A stalwart of Littlehampton’s teaching community was given a happy ending fit for a Disney film as she celebrated her retirement.
In her 39-year career, Judy Grevett has travelled the world and overseen the joining of three schools to form River Beach Primary School, which she has run since its inception in 2011.
On Monday, July 24, the school in York Road was filled with Disney characters as pupils and staff dressed up in honour of Mrs Grevett from Rustington, who was Mary Poppins for the day.
The 60-year-old, who retired at the end of the school year, was sat on a throne and regaled with an emotional rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow by the school choir in honour of her namesake, Judy Garland.
She said the best parts of her job were seeing children’s ‘confidence soar’ after doing something for the first time, helping young teachers build their careers and sharing memories with colleagues she had worked with for many years.
She said: “I was so sad to leave. I will miss the children and parents very much.
“I felt completely overwhelmed by people’s generosity, and the lovely things they wrote in the cards they gave me. I was really humbled by it all to be honest. People were just so lovely.”
Mrs Grevett began teaching in 1978 at Manor Hall Middle School in Southwick. She moved to Flora McDonald Junior School in Wick in 1987, which is now White Meadows Primary Academy, and became head teacher ten years later.
In 2000, she returned to Manor Hall Middle School as head teacher and then moved to Connaught Junior School in Littlehampton – bringing her career full-circle, as it was where she did work experience in sixth form.
Being based in the same area for her career meant she has seen former pupils become parents of her later students.
And at River Beach, one of her teachers, 32-year-old Martin Searle, was a pupil of hers at Flora McDonald.
She said: “I have been really fortunate in my career. I have followed children through their education and have seen what they go on to do with their lives.”
Mrs Grevett was also able to travel, going to Tunisia with pupils, Cyprus with other head teachers and Geneva as the UK representative of the European Network of Health Promoting Schools.
A retirement tea party was also held for 100 current and ex-colleagues, with a cake made by a parent of River Beach Primary School.
So what does Mrs Grevett think is her lasting legacy?
Jokingly, she said her love of colour schemes – but the real legacy is the Grevett Garden, which was built by staff and filled by pupils and unveiled to her as a surprise.
Now she is retired, Mrs Grevett is looking forward to spending more time with her grandchildren and husband Bob, going on cruises and learning to sew.