AS the academic year came to an end, two Bolton primary schools said goodbye to several longstanding members of staff.

St Maxentius C of E Primary School in Bradshaw held a leaving party for Lynda Bleakley, a teaching assistant, after 46 years of service.

They also said goodbye to headteacher Clare Bennett after 16 years.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Bolton visited Eatock Primary School to join staff and governors in wishing teaching assistant Jill Roberts a happy retirement.

Mrs Bleakley started in 1975 and has worked in every year group, from reception to year 6.

She is now retiring along with her husband Allan and they plan on spending more time with their family and enjoy travelling together.

The school hosted a surprise tea party for Mrs Bleakley, where she was made queen for the day.

The children all dressed up and they had the tea party outside in the sunshine.

Mrs Bleakley received gifts from the children along with a bouquet of flowers.

Parent Joanna Jowett said: “Mrs Bleakley truly epitomises the school’s ethos with her positivity, creativity and kindness.

“She will be missed by everyone within the school.

“She is a highly valued and dedicated member of the team and very much part of the furniture after all these years and is dearly loved by all.”

The school also marks the end of an era as headteacher Mrs Bennet leaves her role to take up a position teaching year six at St John’s Primary School in Bromley Cross.

During her time at the school she has overseen many changes, including the development of the spiritual sensory garden, a revamp of the early years outdoor area, a new library and the restructure of the school hall to create a combined meeting room and professional staging area.

Thanks to her, many pieces of artwork made by the children have been installed inside and outside the school.

Mrs Bennett also led the school through various inspections, with it receiving a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating and an ‘Outstanding’ by Diocesan inspectors.

She has continued to teach classes throughout her time as headteacher and has now decided to return to the classroom full time.

Joanna added: “Mrs Bennett is a dedicated headteacher, who has been devoted throughout her time at St Maxentius.

“She has promoted and celebrated the Christian ethos and embodied the core values of faith, hope and love within the school.

“We are sad to see her go.”

Eatock Primary School said goodbye to Mrs Roberts after she had served as a teaching assistant for 28 years.

Not only has she support teachers in the early years, key stage 1 and key stage 2, she also ran the school’s netball team and was a regular organiser at school fairs and events.

Headteacher Mrs Flannery said: “She was very popular with children and parents, and she was renowned for her kindness and helpfulness.”

Key stage lead, Miss Estelle Cunliffe added: "Despite the restrictions caused by the Covid pandemic, we have still managed to give Mrs Roberts a good send off.

“We are all going to miss her and would like to wish her a long and happy retirement.”

Mrs Roberts is looking forward to spending more time with her grandchildren and keeping fit by attending classes at her local gym.