Gosport learning support assistant retires after 35 years working with children
A WOMAN who has helped hundreds of primary school children to realise their true potential has retired.
Julie Duff from Elson, Gosport has worked with children at St John’s C of E Primary School in Gosport for 35 years.
Having started when her daughter Becky first attended the school, she has now called an end to her career – but looks back with fond memories.
The 66-year-old said: ‘During lockdown I was diagnosed with breast cancer; I’m all clear now but It gave me a real wake-up call.
‘Age eventually gets the better of you and it was the right time to stop, regardless of whether I wanted to or not.
‘I have loved every minute of my time there and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.’
Initially volunteering at the school, Julie spent her days working with children who had special educational needs.
But through her love of both dance and arts and crafts, she became a well-loved face throughout the school, helping with pupils’ projects and competitions like Rock Challenge and Dance Live.
Students and staff members alike, past and present, all came to the school to say their farewells.
‘So many people came to say goodbye and that was truly heartwarming,’ said Julie.
‘I thought I would be able to make a quiet getaway – but it was quite the opposite!
‘I will probably be coming back, periodically, for things like Dance Live. Dance is a huge passion of mine and it’s incredibly rewarding to see the children achieve their potential.’
Already enjoying her retirement, Julie has been spending time with her grandchildren, and hopes to travel to Greece, once it is permitted.
She has also been finally unwinding after decades of hard work – admitting that she did spend an entire day watching make-up programmes on TV.
Julie was full of praise for a school that has played a huge part in her life.
‘I’m usually very articulate, but I just cannot express just how wonderful St John’s is,’ she said.
‘It honestly feels like a family, and watching so many children grow and develop into such brilliant people is a reward in itself.’