PRINCIPAL Lesley Walder ended her 13-year headship with a special assembly with pupils.

Mrs Walder, who has been teaching in Essex for 35 years, took up the post at Bishop William Ward School, in Coach Road, Great Horkesley in 2001.

Yesterday, her retirement was marked with an assembly which the whole school attended, and two original songs, composed by a member of staff.

Mrs Walder, 56, who lives in Copford, said: “It was a fantastic day - so special.

“I have loved every day I’ve been here and the staff and pupils have been a delight to work with.”

She added: “I have been privileged to work within such a great environment and community for so long.

“I retire with many happy memories."