stunning people.
‘The children have been very sweet, they have been saying the nicest things and they don’t want me to go. But we have to move on.’
And Mr Dean says that he has really enjoyed his career in teaching.
He started off at Horndean Comprehensive, now Horndean College of Technology, before moving to Westfield Junior School, now Victory Primary School in Paulsgrove, and then he was deputy head at Arundel Court Juniors in Portsmouth.
‘It’s been very rewarding,’ he added. ‘I would like to think I have made a difference to a lot of children’s lives.
‘For me the most important part of this job is not just working with the children but lots of families who come from very challenging backgrounds.
‘I really believe that Riders Junior School is an excellent community school. They look after each other.
‘I know Leigh Park has got a reputation but I really have enjoyed working with the families of Leigh Park.
‘I think I have formed a really warm relationship with them.’
An assembly was organised for Mr Dean where staff sang a song called 12 Years of Mr Dean to the tune of The 12 Days of Christmas.
He said: ‘What a lovely send-off. There were so many memories from the children.’
Mr Dean presented the children with a new basketball ring and two football goals, plus a bench for the staff to sit on.
He also marked the occasion by planning a three-week trip to India with his wife.
Anne Parker will take over as acting headteacher from next week.