PUPILS and staff sang their hearts out for a popular headteacher who has retired after a happy and successful 17 years at the helm.
Ann Larcombe bid a tearful farewell to Penhale Infants in Fratton which was recently judged to be in such good shape Ofsted deferred a visit.
The 59-year-old was showered with gifts, flowers, tributes and her favourite songs – including a tune by David Essex – on her final day in the job.
A willow tree with a plaque was planted on school grounds in her honour – testifying to the high regard in which she is held.
Mrs Larcombe, who took early retirement to spend more time with her family and support her husband who has heart trouble, said: ‘I was so spoilt – it was an incredible send off.
‘There were lots of tears on the day, but I left on a high.
‘I will miss the children and staff so much.
‘My greatest delight above everything else has been watching children from nursery to Year 2 grow and develop.
‘That’s been a pleasure and a privilege.’
Among the things Mrs Larcombe is proudest of are successive ‘good’ Ofsteds, the school’s excellent hearing impaired unit and a major refurbishment to liven up the site.
She said: ‘What’s special about this school is our children see everyone’s different and get on as friends. It’s totally inclusive.’
Mrs Larcombe, who lives in Drayton, has many friends and admirers throughout Portsmouth – having spent her entire 38-year teaching career in her home city.
The former student at Southern Grammar School – now Priory School – took her first job at Arundel Infants, before moving on to Cottage Grove first school (now primary) and Paulsgrove Primary.
She said: ‘I’d like to be remembered as someone who cared, but at the same time as someone who had high expectations and wanted the best for the children.’
Her successor is Kate Keller, former deputy head at Trosnant Infants, Leigh Park.