A fifty year relationship with Bushmills Primary School ended before Christmas when school principal Jack Gault retired from his post.
Mr Gault had been at the school for 31 years in a teaching capacity AND had also been a pupil at the same school.
The school assembly hall was packed with pupils and staff (past and present), members of Mr Gault’s family and local representatives as Bushmills PS honoured their retiring principal.
Chairman of the Board of Governors Raymond Bolt got proceedings off to a start by saying that the event was a “a sad day for the school but an enjoyable one for you” and wished Mr Gault many days of happiness for his retirement.
He said that the principal always had a great relationshop with the Board of Governors and extended the good wishes of the Governors.
Mrs Evelyn O’Neill, a former vice-principal of the school, then took to the stage and said how wonderful it was to see so many familiar faces in the assembly hall to wish Mr Gault well. She said it was “a sad and a happy occasion”. She said it was a sad day for the teaching staff to be losing such a good principal, a good teacher and a good friend.
“The children loved him and he loves the children. His was never the tidiest classroiom but it was always the happiest classroom!” said Mrs O’Neill.
“Mr Gault will be sadly missed but it is a happy time for him to be able to spend more time with his wife Linda, Victoria, Christopher, Clare and baby Oliver.”
Stephanie Fulton then spoke of how Mr Gault had played a huge part in the lives of both the children and staff of Bushmills Primary School.
“You have made teaching here a privilege and here is a tribute to you from the children,” she said before introducing a slideshow of pictures of Mr Gault drawn by the children of Bushmills PS.
Head Boy and Head Girl of the school, Michael Mulholland and Darian McVicker, then paid tribute to Mr Gault describing him as a kind and generous man, adding that many pupils’ parents had also been taught by Mr Gault.
“We will miss you lots,” they said.
Mrs Heather McAllister then spoke of Mr Gault’s “31 years of devotion”. She displayed old photographs of staff outings and school trips during her speech, before leading all the children in three cheers for Mr Gault.
In reply, Mr Gault said that he really had 53 years connection with the school as pupil, teacher and principal.
He thanked everyone for the gifts he had been presented with but “most of all I thank you for 30 years of working, playing and enjoying Bushmills Primary School.”
“I wouldn’t have been here for 31 years if I hadn’t been happy here. I jhave been one of the happiest teachers in Northern Ireland for the last 31 years.
“I have been supported by the people of Bushmills so thank you for the privilege of working in Busnmills and working with you.
“The children are an exceptional bunch of youngsters. They are children who always represent the village so well and they have always been great ambassaadors for Bushmills.”