A PRESTONPANS primary school has said goodbye to its headteacher and her deputy as they retired after working together as a team for more than a decade.

Anne Torley, who has been headteacher at St Gabriel’s RC Primary School since 2008, departed along with deputy Sue Adams, who had been at the school for 34 years.

The double retirement was a fitting one for both women, as they first met at teacher training college in Edinburgh in the early 1980s.

Mrs Torley described Mrs Adams as her “other half” as she revealed they reconnected when she took the helm at St Gabriel’s – 25 years after they left St Andrew’s College of Education in Edinburgh – and became a close team.

Praising Mrs Adams, Mrs Torley said: “We have had such fun pulling together an outstanding team.”

The retiring headteacher, who came to St Gabriel’s after nearly five years as headteacher of Ormiston Primary School, said she was leaving with many happy memories.

And she urged pupils to keep up their positive attitudes during the coronavirus crisis, which meant she and Mrs Adams were unable to say goodbye in person.

She said: “It is unfortunate but unavoidable that we cannot say a personal thank you and congratulations to all of our pupils at St Gabriel’s – but we will not forget you.

“I would ask all of the children of St Gabriel’s to keep up that positive attitude. I know you will do great things in the future.

“Take pride in how far you have come and have faith in how far you can go. Believe in yourselves and remember… you can!”

Mrs Torley described leaving St Gabriel’s as a “bitter sweet time” as she retires after 37 years as a teacher but said she was looking forward to new adventures.

She said: “St Gabriel’s is very close to my heart but I am now looking forward to spending more time relaxing with my own family and learning new skills and having new adventures.”

She thanked the school community, saying: “I am so very proud of the amazing and close-knit team we have become. Thank you also to the parents for their immense support over the years and to the local authority for making East Lothian such an attractive and worthwhile place to work.

“It has been a privilege to work here, a fantastic journey, and I will hold many fond and special memories of you all.”

Mrs Adams also spoke of her pride in working at the school her daughters Rhianna and Josie attended.

She said: “St Gabriel’s to me is part of my family. I joined the staff in 1986 so I’ve spent most of my adult life here. My daughters were pupils here – in fact, I taught them both.

“There’s something special about this school; it pulls in special people, supportive parents and our staff teams have always had a close bond.

“After nearly 34 years I’ve got to know a lot of pupils and it’s the big and small moments with the pupils that make you think, ‘I am so lucky, I have had the best job in the world’.”

Eileen Rafferty, religious education advisor for the Archdiocese of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh, paid tribute to the retiring teachers.

She said: “Sue and Anne always have children’s best interests at heart and have fostered a welcoming and inclusive school environment at St Gabriel’s.

“They’ve done a sterling job and everyone in the Archdiocese wishes them a happy retirement.”

Margaret McBean, headteacher at Loretto RC Primary School in Musselburgh, will serve as acting headteacher until a permanent replacement for Mrs Torley is found.