Long-serving East Norfolk College staff say farewell

EAST Norfolk College staff have said farewell to colleagues with a combined service of 112 years, all retiring from teaching.

They included John O’Leary, who has taught at the college since it was formed in 1982.

John has notched up 33 years of service, 30 of them at East Norfolk and prior to that taught for three years in the same building when it was the Alderman Leach Secondary School. During his time at the college, John has seen it grow from 300 students to the 1,800.

He has also witnessed the transformation of the campus from the traditional frontage built in 1937 for the Alderman Leach to a series of purpose built classrooms and labs which stretch right back to the latest addition, the Poulson Building, which has just been completed.

College principal, Daphne King, who was also a teacher at Gorleston Grammar School at the time of the reorganisation of secondary education within the borough, paid tribute to John’s dedication and service.

She said: “John’s retirement marks a particularly special moment in the college’s history. This is a remarkable achievement and John is just as loved and respected by students today as he was then. Staff will also miss John’s great sense of humour in the staff room.”

She added: “John will leave a legacy in this college and students have been fortunate to have had the benefit of his experience and knowledge.”

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Replying, John paid tribute to his fellow staff and said: “I have been very fortunate to be a founding member of a highly successful college that has been and continues to be a vital asset to the community.”

Tributes were also paid to other long serving members of staff who between then had a combined service of 112 years at the college including Jenny Baker, performance studies, 17 years’ service; Mike Spragg, head of earth sciences, 23 years; Adrian Whiteley, head of physics, 22 years, and Mike Hall, economics teacher, 22 years.