THE final school bell has rung for the headteacher of a Haddington school which has played a central role in her life.

Shirley Swinton waved goodbye to Haddington Infant School, which is home to youngsters from nursery through to Primary 3, last Friday afternoon after nearly 10 years as headteacher.

However, her connection to the school goes back further than that.

She was a pupil there before her children, Laura and Euan, also attended the Tynebank Road school.

She told the Courier: “I have had a long connection with the school and being a Haddingtonian I am very proud of the school’s place in the community.”

Mrs Swinton joined the school as headteacher after working at Pencaitland Primary School, firstly as a teacher and then as a depute headteacher.

Mrs Swinton’s final day before retiring was last Friday, although technically she is headteacher until the pupils return from the October break.

Then she will be replaced by Kirsty Murray, who is currently depute headteacher at the school and will become acting headteacher.

Mrs Swinton, who told the Courier she “loved” being a teacher, added: “It will be strange not coming back because the staff here are just absolutely brilliant.

“It is a great team, a great school and I will totally miss it.

“I will miss the children as well.

“Obviously, they are what makes it worthwhile.

“It will be strange.”

Mrs Swinton, who lives in Dunbar with husband Calum, said she planned to walk her dogs more as well as pick up old hobbies, which she had not had as much time for.

However, teaching was not her only career – having worked as a police officer in Haddington before swapping the police station for the primary school.

She said: “When I was little I wanted to join the police or be a teacher.

“So I have done both.

“It is like ‘the grass is always greener’ feeling.

“Both are working with people and I think, although they were different situations, working for the police gave me an insight into how some people have quite challenging lives and you see that for the children.

“It has given me an insight and understanding of the difficulties some people might be facing in their lives.”

Councillor Shamin Akhtar, Haddington and Lammermuir ward member and the council’s spokeswoman for education and children’s services, wished Mrs Swinton well in retirement.

She added: “Shirley joined East Lothian Council as a teacher 23 years ago and is now retiring as the headteacher of Haddington Infant.

“I would say that she is in a unique position as she retires from the school that she attended herself.

“Over that period of time she has shown nothing but dedication and commitment to her teaching profession.

“She has made a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of children in Haddington and I would like to thank her for that and wish her all the best for her retirement.”