Northampton pupils gave their retiring headteacher and deputy head a send-off they will never forget with a surprise concert and hot-air balloon ride.
Laughter, song and tears filled the playground at Weston Favell Church of England Primary School on Wednesday, July 20 as the whole school came together to celebrate and thank their departing headteacher Jill Ramshaw and deputy headteacher Marta Varilone.
Pupils threw a surprise concert in their honour before escorting the pair to the playing field, where a hot-air balloon was waiting for them.
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Ms Varilone, who worked at the school for 31 years, said: “We knew things had been going on because we were walking around school and there has been lots of ‘shhh’ and scurrying to the doors saying we can’t go in.”
Ms Ramshaw, who led the school for 20 years, added: “We had no idea we were going to have a hot air balloon sitting on our field, not at all. I overheard something about bowling so I thought we were going bowling.”
The duo were treated to an afternoon of entertainment from their pupils, complete with poetry, raps and renditions of popular songs including ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ theme and Morecambe & Wise’s ‘Bring Me Sunshine.’
Year four pupils teamed up with John Bowman from The Notivate Trust to compose their very own thank you song, which they performed that afternoon.
After each year delivered their own special performance, the whole school came together to sing ‘So Long, Farewell’ from the film, The Sound of Music.
Ms Ramshaw said: “For the pupils to sing in front of all those children and all those parents was amazing to see. I am very proud of them.”
It is an annual tradition for the primary school to say goodbye to their leaving year six pupils by getting them to run through a tunnel formed by the rest of the pupils joining hands.
It was, therefore, only fitting to say goodbye to their headteacher and deputy headteacher in the same way.
Ms Ramshaw and Ms Varilone made their way through the pupil archway before finally emerging onto the playing field, where a hot air balloon was waiting. This was also a surprise for the pupils, who squealed in delight upon seeing it.
Ms Varilone, when asked what she loved most about her job, said: “I think, just seeing the children grow from the time they come in and seeing when they leave and how they’ve flourished and all the different talents that they’ve developed throughout the years and knowing that they’re actually ready to go on to the next stage of education.
“I feel mixed emotions. I’m sad to be leaving a community - friends, the children and the memories.”
“But very proud of our school,” Ms Ramshaw tearfully added.
In terms of what is next for the school’s departing duo, Ms Ramshaw intends to continue her work with the Northampton Primary Academy Trust and the Diocese of Peterborough but - crucially - have “more lie-ins.”
Ms Varilone plans to go travelling and visit her son in Canada, whilst exploring volunteering opportunities.
Vista Balloon Flights – the company used by the school – offer hot-air balloon rides around Northamptonshire for up to four people and they are currently offering the public a chance to win a flight for two in a raffle that closes on July 31.