‘Schools out’ after 80 years

DON'T CALL US...... Two well-known faces at Dalriada over the past number of years, Cashier Hazel McDowell and Headmaster Secretary Anne Connor, who left their posts on Friday after a period of 38 and 43yrs respectively.INBM34-12 032SC.
DON'T CALL US...... Two well-known faces at Dalriada over the past number of years, Cashier Hazel McDowell and Headmaster Secretary Anne Connor, who left their posts on Friday after a period of 38 and 43yrs respectively.INBM34-12 032SC.

By Calum Telfer

Adored and respected by colleagues and pupils alike, Anne Connor and Hazel McDowell are set to retire from Dalriada’s school office with over 80 years experience between them.

Both Ballymoney ladies were recognised for their sterling dedication and commitment to the school during a special retirement party at Portstewart Golf Club.

The duo, who started at the school when they were only teenagers, will be sorely missed having played a huge part in successful everyday running of the school.

Speaking to the Times both spoke fondly of their memories at Dalriada adding that “they have enjoyed every minute of their time”.

Hazel who was 19 and Anne who was 17 when they started at Dalriada have worked alongside five headmasters and Hazel has been headmasters secretary to four of them.

Over the years both Hazel and Anne have loved working in the school environment joking: “It’s totally different from any other office job as you don’t get the opportunity to get bored!”.

The ladies explained that they ‘enjoyed their busy routines which involve a great deal of variety’ continuing ‘we never seem to know when we’ll be interrupted by a distressed pupil or a crisis!’

The busy office has certainly changed over the years from experiencing the change of typewriters to computers, carbon copies to photocopiers and even letters to emails.

Hazel who’s been at the school for 43 years and Anna who’s been there for 38 years added: “Even though the technology has changed, the pupils haven’t and they are always a pleasure to work with. Every year we see pupils leave which can be sad however there’s always new pupils coming to keep us on our toes. For this reason everyday was a joy at the school and we seldom didn’t want to go into work.”

With over eight decades between them, both ladies have had their fair share of helping ‘famous people’ progress up through the school.

They have helped the likes of BBC News people Kerry Thompson and Jane Hadden as well as sporting sensations Lindsay McVicar, Bridget McKeever and Tony McWhirter.

The music and acting within the school has also made them very proud of the pupils with South Pacific and Oklahoma among some of their favourite school productions.

However when asked about their best moment at the school they explained ‘we have so many that we couldn’t just pick one’ adding ‘our retirement party at Portstewart Golf Club was the icing on the cake’.

Both of them have no plans as yet for when they finish but they’ll most certainly enjoy a lie in as well as spending more time with their grandchildren. A very much deserved holiday is also on the cards!

Hazel and Anne will always be a part of Dalriada and everyone wishes them all the best in their retirement.

The principal Tom Skelton added: “

* Meanwhile another two ladies are deciding to call it a day - Librarian Margo Johnston (26yrs) and Cook Ann Lamont (26)!