HE HAS served the school for 37 years but now Tony Cox is bidding farewell to Redwood Park School.
Staff and pupils at the Cosham special school gave Pompey fan Mr Cox a big send-off as goalkeeping legend Alan Knight paid a visit to see him off.
The 60-year-old has decided to take retirement now on health grounds but said he is going to miss his time at the school.
He said: ‘During my time as headteacher I have been fortunate enough to have had great support from parents and pupils in making Redwood Park such a happy place to be.
‘It will be a strange feeling not getting up everyday to go to work at the school.
‘It’s going to take some getting used to.
‘I’m now going to take a long rest before deciding what to do with my retirement.’
Born in Portsmouth, he trained at Portsmouth College of Education and after working at St John’s Primary School in Gosport he successfully applied for the job at the then Cliffdale Secondary School.
Mr Cox started work there as a PE teacher in January 1977. He went on to lead various departments within the school such as maths and careers, before he became a senior teacher leading the development of technology across the school.
In 1996 he became deputy headteacher before finally becoming headteacher in 2002.
Under his leadership Redwood Park went from strength-to-strength.
He took the school through three successful Ofsted inspections culminating in the award of outstanding in 2011.
He added his last day at school was hard.
‘It was very emotional. It was really sad for me because I’m leaving after such a long time,’ he said. ‘The pupils weren’t just pupils – they were friends who I cared about deeply.’
Oliver Lane-Smith, a senior teacher at the school, said: ‘For me he’s been very supportive in my career development, particularly over the past seven years.
‘He has been a good boss to work for.’
Last summer, Mr Cox was recognised for his contribution to education and was invited to Buckingham Palace for a tea party with the Queen.