The much-loved headteacher of a popular Lichfield primary school has marked her retirement with a week of surprise celebrations, organised by children and colleagues and attended by both the Mayor and Bishop of Lichfield.
Wendy Horden, headteacher of Scotch Orchard Primary School for the last 18 years, was “speechless” when the school community surprised her this week with five days to remember, featuring assemblies, tributes, a whole-school flash-mob dance, street party and evening retirement celebration. VIP guests, including Bishop Michael of Lichfield and mayor cllr David Leytham, also joined in the celebrations.
Wendy, the much respected headteacher, who has taught for more than 40 years, came to Scotch Orchard as school leader in 2000. She said: “It’s been an exceptional and emotional week and one I will never forget. I’m moved by the thought and effort that everyone has put in to make this week so special. This is so typical of our children, families and staff. I have so many wonderful memories and this adds to those magical moments that we are fortunate enough to experience as teachers.
The Scotch Orchard community has captured my heart for 18 years. I’ve loved every day being part of this family and it’s been a delight to watch the children grow. It was my ambition to make a difference through teaching and I hope I have done that. I’ve known so many amazing children and colleagues over the years and it’s been my pride and privilege to play a small part in this school’s timeline. My heartfelt appreciation goes to all those who have made this such a personally rewarding journey. I will miss you all. Thank you for the care and the joy you have brought to my role.”
Wendy will be succeeded as headteacher by Jo Bishop, the current deputy headteacher, who has worked alongside Wendy for a number of years. Paying tribute to her colleague and friend, Jo said:
Our entire school community would like to thank Wendy for the years of service she has dedicated to Scotch Orchard. It’s been a pleasure to work with such an inspirational leader who made this school a richer place. We will all miss her greatly and wish her the happiest of retirements. I’m looking forward to continuing Wendy’s strong leadership of the school as we enter a new and exciting era.”
The Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Lichfield, said: “It has been a privilege to be at this memorable event marking Wendy Horden’s retirement. Through her commitment, leadership and care, she has enriched the lives of so many children, of their families, and of the whole community; I wish her every happiness and blessing in the next phase of her life. I know that she will be much missed, but she has built a firm foundation for her successor Jo Bishop to build on.”
Mayor cllr David Leytham said: “I’m delighted to join in the celebrations and wish Wendy the very best on her retirement. She has helped to transform the lives of many children and it’s clear to see how beloved she is.”
Also joining the week of celebration was Brian Cookson (chair of governors), Paul Devlin (vice-chair of governors), members of the extensive Scotch Orchard community and fellow Lichfield resident, Richard Gill, CEO of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership (ATLP). Scotch Orchard became part of the respected multi-academy trust earlier this year.
Richard said: “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Wendy for a good year or so and have seen a generous and dynamic leader who really cares about the families she’s served. She has led the school to a great place and together, with Jo’s leadership and the support of the ATLP family, we will build on that success to create even more improvement and opportunities.”
Wendy, who graduated from Matlock College in 1974, has spent the past 40 years working in teaching across Staffordshire, including St James’ Longdon, where she was a teacher and Geography advisor for Staffordshire and St. Mary’s CE Primary School, Colton, where she worked for eight years as a deputy headteacher and headteacher.
Wendy plans to spend her retirement with friends and family, enjoying her hobbies, which include travel, caravanning, gardening and walking. She is also looking forward to embracing an important new role – as grandmother to her first grandchild, who was born last week.